NL Wildcard Game Recap

NL Wildcard Game Recap

Addison Drone, Staff Writer

Wednesday night, after finishing the season with identical records, the Mets and Giants squared off in Queens (the Mets won the season series 4-3) for the winner-take-all wild-card game. The winner would move on to face the Cubs, who had the best record in the majors with 103 wins, in the NLDS. The Mets came into the game riding high, even after being devastated by injuries throughout the season. On the other hand, the Giants’ season had largely been a disappointment. After finishing the first half with the best record, they struggled down the stretch, and, unlike the Mets, they did not have injuries to excuse their struggles. Either way, the matchup was set to be a great pitchers duel with Madison Bumgarner (2.74 ERA, 251 Strikeouts) and Noah Syndergaard (2.60 ERA, 218 Strikeouts) leading their clubs. Bumgarner is the best postseason pitcher in the game (refer to the 2014 playoffs if you want to know why that is so) and Syndergaard helped lead his team to the World Series last year with his great hair and pitching. A pitching duel it was.

Starting early, the pitchers set the tone. Both offenses had a tough time getting things going, evident by the only runs of the game being scored in the ninth inning. Syndergaard was sharp, and he pitched 5 2/3 innings before giving up his first hit and finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings. However, Bumgarner was more efficient, having less than 20 pitches through the first three innings, and was able to pitch the distance, keeping the Giants’ weak bullpen out of the game.

In a low-scoring, high-intensity affair, the crowd of almost 45,000 was chanting with each pitch and waving orange towels. In a game, where one run may be the deciding factor, every baserunner was important. After a two-out hit from Span in the sixth, Granderson saved a run by making a great catch running into the wall on a deep fly ball hit by Brandon Belt. At that time, it was probably the most decisive moment in the game.

In the eighth inning, there were chances for both teams. In the top of the inning, the Giants were able to load the bases against Addison Reed, but Reed got Pence to strikeout to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets too had a chance to put up a run with a runner on second, but a bullet up the middle was caught by Bumgarner as he walked off the field ecstatic.

In the top of the ninth, the Giants would get the runs they needed for the win. Coming into the inning with only three hits, Brandon Crawford led things off against Jeurys Familia, the Mets all-star closer, with a double. Later in the inning, a three-run home run by injury replacement Conor Gillaspie would put the Giants on top. At this point, the crowd at Citi Field was stunned, and the game was all but over.  

Next, the Giants head to Chicago to play the Cubs in a best of five NLDS, hoping to garner some even-year magic, and the Mets pack their bags after an injury riddled season. Overall, this new wildcard format has produced some exciting games, noticeably this year. With the addition of two new winner-take-all games, the crowds are more into it, and more teams push for the final playoff spots. This year these two games were both thrillers; one ended in the 11th inning on a walk-off home run while the other was a pitching duel decided in the ninth. This has been a great start to the postseason, and hopefully, more great games are to come.