Unbelievable: Mets' Wilmer Flores hits walk-off homer to beat Nationals
Incredible emotional turnaround after the deflating events of two nights ago when a trade for Carlos Gomez fell apart after it had been announced, and Flores cried on the field because he thought he had been traded -- while having to finish a game for the Mets.
Flores, just two days after a trade to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez fell through and Flores's emotions were laid bare for all to see, came through with a solo home run in the 12th inning that sent the Mets to a 2-1 victory against the Nationals in the first of a huge three-game series at Citi Field on Friday night.
Flores, who drove in both runs for New York, ran excitedly around the bases chomping his gum after connecting against Felipe Rivero before being mobbed at home by his grateful teammates. As our Dayn Perry wrote earlier, Flores also made a great play in the field at short, and received a standing ovation from the reputedly tough Mets fans, who have showered Flores with affection ever since the Gomez non-trade Wednesday night. It was then that Flores cried, enduring chants of "Car-los Go-mez!" from fans who had heard reports of a big trade with the Brewers. It was crushing to Flores in the moment, but he appears to have come out of it.
After the game, Flores -- his voice shaking a little because he was out of breath, and perhaps emotional in a different way -- told SNY TV:
"[Wednesday] was a tough day. I just love being in New York, and the support here is unbelievable. It makes it fun to play everyday. That's important for me. I hear the fans during the game. I just want to say that I appreciate them."
Flores had said, off the air, that he couldn't believe the ball went out. Not necessarily literally, but in context of the events in the past 72 hours. But did he know he hit it well enough to make it over the fence?
"I thought it was gone for sure. It went out."
His teammates could not be happier about it, either:
Matt Harvey on Wilmer: "Words can't describe what's been going through his head. Everyone on the team is so happy for him." #Mets— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 1, 2015
Also earlier in the day, the Mets made a deal at the non-waiver trade deadline to acquire slugger Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers, a move that should help to take away any lingering bitterness over losing Gomez, who incidentally was traded to the Houston Astros on Thursday.
With right-hander Matt Harvey starting on the mound against the first-place Nats and pitching well before Flores's heroics, events of the day set up to make for a pivotal moment in the Mets season. They improved to 53-50, and Washington fell to 54-47, just two games ahead in the NL East standings.
Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters in a postgame press conference that he predicted in the dugout that someone would hit a game-ending home run -- though he didn't say who in a conversation with coach Bob Geren until after it happened.
"It couldn't have happened to a better kid. ... There are a lot of great writers in here. You guys couldn't write it better than how it happened."
As for the Nats, slugger Bryce Harper lost his cool in the 11th after a bad strike three call by umpire Jerry Meals. Harper argued the call intensely, getting in Meals' face. Meals let him vent for a few seconds, but had to eject him, and did. Meals strike zone was worse than Harper's temper.
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