It’s been six years since Citi Field hosted a postseason game, but this week’s series between the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers provided a glimpse into what the Queens ballpark can feel like come October.
Wednesday’s 2-1 victory had everything crammed into a tidy 2:19 timeframe: a gem from Jacob deGrom, a home run from Starling Marte, a home-run-robbing catch by Brandon Nimmo to preserve the game, and a live performance by Timmy Trumpet to introduce Edwin Diaz — who set Los Angeles down in order to preserve the victory.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in some of those situations,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of club we’re playing, too, and what’s at stake for us. They’ve earned the right to do what they’re doing and we’re still trying to earn the division title.”
The Dodgers own the best record in baseball and are providing a staunch test for a Mets team that not only is eager to claim its place toward the top of the National League but is still trying to hold off the defending-champion Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Mets entered Thursday’s series finale with a three-game lead.
That’s why the seventh inning nearly rocked the foundation of Citi Field.
Nursing that slim one-run lead, deGrom — who was predictably stellar once again — was tagged by Justin Turner, who sent a 104-mph liner out to right-center field where Nimmo made what he described as the greatest catch of his life for the second out of the inning.
A normally happy-go-lucky yet level-headed Nimmo was as demonstrative as ever, pumping his fists and screaming with joy when he came down with the catch.
“I think it has a playoff feel to it. These are two really good teams going at it so every little thing matters in these games,” Nimmo said. “We obviously have the Braves on our tail so we want to try and win all the games we can so it’s a sold-out crowd. It’s electric. The atmosphere is awesome. The 7 Line [fan club] is right behind us. So the culmination of the atmosphere, the team we’re playing, and how important these games are becoming down the stretch, I think it makes the culmination of big moments.”
As if the building couldn’t get any louder, deGrom proceeded to strike out Gavin Lux for his ninth and final punchout of the evening to hit a fever pitch.
“It was awesome… against the Dodgers, it was a great atmosphere,” deGrom said. “The fans were in it the whole time. That makes it a lot of fun. You’re playing important baseball and we all have the same goal here and that’s to continue to win and see where we can go.”
As the calendar flips to September, the Mets’ chances to break that postseason drought becomes more and more likely — though they still have much to prove if they want to be mentioned in the same sentence as the Dodgers.
Going 3-3 in their first six games of the season against the Dodgers will only help their case.
“We’re a good team too. We know that,” Nimmo said. “We think the NL East is a really good division and beats up on each other. We’ve played a lot of important games leading up to this point that are pressure filled… They’re a great team and have been for a while. Nothing can be taken away from them but we do feel that we match up well.
“It’s been good games that we’ve played. I think it’s two really good teams getting together and playing games and it feels like playoff baseball.”