By Arnie Leshin
Meet the current New York Mets. It’s tough to beat them now as they rived their biggest comeback in 25 years by buzzing past the startled Phillies in Philadelphia Thursday night.
It was Friday the 13th in September of 1997 when they trailed by at least six runs in the ninth inning against the Montreal Expos then tied the game and won in extra innings at Shea Stadium.
So on the silver anniversary of that rousing comeback, this one was even better. Here they began the top of the ninth inning behind 7-1 and responded with a booming seven runs that brought a 8-7 victory.
Facing Philly’s veteran relief pitcher Corey Knebel and knocking him out after a masterful effort from starter Aaron Nola, it began when Starling Marte beat out a lead-off infield grounder. Next came a home run into the centerfield seats by Francisco Lindor, followed by an RBI infield single from Mark Canda that clanked off Knebel, and cut the gap to 7-3.
Then J.D. Davis came up with a pinch-hit 2-run double to bring in another run and it was now 7-5 as Brandon Nimo followed with a tying two-run single to center off the startled Knebel, and up came Marte to score Nimo with the lead run by doubling off the fence in left-center field.
With this, the National League East-leading Mets handed Philadelphia its fifth setback in its last six starts while they advanced to 19-9 and opened up a 5 and one-half lead on the Miami Marlins, put the defending world champion Atlanta Braves 6 and one-half behind, the Phils to seven behind, and the struggling Washington Nationals to 9 1/2 and in the cellar.
And tonight Philadelphia has to face new Met right-hander Max Scherzer (4-0).
Adonis Medina, just called up by New York, got the win and the much-improved reliever Edwin Diaz was credited with the save after striking out the last hitter in a one-two-three mop up.
This is a franchise with a new manager in Buck Showalter, the addition of Scherzer, a better bullpen, and three new starting players. All this with Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom still sidelined but now down in Florida throwing again. Could be quite a oine-two punch with deGrom and 3-time Cy Young winner Scherzer.
At this point last season the Mets had already took deGrom out of the rotation and its offense was starving by leaving runners aboard, and its defense was not helping.
Now, meet the new New York Mets.