It was a tremendous game to watch tonight. Fun to write. Here’s my take:
NEW YORK _For the first time this season, the Mets looked special.
For the first time, they reminded us of a better time.
“It reminded me of ’06,” David Wright said. “These were the kinds of games we won all the time in ’06.
“These are the kinds of games that get your confidence back. These are the kinds of games that get your swagger back.â€™â€™
No, the Mets didnâ€™t just beat the Florida Marlins, 7-6 in 12 innings last night. They reached back in time to do it.
Earlier in the evening, Endy Chavezâ€™s greatest professional moment was played on the video board: His homer-robbing catch of Scott Rolen in Game 7 of the 2006 NL Championship Series.
Chavez really hasnâ€™t had any moment since until his game-tying homer off Kevin Gregg leading off the ninth gave the Mets a spark theyâ€™ve long since lacked.
Some might say, since that season.
The spark was dampened after Alfredo Amezegaâ€™s homer in the 12th inning, but the Mets stormed back to win on Fernando Tatisâ€™ two-run double in the bottom of the inning.
Wright walked off Justin Miller to lead off the inning, then took third on Carlos Beltranâ€™s hit-and-run single.
As he stood on the bag and listened to Shea, Wright knew the game was over.
“There was no doubt in my mind we were going to win,â€™â€™ Wright said. “I just knew that we were going to win that game. The way we fought to come back, I had a feeling we werenâ€™t going to lose.â€™â€™
Meanwhile, as Tatis strode to the plate, his thoughts were simple and focused.
“I was looking for a fastball in,â€™â€™ Tatis said. “Thatâ€™s what I got.â€™â€™
Tatis scorched a double to left. Wright scored easily, and Beltran let it out to a higher gear, looking like on Olympic sprinter.
“I was thinking about home plate,â€™â€™ Beltran said. “I was thinking I was going to score.â€™â€™
There was no play as the relay throw was off, but the Mets fled their dugout the way we had seen them dozens of times two years ago.
Before last night, the Mets hadnâ€™t come back once in 24 games when trailing after the eighth; last night they did it twice.
The lightning in the bats of Tatis and Chavez took some of the sting _ or stink _ from Oliver Perezâ€™s outing.
Perez walked four and gave up three homers as he worked six innings, coughing up the lead in his final inning on Cody Rossâ€™ three-run homer.
Theyâ€™ve booed a lot at Shea this spring when what theyâ€™ve only wanted to do was cheer.
The bullpen that dominated in 2006 and has leaked oil most of this year, was overpowering last night. Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman, Billy Wagner and Duaner Sanchez combined to give up one run in six innings, retiring 17 of 18 hitters.
The hitter they didnâ€™t, Amezega, homered off Sanchez with two outs in the 12th inning.
But, last night was different.
Where the Mets whimpered before, Wright drew a leadoff walk and scampered to third on Beltranâ€™s single to left.
Damion Easley struck out, but it didnâ€™t matter.
“Even after Damion got out,â€™â€™ Wright said. “I knew something would happen.â€™â€™
It did, and now for the bigger question: Can it happen again?
“These are the kind of games that can get us going,â€™â€™ manager Willie Randolph said.
Then Chavez said something that might have never previously been said in a major league clubhouse.
“The ambiance here is changing,â€™â€™ he said.
Thatâ€™s a champagne word from a team that believes its destiny is to sip it in October.
Weâ€™ve heard the Mets say time and time again this year that they thought they were ready to take it up a notch.
For the first time, they actually sounded believable.