A Month-by-Month Look At The Nationals' Third Season In DC...
"Meet the Mets, meet the Mets,
Step right up and beat the Mets.
Helping the Phillies, is not that much fun,
But if it keeps the Mets out, it has to be done..."
There weren't any more important series in the Washington Nationals' '07 season than the four they played in the last two weeks of September, when the Nationals met their divisional rivals New York and Philadelphia for six games with the Mets and seven with the Phillies that ultimately decided the NL East race.
Entering into the three game series in Washington, DC's RFK Stadium from 9/17/-9/19, the New York Mets (83-66) held a 2.5 game lead over the second place Phillies (81-69). When the Mets left DC, three days later, their lead over Philadelphia was down to a 1.5 games, courtesy of the Nationals, who took two of three from the Mets, while Philly took two of three on the road in St. Louis.
The Phillies next came to DC, where they promptly took three straight from the Nationals, while the Mets took three of four from Florida. So when the Nationals arrived in Shea Stadium to start the last week of the season, the Mets' NL East lead over Philadelphia stood at two games.
The New York Mets were, admittedly, in the midst of the single biggest collapse in MLB history, what happened next, at the hands of the Washington Nationals, was really just the proverbial nail in the Mets' Playoff coffin...
Monday, 9/24 Wash 13 NYM 4
Tuesday, 9/25 Wash 9 NYM 8
Wednesday 9/26 Wash 8 NYM 4
"Carlos Delgado lines a single in front of a charging Ryan
Church in left to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but
Matt Chico retires the next three Mets to hold the
Nationals lead through four. Ryan Zimmerman comes up
with two down in the bottom of the fifth. Pelfrey walks
Zimmerman and then Church, so Austin Kearns' HOME
RUN to left center really hurts, Kearns lines a hanging
slider off the metal railing in front of the bleachers for a
three run blast and a 5-1 Nationals lead."
"...Jose Reyes hits his second long ball of the game to
right. The three-run blast makes it 10-6 with one down in
the ninth. Luis Castillo slaps a single to left. David
Wright...will face a new pitcher...The Flat-Brimmed Closer
comes out to clean up Colome's mess. Chad Cordero
surrenders a single to David Wright. Carlos Beltran takes
ball four to load the bases for Moises Alou. Cordero gives
up a three-run double to right. Alou clears the bases.
10-9 Nationals still lead. The Tallest Pitcher in MLB
History Jon Rauch will come on to face Delgado...Delgado
goes down swinging. Pinch runner Endy Chavez steals
second. Lo Duca pops the first pitch out to right. THE
METS LOSE. No magic here...10-9 Nationals."
From 9/26: (Live from Shea w/ friends the Boss and Frank.)
"...Ryan Zimmerman singles to right off Joe Smith. Lopez
scores. 6-4 New York, and the fans are grumbling. Austin
Kearns singles to center. Belliard scores. Zimmerman to
third. 6-5 Mets still lead. Wily Mo MO MO MO MO!! Wily Mo
Pena doubles in Zimmerman and Kearns. 7-6 Nationals
after five. 'You're not actually worried that the Mets won't
make the Playoffs,' Frank asks the Boss who has his hands
on his head after the fifth, pulling his hair back in
frustation. 'I'm worried they're gonna lose this game, and
miss the Playoffs,' the Boss replies."
(ed. note- "This was my favorite post of the year...check it out...
When the Nationals left New York that Wednesday, the Mets and Phillies were tied for the lead in the NL East. Philadelphia had taken two of three at home against Atlanta while the Nationals were sweeping the Mets. In the final weekend of the '07 season, the Phillies took two of three from the Nationals, and the Mets completed their collapse by dropping two of three to the Florida Marlins and dropping completely out of the Playoffs.
Sure it was fun to knock the Mets out of contention, but what is important to draw from these last two weeks of the season is how the Nationals and their Manager Manny Acta reacted to the Playoff atmosphere they competed in over the last thirteen games against two teams with their seasons on the line. The Nationals took five of six from NY and two of seven from the Phillies for a (7-6) record against their supposedly-superior NL East rivals...
...Not bad for a team that was supposed to lose 100.
Happy Arbitrary New Year...See you in '08...tomorrow...