In a lot of ways, this game was similar to way too many late-September baseball games the Mets have played. It had no meaning in the standings for either club, the Mets featured a starter pitching in place of a starting pitcher who was shut down, and they lost 8-1 thanks to poor relief pitching and shoddy defense. But this game was different from all of those other late-September games in one very important way: David Wright stepped into the batter’s box in a Mets uniform for the first time since May of 2016. As far as duration was concerned, it was a blip on the radar, a passing moment. But really it was a moment that hung in the air all night, just a small taste of what will come in his farewell game. And the rest of the game felt like a stage play, simply props in the background—the supporting cast for David Wright’s first at-bat in over two years. The result hardly mattered.
Believe it or not, though, the Mets initially led in this game. After the Mets executed a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the top of the first, they manufactured a run in the bottom of the first off Jose Urena. Brandon Nimmo, who went on to reach base three times on the night, characteristically led off with a walk. With two outs, Nimmo stole second base. Jay Bruce then walked and Amed Rosario smacked a single to drive in Nimmo. However, Rosario was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw to the plate to end the inning.
Urena was very good after that, going six innings and allowing just the one run on five hits, while walking four. Two of those walks belonged to Nimmo and the latter of the two broke Keith Hernandez’s franchise record for number of walks in a month. Keith insisted that ball four was actually strike three, however.
Corey Oswalt also had a solid outing, doing his part to show the Mets in these final few starts he’s been granted in Zack Wheeler’s absence that he may be a piece for the Mets next season. He worked himself out of a jam in the second and tossed a relatively quick third before the Marlins got to him in the fourth. Peter O’Brian led off the inning with a single and Brian Anderson walked to put two men on with nobody out. Austin Dean laced a single to right with one out that probably should have been caught by Bruce at first base, but was not ruled an error and the bases were loaded. Magneuris Sierra then hit a grounder to second that would be a double play for almost any other man running, but his speed meant that the Mets only managed to get the out at second and the score was tied at one.
In the bottom of the fourth, the crowd got what they had been waiting for. David Wright donned a batting helmet and stepped into the on-deck circle to a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd. Unfortunately, his at-bat would have to wait, as Kevin Plawecki grounded out to short with a man on, stranding Wright on deck. Wright would go on to say that he was thankful for Plawecki in that moment because he was apparently “pretty close to throwing up on deck” out of nervousness on a level he said he never felt before during his career.
In almost torturous fashion, the top of the fifth inning unfolded much more slowly than most of the fans in the building would have hoped. Paul Sewald came in the game in relief of Oswalt and immediately gave up a double to Miguel Rojas, who had a four-hit night. Sewald was able to get two outs after that, but then a double, a walk, and another double plated two runs and the Marlins found themselves on top 3-1.
But that was all forgotten as fans once again stood and cheered during the entire break between innings, over which SNY did not go to commercial, as David Wright once again took his practice swings in the on-deck circle. But as soon as we could even begin to process the moment, it was over. Wright grounded out sharply to third on the first pitch he saw from Urena. The exit velocity on the groundout was 91 mph, so it was certainly hit hard enough, but Brian Anderson made the snag and threw across the diamond for the first out. The crowd roared anyway. Among the cheers was a small smattering of boos, clearly directed at Anderson for having the audacity to not make a fielding error to allow for just a few more exquisite seconds of drinking in the sight of David Wright on a baseball field. Nonetheless, David was all smiles in the dugout, met with high fives from his teammates.
At this point, the game was still close, but things unraveled for the Mets over the next two innings. Drew Gagnon came on to pitch the sixth inning and walked Urena—a very poor hitter—with one out. Rojas then singled to advance Urena to second. Starlin Castro then hit a grounder to third that clanked off Todd Frazier’s glove for an error and Urena scored from second to extend the Marlins’ lead to 4-1. Gagnon was able to hold them there, but he was not as successful the following inning. Anderson led off the seventh inning with a single and Lewis Brinson then hit a sharp grounder that could have gone for a double play, but instead it sneaked under Amed Rosario’s glove for yet another error. This one, too, would prove to be costly for the Mets and things went downhill very quickly from there. Dean singled to make the score 5-1. A wild pitch from Gagnon scored Brinson. Gagnon then retired two batters in a row, but then gave up an RBI single to Rojas and another single to Castro. With the score 7-1, Mickey Callaway had seen enough out of Gagnon and brought in Jacob Rhame to replace him. Until this point, despite all of the scoring, the Marlins’ best hitter J.T. Realmuto was left out of the hits barrage. But not for long, as he smacked a single to top off a four-run inning for the Fish. Only one run of the five given up by Gagnon was earned.
Kyle Barraclough and Jarlin Garcia tossed uneventful seventh and eighth innings, respectively, in relief of Urena. Tim Peterson—a somewhat forgotten man in the Mets’ bullpen in the month of September—threw two scoreless innings for the Mets. He was able to work around the third Mets error of the night—this one committed by Jeff McNeil to put Sierra on first base to lead off the inning. The Marlins committed an error of their own in the bottom of the ninth when O’Brian failed to make the play on a Dominic Smith ground ball to first. Nick Wittgren made things slightly interesting by then hitting Frazier with a pitch to put two men on with one out. But Jose Lobaton, who remained in the game after hitting for Kevin Plawecki, struck out swinging and the pinch hitter Jack Reinheimer bounced out to shortstop to end the game.
The loss guaranteed a fourth place finish for the Mets in the NL East. Game two of this final series of the 2018 season features a pitching matchup between Steven Matz and Trevor Richards. But all of that takes a back seat to what will prove to be one of the most emotional nights Citi Field has ever seen: the final game of our beloved Captain’s major league career.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: David Wright, -3.1% WPA, but +9,000% WPA in our hearts
Big losers: Paul Sewald, -22.8% WPA, Drew Gagnon, -14.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Amed Rosario’s first-inning RBI single, +6.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Peter O’Brian’s go-ahead RBI double in the fifth, -15.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -29.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: -20.5% WPA
GWRBI!: Peter O’Brian