The moment didn’t really hit new Mets reliever and longtime fan Brad Brach until he was coming off the field.
Brach, a native of Freehold, New Jersey, who signed with the Mets on Thursday after being designated for assignment by the Cubs, made his on-field debut for the team he grew up watching and idolizing Sunday. And it certainly wasn’t an easy situation.
The 33-year-old reliever entered Sunday’s game against the Nationals with runners on first and third base, two outs and the score tied at 3 in the sixth inning. Pinch hitter Brian Dozier was at the plate.
“Thankfully it was coming in a spot with guys on base so I didn’t have much time to think about it,” Brach said. “But definitely leaving [the bullpen] and when I was running out and got to about the infield, just thinking about all the times watching games here and watching the Mets growing up was pretty awesome.”
Brach got Dozier to fly out to rightfield for the final out in front of 41,000 at Citi Field. And as he was walking off the mound, that’s when the moment really hit him.
“Pretty surreal moment,” Brach said. “And coming off the field was when I was really like, ‘Man, this is real. This is really happening.’ ”
Brach has been in the stands at Citi Field during playoff games as a fan, and now he hopes to be on the mound for more come October. With the Mets sitting just outside of a wild-card spot after Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Nationals, Brach’s dream could become a reality.
“We didn’t come to a ton of games growing up, but definitely watching the games on TV and watching the guys run out from the outfield, to now be one of them is awesome,” Brach said. “Especially to be on this team right now with how they’re playing and how we’re in the race is even more surreal.”
Brach was designated for assignment by the Cubs after pitching to a 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings of relief this year. He had three straight seasons of a sub-3.00 ERA from 2015-17 with the Orioles and had a 3.59 ERA with Baltimore and Atlanta last year.
Brach was thankful to not only appear in his first game with the Mets but to earn the trust of manager Mickey Callaway by entering in a key situation.
“That’s big,” Brach said. “I told [Callaway] I’m ready for whatever situation he needs me for. I’m ready to get outs for this team, big outs, so for Mickey to put me in that game right there with the winning runs on base was huge and it was huge for my confidence.”
Brach said he has received positive feedback from the coaches since joining the Mets, but to see them actually place him in an important situation solidified what they were saying.
“It’s kind of like one of those things where it’s sink or swim,” he said. “They kind of throw you out there in the deep end and see what you can do, and I’m glad he had faith in me in that kind of spot. And hopefully he has more faith in me going forward.”