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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Biggest game at Citi Field fills stadium with electricity

New York Mets fans cheer after the seventh

New York Mets fans cheer after the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As the man said: If you build it, they will come.

Not a ballpark. A team.

Build a team and the fans will come. In New York, it works every time.

The Mets built Citi Field and it opened in 2009. People came, more than three million of them, drawn by the newness and the Shake Shack and the promise of a better day on the field.

That promise was not kept until this season. Patiently, and not so patiently, Mets fans waited for a team that matched their passion, that deserved their money.

Mostly, they waited for Sunday night. They waited for Mets 5, Nationals 2. They waited for a three-game sweep of Washington and a virtual tie for first place.

They got it. And they let you know about it with a sound that had never been heard before in this building's seventh season, not at this volume.

It's the sound of pure pennant-race joy.

It was heard again and again, and finally at 10:53, when Juan Lagares caught Jose Lobaton's fly ball in left-center for the final out.

"This was my first experience with a New York crowd and what it's like here," manager Terry Collins said. "The energy they bring to the ballpark is unbelievable."

It was correctly billed as the biggest game in Citi Field's existence after one of the wackiest weeks in Mets history.

ESPN moved the game to nighttime because it can.

That was the only shame, because an afternoon game probably would have drawn a sellout crowd. As it was, with 35,374 in the place, Citi Field was rocking even before the first pitch.

Then came The Inning.

Trailing the Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann 1-0 in the third, the Mets hit three home runs and a single in a five-pitch span.

Curtis Granderson, two-run shot to the Pepsi Porch in right. Daniel Murphy, next pitch to the Pepsi Porch. Happened so fast, the Home Run Apple in center didn't have time to reset.

After Yoenis Cespedes' first hit as a Met -- a single -- Lucas Duda did what Lucas Duda has been doing. A two-run home run off the facing of the Pepsi Porch, Duda's ninth homer in his last eight games. 5-1, Mets.

"The electricity in the ballpark going through that was incredible," Collins said. "It was enough that we could ride it to the finish."

No one sat down for quite a while. It was another instance this week of Mets fans rubbing their eyes and asking, "Did I really just see that?"

Noah Syndergaard, the junior member of the firm of Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard, made it stand up. The 22-year-old was flat-out stupendous in the biggest start of his career.

Syndergaard allowed two runs, seven hits and no walks in eight innings, striking out nine. To the delight of a Bryce Harper-hating crowd, Syndergaard struck out the Nationals star to end the eighth on his 109th pitch. It was clocked at 100 miles per hour by and 99 mph in the ballpark.

Syndergaard called it a "pretty good" pitch.

Yeah. And the Mona Lisa was a "pretty good" painting. Sinatra was a "pretty good" singer. Fire was a "pretty good" invention.

"That last pitch to Bryce," Collins said. "I mean, guys came off the field shaking their heads, saying, 'Man, that was really something to see.' ''

The whole weekend was. It was a huge step for a team, a franchise, a fan base.

"It's so much fun to be a Met right now," Syndergaard said.

It really is. And it's about time.


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