Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Man Up

After 8 and a half innings, I was probably in as foul a mood as Matt Harvey. I was all set to be subjected to an endless barrage of hooting and hollering from the legions of Yankee fans, ready to crap on the Mets, running around crowing about how "Dat Harvey ain't so tough (drool drool duh)" and "You knew he'd fold against a REAL TEAM (snort duh drool)." It was playing out, more or less, like all of Harvey's starts have gone lately: He goes out, pitches great, gives up a run, maybe two, and leaves with the game either tied or the Mets behind because his stupid teammates can't get him a run. And tonight, it was going to cost him his first loss of the season, and of course it was going to come against the Yankees, on a run that probably shouldn't have scored.

Hiroki Kuroda, whom I will forever remember melting down on the mound at Shea Stadium on a Sunday night in 2008, somehow went from that to becoming a pitcher of reasonable regard, and at the moment the best thing the Yankees have going. That's all fine and good, but he's not nearly as good as the Mets probably made him look over his 7 innings. Harvey, on the other hand, is as good as he looks, and against the Yankees, he basically did what he's done all season long and pitched a good game with pretty much zero margin for error. He snaked his way out of a jam in the 3rd by gassing Cano with 2 men on and other than that, the Yankees posed little threat. That is, until the 6th, when Brett Gardner, who has officially become Annoying Brett Gardner for what he's done in this series, led off with a single that Marlon Byrd misplayed, allowing Garner to 2nd. This, of course, was the kind of stupid break the Yankees usually get, and although Harvey damn near got out of that mess, an errant changeup to Scrap-Heaper Lyle Overbay ended up shot through the middle to bring Annoying Gardner home with the lead run.

It appeared for all the world that this run would hold up, primarily because the Mets just couldn't get out of their own way. Ruben Tejada got on in the last of the 6th, and advanced on a Passed Ball, but Wright struck out and then Tejada managed to get himself unconscionably picked off 2nd base, a play so badly botched that the umpire screwed up the call and made Terry Collins throw enough of a fit to get himself thrown out.

Harvey, who by this point appeared to have smoke coming out of his ears, came back, shook off getting hit in the back by a line drive (and likely would have thrown Ray Ramirez back into the dugout had the situation presented itself) and pitched two more scoreless innings, finishing up allowing 1 run, 6 hits and no walks with 10 strikeouts over his 8 innings. That might not have been enough to stop the Yankee fan from screaming "'Ey, Harvey sucks (duh slobber slobber)!" but those who paid attention would at least appreciate that they were fortunate to get the one run they did, take the victory and shut up. But, sometimes, that's a bit much to expect.

So, it came down to the last of the 9th, with the Great Rivera about to come in, throw the same pitch over and over again and retire the Mets with a quickness. If most Major Leaguers over the last 18 seasons haven't been able to figure out his stupid cutter, what chance would these Bum-ass Mets have? Which is why calling the final 9 pitches of the game shocking doesn't do it enough justice. Somehow, the Mets, who spent the entire night unable to get out of their own way, grew some Yarbles, dug in and knocked Rivera around. Fittingly, it was Daniel Murphy and David Wright at the center of the rally, since they're the only position players who seem to act with any kind of a sense of urgency. Murphy just sort of reached out and flicked a cutter just enough for it to drop inside the left field line and bounce into the stands, instantly jump-starting an inning. Wright, who already has a history of success against Rivera, subsequently shot another cutter right back up the middle to score Murphy and tie the game. Gardner, who had been a royal pain in the ass the last two nights, finally gave it back by alligator-arming the ball home; a bad enough throw that not only did Chris Stewart not handle it, but Murphy kicked it away, allowing Wright to go to 2nd (Rivera did not back up Stewart either, which didn't help). That brought it up to Lucas Duda, who, for as empty as his numbers have been of late, can sometimes run into a pitch and make something good happen. Fortuitously, this was one of those moments, and his looper to right fell in front of Ichiro, allowing Wright to dash home with the winning run and set off a raucous celebration, which culminated in Duda getting the coveted "double-pie" from Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada.

So, the Mets have somehow managed to sweep the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series, the first time they've swept a leg of these games since 2008. The pitching both nights was great, the hitting was terrible, and yet somehow the Mets managed to win both games by doing the absolute minimum necessary. Of course, both nights it was the same people doing the heavy lifting, but then again, that's why we keep having faith in Daniel Murphy and why David Wright makes the big bucks. It's for moments like these, little victories in a lost season, that keep things interesting and worth paying attention to. Because even though the Great Rivera has never blown a save without recording an out, you never suspect that it's going to be that lousy Mets team that's going to be the one to do it to him. Mostly, however, it was nice that the Mets were able to treat Rivera the way they should be treating him—Rudely—rather than the nauseating lather job that the higher-uppers lavished on him before the game. Bears repeating, but maybe if upper management were more interested in themselves, rather than kissing the asses of their rivals, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

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