They had been evaluating each other for 3 hours and 59 minutes, kicking, grappling and countering. They had both made emotional returns. They had both lost leads. Now, as the clock struck 5:10 p.m. west and 8:10 p.m. east, a rookie Mets pitcher named Adonis Medina reached out for an extra yard on his fastball.
And found it. The ball raced past Dodgers catcher Will Smith, then dove away from his bat. The tying and winning runs were on base in the bottom of the 10th. Medina, with all 10 major league appearances under his belt, was Buck Showalter’s last prospect and his last arm, and he was asked to protect a meager 5-4 lead late in the 10th.
And as the ball flew away from Smith’s bat, as Smith swung unsuccessfully, as the Mets began to charge out of the visiting team’s dugout at Dodger Stadium, it was sudden and remarkably and abundantly obvious: he had done this. He had saved the game, and he did it with minimal nervous energy.
“Last man standing, I guess,” Showalter said.
“I still have confidence in myself,” Medina would later say.
Others? Well, it was probably JD Davis who said it most eloquently on behalf of his teammates.
“Adonis Medina, man,” Davis said. “Adonis Medina!”
So this big Chavez Ravine showdown would end in a draw, with the Mets giving up the first two games to the Dodgers, then overcoming a few multiple deficits on Saturday and Sunday to earn a four-game split. The rest of baseball desperately wanted to know: were the Mets as good as their record, or were they the product of a friendly start-to-season schedule?
Could they really look the mighty Dodgers in the eye?
As they prepared for the second leg of this three-city, 11-day, 10-game road trip, they had delivered a resounding response. Yes. Yes, they could.
“It’s going to be a good bus ride to San Diego,” Davis said.
What the Mets have learned is that when they play the game like they’ve mostly played it in the first 56 games of the season, it doesn’t matter what logo is on the other team’s caps. The Mets overcame a 4-1 deficit on Saturday and then a 2-0 hole on Sunday — it was 2-1 Dodgers in the eighth — by hosting an open casting call for contributors.
Here came Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, who came through the gate in the eighth inning to tie the game on Sunday. Here came Davis, taking obvious pleasure in moving Alonso to third with a productive out (and, later, driving in the winning race of 10th). Here’s Eduardo Escobar, whose season has been such a fight, driving into the green light with a stubbornly earned sack fly. And Tomas Nido adding RBI insurance.
And, of course, here is Adonis Medina.
Showalter had opted to use Edwin Diaz in the eighth with the Dodgers due to dispatching Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner — “three MVPs,” he called them — and it looked like a brilliant move. Then Seth Lugo gave up a home run to Smith and a two-run single and it looked like this game could come alongside that 13-12 loss to the Giants a few weeks ago for dyspeptic losses.
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 what a good team the Dodgers are. But we also know that we are a good team.
For the hundredth time this week, Showalter tried to contain the conclusions some might want to draw from their weekend in Los Angeles. So much noise had surrounded this road trip, which until the Angels started tanking featured three real contenders for the Mets to target. It’s just that little of that noise permeates the Mets clubhouse.
“They’re not wired like that,” Showalter said. “For you to play all the games like [we played today] you must continue to accept competition.
Many of these games, however, come with a signature commitment to resilience and doing the little things right. Mets owner Steve Cohen — who himself may not need a plane to get home to New York after this weekend — said as much when he showed up at the Dodger Stadium earlier in the weekend. This did not escape his employees.
“It’s like Uncle Stevie said,” Davis said with a laugh. “This team has guts.”