The sound was really all you needed to know the Mets’ season was likely over. Conor Gillaspie, a backup third baseman playing only because Eduardo Nunez is injured, squared up a 95-mph fastball and sent it soaring over the right field fence in the ninth inning.
And once again, in an eerie reminder of last October, Jeurys Familia couldn’t keep the ball in the ballpark when the Mets needed it most.
Last year it was Alex Gordon in Game 1 of the World Series, with a game-tying home run that changed everything.
This time Gillaspie’s three-run bomb broke a scoreless tie in a manner that left Citi Field as quiet as the capacity crowd was shocked.
The final was 3-0, as Madison Bumgarner added to his incredible legacy as this era’s greatest postseason pitcher, going the distance in a four-hit shutout.
Noah Syndergaard was just as good, just not as economical with his pitches, and in the end, that was the difference.
Familia, who led the majors with 51 saves, and gave up only one home run all season, was victimized again in the postseason.
That quickly, the Mets are done, and the Giants move on to play the Cubs.
Familia is the goat but the Mets’ inability to get to Bumgarner was no less significant.
Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game shutout to continue his playoff dominance.
The Mets were determined to be aggressive from the start against Bumgarner, but early in the game they seemed to be over-doing their plan of attack, swinging so early in the count that the Giants lefty threw only 21 pitches through three innings.
Still, to hear Collins before the game, you knew the Mets weren’t thinking about trying to work counts or outlast Bumgarner.
For one thing, they figured he’d throw 120 or more pitches before Bruce Bochy would have even thought about taking him out — as long as he was in command of the game.
For another, they were convinced Bumgarner would attack hitters so fearlessly early in the count that he’d leave pitches in hittable spots.
“We’ve watched enough tape in the last two days to know that he challenges people,” Collins said. “So you’re going to get a ball to hit, and you better hit it.
“You foul it off, you swing and miss, you’re in trouble because now you’re going to allow him to expand the strike zone. He’s very difficult to hit. You can’t chase.
“Once he gets ahead, he’s smart enough and good enough that he can move the ball out of the zone and you’re going to get something you can handle. So you’ve got to be aggressive and yet get strikes to handle, because he’s going to throw you something to hit.
“I tell you, a lot of people think this guy is not afraid of anybody. I don’t think he’s going to pitch around people. I think he’s going to come after you. That’s his whole nature and, and that’s what makes him so good.”
Collins was hoping Bumgarner’s aggression would free up Yoenis Cespedes get good swings. The Mets slugger has been slumping in recent weeks, with only one home run since Sept. 11, but he loomed as a pivotal figure in this game, considering how few righthanded power threats the Mets had in their lineup.
“I am a little bit (concerned),” Collins said of Cespedes’ slump. “But when we got him back from his injury in the series against the Giants (in August), he hadn’t played in two weeks, and you would have thought he was red-hot going in the way he played.
“He is so good. He, for me, is a guy who knows what he’s facing tonight and he can flip the switch on. We need him to do that.”
As it turned out, though, Bumgarner pitched Cespedes expertly, as scouting reports suggest, getting him to chase high fastballs out of the strike zone in striking him out in the fourth and sixth innings with a runner on base each time.
At least the Mets made Bumgarner work hard through the middle innings, throwing more pitches, but they couldn’t break through, even when T.J. Rivera led off the bottom of the fifth with a double.
Syndergaard wasn’t giving an inch, however, matching Bumgarner inning after inning, overmatching the Giants’ lineup mostly with his 98-mph fastballs. He threw just enough off-speed stuff to keep hitters honest, but it was clear from the start he was demanding they prove they could hit his high heat.
All those fastballs added up to 10 strikeouts, which also added up to 108 pitches, so he was done after seven innings.
He delivered the gem the Mets needed, though it did take a brilliant catch by Curtis Granderson to preserve the shutout. Right after Denard Span singled with two outs in the sixth, ending Syndergaard’s no-hit bid, Brandon Belt hit a screamer to deep center that Granderson caught going full speed just in front of the wall, slamming into the padding and holding on for a brilliant catch.
Much like Endy Chavez’s famous leaping catch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, however, it proved to be only a footnote as one Gillaspie went deep.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News