Appropriate, too, was that the last out in Thursday’s game made no sense. Norichika Aoki, a veteran outfielder recently signed by the Mets to fill out their depleted roster, managed to get thrown out at home plate with the Mets trailing by eight runs.
Sometimes a team as overmatched as the Mets — they are currently 63-83 — still manages to play spoiler in September and make life miserable for a club trying to make it to the postseason.
In late September 2004, for example, the Mets and the Cubs met at Shea Stadium under many of the same circumstances that applied this past week. The Mets were, as they are today, 20 games under .500. The Cubs, looking to redeem themselves after the Steve Bartman fiasco in the previous postseason, led the National League wild-card race.
In the opener of that series, the Cubs won in extra innings. And the next afternoon, with at least 90 percent of the fans on hand rooting for the Cubs, Chicago took a 3-0 lead over the Mets into the bottom of the ninth inning only to see a Mets rookie, Victor Diaz, hit a two-out, three-run homer to tie the score. It was the second home run of Diaz’s career.
Two innings later, another Mets rookie, Craig Brazell, hit a home run to give the Mets the victory. It turned out to be the only home run Brazell would hit in the majors.
The defeat staggered the Cubs. They lost the Sunday game to the Mets, too, and then returned home to Wrigley, where they then spent the final week of the season pretty much losing one game after another, missing out on the postseason.
This year’s Mets team, however, did not spoil anything. Over the last few days, the Mets instead gave the Cubs a nice, helpful nudge. Now we’ll see where it leads.
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