NEW YORK — Breaking down the National League wild card game between the Mets and Giants at Citi Field.
Giants 3, Mets 0. Giants advance to NLDS against the Cubs starting Friday in Chicago.
The final: A game billed as a matchup between two of the Majors' most dominant pitchers proved exactly that as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner matched zeroes for the first seven innings. Syndergaard, using his trademark high-90s fastball and devastating array of breaking pitches, held the Giants hitless through 5 2/3 innings until a Denard Span single ended the no-hit bid.
Bumgarner, in his first postseason appearance since the historic 2014 run that earned him MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series, operated more efficiently, yielding weak contact, scattering hits, and capitalizing on a third-inning double play and a baserunner blunder by T.J. Rivera to keep the Mets off the board.
No player from either team reached third base until the eighth inning, when Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie advanced from second on a passed ball by Mets catcherRene Rivera. Gillaspie was stranded there when Mets reliever Addison Reed fannedHunter Pence with the bases loaded.
Man of the moment: Bumgarner. With nine more shutout innings on Tuesday, the Giants' ace now sports a 0.79 ERA across 68 2/3 innings in his last nine postseason outings dating back to Game 2 of the 2012 World Series. Still only 27, the lefty's performance in the must-win game cemented his reputation as one of the most dominant postseason pitchers in big-league history.
Needing a mulligan: T.J. Rivera, who took over at second base for the Mets after injuries ended the seasons of both Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores, smacked a double down the left-field line to open the fifth inning. But after Jay Bruce struck out, Rivera broke for third base on a Rene Rivera groundball right to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. The Giants retired T.J. Rivera on a 6-5-4-6 fielder's choice.
Pivot point: With Mets closer Jeurys Familia on the mound and the game still locked in a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth, Brandon Crawford ripped a double to the left-center field gap on one of the few hard-hit balls all night. Familia struck out Angel Pagan after a couple of failed bunt attempts, then walked Joe Panik. Next, Gillaspie torched the three-run homer that accounted for all of the game's runs.
What you didn't see on TV: The first pitch, a perfect strike thrown from the mound by 11-year-old Michael Fahy. Fahy's father, also named Michael, was an FDNY fire chief who died in the line of duty in the Bronx in late September. The Mets and Giants honored Fahy and his family with a moment of silence before the game.
Manager's special: Mets manager Terry Collins caught criticism in the last postseason game he piloted -- the decisive Game 5 of the 2015 World Series against the Royals -- for allowing Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning in an attempt at a shutout in a game in which Harvey had already thrown 102 pitches.
Collins took a bit more caution with Syndergaard this time around, pulling the 6-6 righty with 108 pitches on his docket -- albeit only one hit -- after the seventh inning.