Joy Combined

The top of 9th inning was getting ready to start. And SNY had dumped the commercial break, as is customary during no-hitters, to stay on the field and show Edwin Diaz’s entrance into the game. The trumpets were up full nats (as they say in the biz), and the momentum was built. Since this was a combined no-hitter, this momentum was built all at once. Tylor Megill had thrown the first five innings of no-hit ball, but on 88 pitches which meant he wasn’t long for the game anyway. So there was none of the gradual build-up that you would see for individual no-hitters through the 6th, 7th, and 8th. But once Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, and Seth Lugo got through the next three innings having given up nothing, then it was lit up. Holy moly, the Mets have a no-hitter, and Edwin Diaz was coming into the game. The 0-to-60 nature of the build-up from 3-0 lead to “oh my God there’s a no-hitter happening” was reflected in the five pitchers that were throwing it, as only Diaz had any idea that there was a no-hitter happening before he pitched.

That’s when it hit me: Oh my God. If Diaz comes in and blows this, he’ll never be forgiven. As of the Mets fan base needed another reason to irrationally hate him.

An Edwin Diaz hallmark for his appearances was that he would have one pitch that was sharp, and the other one that was workable enough on a good night, completely useless on a bad night. Some nights it’s the fastball that’s hopping and located well. Some night’s it’s the slider that has that sharp break and is competitive, meaning a ball that looks like a strike for 55 feet. But tonight, when it was important for legacy’s sake for Diaz to be unhittable for the no-hitter, but imperative for him to be unhittable for the Mets to win the game against a division rival, Diaz had both pitches working at a high level. Bryce Harper fouled off some pitches but had no chance on the slider. Nick Castellanos swung and missed at a fastball by his eyes and then struck out on the slider, and the JT Realmuto saw three sliders and that was that. The Mets now have their second no-hitter in their history, and the first combined no-no.

As much as I’m happy for everyone that took part, I’m happiest for Edwin. Obviously, winning the game is more important than getting the no-hitter. But he’s caught a lot of heat from the fans for every save he’s blown since that first season. And no-hitters? They’re as much for the fans as they are for the players, because they’re pretty freaking cool. So for him to finish that off had to be great for him. Not only did it keep the wolves at bay, but he got to do the post game interview with Gelbs after the game. How many games did he save where someone else was interviewed as the hero of the game? I’ll give you a hint: All of them. So for him to nail down the no-hitter and then get to do the on-field post game interview had to be rewarding for him. Also, to have that added pressure of knowing he was helping along a no-hitter and still come through? I’m proud of the young man. I know what really counts will be the late season games and the playoffs, but that had to be very cool for him.

(Also, it had to be cool for Gary Cohen to call a no-hitter on his freakin’ birthday.)

Tonight’s no-hitter shines a spotlight on the fact that Johan Santana’s no-hitter was ten years ago, which seems like a lifetime and a whisper ago all at once. Tonight’s no hitter didn’t have the build up and the drama that Johan’s had, it also didn’t have the consternation that followed Terry Collins had for the rest of his career. Buck Showalter isn’t going to have sleepless nights over this despite the fact that this game featured 159 pitches by Mets hitters. (Johan would have fainted after throwing that many.) But more than all of it was that this was a big win to kick off a two week stretch against division opponents that came with the bonus of a night’s worth of memories that everyone who played, everyone who attended, and everyone who roots for this team will never forget. As if people needed another reminder, this team is really, really good.

Today’s Hate List

I’m suspended the Hate List for tonight in place of what I thought I was going to have be the central theme of this post: Right before Jeff McNeil drove in the first two runs with a single in the 5th, Mark Canha doubled down the left field line for his first extra base hit of the year. He hit a good freakin’ pitch from Aaron Nola: a curveball that was around his ankles.

Had it not been for the no-hitter, I would have talked about this front and center tonight. To have Canha in the lineup to go with Jeff McNeil being his pre-2021 self again makes such a huge difference this season.