When Mets closer Jeurys Familia struck out Michael Taylor for the final out of the Mets' 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals at a sold-out Citi Field Saturday night, it represented more than just the second victory in as many nights against the lone team standing between the Mets and first place in the National League East.
Sure, that was a huge part of it, and with the Mets looking for a sweep and a share of first place in front of national television cameras Sunday night in the series finale, one that can't be understated.
But with the week that Familia has had, maybe the personal confidence aspect of the save was just as significant.
It was the righthander's 28th of the season, fifth most in the National League. It also was his first since the All-Star break and first since blowing two opportunities this past week. He pitched 12/3 scoreless innings in the Mets' 12-inning victory over the Nationals Friday night in a non-save situation.
"I told him the other day, 'You're still the guy,' " manager Terry Collins said. " 'You've earned the right to go back out there. You're in a little bit of a slump right now. It happens. You have to fight your way out of it.' And he has."
"Everybody can have a bad appearance," Familia said, reflecting on the week. "We're not perfect. I'm just trying to move forward, get my confidence back, trust my stuff and trust what I do."
Familia set down the Nationals in order Saturday night, getting Ian Desmond to fly out to rightfield and Wilson Ramos to ground out to shortstop before striking out Taylor swinging and listening to Citi Field erupt in one-game-out-of-first-in-August euphoria.
"It was so loud today," said Familia, who has a 2.10 ERA. "It was like Opening Day."
Familia said his sinker was working well Saturday night, a key to his success.
"Sometimes it's the location and hitters make contact and get a base hit," he said. "Like I said, we're not perfect. I'm just trying to do my job, do the best I can and throw my slider down low for a strike."
Familia blew a save on July 19 when he allowed a tying home run by Kolten Wong in the bottom of the 13th inning in a game the Mets won in the 18th.
Last Sunday, Familia allowed two runs in the ninth against the Dodgers, nullifying 72/3 scoreless innings from Jacob deGrom. Thanks to Juan Uribe's walk-off hit in the 10th, the Mets escaped that misstep with a victory, but Familia had two straight blown save opportunities.
He made it three straight Thursday afternoon, allowing a go-ahead three-run home run by Justin Upton in the ninth as the Padres completed a comeback from a 7-1 deficit.
"I don't worry about it," Familia said of his mindset after the blown save opportunity against the Padres. "I think every pitcher has bad games. It doesn't matter if I have a good or bad game, I'm just trying to do my job, move forward and come to the next day with a different mind. I know I can do it . . . As soon as I leave here, I try to forget, enjoy my family, watch a movie or do something different, and move forward."