Walk-offs galore for Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets. He was able to turn poor play into wins, but will that work come playoff time?
New York Mets third baseman Jeff McNeil hopped on at his usual 9 p.m. for the “MLB The Show” players league on Sunday night. In the middle of a playoff race, the numbers should have been the highest they’ve been all season, but they weren’t.
McNeil struggled to top 1,000 viewers on Sunday. Part of it was likely because McNeil didn’t seem like he was into it. He was acting like the league was a chore to him. He was putting down the fact he had to play two games and that he had even more to play the next day.
It wasn’t his usual upbeat self. The guy that Mets fans have come to love as an ultra-competitive and happy guy wasn’t there. Instead, it was a more annoyed version of that guy. That likely turned off some viewers.
It also probably didn’t help that McNeil stopped his stream halfway through to raid Pete Alonso who was playing “Call of Duty.” It’s great that he wants to promote his friend and teammate’s Twitch channel, but at the same time these fans came here to see Jeff McNeil play “MLB The Show,” and they didn’t get that for a large chunk of the stream.
McNeil is great, but there’s a reason none of his games have been picked up for the national broadcasts. His personality has been inconsistent, which is expected during the pandemic, and he’s sporadic as a streamer. He’s cut off his stream in-between games a bunch, he’s raided people, and he’s walked away from the stream.
All things that are fine to do on their own, but put together not so much. Especially when a broadcast network is looking for someone who can drive up their views.
Come the playoffs, they’ll have no choice but to air McNeil. Hopefully, he’ll be ready for the bigger streaming stage.
McNeil and the Mets’ night started against Matt Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals. McNeil rolled with Michael Wacha to open the game in an effort to preserve his big arms.
That strategy worked out fairly well. Wacha put up a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first. McNeil followed that up with a run on Robinson Cano base hit in the bottom of the first to jump out to an early 1-0 lead.
That wouldn’t last long though. McNeil left Wacha in a bit too long and it came back to bite him. Wacha allowed two runs in the top of the second.
Now trailing 2-1 McNeil needed to rally. A one-out RBI single down the line tied the game in the bottom half of the second.
McNeil trusted the top of the third to Dellin Betances who shut down the Cardinals and gave McNeil a chance to win it. Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso were both retired to open the bottom of the third.
With two outs and nobody on the game seemed ticketed for extra innings, but McNeil was desperate to end thing in the third. He had been struggling with his pitching and he had the middle of his order up. If he couldn’t win here then he wouldn’t be able to win.
Then, Cano changed everything with one swing. He hit the ball off the very top of the wall out in right field just missing a walk-off home run. The double put a runner in scoring position for Yoenis Cespedes. McNeil wasn’t going to let this opportunity by him.
Cespedes crushed a 2-0 changeup over the great wall of Flushing to walk things off. The final score of 4-2 moved McNeil to 1-0 on the day.
McNeil’s second and final game of the day came against Dwight Smith Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles. Jacob deGrom toed the rubber for the Mets.
Things got off to a rocky start for McNeil. The Orioles put a run up on deGrom in the top of the first with a Chance Sisco RBI double. He was only able to escape the inning when Cano gunned down a runner at the plate. He was lucky to only be down 1-0.
John Means shut down the Mets lineup in the bottom half of the first. McNeil sent deGrom out for one more inning and was rewarded with a shutout inning.
McNeil finally got things going in the bottom half of the second. The Mets were able to load the bases with two outs in the inning for J.D. Davis. This was McNeil’s time to finally got on track at the plate, but it wasn’t meant to be. Richard Bleier got Davis to pop out and Smith Jr. got out of the inning unscathed.
Jeff was able to get a 1-2-3 inning out of Edwin Diaz in the top of the third to keep the game close. With the top of the order up to bat McNeil looked to turn things around again.
After retiring Jeff McNeil to open the innings Smith Jr. fell apart. Conforto doubled into the gap in left-center left by the shift. Smith Jr. then intentionally walked Pete Alonso to set up a potential Robinson Cano double play.
Robbie did what he was doing all night—hit. Cano hit a line-drive to straightaway centerfield, but nobody was home because of the shift. The double scored both Conforto and Alonso to give the New York Mets’ their second walk-off win on the night.
The New York Mets, led by Jeff McNeil, currently sit fourth in the league at 17-7. He’s just a half-game back of Gavin Lux in third place. He’s a long way off from the top two in the league, which seems to be set as Joey Gallo and Blake Snell battle it out for the top seed.
McNeil’s magic number has moved down to three after winning both his games Sunday night. Jeff’s a near-lock for the playoffs.
McNeil and the Mets will continue the playoff chase on Monday at 9 p.m. The game will be available to watch on McNeil’s Twitch account. He’s set to face off against Gavin Lux and the Los Angeles Dodgers (18-7), Cole Tucker and the Pittsburgh Pirates (5-21), David Dahl and the Colorado Rockies (6-20), and Eduardo Rodriguez and the Boston Red Sox (2-23).
The game against Rodriguez is not likely to take place. It seems that he’s dropped out of the league and is forfeiting every game he has scheduled. The game will count toward’s Jeff’s record just the same.