Self-surviving Giants send Mets home three bucks short

Gillaspie, who'd just hit the slider near the ceiling over the right field fence for three and, ultimately, a date between the Giants and the Cubs . . .

Gillaspie, who’d just hit the slider near the ceiling over the right field fence for three and, ultimately, a date between the Giants and the Cubs . . .

The Mets survived everything thrown at them in 2016 and came up three bucks short. The Giants survived themselves and, at the eleventh hour, punched their ticket to Chicago for a division series showdown with the Cubs.

And until Jeurys Familia threw the wrong pitch to a no-name number eight hitter named Conor Gillaspie, who had to step in for injured Eduardo Nunez late in the season, the National League wild card game threatened to go to extra innings and maybe beyond no matter who might be the last man standing on the mound.

Breaking and unbreaking the Mets’ backs

"As soon as I hit it," Cabrera (13) said after his three-run bomb won it for the Mets, "I knew it was gone." So was the memory of the game-winning three-run bomb robbed from the Mets Wednesday. Maybe . . .

“As soon as I hit it,” Cabrera (13) said after his three-run bomb won it for the Mets, “I knew the ball was going to be gone.” So was the memory of the game-winning three-run bomb robbed from the Mets Wednesday. Maybe . . .

There are times when entire baseball seasons or championships are believed to turn, for better or worse, on single acts at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. Marshal the appropriate evidence and those beliefs can be either upheld or obliterated.

WS Game Three: Thor’s hammer from Brushback Mountain

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Escobar, knocked out of his lounger to open Game Three . . .

Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.

Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:

No Cubs curses, just too much Mets

Big champagne for a big NLCS sweep . . .

Big champagne for a big NLCS sweep . . .

Time alone will determine whether the Mets and the Cubs develop a history between them comparable to that between the Yankees and the Red Sox for so many decades. Neither team wants to think about things like that right now.

The Mets want to think about preparing for and even winning the World Series. The Cubs want to think about how they’ve still got a brighter immediate future now than their own arduous history or their dispatch from this postseason suggest. Neither thought is entirely untenable.

The Cubs, ahead to the past?

The most powerful strikeout of all time?

The most powerful strikeout of all time?

Not to take anything away from Jacob deGrom, Daniel Murphy, and all the New York Mets who did the little things right Tuesday night. (And, in Murphy’s case, one not-so-little thing even more right.) But the way the Chicago Cubs finished the evening on the brink of elimination was just too Cubs for comfort.

Maybe Cub Country, that long-battered, long-picked-on nation of Jobs, can find some small comfort in knowing that it didn’t happen with the Cubs five outs from the World Series. And maybe Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was carrying a flashlight, too.

The NL East race tightens up, Du-da, Du-da . . .

Duda doesn't mind making you pay one bit for your skipper's brain farts . . .

Duda doesn’t mind making you pay one bit for your skipper’s brain farts . . .

All the Mets had to do to get power hitting but often inconsistent Lucas Duda back in gear was bring aboard Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe and have manager Terry Collins let Duda know, no questions asked, that it was time to produce runs now or the Mets, somehow, would get someone else. And all Duda did was look the boss right in the eye and say, “I got it.”