Sil­ver lin­ing in Mets’ de­feat

De­spite ag­o­niz­ing 3-0 loss to Gi­ants in NL wild-card game, reach­ing play­offs ac­com­plish­ment for banged-up New York

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ron­ald Blum

NEW YORK >> The Mets basked in de­feat.

Sure, they were dis­ap­pointed. But there were no tears, not a shred of frus­tra­tion. In­stead, there was — to a man — a sense of ac­com­plish­ment.

Their start­ing lineup in­cluded just three bat­ters who were on the field for the sea­son opener in Kansas City.

Their third base­man and cap­tain didn’t play af­ter May 27.

Their start­ing first base­man had 23 at-bats af­ter May 20.

Their sec­ond base­man was done for the year on Aug. 27.

Their short­stop was play­ing on a bum knee.

Their reg­u­lar catcher was benched af­ter driv­ing in one run in the sea­son’s fi­nal month.

Their star slug­ger, strug­gling with a strained quadri­ceps, hit one home run af­ter Sept. 11.

And four of their five highly touted pro­jected start­ing pitch­ers were on the side­lines af­ter sea­sons more no­table for sur-

geries than strike­outs.

In a sea­son when MRIs were dis­cussed more of­ten than ERAs, not even seven shutout in­nings from Noah Syn­der­gaard was enough, given the dec­i­mated of­fense for the de­fend­ing NL cham­pi­ons.

“I’m really proud of these guys, to han­dle all that ad­ver­sity,” Syn­der­gaard said af­ter Wed­nes­day night’s sea­son-end­ing 3-0 loss in the NL wild­card game to Madi­son Bum­gar­ner and the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants.

Last year, they won

their first NL pen­nant since 2000, re­viv­ing a fran­chise that seemed to be on spin cy­cle af­ter the Bernard Mad­off Ponzi scheme. And this year they filled the seats reg­u­larly at Citi Field, which rocked with en­ergy as they over­took the Yan­kees in local tele­vi­sion rat­ings. Just 60-62 in midAu­gust, they man­aged to fin­ish 87-75 and clinch a play­off berth with a game to spare.

“I don’t think you can say enough for what these guys did,” said Ja­cob deGrom, one of the in­jured star pitch­ers. “Every­body was pretty much count­ing us out at one point, and we bat­tled back . ... I’m proud to call them my

team­mates.”

Syn­der­gaard pitched up to his Thor nick­name , strik­ing out 10 and walk­ing three, throw­ing 42 thun­der­bolts to 98 mph or higher — more than Philadel­phia or Cleve­land’s pitch­ers all sea­son, ac­cord­ing to In­side Edge. Cur­tis Gran­der­son made a run-sav­ing catch in a Wil­lie Mays im­per­son­ation.

But Jeurys Fa­milia gave up a three-run homer to Conor Gil­laspie in the ninth in­ning, a drive into the right-field bullpens that stunned the Citi Field crowd into si­lence.

No more come­backs. No more hope.

“They’re hurt­ing, but

there’s no rea­son to be,” Mets man­ager Terry Collins said . “They were writ­ten off so many times this sum­mer and yet they kept fight­ing back . ... You’ve got to have spe­cial peo­ple and spe­cial char­ac­ter to play in this town and in this en­vi­ron­ment, and that’s in that room.”

Last year, Fa­milia al­lowed a ty­ing home run to Alex Gor­don in the ninth of the World Se­ries opener, and he was charged with three blown saves — partly be­cause of his de­fense. He knew the 96 mph of­fer­ing to Gil­laspie would be a home run as soon as the bat made con­tact.

“I missed the lo­ca­tion,” he said.

KATHY WILLENS — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jeurys Fa­milia walks off the field at the end of the top of the ninth in­ning af­ter giv­ing up a three­run home run to Conor Gil­laspie in Mets’ 3-0 loss to Gi­ants in the NL wild­card game.

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