The Good Stuff:
- A 3-0 loss was a given as the game headed into the bottom of the 9th inning. The Mets, after all, had only managed three hits the entire afternoon against Matt Garza and company. But Chicago was about to do something that would give New York their best option: they went with embattled closer Carlos Marmol to sing a lullaby to the sleepwalking hosts. What the hosts got was the most effective alarm clock in recorded human history.
- It started innocently enough with a 1-1 fastball to ex-Cub Marlon Byrd. That fastball turned into a long, long, long home run that landed well into the second deck of left field. The Mets were in business, and no one knew it better than Cubs fans who have seen Marmol implode over and over and over again.
- After Lucas Duda drew a full-count walk, John Buck took a 2-2 fastball and lined it into right field to put two runners on.
- Omar Quintanilla executed the perfect sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position, allowing the home team to play for the tie and the chance to win it in extras.
- They wouldn't need extras: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who need a base hit yesterday just to get on the Interstate, took Marmol's 1-0 fastball and sent a rocket off the Pepsi Porch in right field.
- Nieuwenhuis rounded the bases after his walk-off heroics as Marmol dejectedly descended into the freshly-branded losers' dugout. He and the rest of his teammates an ecstatic Justin Turner take not just whipped cream but a full-fledged apple pie to Kirk's face. What any of the 30,000+ in attendance at Citi field wouldn't give for a taste of that Father's Day treat.
- Meanwhile, Jeremy Hefner was taken off the hook for what would have been yet another tough loss, as he gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits in five innings, walking one and striking out five on 87 pitches.
- David Wright and Lucas Duda each had doubles to the right field corner during failed rallies in earlier frames.
- Nieuwenhuis's blast became the picture of the game, saving the Mets from a much more embarrassing one in the top of the 5th: down 1-0 with two on and two out, David Wright took a hard groundball from Alfonso Soriano, double clutched his throw, and watched it sail over Daniel Murphy's head at first. The Cubs' second run came around to score, thanks in part to a throw from Murphy that sailed past John Buck at the plate. A third run came in on another errant throw, this time one from Omar Quintanilla that also sailed past Buck.
- On a play straight from Angels in the Outfield, the Mets seemed to signify their entire 2013 season. Now that we won the game, we can fortunately laugh about it.
Even with Carlos Marmol on the mound I didn't think the Mets could pull that off. Even after Byrd's home run I figured, "Well at least we weren't shut out." But that's the nature of baseball: a loss can turn into a win in the blink of an eye. Sure, New York hasn't done much winning in the last few weeks, but we'll remember this one for the rest of the season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis's heroics have enough fuel will carry us through another few weeks of losing. We're Mets fans. We know how to make due.