They had been sizing each other up for 3 hours and 59 minutes, jabbing and clutching and countering. They’d both made stirring comebacks. They’d both blown leads. Now, as the clock struck 5:10 pm in the west and 8:10 pm in the east, a rookie Mets pitcher named Adonis Medina reached back for an extra yard on his fastball.
And found it. The ball sped in on Dodgers catcher Will Smith, then dives away from his bat. The tying and winning runs were on base in the bottom of the 10th. Medina, with all of 10 major league appearances to his name, was Buck Showalter’s last hope, and his last arm, and he’d been asked to protect a skinny 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 10th.
And as the ball dives away from Smith’s bat, as Smith swung fruitlessly, as the Mets began to charge out of the visiting team dugout at Dodger Stadium, it was suddenly and remarkably and abundantly apparent: He had done that. He’d saved the game, and he did it with a minimum of nervous energy.
“Last man standing, I guess,” Showalter said.
“I always have confidence in myself,” Medina would say later.
The others? Well, it was probably JD Davis who said it the most eloquently on behalf of his teammates.
“Adonis Medina, man,” Davis said. “Adonis Medina!”
So this great Chavez Ravine showdown would end in a draw, the Mets dropping the first two games to the Dodgers, then overcoming a couple of multiple-run deficits Saturday and Sunday to earn a four-game split. The rest of baseball had badly wanted to know: Were the Mets as good as their record, or were they the product of a user-friendly early-season schedule?
Could they really look the mighty Dodgers in the eye?
As they prepared to make the second leg of this three-city, 11-day, 10-game road trip, they had delivered a resounding answer. Yes. Yes, they could.
“It’s going to be a happy bus ride down to San Diego,” Davis said.
What the Mets learned is that when they play the game as they’ve mostly played it across the season’s first 56 games, it really doesn’t matter what logo is on the other team’s caps. The Mets overcame a 4-1 deficit Saturday and then a 2-0 hole Sunday — it was 2-1, Dodgers, in the eighth — by having an open casting call for contributors.
Here came Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, crashing through the eighth-inning door to tie the game Sunday. Here came Davis, taking evident delight in moving Alonso to third with a productive out (and, later, driving in the game-winning run in the 10th). Here was Eduardo Escobar, whose season has been such a scuffle, driving in the go-ahead run with a stubbornly earned sac fly. And Tomas Nido adding an insurance RBI.
And, of course, here was Adonis Medina.
Showalter had opted to use Edwin Diaz in the eighth with the Dodgers due to send up Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner — “three MVPs,” he called them — and it looked like a brilliant stoke. Then Seth Lugo gave up a homer to Smith and a two-out run-scoring single and it seemed like this game might take a place alongside that 13-12 loss to the Giants a few weeks ago for dyspeptic defeats.
The Mets barely needed the bus to make the two-hour trip to the Gaslight District.
“It felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Escobar said. “We know how good a team the Dodgers are. But we know we are a good team as well.”
For the hundredth time this week, Showalter tried to rein in any conclusions that some might want to draw from their weekend in LA. So much noise had surrounded this road trip, which until the Angels started tanking featured three genuine contenders for the Mets to take aim at. It’s just that little of that noise permeates the Mets’ clubhouse.
“They’re not wired like that,” Showalter said. “For you to play every game like [we played today] you need to keep embracing the competition.”
So many of these games, though, come with a signature commitment to resilience, and doing little things well. Mets owner Steve Cohen — who himself may not need a plane to come home to New York after that weekend — had said as much when he showed up at Dodger Stadium earlier in the weekend. That wasn’t lost on his employees.
“It’s like Uncle Stevie said,” Davis said, laughing. “This team’s got some grit.”