Bronx Proud of T.J. Rivera as Mets season Comes to an Abrupt End

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

Madison Bumgarner will probably go down as one of the all-time postseason great pitchers and the New York Mets will not argue the point. The San Francisco Giants lefthander threw another complete NL wild card game shutout Wednesday night at Citi Field and the Mets season came to an abrupt end.

Bumgarner was the a master on the mound. A three-run home run from Conor Gillaspie in the ninth inning off Mets closer Jeurys Familia was the difference that paved the way for the Giants to a 3-0 win  and a meeting Friday with the Chicago Cubs in the best-of-five league divisional series.

TJ Rivera_NY MetsAnd in the losing Mets clubhouse, rookie infielder T.J. Rivera, the pride of Throgs Neck, was reflecting on his late call up to the Mets and his contributions that helped his team to their brief postseason appearance.

“Ultimate goal is to get to the World Series and play in the World Series,” Rivera said as the Mets began the process of focusing on next year.

The 27-year old Rivera, who played ball as a youngster with the Throgs Neck Little League and as an all-city star at Lehman High School, spent the past week with his parents at their Throgs Neck home. He spent some time with old friends on East Tremont Avenue and a contingent of family and friends were scattered around Citi Field as Rivera played in the biggest game of his big league career.

Rivera was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas numerous times this season and he went back-and-forth from Las Vegas to Citi Field.. Besieged with injuries to their infield, the Mets finally called up Rivera at the beginning of  September and he was inserted in the lineup often down the stretch when Wilmer Flores went on the disabled list with an injury to his wrist.

“Look at the positives,” he said after a tough loss that eliminated the Mets in a wild card one-game elimination. “There were so many injuries. They kept at it while I wasn’t here. They kept pushing even in the last month.”

Rivera kept his part of the bargain and a home run was instrumental in mid-August. It was a game winner against the Giants that sparked a run for the Mets that had them finish with the best record down the stretch and propel them to the top wild card team in the National League.

T.J. Rivera, NY Mets. Credit:

T.J. Rivera, NY Mets. Credit:

He hit .365 with three homers and 12 RBI in 19 games in September. The .365 batting average was the sixth highest mark in the National League in September.

“”That’s the nature of the game,:” he said when asked about the one-game wild card elimination. “Unfortunately it comes down to one game. That’s a part of it.”

In the fifth inning and leading off,  Rivera got hold of a fastball off Bumgarner that went to double to left. He was stranded as the Mets continued their failure to score off the Giants’ ace who has become a postseason master on the mound.

“Unbelievable to be here and focus on baseball in my hometown,” he said. “Definitely a great experience and had a great time. Unfortunately we didn’t win. I am going to look at the positives and glad I had the opportunity to play on this stage.”

He added, “Glad I have a future and  look forward to keep it going next year.”

And there is every indication that Rivera, a non-draft pick is in the plans for the Mets next season.  In the meantime he will spend a few more days in the old neighborhood, visit friends and visit his former teachers and coaches at Lehman.

Then it will be back to work and working on conditioning, and there is every indication that T.J. Rivera has arrived for the long haul and be a part of the Mets plans in 2017.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso










Print Friendly, PDF & Email