They assessed, stabbed, grappled and countered each other for 3 hours and 59 minutes. They’d both made rousing comebacks. They had both blown leads. Now, as the clock struck 5:10 p.m. in the west and 8:10 p.m. in the east, a rookie Mets pitcher named Adonis Medina reached back to gain an extra yard with his fastball.
And found it. The ball raced toward Dodgers catcher Will Smith and then dived off his bat. The tie and winning runs took place at the bottom of 10th place. Medina, with 10 major league appearances overall, was Buck Showalter’s last hope and arm, and he was asked to defend a tenuous 5-4 lead at the bottom of 10th.
And when the ball dived off Smith’s bat, when Smith swung unsuccessfully, when the Mets began charging out of the visiting-team’s dugout at Dodger Stadium, it was sudden and remarkable and blatant: He had done it. He had saved the game and he did it with a minimum of nervous energy.
“Last Man Standing, I guess,” Showalter said.
“I always have confidence,” Medina later said.
The others? Well, it was probably JD Davis who said it most eloquently on behalf of his teammates.
“Adonis Medina, man,” Davis said. “Adonis Medina!”
So this great Chavez-Ravine showdown would end in a tie, the Mets dropped the first two games against the Dodgers and then overcame a couple of multiple deficits on Saturday and Sunday to earn a four-game split. The rest of baseball was dying to know: Were the Mets as good as their record, or were they the product of a user-friendly preseason schedule?
Could they really look the mighty Dodgers in the eye?
As they prepared for leg two of this 11-day, three-city, 10-game road trip, they had delivered a resounding answer. Yes. Yes they could.
“It’s going to be a happy bus ride to San Diego,” Davis said.
What the Mets have learned is that if they play the game the way they played it for most of the first 56 games of the season, it really doesn’t matter what logo is on the other team’s caps. The Mets overcame a 4-1 deficit on Saturday and then a 2-0 hole on Sunday — it was 2-1, Dodgers in eighth place — by having an open casting call for contributors.
Here came Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, who smashed through the eighth-inning door to tie Sunday’s game. Here came Davis, who was clearly enjoying taking Alonso to third place with a productive out (and later driving the game-winning run in 10th place). Here was Eduardo Escobar, whose season has been such a scuffle, starting with a hard-earned sac fly. And Tomas Nido adds an insurance RBI.
And of course here was Adonis Medina.
Showalter had opted to use Edwin Diaz in the eighth game with the Dodgers to send up Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner – “three MVPs” as he called them – and it looked like a brilliant stoke. Then Seth Lugo gave Smith a homer and a two-run single and it seemed like that game would come alongside the 13-12 loss to the Giants a few weeks ago due to dyspeptic losses.
Instead of this?
The Mets barely needed the bus for the two-hour drive to the Gaslight District.
“It felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Escobar said. “We know what a good team the Dodgers are. But we also know that we are a good team.”
For the hundredth time this week, Showalter tried to rein in any conclusions some might want to draw from their weekend in LA. So much noise had surrounded this road trip that, until the Angels started to tank, targeted three real contenders for the Mets. It’s just that little of that noise penetrates the Mets clubhouse.
“They’re not wired that way,” Showalter said. “So that you enjoy playing every game [we played today] You must continue to face the competition.”
However, so many of these games come with an unmistakable commitment to resilience and do small things well. Mets owner Steve Cohen – who may not need a plane to get home to New York even after this weekend – had said so while showing up at Dodger Stadium earlier in the weekend. This did not go unnoticed by his employees.
“It’s like Uncle Stevie said,” Davis said, laughing. “This team has some guts.”