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Crowd charged up at Citi Field, and it's not just about Chase Utley

New York Mets fans display a sign supporting

New York Mets fans display a sign supporting injured New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during baseline introductions for baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

The atmosphere at the Mets' first home playoff game in nine years became even more electric when the PA announcer allowed an extra second or two after Chase Utley's name was announced. Then even more so during introductions when Ruben Tejada emerged from the dugout using a cane.

The buildup from Game 2, when Utley's questionable slide into second base fractured Tejada's leg, generated extra buzz and emotion during NLDS Game 3 on Monday night at Citi Field, which hosted its first playoff game.

Utley was showered with boos during introductions and Tejada received the loudest ovation of all Mets. Banners in the stands read "Win it for Ruben" and "Break a Leg, Mets!"

"We knew it was going to be loud, it was going to be a lot of energy,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said after his team's 13-7 victory over the Dodgers. "The response when our guys came on the field was unbelievable. Certainly Ruben, him walking out there I thought meant a lot to all the guys on the club and the fan base. They were tremendous, and when we fell behind, they were still 100 percent into it and I think it helped us come back.''

Chants of "We want Utley!" started during the bottom of the fourth inning, when a three-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes gave the Mets a 10-3 lead.

"It was incredible,'' Cespedes said. "I don't think I've ever played at home for my team with this many fans in the stands. It didn't happen in Oakland, didn't happen in Detroit, didn't happen in Boston. I think it's something that really just added to how well we played. It really helped us push ourselves."

Former Met Rusty Staub, who recently suffered a heart attack, threw the ceremonial first pitch.

The raucous crowd created a sea of orange when twirling rally towels. Many celebrities were in attendance, including Jerry Seinfeld, who might not have seen a collision as bad as Utley's since George Costanza ran through Bette Midler at home plate. Also on hand, among others, were Matthew Broderick, Bryan Cranston and Chris Rock.

"I love my Mets," Rock said while giving a thumbs up.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that as an opposing team in a hostile environment, players need to insulate themselves.

"I think you prepare your mind," he said. "It gets back down to focusing on what you have to do, executing your game plan, trying to block all that out as much as possible."

Collins said players must be able to slow the game down in their minds. "With the noise that's going to be here and all the energy that's going to be here, that's a must," he said. "You gotta be able to take five seconds and slow this thing down and let's play it right and not get caught up in the hoots and hollers."

Collins had said before the game, "This is a big game under a tough situation. So I think the atmosphere tonight is going to be loud, to say the least."

He wasn't left disappointed.


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