Friday, June 21, 2013

Full Team Effort

I was making dinner in the 4th inning, so I didn't really see what exactly happened to Jonathon Niese until a replay was shown. All I know is that while tending to something on the stove, I heard Gary Cohen say something about "He's coming out of the game," and turned around to see Niese scowling and walking off the field.

Already down 3-2 at this point, and playing in Atlanta, where as I've said nothing good ever happens to the Mets, I figured this was probably the perfect point for the Mets to lay down and die. Needing the bullpen to cobble together the remainder of the game was, at best, a dicey proposition, and even if they managed to get through, was there any guarantee that the Mets would come back and generate enough runs to offset their deficit? David Wright, the lone Met who could be counted on, had already hit a pair of Home Runs, which was more than his quota for the day. Someone else had to step up.

I finished making my dinner and was sitting down to eat when one of my questions was answered, in the form of Andrew Brown, whom I derided yesterday as basically cannon fodder, but in this particular moment picked a good time to show his worth, socking a game-tying Home Run off Mike Minor, a parabolic shot that Ratso Upton looked like he had lined up until he ran out of room. Brown was up pinch hitting for David Aardsma, who, since mysteriously surfacing with the Mets a few weeks ago (and replacing Don Aase at the top of the Mets alphabetical roster), has pitched rather well, in spite of it often coming in a hopeless situation. Aardsma was the first man out of the bullpen Thursday, getting out of a minor jam after relieving Niese.

LaTroy Hawkins followed Brown and Aardsma and, after starting out the season looking like he'd be one of my daily flogs, has actually done a reasonably good job of shutting me up. I can't say he's been especially flashy, but for the most part he's been effective (although when he's ineffective, he's patently awful). His two innings of work, the 5th and 6th, featured two singles of little consequence, which was good for two reasons: a) It kept the game tied and b) it allowed me to enjoy my dinner.

Still, all these good pitching performances stood to go for naught if the Mets offense continued to not hit. Omar Quintanilla led off the 7th inning with a double, and he was followed by another Pinch Hitter, Josh Satin. Josh Satin has been another player I've deemed a useless spare part, and for the most part, that's kind of what he is, but, much like Andrew Brown, he had his shining moment in this game by slicing a line drive down the right field line that looked for all the world to be curling foul, but fell to the ground just soon enough to tap the foul line and bounce into the corner for the tie-breaking hit. So now, not only have the Mets been getting lights out work from the bullpen, but their offense managed to get them a lead. Satin then got thrown out at 3rd on a boneheaded baserunning play later in the inning, proving that even the least common denominator on a 25-man roster can sometimes shit a diamond.

Now working with a lead, Brandon Lyon took the mound and immediately walked Ratso Upton. Fortuitously, however, Fredo Upton immediately followed by hitting into a double play, allowing Lyon to get through the 7th with relative ease (and a minor note, I goofed the other night, mistakenly referring to the elder Upton brother as "Cheech," forgetting that he should properly be known as "Fredo"). Things got slightly hairy in the 8th, however, courtesy of a David Wright error. Lyon still appeared primed to get out of the inning, but for a broken bat bloop from Tyler Pastornicky (who appears to be one of those guys that is always going to annoy the hell out of you) that fell in with 2 outs, putting runners at the corners, Jason Heyward at the plate and Lyon in the dugout.

Josh Edgin was where I figured the Mets luck was going to run out. Edgin was miserable early in the season and no better since he's returned. But, given one shot, and after working the count full, he did manage to get Heyward to ground to Duda, who made the maddest of dashes to beat Heyward to 1st Base.

The Mets, of course, didn't tack on any runs, so Bobby Parnell was summoned to protect a 1-run lead against the vaunted middle of the Braves Lineup, Bitch McFreeman, Ratso Upton and Fredo Upton. But, after so many innings of being lulled to sleep by the variety of relievers the Mets had been running out to the mound all night, Parnell simply carved the lot of them up, capping off a mettle-testing 4-3 victory by posting the only 1-2-3 inning of the night.

So, after all that, the Mets actually won this ridiculously extended 5-game series in Atlanta 3 games to 2, becoming the first road team to win a series in Atlanta. Given the Mets history at Turner Field, and the way the first 4 innings of the game Thursday night unfolded, you probably would not have figured that likely, but it actually happened. And after everything that's gone on to this point this season, the Mets are, in fact, beginning to show some signs of life. Maybe.

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