It’s the weekend of July 17th to 19th, 2020. While this isn’t the Mariners’ first trip to Queens, it’s their first time at the now-decade old Citi Field. The weather is clear and warm. First pitch is 7:10 pm, eastern time. The sun is setting in good ole’ New York. Both Mets and Mariners players are pumped for this one.
The two teams involved in the blockbuster trade of offseason 2019 are facing off for the first time since it happened. Both clubs have turned to a downward spiral direction since the deal went down. Neither of these clubs has had much to smile about in recent times. While the majority of fans in the crowd are of course Mets fans, a fair number of Mariners fans have come out to see a game.
Both fanbases are extra intrigued by this series because they want to see how this trade looks in a head-to-head format. Mets fans want their Cano and Diaz to bounce back from bust 2019’s while Mariner fans are simply in a state of unknown about their end. Both the Mets and Mariners are skating around the line of contending for a playoff race. The Mets continue to underachieve while the Mariners overachieve.
Unlike past versions of these hard-luck clubs, both are just trying to stay relevant heading into September. Both teams are a few games over .500 and the Mariners have already exceeded expectations being where they are by midsummer. The starting matchup for this series opener brings a battle of the aces, Marco Gonzales against Jacob deGrom.
As most ace battles tend to turn out, this game is close to the full nine innings. There has been a shortage of runs yet there’s been some fun added to it. The score is 2-1 heading into the top of the seventh and all three runs have come via the long ball. Daniel Vogelbach hit a rightfield bomb in the first inning while the Mets received a two-run answer in the fifth from, you guessed it…Robinson Cano. As he rounds the bases, he gives the Mariners clubhouse a friendly point of his index finger and smiles.
In the bottom of the seventh, Scott Servais decides to bring in the recent call-up of Justin Dunn. Most Mets fans don’t recognize him as one of the trade pieces but he shows no choke in front of his old team, allowing a leadoff hit followed by a double play and fly out to right to end the inning.
After a scoreless eighth, the score remains 2-1 headed into the top of the ninth. Yours truly, Edwin Diaz, gets the save nod for the Mets. Coming off a horrific 2019 capped off by a 5.59 ERA, “Sugar” looks to right the ship. Although not close to his 2018 All-Star self, Diaz’s 2020 is better than his first as a Met. His ERA has sliced down to 4.50 yet you can still hear the mix of groans and anxious murmurs from Mets fans when he makes the entrance.
But it’s Mariner fans who quickly begin to groan along with a “we’ve seen this before” vibe. After a leadoff single from J.P. Crawford, Diaz blows by the next two hitters to quickly make it one on, two outs. While Diaz looks confident to get this save, Mets fans can tell he is bothered by Crawford’s speed at first. So despite Diaz exerting lots of his focus onto Crawford, he steals second right under his nose for runner’s indifference.
The count now reaches 2-2 on the hitter and potential 27th out. To Mets nation and management, this is no ordinary hitter up at the plate. It’s Jarred Kelenic, the prized prospect who the Mets sent away for the man at the mound. As is anticipated before the series, it’s traded against trade at Citi Field. While this is only Kelenic’s tenth at-bat since being called up, he has an eye of the tiger that unnerves Diaz.
A little overconfident with two strikes, Diaz lays a fat one to Kelenic who soars the pitch into right-centerfield. Mariners fans are elated with cheers full of shock and excitement for the future. Mets fans are stunned and throwing down the boobirds. Somewhere across the country, you can hear the Mets’ general manager lose a blood cell or two at his regret.
Kelenic is so pumped he can barely contain himself running around the bases. He gets hugs and high fives from everyone in the dugout and Mets fans still can’t believe what just happened from their former prospect. Just to cap it off, Servais gives Gerson Bautista the nod in the bottom frame. He doesn’t disappoint, going one-two-three with two groundouts and a strikeout.
Though this is just one game in the season with plenty left, Mariner fans at least feel assured about the direction of this rebuild. For once our team can feel like it won a trade. And for Scott Servais, he successfully used all three prospects from the trade to help shock Citi Field. Even if this scenario doesn’t play out next summer, wouldn’t something similar be fun? Wouldn’t it be great to have something to cheer about again?