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Lars Nootbaar’s Stunning Home Run Robbery Could Have Been the Final Straw for the Mets

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: a game-saving catch in Queens, a weird ejection in Baltimore and more.

Stick a fork in ’em

At this point in their season, the Mets need everything to go their way—and things did not go their way Wednesday night against the Cardinals.

New York’s series this week was a big one: St. Louis is one of several teams the Mets are chasing for the final National League wild-card spot, and the Cards came to Queens having won four of their last five. The Mets, after Sunday’s dramatic win over the Yankees, began the series with a 72–72 record, three games behind the Padres and Reds for the final wild-card spot. St. Louis was 73–69, just one game back. And after the Cardinals won the first two games of the series, vaulting themselves in playoff position, the Mets desperately needed to salvage a win in Wednesday’s finale.

They didn’t.

New York fell behind 5–0 in the first inning but was threatening in the seventh, having cut the lead to 8–4 with two runners on and nobody out. St. Louis lifted Andrew Miller in favor of T.J. McFarland, while also bringing in Lars Nootbaar to play right field as part of a double switch.

McFarland got two quick outs, but that brought slugger Pete Alonso to the plate. Alonso whacked a long fly ball to the opposite field that appeared destined to bring the Mets to within one run, but Nootbaar leaped and brought it back from over the wall, ending the inning.

Even though the homer wouldn’t have tied the game, it’s easy to see how crushing the robbery was for the Mets and their fans. Alonso looked utterly dejected as he turned back to the dugout and the fans had that familiar look of despair that we’ve seen all too often at Citi Field. They ended up losing 11–4.

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New York’s bad luck was compounded by the good luck of the division-rival Phillies, who earned a walk-off win Wednesday on a passed ball with two outs in the ninth.

The Mets are now five games behind the Cardinals in the race for the final wild-card spot, with three other teams between them and St. Louis. They’re also 5.5 games behind the Braves in the division race. That’s a lot of ground to make up with only 15 games left in the season. The three-game set the Mets start against Philadelphia on Friday will be an important one, but a comeback win Wednesday would have changed their outlook considerably. 

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