Monday, August 29, 2016

Third Game Snooze

There was a season, some time ago, where the Mets had this problem of being unable to finish out a sweep. No matter how many times they would win the first two games of a series, they would inevitably come out flat and complacent in the 3rd game, and then lose, and eventually those losses would bite them in the ass. I can't remember the year. Let's just say it was all of them.

The Mets did this again on Sunday against the Phillies, as they came out flat against Vince Velasquez. It didn't help that they once again decided to play a game shorthanded as both Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker were held out of the lineup. This was bad enough, but then Asdrubal Cabrera was lost in the 1st inning after colliding with Tommy Joseph on a bad throw at 1st Base. The Mets subsequently loaded the bases with 1 out and ended up scoring one run...and that was the sum total of their output for the day.

Robert Gsellman acquitted himself well enough in his first Major League start that kind of felt like his second, until you remember that he didn't actually start in St. Louis. Regardless, he did fine against the Phillies lineup, which remember isn't much of a lineup these days, but he also got plenty of help from the Phillies in the process. In the 3rd, Freddy Galvis doubled and moved to 3rd on a Velasquez sacrifice. He then proceeded to pull one of the worst baserunning moves conceivable. Cesar Hernandez attempted what I guess was a safety squeeze, but he bunted the ball basically right back to Gsellman, who looked Galvis back to 3rd and then threw to 1st for the out. THEN Galvis decided to break for home, where James Loney threw him out by a good 30 feet.

In the 4th, the Phillies looked similarly foolish when, with two outs and men on 1st and 2nd, Jimmy Paredes lifted a high fly ball to right that, for a second, looked horrifyingly close to being a 3-run Home Run. But it instead bounced off the wall, and scored the tying run with ease. Aaron Altherr should have been right on the heels of the lead runner, but for some reason he started coasting, then looked back to see where the ball was, rather than looking at his frantically-waving 3rd base coach Juan Samuel, and then was subsequently thrown out at home, while Samuel nodded disapprovingly and Keith Hernandez had a conniption fit.

Gsellman was then cruising along until the 7th, when his luck ran out and he gave up 3 straight hits to start the inning. It's debatable as to whether or not Gsellman should have even started the inning, but I had no problem sending him back out there. Then again, when he got in trouble, I probably would not have gone to Hansel Robles, who's been terrible of late, to get out of this particular jam. Maybe go to one of the other 8 relievers you're insistently carrying instead of a useful bat off the bench? Robles, of course, torched the whole game, allowing a 2-run double to A.J. Ellis, walking another guy, and then hitting Peter Bourjos to score another run before departing to a chorus of boos. Once again, he's proved that there's no in-between with him; he's either really good, or he's absolutely putrid and you can usually tell after 3-4 pitches which one you're going to get.

By this point, the game was beyond salvage and the Mets faded out with a 5-1 loss.

You hate games like this because it can be a bit of a momentum killer, and it didn't help that they started the game short two starters and finished short 3 starters. On the other hand, I can see the Mets wanting to show a little precaution because the next four games could conceivably make or break the season as the Mickey Mouse Marlins are coming to town. Yes, if you can stomach the thought, this fake-ass team is actually a game ahead of the Mets and, really, I'm totally dumbfounded as to why this is the case. To make matters worse, they're starting the series tonight with Jose Fernandez, while the Mets have had to dip down to Binghamton for Rafael Montero. Remember him? He actually pitched in two games this April. I'd forgotten that completely. But here now he's coming up in a really big spot in what Mets fans should really view as a week for pure, unadulterated sports hatred. You want to pay the Fucking Marlins back for all those years of being a pain in the ass and put them back in their rightful place as irrelevant? Now's the time to do it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

All The Love

The Mets raked the Phillies over the coals on Friday night and on Saturday they did more of the same, as they whacked another 4 Home Runs, one of them a Grand Slam, and coasted behind 7 strong innings from Noah Syndergaard to win a genuine laugher, a 12-1 victory that gave them their second 3-game winning streak in a week.

For once, I actually was around to see a game from start to finish, as my evening was free and my other half was out for the night, and although I was up early for odd business, I was also finished early and as such, came home and took a nap well before game time, so I was up and raring to see a game from start to finish, and oh, did I see a game.

Syndergaard against the Phillies should in most cases be a mismatch, and on this night it was. His late-Summer rally continued as he delivered his third straight sterling effort. The Phillies, who were a bit of an early-season surprise thanks to their young pitching, have come back to earth as the rigors of the season more than caught up with them, and as such, their lineup, which continues to feature the carcass of Ryan Howard, and a multitude of youngsters, were little match for Syndergaard. Outside of a solo Home Run by Freddy Galvis in the 3rd inning, that seemed to be more of an accident than anything else, the Phillies barely made a peep against him. Over 7 innings, Syndergaard whipped the Phillies to the tune of 1 run on 2 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.

The Galvis Home Run gave the Phillies a temporary lead, but in reality I suppose it was a matter of making Bruce Banner angry, because once the Phillies got ahead, the Mets got angry and started dropping haymakers on Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson, who works at a pace that's somewhere in between Steve Trachsel and Daisuke Matsuzaka, divided by the square root of Hansel Robles, allowed a leadoff single to Jose Reyes in the bottom of the 3rd, then started getting peckish because he was afraid Reyes would steal, and ultimately left a fastball down over the plate for Asdrubal Cabrera to golf it into the seats.

Helllickson ate his own milk again in the 4th inning. With one out, he gave up a double to Syndergaard, who has 7 hits this season, 6 of which have gone for extra bases, and then a single to Reyes. Though he got Cabrera out, he then set out to try to get Cespedes, and after working the count to 2-2, Cespedes started fouling off every pitch. When Cespedes gets into one of these at bats, where he's wasting pitches and the Pitcher isn't fooling him, well, you kind of know where this is going, and where it went was in someone's wine glass on the porch of the Acela Club Porsche Grill for a moonshot of a 3-run Home Run to extend the Mets lead to 5-1.

The Mets didn't score again until the 7th, when they decided to treat Michael Mariot as well as they did Hellickson. Although Mariot did himself no favors by walking the first two batters of the inning, and then a hit and a walk later nearly allowing a Grand Slam to Alejandro De Aza. De Aza's hit didn't go over the fence, but it also didn't land in the glove of Odubel Herrera and as such a pair of runs scored. A walk and a strikeout subsequent to De Aza, Mariot then actually allowed a Grand Slam to Kelly Johnson, which represented the Mets 2nd in as many games and opened up the score to 11-1. With the Wheels officially having come off, Mariot was finally removed from the game, but not until he'd allowed another hit to Reyes, you know, just for good measure.

In the 8th, Neil Walker added the frosting by hitting a solo Home Run, because at that point, why the hell not?

The Mets, then, have done what they needed to do to keep this thing going, and can now go for the kill this afternoon against the Phillies before the Fake Team comes to town for an absurdly important 4-game series. The Mets, though, seem to be clicking, and enjoying themselves again. Jose Reyes, who I've already said has just been a joy to have back here, seems to be acting like the Jose Reyes we remember, and has made himself some new friends in Cabrera and Cespedes, who were seen doing some weird Home Run Mosh Pit dance in the dugout. This, of course, is nothing new for Reyes. It's good to see it again.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chugging Away

After several weeks of inconsistency combined with ineptitude, the Mets have now gotten themselves back together, it seems. The team had mostly just been existing for about 6 weeks after the All Star Break, after two months where they had been playing. And I'm not sure if I can call it anything beyond that.

But now, some of these injured guys are coming back, and getting a little more comfortable, and now after whacking the Phillies around for a 9-4 victory, the Mets have won 5 of their last 6 games and dragged themselves back into the conversation for the second Wildcard spot. Of course, there are four other teams involved in this equation and maybe five depending on whether the Giants and Dodgers can get out of each other's way, and the Mets are at the rear of this particular group.

Point is, the odds are kind of against them, but at the same time nobody has broken away from the pack, so if the Mets can continue this little hot streak while everyone else muddles around, maybe they can interject themselves further into the conversation.

Games like tonight's help, as Bartolo Colon had another typical Bartolo game, holding the Phillies in check for 7 innings, picking up two hits, including a double, and bringing down the house, and the Mets rode 4 Home Runs home from there.

The Mets were hitting early and often against Adam Morgan. Jose Reyes started things off with a Home Run, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with one of his own. The last time the Mets had started a game with back-to-back Home Runs happened to be a game I was at, back in the forgettable season of 2007, and also involved Jose Reyes. And just to wax poetic on Reyes for a second, I know it was a lifetime ago for Reyes as a player and it feels like even moreso for the Mets as a franchise. And I know that the circumstances that brought him back to the Mets were rather shameful. And I know it may be purely nostalgia talking, but I really love having Jose Reyes back on the Mets. This just feels right.

All that being said, the Mets were riding these Home Runs and Bartolo through the game. In the 5th, Colon doubled, splitting the gap between Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera, if those are indeed the guys that the Phillies are trotting out these days. It was so well hit that even Colon at his glacial pace was able to make it to 2nd with ease. A few batters later, with two outs, Neil Walker rooked his way into a walk after about a 10-pitch at bat that emptied Morgan's tank to the point where the first pitch he threw to the next batter, Wilmer Flores, was parked into the Left Field seats for a Grand Slam that put the game out of reach.

The rest of the game was mostly uneventful. Cabrera hit a 2nd Home Run in the 6th. After the 7th, Colon was asked if he had another inning in him, and he coyly flashed two fingers, and of course if Colon could bang out two hits and throw a Complete Game, well, wouldn't that be something, but it wasn't in the cards as the Phillies started hitting him in the 8th. But, you know, not to the point of any concern.

So this rather crucial 10-game homestand is off to a good start. Fine. Now they have to keep it going. Everyone appears to be moving like Bartolo of late.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Guy Who Hung Around

The Mets had already run out to a 3-0 lead on Thursday night by time the 5th inning rolled around and things really started tilting in their favor.

With 1 out, Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk. James Loney followed by dunking a hit in a particular spot where no Outfielder could possibly have caught it, which might be the story of his season to this point. Cespedes, seeing this, turned on his jets and headed for 3rd. The throw, whose originator escapes me, to Adam Wainwright at 3rd appeared to be in plenty of time to get Cespedes. Except that all of a sudden Wainwright lost his glove under Cespedes' cleat, and following a review, Cespedes was called safe. I've seen Pitchers have to chuck their entire glove to 1st Base on a comebacker, but this one's a new one on me.

Point is, when you get a break such as this, good things tend to happen.

One out later, Greg Garcia yakked on a Wilmer Flores ground ball that probably would have ended the inning outright, and Cespedes scored. One batter later, Alejandro De Aza, who one inning earlier drove in 2 runs with a single, slammed a Wainwright offering into the Cardinals bullpen for a 3-run Home Run that essentially put the game out of reach at 7-0, put Wainwright in the showers, and put a well-deserved puss on the faces of Cardinals fans.

For De Aza, it was his 2nd 3-run Home Run in a week, after a season in which I'd claimed he would be the first player to be DFA'd this season and he spent the first 3 months not playing well or not playing at all. But he's stuck with it and for all the pieces falling around him, he's been here all year and has come up with more key hits than one might realize. To say nothing of the 5 RBI he had tonight.

As far as falling pieces, well, the Mets had another fallen piece in the 6th, as Seth Lugo, who'd been pitching rather brilliantly over the first 5 innings, came down with a cramp and had to leave the game. This was, of course, the second time in two days this happened to the Mets in St. Louis, so you don't have to be a genius to figure out who's at fault here. I'm not sure why Ol' Cortisone Shot Ramirez can't figure this one out, because all you need to do is fucking hydrate before a game on a miserable humid day in St. Louis and maybe you can avoid cramping up, but this sort of logic seems to be beyond that gentleman's realm. But he still has a job, so what the hell do I know?

Regardless of the turd in that particular punchbowl, it didn't sink the Mets, who in spite of some spotty relief work from Jim Henderson, Josh Smoker and the mysteriously returned Sean Gilmartin did not allow the Cardinals a realistic chance of getting back in the game. Instead, the Mets offense tacked on a few more runs of their own (!) and won 10-6. So not only did they win this series in St. Louis altogether, but they managed to get themselves back to .500 on this road trip, and they're still hanging around in this Wildcard chase.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Done Before Its Time

I've been rather busy of late, which isn't anything new, but of course when I miss games completely and know little more than the final score and some rudimentary factoids it makes it difficult to write a well thought-out blog about it. Of course, on the other hand, most of the time what I write isn't exactly well thought-out anyway, so what's the difference?

For the second start in a row, Jacob deGrom didn't have it and got bombed all over the place by Cardinals batters, while, I can only assume, Cardinals fans behaved about as well as they did in New York, and even moreso seeing as how they were in their own stadium. But my concern is more with deGrom, who after 3 innings in San Francisco melted down, and what happened there carried over to here. He gave up 3 Home Runs, one in the 1st inning to Matt Carpenter, and later to Randal Grichuk and Steve Piscotty and he might have given up one to Mike Matheny as well if he'd been playing and not too busy congratulating himself for inventing Baseball. 5 runs and 12 hits in 5 innings doesn't give your team much of a fighting chance and, against Carlos Marthinez, might not give your team much of a chance at all.

So this all-too-brief Mets winning streak ends at 3 with this rather rude dose of reality and an 8-1 loss. These games will happen. The problem is that they've happened all too often this season and it's getting a little too late. And I don't think anything more needs to be said on the subject.