By Joe Rini
NEW YORK, Jul 9 — Saturday afternoon started and ended with cheers for 43,336 fans at Citi Field. The New York Mets retired Keith Hernandez’ number 17 in a pregame ceremony that included his family and former teammates. Nearly four hours later, the Mets completed the celebration with a stunning 5–4 victory over the Miami Marlins in ten innings.
Hernandez’s Number 17 Retired
In retiring Hernandez’ number 17, the Mets honored the pivotal player in their 1986 World Championship team. His offensive, and defensive statistics speak for themselves. This honor recognizes his veteran leadership skills that transformed the Mets from a perennial last-place team to 1986 champions. Besides his on-field heroics, Hernandez has endeared himself to Mets fans as a player, and long-time team broadcaster. Keith Hernandez Day was where Hernandez, and the fans expressed their love for each other.
Hernandez said he wasn’t thrilled initially at being traded to the Mets by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983. However, he recalled Lou Brock grooming him for a future leadership role with the Cardinals and subsequently brought those lessons to the Mets.
“I realized that I had to set an example of how I conducted myself on and off the field, and I embraced that,” Hernandez said in his remarks. Recalling the young Mets of that era like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, Hernandez said, “I needed another goal and I came here and these young guys inspired me and rejuvenated my career.”
In his speech, Hernandez also told the fans how much he enjoys the 2022 Mets. He praised their hustle, their playing hard, and comportment. The team proceeded to back up Hernandez’s words.
Carrasco Keeps it Close
Starter Carlos Carrasco pitched the first 5 2/3 innings, and kept the game close. Moments after the grounds crew dismantled the pregame staging area, Carrasco loaded the bases with no outs. However, he struck out Jesus Sanchez and induced a 4-6-3 double play from Avisail Garcia to keep the game scoreless.
After the three-hour and forty-one-minute marathon game, manager Buck Showalter spoke to LWOSBaseball about Carrasco. “It gets forgotten, he was in a pretty precarious situation in the first inning, but Carlos keeps grinding. He doesn’t give in.” Speaking of the team’s leader in wins and games started, Showalter rhetorically asked, “Can you imagine where we’d be without him?”
The Mets led 1-0 after Pete Alonso’s home run in the fourth inning, but the Marlins scored two runs for the lead in the sixth inning. The Marlins loaded the bases with one out when Brian Anderson doubled to left-center. However, Brandon Nimmo cut the ball off on the warning track and threw the relay to Luis Guillorme. He smoothly caught the relay and swiftly fired it home to nab Luis Sanchez at home plate. Seth Lugo’s wild pitch subsequently scored Garcia with two outs, but Guillorme’s play prevented a bigger inning.
The Mets regained the lead 3–2 on Francisco Lindor’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Jesus Aguilar’s game-tying solo home run in the eighth inning off Adam Ottavino threatened the good cheer of Keith Hernandez Day at Citi Field. Heading into extra innings after a scoreless ninth inning, the Marlins scored quickly. Jon Berti greeted reliever Colin Holderman with a hard grounder to deep short. Diving to his right, Lindor kept the ball in the infield but his errant throw to third base sailed past Carlos Escobar, scoring Billy Hamilton for a 4–3 lead. Berti briefly advanced to second base as catcher Tomas Nido picked him off, derailing the Marlins’ threat.
Then the Mets Magic began. Down to their last out, Nido bounced a double down the third-base line under the glove of Anderson, scoring Mark Canha. Later, the game appeared headed to the 11th inning tied 4–4 when Nimmo hit a come-backer to pitcher Tanner Scott. Not fielding it cleanly, the ball rolled on the mound as Nimmo raced to first. Finally regaining the ball, Scott’s throw to first sailed into foul territory, scoring Nido with the winning run. Holderman picked up the win, and he’s 4–0 for the Mets while Scott dropped to 4–3.