NEW YORK -- The Mets scurried about their postgame clubhouse late Tuesday night, eager for a full night's sleep before their early afternoon flight to Los Angeles. It didn't have to be this way. The Mets could have beaten the Dodgers in National League Division Series Game 4 instead of losing, 3-1, which forced a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TBS). But Clayton Kershaw was Clayton Kershaw, and so the Mets found themselves shoving their gear into travel bags and readying for the trip.
Their season has come down to one night, Game 5, at what is sure to be a raucous Dodger Stadium. A five-game series, David Wright says, is so volatile to begin with that any single action can play a significant role in its outcome. A bloop single early in the series can tip the balance of the entire postseason, for example. A late fielding error can throw things in disarray.
"You know when you go into the playoffs that one play, one at-bat, one pitch can change the direction of a series," Wright said. "So we've already had that mentality in the series before the Game 5, knowing how big each play is, each pitch is. I think we're accustomed to that."
Though the Mets wanted badly to close out the NLDS at home, winning Game 4 to set up a breezy three days of workouts at Citi Field, they knew in the backs of their minds that Game 5 was a looming possibility. Kershaw, long one of the best pitchers on the planet, stood a good chance of being formidable. And the Mets were countering with Steven Matz -- a talented rookie, but one with precious little big league experience.
That is why the Mets held Jacob deGrom in reserve, not wanting to use him on short rest as the Dodgers did with Kershaw. If Game 5 occurred, the Mets wanted to proceed with their best.
"He's the guy we want on the mound," manager Terry Collins said, noting the equal and opposite challenge of facing Zack Greinke in Game 5. "You kind of feel real confident that he's pitched well out there and that he's going to go out and do it again. Once again, this is a time when you need your guys to step up, and you certainly think he'll do that."
"We feel confident. Jacob threw a great game out there last time," Wright said. "We knew going into this series that offensively, it was going to be a challenge. And it's been just that. If you're facing Kershaw and Greinke for four out of the five games, you know that runs are going to be at a premium and a minimum, and it's definitely been that with those two guys on the mound."