With Canada’s coronavirus response policies keeping the Jays in the U.S., Toronto was forced to set up camp at Sahlen Field, home of their AAA-affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons.
On the 19th anniversary of the devastating 9/11 attacks, MLB finally gave permission to both New York clubs to wear hats honoring the many brave first responders who sacrificed their lives to save others.
When play resumed following the attacks in 2001, the Mets wore first responder hats at Shea Stadium in their game against Atlanta. It was then that Hall of Fame Met catcher Mike Piazza sent an iconic home run to deep center, helping to heal the city and giving reason to celebrate once more.
MLB has been strict on uniform policy since, not allowing either New York team to wear similar hats. Last year, Pete Alonso brought in custom commemorative cleats for his Mets teammates, with MLB declining to issue fines.
With this year’s reversal on hat policy, many can expect a touching tribute next year, when the Mets and Yankees meet at Citi Field on the 20th anniversary of the attacks. It will be the first time the two have met on 9/11, and just the second time both teams have both played a game in New York City on the day.
Up in Buffalo, Mets ace Jacob deGrom took the mound, looking to follow up his previous dominating start in a 14-1 blowout against Philadelphia. Toronto jumped out early, plating a run on two hits in the first.
From then on, deGrom was back to his regular self, carving up the Blue Jays for the remainder of his outing. deGrom allowed just three other baserunners, one reaching on a double and two on walks.
The Mets provided their ace with plenty of run support. The 1-0 deficit was overcome in the third, as Michael Conforto sent a three-run homer over the wall. Later in the inning, a high popup off the bat of Jeff McNeil was lost above the lights.
What should have been a third out brought home a fourth Met run before the inning came to a close.
The following inning fared even worse for Toronto. Two walks and a single loaded the bases before an error on a fielder's choice brought in a run. The bases were cleared shortly after, with Dom Smith launching a 3-0 pitch to deep right field for a grand slam, giving New York a 9-1 lead.
After just four more batters, the bases were loaded again, this time cleared by a Wilson Ramos double. The pitching and defensive meltdown only got worse in the inning with Conforto and JD Davis each driving in one more run as the Mets put up a 10-spot.
After six strong innings, deGrom left with an extremely comfortable 14-1 lead. The Mets ace put up another strong stat line, with nine strikeouts and one run on three hits and two walks. Even as deGrom continued to lower his National League-leading ERA, the Cy Young race has reached the peak of the battle.
In the NL, deGrom’s quest for a three-peat is challenged by Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish, who have dominated in the NL Central with the Reds and Cubs. In the short season, little has gone wrong for top contenders for the award, with no room for error whatsoever.
With the end of the season rapidly approaching, there are just a small handful of starts remaining for deGrom, Darvish, and Bauer.
Following the dominant deGrom outing and big win, Mets pitching and bats fell flat. The Jays won the final two games, with New York dropping the series in Buffalo before traveling to Philadelphia with a mediocre 21-26 record.
Even sitting under .500, the Mets still remained a few games out of the expanded playoffs, behind the Giants, Reds, Brewers, and Rockies for the 2nd Wild Card.
For the Mets though, the most important day of the year came on one where they didn’t even play. A press release on Monday confirmed that billionaire Steve Cohen had reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the Mets.
The deal, pending approval by at least 23 MLB owners, is set at $2.475 billion and would give Cohen a 95 percent majority stake in the club.
The sale of the Mets has been long awaited by fans, who have been frustrated with Fred and Jeff Wilpon for treating the franchise like a small-market team despite playing in the biggest sports market in the nation.
If approved, Cohen would become the wealthiest owner in Major League Baseball, with a net worth three times that of the Nationals’ Ted Lerner, the current richest owner.
A massive influx of funds doesn’t guarantee success, however. It takes far more than a loaded roster to bring home a championship, and spending won’t fix the handful of issues plaguing the team. It’s evident that changes must come, as a lineup like New York’s should easily make the playoffs, especially in a year where a .500 record is enough to qualify.
Time is against the Mets now, with just four series left in the season. Following the series in Philadelphia, the Mets return to New York, hosting the Braves and Rays for three games each before a four-game set with Washington to end the year.
Jacob deGrom looks to be slated for two more starts after his outing in Philly, set to take the mound in New York on Monday, opening up the series with Tampa.