Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Worst Win Conceivable

It's funny, in a very frightening way, that the Mets managed to win three out of four games in Philadelphia over the weekend, in a series where they could just as easily have lost all 4 games.

The finale of this series should have been a walk in the park. But nooooooooooo. First, Tony Armas, then Heilman, then Wagner allowed Philly to stay around, and creep closer, and closer, and closer until we were all sweating and chewing on things we shouldn't be chewing on, and people like Shane Victorino are in the middle of things again, and the Mets are expending just about every bit of energy they have to hang on to a 10-9 victory that had no business being as close as it was.

Of course, when you win, you can laugh and joke, and invoke the spirit of Bob Murphy by yelling, "They win the Damn Thing!"

This wasn't a pretty game for either team. For the Phillies, it might be a worse loss than it was an awful victory for the Mets.

My co-worker said to me on Monday afternoon that the Mets are clearly in the Phillies heads. I don't know if this is some residual reverse bad feelings from the way last season played out, or something else. Neither team is an especially good team, and, much like last year, they're just going to trip over themselves all season, and whichever team can't get up first loses. But the Phillies seem to play as if the Mets are in their heads, because they could have easily won every game in this series, and managed to lose 3 of them. That's the kind of thing we'd often see out of the Mets. How do you manage to Out-Mets the Mets? That's quite an accomplishment.

Both teams seemed to play out this series with controlled desperation. But it wasn't desperation to win, it appeared as though it was more out of desperation not to screw themselves up, and each of these games turned into a battle of who would screw up the worst. On Friday, it was the Mets, first, with Johan swinging through pitches, then with the rest of the team swinging through pitches, and finally spitting it up when Philly had a momentary lapse of getting their act together in the 9th. Saturday, the Mets screwed up first by letting Philly tie and then take the lead. Then, J.C. Romero, Tom Gordon and Rudy Seanez screwed up by not only letting the Mets tie the game, but take the lead and pull away. Sunday, it was Wagner, screwing up against Werth. He was outdone by the Phillies offense, who couldn't get a key hit in extra innings when they had the winning run on base constantly. And then, there was last night, which defies explanation. First, the Mets bombard Adam Eaton, who they've never hit, for 8 runs in 3 innings. Then, Pedro departs, and the Mets bullpen, which, for the most part, has pitched well of late, takes over and immediately lets Philly build up some momentum and charge back into the game. Burrell homers, Howard homers, Jenkins homers, and all of a sudden, 10-1 is now 10-7 in a ballpark where you can blink and score 3 runs. Now, all of a sudden, the Mets fans who had turned the game off and gone to bed or wherever are sweating. Now, the team is poised to shit the bed in a most remarkable fashion, and who's coming in but the All-Star himself: Billy Franco Benitez Looper Wagner. And who's up first but little Shane Victorino, who kicks everything off with a double. And pretty soon, it just turns into two teams crawling to the finish. Wagner walks Eric Bruntlett and yet strikes out Ryan Howard. Pat Burrell hits a heart-attack inducing fly ball that stays in the park. Pedro Feliz reaches Wagner for a hit that scores a run and then scores another run when Beltran stupidly tries to throw Bruntlett out at 3rd. Then, it's Spiezio-Lite, who did it to Wagner Sunday. And somehow, Wagner gets him to pop out. Holy shit. The inning that took 10 years off my life.

Philly must feel like they've been kicked in the nuts right now. You lose on Saturday and Sunday, spitting it up both times, and then tonight you pull off this near-miracle of a comeback and still fall a run short. All that, and you still lost 3 of 4. That's not to say that the Mets should hold their heads high by any stretch. They won two games that they could just as easily have lost, and then nearly blew a 9-run lead in the finale.

Usually, when the Mets have a win as lousy as last night's, they end up going into a funk, losing 4 or 5 or something like that, and not hitting at all. I have a bad feeling about what this series has taken out of the Mets.

But they'll still hang around. Look who they're chasing.

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