Thursday, April 27, 2017

Now What?!

The Mets played their first mid-week afternoon game of the season on Thursday and it's a good thing that it was played then, because most of the work-going public (read: ME) didn't have to be subjected to the flaming turd they served up.

It was bad enough to have tickets to Wednesday's game and then have Noah Syndergaard scratched from the start. The same thing then happened this afternoon, which was accompanied with the much more troublesome news that he had "arm irritation" which I would have to imagine gave 99% of Mets fans a heart attack because that's what happens whenever the words "Noah Syndergaard" "Arm" and "Irritation" are used in the same sentence. Syndergaard himself poo-pooed the news, calling it something minor and apparently he seemed a bit rankled to have been scratched, but his health being as essential as it is to the success of the team it probably makes more sense to give him a break. Supposedly he'll pitch on Sunday. I guess as with most things I'll believe it when I see it.

The start, then, went to Matt Harvey, who's still regaining the lost luster and although he managed to escape some trouble in the early innings, he ran out of steam in the 5th and the Braves just started teeing off on him. Granted, the Braves touched him for a pair of runs and it felt as though the Mets had to muster up a herculean effort to simply tie the score, but Harvey just came undone. Kurt Suzuki hit a 3-run Home Run, other Braves did other things and 2-2 became 6-2 rather quickly.

Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey, our old friend, returned to Citi Field for the first time since he was dealt so many years ago and did his thing as he usually does. The knuckleball doesn't seem to float quite as devastatingly as it did back in 2012 but nonetheless he did what he needed to do, holding the Mets to 3 runs in his 6 innings of work. I can't say for certain since I didn't see any of the game but I would have to assume he was greeted warmly.

Then there was the Yoenis Cespedes injury, which seemed to be brewing for about a week, ever since he left a game against Philadelphia with a balky hamstring. Whether he was rushed or not is immaterial. Whether or not this is a Cortisone Shot Ramirez rabbit hole is as well. When these things happen it's hard for them to let go and maybe 10 days of rest might have helped, maybe not, but he obviously felt good enough to come back last night but of course the whole thing went on him this afternoon, so now I'd have to imagine he's definitely going on the DL for the next 10 days or however long it takes for this thing to heal up. As if the Mets needed more injuries right now.

The end result was a forgettable afternoon to cap off a forgettable series and a forgettable homestand that saw the Mets go 1-7, lose the last 6 and drop them into the cellar of the NL East, behind even these miserable Braves and the Fake ass Marlins at 8-13 with a trip to Washington looming and no conceivable help in sight. I mean, I hate to panic in April but the Mets are one lousy road trip away from this season spiraling out into 2011 and all the talk and good vibes dissolving into more jeers and laughter from the hoi polloi. The only thing I can tell myself at this point is the old adage that teams often aren't as bad as they look when they're losing. Of course, the flip side is that they aren't as good as they look when they're winning. At some point this ought to even out. I can't be certain as to whether or not it will be too late but this version of the Mets has been known to not have a "too late."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Can I Leave Yet?

Wednesday night was my 3rd game of the season at Citi Field. It was actually supposed to be Tuesday night, but extenuating circumstances forced me to change my Tuesday tickets to Wednesday. Then, weather forced the cancellation of Tuesday's game altogether. Then, what I had assumed would be a most entertaining pitching matchup of R.A. Dickey and Noah Syndergaard dissolved into Julio Teheran vs Robert Gsellman...which meant that through three games this season, I've seen Julio Teheran pitch more than anyone else.  It was still somewhat misting when I arrived at Citi Field although it seemed like the game was in no particular danger of being delayed altogether.

Then, of course Gsellman came out, started flittering sliders all over the place and gave up 5 runs before most of the paltry crowd that showed up had even made it to their seats. When that happens, and the Mets are in an instant hole like that, and I immediately wish I hadn't shown up that particular night, well, those final 8 innings just can't go by fast enough. It's one thing if the Mets are playing well and you think they might actually be able to pull themselves back from a 5-run deficit, but the Mets continue to not hit, and even the return of Yoenis Cespedes and Travis d'Arnaud didn't help. Teheran was more than ripe for the taking in this one, as the Mets had opportunities in the middle innings, but the stink was on this one already.

So, yeah. By 7:40 I was ready to leave. That's not a good feeling. And of course being that I obsessively score all my games I have to at least pay some kind of attention to what's going on, so I can't just meander around the stadium, even with access to all these clubs and whatnot. The point of all this is that the game becomes mostly scenery to an evening out and, yeah, I'm keeping score but I couldn't exactly tell you what happened from there. I know Gsellman didn't improve in spite of gritting his way through 5 innings and I know that Teheran wasn't particularly sharp, but the Mets continue to not hit and not hit in key spots so he was let off the hook every time. Then I went downstairs at some point just to give myself a quicker exit and slunk off into the night once the game ended.

As nights at Citi Field go, this will probably rank among the least memorable. This recent malaise has taken the sheen off the Mets' hot start and now they're on one of these death valley stretches that seem to hit them in the middle of the Summer. I can't tell if it's good or bad that it's happening here in April because on the one hand you'd rather get the stupid out of your system early, but on the other hand it's bad that this happens at all because the Mets are supposedly better than this.

Monday, April 24, 2017

No More

As a blogger, I've tried my best to keep on top of every game and keep this thing up to date or at least relatively speaking. Sometimes it's more difficult than others. And, quite honestly, it's difficult to come up with something interesting to say about a game day after day because most games tend to be more mundane than anything else. And then you have what happened last weekend, which was basically the perfect storm of bad, and who the hell wants to go into it when the entire weekend can be summed up in a few sentences.

It's not so much that the Mets stink. I don't believe that's the case. Consider that the strength of the team is supposed to be the starting pitching. Against Washington, the Mets pitched Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. On Friday, Harvey pitched 7 innings, gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. Saturday, Jacob deGrom pitched 5.2 innings, gave up 3 runs on 8 hits, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts. Sunday, Zack Wheeler pitched 7 innings, gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks 6 strikeouts. These individual games certainly don't represent any of these pitchers at their respective best, but you could find many, many pitchers that would do a lot worse. Irregardless, the Mets lost all three games. The issue isn't so much that good pitchers had off games. Even if they'd pitched great, it's dicey that the Mets would have won because they're not hitting at all right now and it's killing the whole deal.

The Mets having offensive issues is nothing new in these parts. It seems like we talk about it every season and of course the fact that 6 guys went down with injuries in the span of 3 days doesn't help. It speaks to the continued ineptitude of Cortisone Shot Ramirez and his brigade of mental midgets for the repeated lack of conditioning and injuries that are probably avoidable. Yoenis Cespedes goes down with a cramp and misses an entire weekend. Travis d'Arnaud has been clogging up the bench for 5 days and forced the Mets to call up Kevin Plawecki, who appears at this point to be a lost cause. Meanwhile, because the Mets continue to insistently carry 8 relievers, and continue to refuse to put guys on the DL (or call up guys that they have to save for "emergencies"), they end up in these bizarre situations where Wheeler or deGrom are sent up to pinch hit or Robert Gsellman is pinch running and I know that these guys are good athletes and all, but what the hell kind of strategy is this? If you really need a guy who can come off the bench and pop one out, I don't know that Zack Wheeler is the first guy I'd look to. I do, however, know that our old friend Kelly Johnson is sitting around waiting for someone to call and this time he wouldn't cost another low-level pitching prospect.

Bottom line here is that things are pretty terrible right now. After a hot start, the Mets stopped hitting, the guys that were hitting got hurt and so right now the lineup is Michael Conforto, who's basically forcing Collins to play him because he's hitting everything in sight, and a bunch of .230 hitters. The only solace I can take out of this is that the past two seasons, the Mets went through entire months of this shit and things turned out OK. It just took a while and cost a lot of fans their sanity (and led to the "castrati" having a field day in the process). And, well, this will probably happen again. It seems late now if only because the Mets sit 3 games under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind Washington but it's not like the old days where Washington would come in here and belt 27 Home Runs in a 4-game series. The Mets didn't help themselves at all this series but they also didn't get outright stomped. Unfortunately, they also didn't win any games and so I have to reach for dopey second-rate excuses like that to try and explain what the hell is going on here.

It took me 4 days to come up with nothing?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Born To (Home) Run

Wednesday night's game appeared to be headed down a similar track as Tuesday's. In miserable weather, perhaps colder than last night, combined with some late-inning rain, the Mets held a late one-run lead over the Phillies. Robert Gsellman had done yeoman's work getting himself into the 8th inning, but a leadoff double knocked him out and the run ended up scoring thanks to a 2-out, 2-strike dying quail of a hit that landed in front of Yoenis Cespedes. But, unlike in the previous few nights where the Mets could not respond, on this night they did as Jay Bruce hit a 2-run Home Run in the bottom of the 8th to provide the Mets just enough to hang on and win the game, 5-4 and end this mystifying 4-game losing streak in which everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong.

It of course is always irritating to me when I go to the first game of a series and the Mets lose, and then come back and win the next night, and that's no different on this evening, although in reality, I can't say I missed sitting out in weather that appeared to be colder on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday, among an even sparser crowd than Tuesday, in intermittent rain and from what Howie Rose told me on the radio, a dead standstill in transit as the 7 train had suspended service entirely right in the thick of the evening rush. So even if I had gone to this game instead, I would have been just as cranky and miserable as I was on Tuesday. On the other hand, the Mets win probably would have made it more worth it.

But so the game, which in addition to the positive outcome appeared to move at a much brisker pace than Tuesday, boiled down to Robert Gsellman's ability to just be his own bridge, keep the Phillies at bay and keep the Mets in the game, and he did that. Gsellman hadn't been especially good in either of his first two outings, and yes, one of them was the 16-inning game last week but in neither game did we see the toughness he'd displayed late last season. Wednesday night, we saw it back and for the most part he looked really good. He made himself the 1st starting pitcher to make the 8th inning this season by allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts through the first 7 innings. Yes, the Phillies annoyingly undid his effort by tying the game in excruciating fashion. However, Gsellman more importantly kept a majority of the Mets' relievers in the bullpen, which was good because I already discussed how the bullpen is burned out 3 weeks into the season and that's not safe.

Meanwhile, the offense continued to stagnate. Curtis Granderson isn't hitting which isn't anything new because he always starts slow. Jose Reyes isn't hitting and is kind of becoming a liability to the point where maybe it's time to just give Wilmer Flores the job or give Amed Rosario a buzz. And of course if that wasn't bad enough, two guys who were hitting, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, left the game with injuries. Duda got banged in a rather ugly-looking collision at 1st base and at this point diagnosis seems uncertain. d'Arnaud banged his hand on someone's bat and later came out which is concerning because every time d'Arnaud comes out of a game because of an injury we don't see him again for two months, but hopefully it doesn't come to that. So, it came down to the one guy left who's been hitting, and that's Jay Bruce. I went into this season talking about how Bruce seemed out of place here and he may still be out of place here but to his credit all he's done this season is shut up and hit and basically he won this game by himself. The Mets looked dead in the water until Bruce hit a 3-run Home Run in the 6th to put the Mets ahead and then in the 8th, after the Phillies tied the game, he basically decided he'd had enough of this and hit another Home Run, this one a 2-run job, to put the Mets ahead for good and, of all things, earning himself a curtain call. And, well, he deserves it. I don't know how long this will last, I don't know how long he is for this team, I know he's a Free Agent to be, but hell, he needed to have a start like this because there's multiple players here that could very easily take his job and he's making it hard for anyone to do that right now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can't Mets Today

The Mets played an eminently forgettable game against the Phillies on Tuesday night in which they managed to progressively abandon all useful fundamentals of the game of Baseball more and more as the game progressed. They blew a lead late in the game and then had a total meltdown once the game went into extra innings, the end result being a miserable 6-2 loss. I'm so glad I was there to be a part of it.

This was, of course, my first night game of the season, and my first April Night game of the season, so it goes without saying that the piss-poor weather conditions already put a damper on the proceedings. The older I get, the less I enjoy these April games, which is kind of disheartening, but let's face it. With age comes common sense and common sense would dictate that it's just not the world's greatest idea to sit outside for close to 4 hours when the temperature is 48˚ with gusty winds. But I guess I won't have wised up for certain until I just don't go in April altogether. That may never happen.

Irregardless, this was my first game in my new seats down in Section 418, as opposed to several seasons in 512 or 513. I thought, by moving down, that I might be escaping some of the riffraff that occupies those sections but I see I'm mistaken; plenty of Metsplainers seem to sit down there as well, speaking loudly, not making sense, getting things wrong and generally doing enough to bother me and yet not enough for me to do anything about it.

There was a game, and Zack Wheeler started for the Mets. Wheeler is still figuring out how to be a Major Leaguer at this point, which is fine. He was hardly what I'd consider crisp, he threw way too many pitches, but to his credit he got himself out of jams every time he was in one and although he only made it through 5 innings, the only run he allowed scored on an Odubel Herrera Home Run. He left with a tenuous 2-1 lead. This probably should have been more, particularly considering the way Zach Eflin came out at the start of the game. Wheeler's command can be erratic, but Eflin's was basically non-existent in the 1st inning. Jay Bruce drove home Michael Conforto with a single to tie the game, and later Cespedes scored on a Wild Pitch. By any indication, this should have been a cakewalk from there.

But that didn't materialize. The Mets basically stopped hitting completely from there and though Eflin didn't impress, the Mets didn't capitalize and so the game remained at 2-1 into the late innings. Hansel Robles threw the 6th and when he inevitably got in trouble, Josh Smoker bailed him out. Smoker took it into the 7th before handing it over to Fernando Salas. Salas got through the 7th and appeared primed to get through the 8th as well before he ran out of gas. I suppose it's an indictment on Terry Collins and the use of his bullpen but a Manager can only use the pieces he's got, and I'm not quite certain why Salas is gassed 3 weeks into the season, but he went and walked Cameron Rupp with 2 outs. He probably had Freddy Galvis struck out outright, but even so he got Galvis to pop up to 3rd, which should have ended the inning except that Jose Reyes had a hard time of Baseball and dropped the ball. I'm not sure what the excuse was—I don't especially care—and after Blevins replaced Salas it seemed mere formality that Andres Blanco would drive home the tying run, and were this a kind world the lead run would have scored too but for Collins challenging the play and the hit being determined to have been a Ground Rule double. So the game was merely tied.

Again, if this game made sense, the Mets would have gotten off the mat and fed the Phillies bullpen their lunch as they are wont to do. But they couldn't hit Edubray Ramos, they couldn't hit Hector Neris, they couldn't hit Luis Garcia even though he seemed determined to hand them the game in the 9th. I feel like it should be a Kangaroo Court offense to swing at a 3-1 pitch in the 8th or 9th inning of a game, because 11 times out of 10 it's a total sucker pitch, but that's what Neil Walker did in the 9th and instead of probably working out a leadoff walk, he flew out and set the stage for the Mets to fade out quietly.

The game then moved to Extra Innings, and everyone basically got up and left, except for me and maybe a couple hundred other people. The people that left had the right idea. It was only getting colder and the game had already stretched well over 3 hours. Rafael Montero took the mound for the 10th and, well, we know what happened from there. More abandoned fundamentals ensued and it didn't help that Montero once again came up small in a key spot and I'm starting to wonder whether he just doesn't have it in him to pitch competitively at the Major League level. It seems to be OK in the minors but he can't pull it together here and I've kind of had enough. A hit off his heel, a pair of rockets, Phillies have the lead, Reyes looks old, Cabrera looks slow and by time the rally can be stopped, 4 runs have scored and the only thing to be done is just finish quickly and get out of there.

Someday I may pass on these games entirely. In fact maybe I've done that already since this is but my 2nd game of the season and this was Home Game #7. In my youth I might have charged out to another game during Opening Week. Now, as it sits, I'm not scheduled to go back until next week. Part of me is entertaining going to one of the Washington games this weekend but I need to be sure of the forecast before I make any further ill-advised decisions.