It has been a roller coaster first half of the 2015 season for the New York Mets. Injuries, poor hitting, superb pitching, head-scratching defense, baserunning blunders, come-from-behind wins, a three-home-run game. This season seems to have a little bit of everything. So instead of doing an entire first-half review, let's instead take five snapshots of the 2015 Mets' season thus far. Here, then, are the five most memorable games of the Mets' first half.
April 14: Matt Harvey’s return to Citi Field
What turned out to be one of the most bittersweet wins of the season for the Mets started out as a celebration. Harvey was returning to the mound in New York for the first time since August of 2013. The crowd was electric and gave the ace a standing ovation as he walked out to the mound, and "Harvey" chants rung throughout the stadium. Harvey started off strong, striking out five of the first seven batters he faced en route to an eight-strikeout performance in which he gave up three runs in six innings pitched. The Mets won the game 6-5, but it came with a price: David Wright came out of the game in the eighth inning after hurting his hamstring, and he hasn’t played since.
May 21: Jacob deGrom retires 23 straight against the Cardinals
Believe it or not, there was a time early in the season when deGrom was struggling a little bit. He had been having an up-and-down month, struggling with his command and having trouble getting quality starts. But in the series finale against the first-place Cardinals, deGrom turned into the ace of the staff he’s proven to be this year. After giving up a hit to the second batter he faced, the righty proceeded to turn away the next 23 batters, while striking out 11 over eight shutout innings of one-hit ball. Lucas Duda turned on the power switch and blasted two home runs, driving in four, to give deGrom all the breathing room he needed on the way to a 5-0 Mets win.
June 14: Mets come from behind to beat the Braves
Down 8-3 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mets made their biggest comeback of the season, riding the long ball to a come-from-behind win against the arch-rival Braves. After Dillon Gee got shelled for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings, New York's bats stepped up to bail out the spot starter. The Mets went down early, but home runs by Darrell Ceciliani (his first big league home run), Dilson Herrera, and Travis d’Arnaud put them right back in the game. Juan Lagares then delivered the finishing blow, hitting a three-run home run against Braves reliever Luis Avilan in the sixth to give the Mets a 10-8 lead, which they’d hold on to for good. Jeurys Familia came in to close it in the ninth to send the Braves back to Atlanta and give the Mets the series win.
June 28: Mets win suspended game in 13, Steven Matz has a historic debut
A game that began on Saturday, June 27, at 4:10 p.m. came to a thrilling conclusion almost 24 hours later. The Mets and Reds began play on Sunday in the seventh inning of a 1-1 tie ballgame. It was supposed to be over in less than an hour. Instead, the two teams gave the fans a lot of free baseball. Juan Lagares robbed a potential home run from Jay Bruce in the eighth and Lucas Duda won it for the Mets on an infield chopper in the 13th to put an end to an ugly game.
Approximately 30 minutes later was the start of what Mets fans had been waiting for all season long: the debut of pitching phenom Steven Matz. After weeks of speculation as to when the young lefty would be promoted, Mets fans finally got their wish. Matz got off to a rocky start, giving up a home run to the first batter he faced, Brandon Phillips. But that and a fourth-inning solo shot to Todd Frazier were the only blemishes in an otherwise great day on the mound for the rookie. However, the real show came when Matz stepped up to the plate. Matz became the first pitcher to ever drive in four runs in his debut, and almost singlehandedly won the game with his three hits and 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball. Almost as entertaining—if not more so—was Matz’s grandpa, who became an internet sensation after his reactions to his grandson’s hits went viral.
July 12: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits three home runs in one game
Nieuwenhuis was hitting .106 with no home runs and only three RBI coming into last Sunday's game. However, Terry Collins played a hunch and put Nieuwenhuis in the number-five spot in the lineup. The outfielder made his manager look like a genius and was the hero that day, as he became the first Met to ever hit three home runs in a home game. Nieuwenhuis had been DFA’d and sold to the Angels earlier in the season, but wound up back in Flushing after being released by Los Angeles. In his breakout game, Nieuwenhuis homered twice to left-center field in the second and third innings, and made history with a shot down the right-field line in the fifth. He became the 10th Met in history to homer three times in a game. Jon Niese continued his string of solid outings and Jeurys Familia closed the door to send the Mets into the All-Star break on a high note with a 5-3 win to complete the sweep over the Diamondbacks.