Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unexciting Excitement

A lifeless 6-1 Met loss to the Beautiful Barves was followed with the news that the Mets had called up Dilson Herrera to replace the disabled Daniel Murphy. The general consensus, or at least my general consensus is, well, why not? Nothing else has sparked the Mets offense on a consistent basis. The 20-year old Herrera to this point has had a very under-the-radar great season between A and AA ball. He may be known to most as "the other guy" the Mets got from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd trade last season, and he may be completely in over his head making the jump from Binghamton to New York, but there's no particularly good reason for the Mets to not call him up. Wilmer Flores hasn't hit with any real consistency, Ruben Tejada is what we thought he was and David Wright is lost in the Keith Hernandez Dark Forest and battling through an injury that needs a good offseason's rest. So, why not Herrera now? See what he can do.

The news on Herrera is a good distraction to make everyone forget about the shit show that was tonight's game. Jon Niese had a good game that ended up being yet another good bad game thanks to some wind-aided extra base hits in the 8th inning, and after he departed, the bullpen did their part to ensure that the Mets would have no opportunity to come back or even attempt to face Craig Kimbrel. Daisuke Matsuzaka returned from the DL and promptly surrendered a monstrous Home Run to Ryan Donuts and that was pretty much the end of that.

The Mets are now done with the Barves in Citi Field for the season, and so they depart and the Phillies come in for their final visit of the season this weekend. I'm away visiting my Cleveland relatives so the weekend series may be glossed over entirely from where I'm sitting. The Indians are also out of town, so I won't even have a chance to see a game at Jacobs Field. This looks to be a rather sparse weekend from a Baseball standpoint, although I'm sure I'll get Dilson Herrera updates from someplace. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stupid Rerun

I tuned out a brief portion of the latter half of the Mets game tonight, and when I resumed watching, it seemed to me that the game had ended and SNY had decided they would randomly air a rerun of the 9th inning of the Mets/Nationals game from August 13th, in which the Mets, trailing by a run, rallied to get the tying and winning runs in scoring position with less than 2 outs, and rather than plating one or two runs, instead got a runner thrown out at Home, followed by a meek, game-ending out.

Then, I saw Craig Kimbrel on the mound, and I realized that it wasn't a rerun, it was just the Mets being the Mets. My stance on Kimbrel is no secret; he's a closet choke artist, and the Mets have come perilously close to proving it on several occasions, and in fact have completed the job of hanging a few blown saves on his head. Considering how well they tend to hit him, you would think it might have happened more often than it actually has. Nonetheless, the Mets haven't been game enough to finish the job on most nights, whether it was due to a great, game-saving catch or a general inability to get the key hit, and last night that reared its ugly head once again as Ruben Tejada hit into a Fielder's Choice to get Eric Campbell thrown out at home, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with the game-ending pop out to seal a 3-2 Mets loss.

Prior to that, the Mets did little to support another fine outing from Zack Wheeler, who got himself through 7 innings in spite of the fact that he appeared to be struggling more than he actually was. He allowed a leadoff Home Run to Jason Heyward, and another two runs in an excruciating 3rd inning that Wheeler had gotten himself out of, except that Tejada yakked on a ground ball from Meathead Evan Gattis with 2 outs and instead of ending the inning, resulted in an Error and a 3rd run home for the Barves, and on this night that was enough to provide a margin of victory.

Offensively, the Mets mustered a Wilmer Flores Home Run off of Julio Teheran and that's about it. They rallied in the 8th when dainty Jordan Walden came in, pranced across the mound and allowed an RBI single to Juan Lagares, but Lucas Duda turned back into a pumpkin and hit into a Double Play, and Travis d'Arnaud had the poor fortune of grounding a ball in the hole between Shortstop and 3rd that was not quite far enough to get by Overrated Andrelton Simmons, and so Simmons was able to make the play, throw out d'Arnaud at 1st and make everyone cream themselves over how he's God's Gift to Shortstops.

Then, of course, came the 9th, and the Mets getting Chokemaster Kimbrel on the ropes but, try as they might, they couldn't seal the deal and instead ended up turning the game into another reason for people to hop on the Barves Brown-nosing Bandwagon. And, hey, why not? At 5 games over .500 and 6 games out of 1st place, how could you not get behind them?! Excuse me while I go vomit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Double Play's The Thing

It was a beautiful evening at Citi Field tonight, for a multitude of reasons. Many mitigating circumstances, paramount among them the fact that the Mets beat the Braves 3-2 in a crisp, 2 hour, 27 minute game served to make my 14th game of the season at Citi Field immensely enjoyable. The win brought me back to 2 games over .500 for the season, at 8-6 at Citi Field, and also brought me to 2-1 for the season against the Braves. So much good went on in this one, the only thing I was able to complain about was that my burger had a stale bun. When Citi Field stale bread is the low point of the evening, it was probably a pretty good game.

Some particular highlights I took away tonight include Dillon Gee, who's had a string of semi-tolerable to lousy starts over the past month or so, got his act together and pitched rather well, not allowing the Barves a hit until the 4th inning and keeping them down until the 7th inning when he ran out of steam and turned things over to The Familia/Mejia Report. Juan Lagares had his usual sterling effort in Center Field, picking off a multitude of fly balls of assorted difficulty and making all of them look rather easy in the process. Offensively, his second inning single helped move along Travis d'Arnaud so that he could eventually score the Mets first run of the game. Two innings later, his Home Run into the Left Field seats plated d'Arnaud in front of him and provided the Mets with the eventual winning runs. The weather, which had become uncomfortably hot during the day, had cooled down to a rather pleasant, breezy 87˚ at game time and although I wasn't paying attention it probably went down during the game. The game itself, as I mentioned, was only 2:27, over before 9:40 and allowing me to make a quick exit and be home before 11pm, which is when I sometimes turn into a pumpkin.

However, the most enjoyable thing for me, other than the general fact that the Mets beat the Braves, was seeing the wildly overrated Barves hit into 4 Double Plays over the course of the game. This is something that at certain times has been an all too familiar sight for the Mets, but tonight, it was the Braves turn to continually shoot themselves in the foot, and I can't tell you how delightful it was to witness. Four times, the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 9th innings, the Braves got their leadoff man on, and in each of those instances they managed to screw it up. It was beautiful. Gee (or Mejia in the case of the 9th inning) got a Ground ball (or in the 5th inning, a well-placed line drive right at Lucas Duda) in the right spot, and whether it was Ruben Tejada or Eric Campbell starting it, the result was the same, 2 outs and a budding rally cut off before it could go anywhere. When your offense can only generate 3 runs and 5 hits for the night, you can still manage to win a game if your defense can put forth an effort like the one we saw tonight. If you can induce your opponent to hit into 4 Double Plays, well, you've done an excellent job of making them look like schmucks, but you've also given yourself an excellent chance to win the game, and when Mejia froze Evan Gattis with a fastball at the knees for the final strike, the Mets had done just that. They won this game on the basis of pitching and defense and one well-placed hit, and you'd have to think that if the Mets are going to find success in the future, they'll have to have plenty of games like this, where they pitch well and play outstanding defense. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wonder Of Wonders

It seems to be that, about once a week, the Mets have these anomaly games where the offense wakes up and decides to hit with authority, and they score a bunch of runs early and coast to an easy win. Sunday in Los Angeles of all places, they had one of these games. Lucas Duda continued his renaissance season with a pair of Home Runs, Travis d'Arnaud hit another Home Run, and even Ruben Tejada joined in on the fun with his 3rd Home Run of the season, all in support of Bartolo Colon, who had another of his typically efficient outings as the Mets cruised—cruisedto a 11-3 win in, of all places, Dodger Stadium, where they had enough of a lead that there was no way they could screw it up and let the Dodgers backdoor their way into the game.

It seemed fitting that the Mets would explode offensively and even manage to turn a Triple Play on defense in support of Bartolo Colon, who was certainly pitching with a heavy heart following the passing of his mother, but true to the stoic gamesman that he is, Colon found his sanctuary on the mound and his teammates rallied around him. You can certainly say many things about Colon. You can't doubt his heart, and Sunday's game was certainly an example. It certainly seemed to inspire his teammates; they attacked Kevin Correia from the start, belting Home Runs in each of the first 3 innings, and for good measure mixing in a Juan Lagares RBI triple.

The Dodgers best chance against Colon came in a 6th inning that saw them rally for a run on an Adrian Gonzalez single that put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and brought Matt Kemp to the plate. But Colon induced Kemp to ground into a rather easy Double Play, which would have been just fine in and of itself. However, Yasiel Puig, who had been the runner on 2nd, had an attack of whatever it is that makes him Yasiel Puig, and decided to steam right on through 3rd base and try to score. Alertly, Lucas Duda threw home, in time to nail Puig by a good 20 feet and seal the deal on the Triple Play, something the Mets seem to manage once every 4-5 years or so, and the kind of play that seemed to typify the way things were going for them this particular afternoon. Spurred on even more by the Triple Play, the Mets went out and iced the game with 3 more runs in the 7th inning.

So, the Mets actually won a game in Los Angeles, where it feels like they constantly do nothing but foul up and throw games away (somehow it seems that they'd only lost 6 consecutive games in LA—it felt like they hadn't won there since 2008), and finish off this somewhat abbreviated road trip at 2-3. This is mediocrity at it's finest, winning 2 of 5 games on a road trip, and yes, I suppose that the quality of the opponent has to be taken into account, but considering they frittered away two of the three games in LA and exploded for 19 runs in the two games they won, they ought to have had better results. Now, they come home and don't have to go back to the West Coast until 2015, where hopefully the schedule makers do a better job of building these road trips.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You're Getting Old

Not even the return of Jacob deGrom could solve the Mets Dodger Stadium woes. In spite of the fact that deGrom was throwing quite well and staked to a 3-0 lead, the Dodgers continually put pressure on him and eventually overwhelmed him on their way to yet another come-from-behind win over the Mets Saturday night.

deGrom certainly didn't appear to be suffering any ill effects from the shoulder injury that had him on the shelf for two weeks. For a majority of his 6 inning outing, he looked perfectly fine as far as the quality of his pitches. The problem was that the Dodgers were hitting his pitches, and the end result was that the 3-run lead he received courtesy of a Juan Lagares Home Run didn't hold up. Adrian Gonzalez, who tagged him for a Home Run when these teams met in New York, tagged him for another one—a 3-run shot in the 5th inning that basically turned the game around—and the Mets as usual mounted very little in response against Zack Greinke.

deGrom's worst outing in weeks coming immediately after he came off the DL isn't especially alarming. The Dodgers knocked him around in New York as well, so sometimes a team just has your number, especially when you're a young pitcher. What was particularly alarming was the night David Wright had, particularly when measured against what's been a really bad season for the Mets Captain. It hasn't been talked about much, but very quietly Wright has had a patently awful season and last night's game seemed to hammer that point home with emphasis.

Wright had already grounded out to short, and hit into a pair of Double Plays by time the 7th inning rolled around. With the Dodgers ahead 5-4, and rallying against a tiring Greinke, the Dodgers decided to intentionally walk Daniel Murphy with two outs to pitch to Wright. In his formative seasons, intentionally walking someone in front of David Wright was an invitation to disaster, because Wright would get pissed off and hammer the first good pitch he saw. Now, you could almost sense Wright swinging out of his shoes as soon as he walked to the plate. He flailed at the first pitch, fouled off the second pitch, somehow laid off a pitch that was off the plate, and then swung and missed at the slider that's bedeviled him his entire career. Inning over, Rally over, and when the Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the last of the 7th, the game for all intents and purposes was over. The Mets weren't coming back, and just to spread a little more mustard on a night that was overcooked, Wright struck out again to finish the game and cap off an 0-for-5 night.

It's tough to say whether or not it's this shoulder injury that Wright has been dealing with that's been the cause of his woes, or maybe it's just the years of unsuitable lineup protection that have caught up with him, or, perhaps it's just the fact that he's a 10-year veteran, and at age 31, he's getting old. Granted, 31 isn't especially old in Baseball years, and Wright is certainly being paid like someone that's got a whole lot of years left in him. Hopefully this is just an injury issue that he's just trying to play through because that's his M.O., but it's not especially smart when this is the result we're getting out of him. Whatever it is, he won't say and he won't take himself out of the lineup either. So this is what we're stuck with.

Joy and rapture, the Mets still have one more game to play in LA. Is anyone at all optimistic?