For banged-up Mets, just reaching playoffs was a triumph

NEW YORK (AP) — The Mets should have been happy just to get to the postseason.

Their starting lineup included just three players who were on the field for the season opener in Kansas City.

Their third baseman and captain didn’t play after May 27.

Their starting first baseman had 23 at-bats after May 20.

Their second baseman was done for the year on Aug. 27.

Their shortstop was playing on a bum knee.

Their regular catcher was benched after driving in one run in the season’s final month.

And four of their five highly touted projected starting pitchers were on the sidelines after seasons more notable for surgeries than strikeouts.

Not even seven shutout innings from Noah Syndergaard was enough, given the decimated offense for the defending NL champions.

“There have been a lot of nights I looked out on the field and saw one guy who was in the opening-day lineup at one time or one guy or two guys that were actually in the World Series with us last year,” Mets manager Terry Collins said before Wednesday night’s season-ending 3-0 loss in the NL wild-card game to Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. “And that’s why I’m so proud of these guys, because this isn’t a lineup that we came into spring training and said, `Boy, this is a good-looking lineup.”‘

Last year, they won their first NL pennant since 2000, reviving a franchise that seemed to be on spin cycle after the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. And this year they filled the seats regularly at Citi Field, which rocked with energy as they overtook the Yankees in local television ratings. Just 60-62 in mid-August, they managed to finish 87-75 and clinch a playoff berth with a game to spare.

Syndergaard pitched up to his Thor nickname, striking out 10 and walking three, throwing 42 thunderbolts to 98 mph or higher — more than Philadelphia or Cleveland’s pitchers all season, according to Inside Edge. Curtis Granderson made a run-saving catch in a Willie Mays impersonation.

But Jeurys Familia gave up a three-run homer to Conor Gillaspie in the ninth inning, a drive into the right-field bullpens that stunned the Citi Field crowd into silence.

No more comebacks. No more hope.

Time to heal.

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