Nine years of pent-up angst and anticipation among Mets fans young and old erupted at Citi Field during the ballpark’s first-ever playoff game on Monday night.
From across Queens and the tri-state area, the sellout crowd of 44,276 watched the third game of the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, now a grudge match following Saturday’s controversial loss that centered around Dodgers infielder Chase Utley’s takeout slide at second base that left Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada with a broken leg.
By the thousands, the crowd booed Utley — who is appealing a two-game suspension and was not in the starting lineup — at the top of their lungs for 10 straight seconds during the pre-game introductions. Conversely, Mets fans gave a limping Tejada a raucous ovation when he emerged from the Mets dugout.
The bitter feelings from Saturday’s game aside, fans at Citi Field were excited to be part of not only the Mets’ playoff run but also the first-ever postseason game at the ballpark that opened in 2009.
It was also “Harvey Day” at Citi Field, as it is every time Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey takes the mound, which meant plenty of Batman mask-wearing fans were on hand to cheer on their hero nicknamed “The Dark Knight.”
“It’s amazing,” said brothers Nick and Manny Kaloudis of Whitestone. “We’re so happy to have playoff baseball back in Queens.”
Father-and-son fans Christopher and Chris Buckley brought out a banner supporting the Mets that they had made anticipating postseason baseball in 2007 and 2008 that ultimately never came. “It’s been a long time coming,” Christopher Buckley said.
Johnny Finn and the Suarezes — Edwin, Ed and Edwin Jr. — came from Jamaica and Briarwood to cheer their home team on, while the Rohs family of Whitestone — including 3-year-old Riley — got the chance to enjoy their first playoff game together.
“She’s been a Mets fan for three years but hasn’t suffered much,” Riley’s father, Robert Roh, joked.
As for the game, Harvey fell behind early as the Dodgers scored three times in the top of the second. The Mets responded in the bottom half of the inning with four runs, powered by a three-run, bases-clearing double from outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud added a two-run home run in the top of the third, and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes sent the crowd into a frenzy with a three-run homer in the top of the fourth, extending the Mets lead to 10-3 and putting the game out of reach.
The Mets wound up winning 13-7, their offensive output setting a team record. Should they win Game 4 tonight at Citi Field, the Mets will advance to the National League Championship Series. Rookie Steven Matz will take the mound for the Mets against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.