NEW YORK – Citifield had its own super captain. She needed a superhero.
For Saturday night’s halftime run, Jesse Winker, waving to the Citifield crowd after the game’s tie, entertained Homer by three runs for a seventh-place lead. For years before that, Winker had teased the Queens fan base. He was the last person the home audience wanted to see succeed.
Only this time, the Mets had an answer for him. Patrick Mazeika, who gained a cult following last year for his Multiple isolation RBIsthe green light crushed Homer’s solo at the bottom of the seventh to raise the Mets to 5-4 win over sailors. After two rounds, Edwin Diaz hit Winker at 101 mph to finish it off.
“Obviously, it was a really good feeling,” Mazeika said. “Great moment. Great team wins. It was an electric crowd, too. All in all, a great night.”
For hours, it didn’t look as if things were going to turn out well for the Mets. Only after a one-hour and eight-minute delay of rain did the seating bowl at Citi Field begin filling up, as fans wiped their plastic seats with paper towels. Many found themselves stuck on edge when bowler Chris Bassett carried the rules in the first inning, allowing two more in the third and two more in the fifth. At six, Bassett was allowed to run for the first time. By the middle of that inning, he was out of the game.
Through it all, the crowd of 37,140 fans remained raucous, thanks in large part to Winker – the player who initially angered the town in 2019, when he held the Reds at the end of the match in front of a particularly mobile section of fans. While jogging off the field that day, Wank playfully waved to the Citifield crowd, who came back in the favour later in the series when he was Expulsion for arguing balls and kicks.
With that, Winker has become persona non grata in Flushing, in the legacy of Chipper Jones and Chase Utley. As Bassett said, “New York fans are a little different.” So when Winker hit his teammate in Game Seven, staring at him before waving back to the crowd, the home fans – many of whom had cheered at Winker earlier in the game – were incensed. So did curator Chasen Shreve, who yelled at Winker for his slow jog around the bases, saying afterward that “it’s a bit of an exaggeration.”
Winker was even more confused by the situation.
“I’ll be honest with you, I love them,” Winker said of the Mets fan base. “They are a wonderful group of people. They are so passionate about their team and their city. And from a guy born in upstate New York, a huge fan of the football team there, I can understand and respect that passion. This thing we got is something special.”
Mets fans can say the same about their relationship with Mazeika, a longtime organizational catcher who hit a footballer’s choice pair over five days last season. Mazeika returned to the Mets on Friday when James McCann hit the injured list, and was in the starting lineup the next night. During the game’s early rounds, Mazeika and Bassitt seemed to struggle with their communication, not working together on a game. But none of that mattered when Mazeika climbed to the plate to advance on the seventh net, churning Andrés Muñoz’s fastball at 97mph over the fence for Homer.
“If the past few years have taught us anything, you have to be prepared for anything,” Mazzika said. “Just embrace it. I will always be ready to play at any time. This mentality has allowed me to get in and try to transition a little more smoothly.”
With Mazeika going the records, the Mets only had one more challenge to overcome, and of course it came in the form of Winker. After Diaz hit his first two hits in the ninth inning, Winger fought more, flailing off several slides in excess of 90 mph as the crowd hung on each of them.
“I wanted to get him out,” Diaz said. “It was a huge exit for us. We got on the seventh. I didn’t want to be the guy who gave up on Homer, so I was making sure my pitches were bad for him.”
Finally, on Pat-Bat’s Eighth Court, Diaz fired a fastball at 101 mph overtaking and denying in the final. The villain has been defeated. The hero won. The final chapter in the comic book battle has been completed.
“That’s why you get up in the morning,” said Director Buck Showalter. “You never know what the game has in store for you.”
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