Mets beat Braves in home finale
NEW YORK — The longest-tenured manager in New York Mets history and the second-most decorated everyday player to suit up for the franchise hope Wednesday night wasn’t the final time they’ll wear the home uniform at Citi Field. But if it was, at least Terry Collins and Jose Reyes went out winners.
Right-hander Robert Gsellman threw six strong innings and Reyes’ RBI double capped a four-run seventh inning by the Mets, who beat the Atlanta Braves 7-1 in New York’s home finale.
Still to be determined: Was it the home finale for Collins and Reyes? Collins, who is 550-581 in a team-record 1,131 games in the dugout, is unsigned beyond this season. Reyes, who ranks among the team’s top 10 in 12 categories, is scheduled to become a free agent shortly after the World Series.
The crowd of 28,617 seemed to sense it might be the last game at Citi Field for Reyes, who signed with the Mets and played in New York from 2003 through 2011 before returning last season. He was serenaded with the familiar chants of “JO-SE!” after his seventh-inning hit — his 1,489th with the Mets, second only to injured teammate David Wright.
Reyes said he would like to return next year, even if he would likely be ticketed for backup duty. The 34-year-old has played in a team-high 143 games this season, but 21-year-old Amed Rosario took over at shortstop in August and Wilmer Flores or Asdrubal Cabrera are the leading internal candidates to man second base in 2018.
“A lot of stuff went through my head,” Reyes said of the chants. “I don’t know if I’ll be back next year. I’m a free agent. Like I said, I want to be here, but we’ll see. That was an unbelievable feeling.”
Collins, who led the Mets to the World Series in 2015 and the National League wild-card game in 2016, told the Bergen Record on Tuesday that he hopes to manage the Mets next season.
But general manager Sandy Alderson has been steadfast in refusing to discuss the manager’s future until after the season, and a rough campaign for New York (69-90) could convince the organization to make a fresh start. The New York Post reported Tuesday that management has begun compiling a list of possible replacements.
“I’m not a big get caught up in my stuff (guy) — I was born and raised like that, I’ve managed my whole career like that,” Collins said Wednesday night. “I just go about my job the way you’re supposed to, and at the end of the year is when I kind of sit down and take a look at things and look at what’s occurred and what’s happened and what’s next.”
In keeping with the manager’s preference to fly under the radar, his potential final home game did not receive the pomp and circumstance of Reyes’ possible goodbye. Collins waved to a fan holding a “THANK YOU T.C.” sign before batting practice and acknowledged fans cheering for him behind the dugout just before first pitch. A brief “TER-RY COLLINS!” chant broke out in the ninth inning.
“He’s like my second father, that’s how much love I have for him and he has for me,” Reyes said of Collins. “I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I wish all the best for him. He’s been a big part of my career.”
Travis d’Arnaud finished with three RBIs via a game-tying run-scoring fielder’s choice in the fourth and the go-ahead two-run single in the fifth.
The Mets scored four unearned runs in the seventh, when first baseman Freddie Freeman’s two-out error opened the door for pinch-hitter Dominic Smith to hit a three-run homer. Reyes, the only Mets player with two hits, delivered his double two batters later.
The error was only the sixth of the season for Freeman, who has been weakened by a recent battle with the flu.
“I don’t feel the best, but that’s not an excuse,” Freeman said. “I need to play better than I did tonight.”
Ozzie Albies had three hits, including an RBI single in the third, and two stolen bases for the Braves (71-87), who lost the final three games of the four-game series. Lane Adams added two hits.
Rookie left-hander Sean Newcomb (4-9) took the loss after allowing three runs, four hits and four walks while striking out seven in five innings. Newcomb finished with 108 strikeouts in 100 innings.
“The upside is really good with this kid,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I think he should go away from this season (feeling) that he belongs here.”
NOTES: Mets RHP Erik Goeddel (right biceps tendinitis) was unavailable. ... The Mets are scheduled to begin the 2018 season at home by hosting the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day, March 29. ... Braves RF Nick Markakis (personal) missed the game after traveling home to Baltimore. He is also expected to miss Thursday’s series opener against the Miami Marlins before rejoining the team Friday. ... Braves manager Brian Snitker said RHP R.A. Dickey will start Sunday’s season finale if he wants. If Dickey declines, the start will go to LHP Max Fried. Dickey, 42, has discussed retiring after the season.