Playing the Giants was the last thing the Mets needed to start their postseason run.
The Giants won three championships in six years prior to this season. They know how to win in the postseason by getting excellent starting pitching and timely hitting.
The Giants put on a clinic in their 3-0 victory against the Mets in the NL wild card game Wednesday night at Citi Field. They had great starting pitching, and they received timely hitting in the ninth inning to win that game. That’s why the Giants are going to start the NL Division Series tonight against the Cubs at Wrigley Field while the Mets season is over.
The Giants were the favorite to win this game because of Madison Bumgarner. Their ace gets it done in the postseason. He dominated against the Rangers, Pirates and Royals in the postseason in his career. Pitching a postseason game in New York was not going to faze him.
Bumgarner was dealing from the start. He averaged seven pitches in the first three innings overall, and 16 of his first 21 pitches were strikes. The Mets had a hard time hitting his fastball, so he was comfortable throwing fastballs for 19 of his 21 pitches after three innings.
The Mets made him work in the fourth inning by making him throw 28 pitches in that inning. Asdrubal Cabrera fouled off so many pitches, and he was able to get a single out of it. Curtis Granderson also fouled off pitches, but he lined out to centerfield to end the inning.
There was hope from Citi Field something good would happen for the Mets.
The Mets were hitting the ball hard off Bumgarner in the middle innings, but they all turned into flyouts.
He was cruising along all night. The Mets never had a chance against him. They had to hope this game goes extra innings against a struggling Giants bullpen for them to score and win.
The Mets’ best hope was Noah Syndergaard. They needed him to match Bumgarner for them to have a chance to win the game. He rose to the occasion. He matched zeroes with his counterpart for seven innings. He gave up no runs on two hits in seven innings while striking out 10.
Syndergaard apparently was done. He labored in the sixth and seventh inning, and his pitch count was at 108.
It would have been interesting if Syndergaard went to pitch in the eighth inning. We will never know what could have been if he went to the distance. He had enough to pitch one more inning at least.
Mets manager Terry Collins was not going to take a chance. It cost him last year when he used a tired Matt Harvey to protect a 2-0 lead over the Royals in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. The Mets ace walked Lorenzo Cain, and Eric Hosmer doubled to cut the Royals’ deficit to 2-1. That was the end of his night. The Mets would tie it two batters later.
The Mets went on to lose 5-2 against the Royals in 12 innings.
Collins went with a fresh arm this time around. He used Addison Reed to start the eighth inning.
He would have likely been second-guessed if Reed did not get out of a jam. Reed gave up a hit to Conor Gillaspie follow by walking Brandon Belt. With two outs, he decided to walk Buster Posey and take his chances against Hunter Pence.
It made sense since Posey is a great postseason player, so Reed knew what he was doing.
Reed’s decision was justified when Hunter Pence struck out to end the eighth.
Things took a turn for the worse in the ninth inning. Brandon Crawford hit a double off Mets closer Jeurys Familia to start the inning. Then, Joe Panik walked.
The crowd sensed something bad was going to happen. They knew Familia has pitched on the edge all season long.
Their nightmare came to fruition when Gillaspie hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
Of course, a Giants role player hits a postseason home run. Who didn’t see that coming? It’s what the Giants do. Players such as Edgar Renteria, Marco Scutaro, Travis Ishikawa and Aubrey Huff had the big hits for the Giants during their championship years.
The Giants have a knack of creating big moments when it matters the most. Wednesday night was the perfect example. It’s why they won three championships in six years for nothing.
What’s damning was Bochy was going to use a pinch-hitter for Bumgarner if Gillaspie made the second out. Who knows how this game would turn out if Bumgarner was relieved?
Instead, Bumgarner pitched a complete game.
The crowd knew the Mets were done after watching Bumgarner shut them down for eight innings. There was no way it was happening, and their self-fulfilling prophecy was fulfilled.
The Giants celebrated on the field. The Mets had to watch in their dugout and wondering what could have been.
This was just another day in the office for the Giants. With the way they behaved in the celebrations, they acted like this was nothing. They expected it. This is what a team with a championship DNA does.
It’s something the Cubs better think twice when they play the Giants in the NLDS.
The Giants are capable of beating the Cubs in a short series with Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto , Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore starting. For all the questions about the Giants offense, that team somehow perform to another level in October.
The Giants sent a message Wednesday night that they are a team that should be taken seriously when it comes to their championship chances.
The Mets know that full well.