Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Relief

Only the Mets, at this point in the season, can make a victory into an excruciating task.

I can't even begin to tell you how glad I'll be when the Mets are finally done with the Nationals after tonight. I don't know if I can take any more of them, their pesky hitters, their dopey fielders and their no-name bullpen. I'm sick of them. They hang around and hang around and make me insane. They did it last week and they did it again this week.

Not that the Mets have done anything to exert their superiority over them. Last night was just another example of this. It seemed to be a carbon copy of both of the games they played last week at Shea. If there is any bit of solace to be taken from last night's win, it's that at least the offense showed up. I was beginning to get seriously worried there.

I suppose it was somewhat fortunate that I had to work late last night and didn't see any of the first 8 1/2 innings of the game, because the 9th inning damn near killed me. I was afforded liberal updates throughout on my phone, however, and as I was heading home, I began to check it with more and more of a panicked frequency, as I saw a game that went from 7-1 to 8-2 to 9-5 with runners on 1st and 3rd, no outs in the 8th and Scott Schoeneweis replacing Aaron Heilman.

Just the kind of scenario that warms the hearts of every Mets fan, no doubt.

I was unaware of the fact that the offense had exploded for 4 HRs, and that the bullpen parade was now locked in a desperate struggle to hold the lead. I didn't know that Schoeneweis was the 4th of what would be 7 relievers Jerry Manuel would trot out in order to hold down those mighty Nationals. All I knew was that disaster was imminent. I kept hitting the refresh button. It remained 9-5, bottom 8th. All of a sudden, it read 9-5, Top 9th. I exhaled. It proved to be too soon, but I exhaled. I tried to enjoy my dinner in the bottom of the 9th, but the Mets just wouldn't let me do it. Joe Smith allowed two men to reach. Pedro Feliciano got two outs and was one strike away before Wil Nieves got the typical Nationals hit, a poke job off the end of the bat that just managed to flare out to a place in the field where nobody could catch it, scoring two runs and bringing the tying run to the plate. Luis Ayala was summoned. I knew what happened last time he was out there. I wasn't comfortable. I wasn't enjoying this. My food was getting cold. Mercifully, he struck out Roger Bernadina. Finally, I could breathe and eat again.

At least for the moment.

8 pitchers to hold down the Nationals and ensure the Mets win a game that was an absolute must-win. But I think they're all must win at this point. Between Philly and Milwaukee and Houston and Atlanta as a spoiler, there's not much new to say about the state of things. There's not much time to enjoy a 6-run lead, especially when hanging on to that lead for the remainder of the game is a questionable proposition. Jerry Manuel was, at least, able to joke about Johan Santana throwing a 170-pitch complete game tonight, but the scary thing is that the way things look right now, he just might have to. Manuel also agreed with my assessment of things: This isn't fun, and I'm not enjoying this. He's not enjoying it either.

"No, I'm not enjoying this. Are you crazy? Walking out there every three minutes? [Fans] didn't come to see me. They come to see the guys play."

It is fortunate that Santana, who can be the ultimate equalizer in this mess, can take the ball every 5 days. Hopefully, his teammates will be able to provide the necessary backing. 9 runs with Santana on the mound looks a hell of a lot better than 9 runs with Brandon Knight and company on the mound.

No comments: