The ball had not yet stopped rolling in shallow right field, and
After Wednesday night's demoralizing 10-inning loss in which they squandered a five-run lead and what was left of their advantage in the wild-card race, Mets manager
That they did, but not before surviving another shaky outing by their bullpen (
"I believe we're ready to take off," said the always optimistic Manuel afterward. "I really believe that. Our fans won't let us get away with anything else."
The Mets enter Friday in the exact same position they did a year ago: three games against the Marlins at Shea Stadium that will, in all likelihood, decide their season. "That's the way it came out," said Beltran afterward. "It would be great to be five or six ahead, but we're not. You're going to have pressure, and you're going to feel it, but that's normal. It's good pressure."
There were ominous signs throughout the game that indicated the Mets were fortunate to escape with a win. And if they continue to play with such a glaring lack of good sense, they will find themselves home once again this October with no one to blame but themselves.
There is no greater example than the play sure to make every highlight reel across America. With two out in the eighth inning,
With Church at the plate and Beltran on first following a two-out single, Church got ahead in the count 3-1 only to chase ball four way out of the strike zone, a disturbing lack of plate discipline that at least two other Mets had exhibited earlier in the evening in key spots. Church recovered to line a single to left, but when Beltran broke for third a few pitches later, Church held his ground at first base. When Manuel was asked after the game what he thought of Church's slide, Manuel's first words were instead about Church's mistake. "I wanted to strangle him," said Manuel. "He should have been on second."
"He yelled at me," said Church, who admitted he froze and should have taken second. "All my focus is on doing what I'm supposed to do there and the next thing I know I blink and [Beltran] is gone." So when
On Cancel's hit, Church paid no heed to third base coach
Then in the ninth, after Reyes led off with a single, rookie
The team the Mets beat Thursday night was not the team that has romped to a NL-best 96 wins and it is surely not the team they may very well face in the Division Series next week. Cubs manager
The Marlins will offer the Mets no such free passes. Said
If the Mets get to October, how much will they be able to rely on the 36-year-old Martinez? Yes he struck out nine in his six innings Thursday, but he also gave up seven hits, five walks and five runs. He's likely to face much stiffer competition in the playoffs than the B squad he dealt with Thursday, and will have to look more like the Pedro of old if the Mets are to win their first World Series title since 1986.