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Mets Finish Wildest Homestand Ever in First Place

Lucas Duda powers Mets through weekend.

Matt Harvey (Photo by Guy Kipp)

Matt Harvey (Photo by Guy Kipp)


Surely, one with an impeccable sense of history would be able to point to some homestand in the second half of 1969 with just as much significance.  But surely, there has never been a stranger or more eventful homestand in the history of the Mets franchise than the one that just ended with the team sweeping the Nationals to grab a share of first place in the National League East.

Consider that beginning with the second game of the 10-game homestand on Friday, July 24th, something unique marked every game of this whirlwind stay at home.

On that Friday night, Jon Niese took the mound knowing he’d have to leave it in a hurry–his wife was in labor. Niese, who had been pitching brilliantly in recent starts, pitched terribly and left the stadium after three innings to fly to Ohio to meet his new baby, whose birth he missed. Niese had been slated to oppose Zack Greinke of the Dodgers that night, but Greinke’s wife also gave birth the night before, which postponed the Dodger righty’s start until the end of the series.

On Saturday, after losing the first two games of the four-game series, the Mets busted out with their best offensive showing of the season, racking up 21 hits, including four by Michael Conforto on his second day in the major leagues and two home runs by heretofore slumping first baseman Lucas Duda in a 15-2 rout of the Dodgers.

Sunday was the day the Mets ended Zack Greinke’s scoreless innings streak at 44 and Jacob deGrom took a two-hitter into the eighth inning before newly acquired Juan Uribe clubbed a game-winning single off the wall in the 10th inning.

Tuesday was the night the Mets announced 45 minutes before gametime against San Diego that Jenrry Mejia had committed the unpardonable and highly idiotic sin of using PEDs just two weeks after being reinstated from a suspension for the same offense. Mejia was hit this time with a 162-game suspension, making the Mets’ acquisition the day before of veteran setup reliever Tyler Clippard all the more significant. Noah Syndergaard pitched six perfect innings that night before Will Venable singled leading off the seventh, and the Mets won, 4-0.

Wednesday night, of course, was the night Wilmer Flores was traded and then un-traded during the course of a miserable Mets’ loss in which Flores labored through four at-bats, got a standing ovation that befuddled him, and a tearful inning at shortstop after the career Met thought he would be leaving for the Milwaukee Brewers after the game.

But, Mets GM Sandy Alderson pulled his ‘Emily Litella’ routine after the game, saying the deal for Brewers’ center fielder Carlos Gomez was off and would not happen.

And Thursday, the Mets seemed to see their season pass before their eyes, when a 7-1 lead turned into a horrific 8-7 loss after Jeurys Familia was just two strikes away from securing a 7-5 victory in the ninth before the umpires ordered the grounds crew to cover the field in a torrential downpour.

The clouds lifted Friday when the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit just before the 4 p.m. trade deadline without having to sacrifice any major league talent in the deal. In the game, the first of three vital ones against the N.L. East-leading Nationals, Matt Harvey took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning but couldn’t finish the deal. Wilmer Flores did that with a leadoff home run in the 12th inning that brought the Mets within two games of first place and may have provided lifetime immunization against the sympathetic Flores ever being booed in Citi Field again.

On Saturday, Lucas Duda hit two home runs (and a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning) and the Mets beat Washington, 3-2, to move within a game of first place.

And on Sunday night, Duda hit his ninth home run in eight games (you read that right) as part of an inning in which three Mets (Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Duda) hit home runs in a span of four at-bats against Jordan Zimmermann.  Noah Syndergaard pitched eight brilliant innings with nine strikeouts and no walks before a deafening Sunday night crowd and the ESPN cameras as the Mets finished the sweep with a 5-2 victory that brought them into a tie for first place.

It also exorcised the demons of several seasons of Nats’ dominance at Citi Field, where Washington had a 33-9 record over the last several seasons coming into this series.

Other than these details, the 10-game homestand was business as usual.

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