Mets outfielder makes history with game-tying homer in 11th, walk-off shot in 12th
By Barry M. Bloom
NEW YORK -- During a season in which the Mets have lost almost every star player to some sort of debilitating injury, including All-Star starter Jacob deGrom before Saturday night's game, it was poetic justice that the guy who's been around all year won it.
Curtis Granderson had played in 136 games coming into the action at Citi Field. In his 137th, he became the first Mets player in club history to hit a game-tying homer and a walk-off homer in extra innings as the Mets came from behind twice to defeat the Twins, 3-2, in 12 innings.
Byron Buxton homered to lead off the top of the 11th and Granderson answered in the bottom of the inning with an opposite-field shot to left off Minnesota's Brandon Kintzler. Granderson then homered with two outs in the 12th against Ryan O'Rourke, a left-hander who had just come into the game to specifically face the lefty-swinging Granderson. It was the third walk-off homer of his career and second this season.
"To pick up the victory is obviously a good thing for us," Granderson said. "We've just got to continue to keep winning ballgames regardless of who the opponent is or how we end up winning it. We win games, we get a chance to get into the postseason. That's just the simple of it, and it's going to be tough all the way down to the end."
From a team standpoint, the Mets are now tied with the Giants at 79-69 for the National League's top Wild Card spot with 14 regular-season games remaining after the Cardinals came from behind in the ninth to beat the Giants in San Francisco. The Cardinals are two games behind both teams. The Mets hold the tiebreaker with the Giants, so if the two teams finished tied and ahead of the Cardinals, the NL Wild Card Game would be held at Citi Field on Oct. 5.
From a personal standpoint, Granderson became just the second player in history to hit game-tying and walk-off home runs in consecutive innings in extra innings. John Mayberry Jr. accomplished the feat for the Phillies against the Marlins in a 7-3, 11-inning victory on June 4, 2013, with a game-tying solo homer in the 10th and a walk-off grand slam in the 11th.
The only other player in history to hit homers in consecutive extra innings was Art Shamsky, who did so for the Reds against the Pirates on Aug. 12, 1966, in the 10th and 11th innings. But the Pirates won that game.
Granderson was bemused by the whole thing.
"I think it's the first time I've ever done it," said Granderson, referring to the homers in consecutive extra innings. "Somebody just asked me about it. It's really cool to have it happen and help us out at this point."
Strangely enough, he did it against O'Rourke, a left-hander who has now allowed only two homers to left-handed hitters in his 49 big league appearances covering two seasons. Lefty-swingers were previously 0-for-18 against him this year.
But that's the way these kind of things happen in baseball. No matter the previous struggles, there's always a chance for redemption.
"The way you have to look at it is no matter what's happened each day, there's always a chance that something good can happen," said Granderson, who has 28 homers and 51 RBIs. "Regardless of who we're playing, who's pitching, what they've done previously, all that has to be thrown out the window, because today anything and everything can happen."