Editor’s Note: Joey is back with another treat for fans of his gambling pain. This time, he rehashes an agonizing New York Metropolitans 2021 season which featured some of those excruciating gambling losses that make you want to quit the game for good — but Joey never dies.
5. Mets-Phillies 4/30:
Philadelphia scored both of their runs on a passed ball that was strike three and should have been out three in the second inning. Pitcher Chase Anderson was the batter who struck out but reached base against Marcus Stroman. This game was a sign of things to come. Another Stroman game would be decided when pitchers were hitting. More on that later.
As for this night, the Mets fell 2-1. They were 1-14 with runners in scoring position. James McCann had three opportunities with a man on second or third. His double play with runners on the corners ended the sixth after Dom Smith’s RBI single had given New York a run and potentially some momentum.
4. Pirates-Mets 7/11:
Pittsburgh overcame a 5-0 deficit and the lowly Pirates were able to hand the Mets a brutal loss at Shea Stadium. New York’s Seth Lugo and Trevor May, two regular late-inning options, were unavailable despite it being the league’s final day before an extended All-Star break (four days off). Typical 2021 garbage. As a result, closer Edwin Diaz entered earlier than usual. He was able to extinguish a rally in the eighth. Pittsburgh was one out away from defeat, but scored twice in the ninth.
3. Mets-Pirates 7/17:
After falling behind 6-0, Pittsburgh scored 5 in the eighth inning to make it close. A Brandon Nimmo home run in the ninth provided some insurance. Edwin Diaz blew his second save in less than a week. Both were against Pittsburgh, as the teams played consecutive series against each other with just the All-Star break in between. He was one out away from finishing off a New York victory, but surrendered a grand slam.
Gary Thorne worked the series. 2021 gave him a chance to call Mets broadcasts for the first time in years. He had not called MLB games since the covid shutdown of 2020. It was not one of his finer moments. Thorne temporarily thought Edwin’s final pitch had been caught for a Mets win. Perhaps in part because of games being called with road announcers working remotely. It somehow made the meltdown even worse.
2. Cardinals-Mets 9/14:
With their postseason hopes on life support, the Mets hosted St. Louis. Somehow, things seemed to be lining up for them on the scoreboard. One NL playoff contender after another left the door open. After squandering two leads, the Mets forced extra innings with a home run by Javier Baez. Francisco Lindor came up with the potential winning run on third base in the tenth. Lindor grounded into a double play. Kevin Pillar was tagged out near third following a rundown and after first baseman Paul Goldschmidt began an unlikely twin killing by stepping on first. St. Louis scored three times in the next inning to go up 7-4, but there was more pain to come.
The Mets pulled within a run. Manager Luis Rojas sent Albert Almora Jr. up to bat. Luis Guillorme, a better hitter, remained on the bench. A ground ball concluded matters, and pretty much ended any chance of the Mets playing postseason baseball (or any meaningful games) until 2022. This game marked my stadium return. First time back since before the pandemic. It took more than 4.5 hours to finally put everybody out of their misery. Rojas gave a ridiculous explanation about how he never considered Guillorme because a lefty was pitching. Almora Jr. had been hitting well under .200. Even against lefties. Guillorme’s numbers might not have been great, but they were not that bad.
1. Mets-Phillies 8/6:
I went with a run line bet of Mets +1.5. In the fourth inning, New York loaded the bases with nobody out. Genius Luis Rojas instructed pitcher Marcus Stroman, who can swing the bat, to take three pitches and go down looking. He was afraid of a ground ball double play, which likely would have plated a run. The next batter grounded into a double play, and the Mets failed to score any runs in the fourth. Stroman only pitched two more innings, and Philadelphia scored in the fifth. Their pitcher actually was allowed to swing. He singled in a run and broke the tie. You can’t make it up. One could even suggest that perhaps somebody should have come up to pinch-hit for Stroman if he wasn’t staying in for the long haul, but simply letting Stroman swing would have been the most logical move.
Edwin Diaz gave up a pair of runs in the eighth to blow my +1.5. A ninth inning Mets run left them short for both the game and my wager. Gary Thorne also called that series, and this was the opener. Joe Benigno would later say he knew his team had no chance after realizing that Thorne was working. Both of us were perplexed about Gary Cohen not working this crucial series, but I was a little less critical. Joe has a way with words and opinions. The Mets never recovered from this game. It set the tone for a series sweep. They lost their division lead on this night, and left town two games back less than 48 hours later. Just over one week later they had fallen to third place, and remained there for the season’s final seven weeks.