Monday, June 17, 2013

Jaws Of Defeat

The Mets and Cubs played 27 innings over the weekend (paltry compared to the 30 the Mets and Marlins played over two games last weekend), and for 26 and a half of those innings, the Mets appeared as they have pretty much every day for the past month: lifeless, directionless and hopeless.

Friday, Shaun Marcum put them in a hole ostensibly by stepping on the mound, giving up 5 runs before the Mets took the field and left them unable to respond, as they usually have been unable to, in a 6-3 loss.

Saturday, Jonathon Niese did just about everything that could have logically been expected of him, giving up only 2 runs, but, again, the Mets didn't back him up, and by the time Brandon Lyon barfed up 3 more runs, the game was basically out of reach, as Scott Feldman pretty much served as a one-man wrecking crew in yet another 5-2 loss.

Sunday, it was more of the same. Matt Garza basically bullied the Mets, although they didn't need his assistance since they did a pretty good job of looking skittish on their own. After Jeremy Hefner gave up a run in the first, the Mets decided to stage their own version of the Stateroom Scene in the 5th inning, making a perfectly Metsian 3 errors on one play (but only charged with two), allowing the Cubs a pair of runs that basically put the game out of reach, because the Mets have basically proved themselves incapable of scoring more than 3 runs in a situation where 3 runs would make a difference. Matt Garza threw at Mets batters at will, Mets pitchers offered nothing in the way of a response, and the Mets were staring at going 1-7 on a homestand that saw them lose in just about every way conceivable, from the humdrum to the excruciating, to the comical. The season continued to spiral out of control, with no hope and no help to be found.

I don't think I or anyone else has any logical explanation, then, to the results of the final half of that 27th inning. Though, I don't think anyone on or rooting for the Mets has any complaints, either.

The Cubs decided, for whatever reason, to use deposed closer Carlos Marmol as opposed to their regular closer Kevin Gregg, I suppose because Gregg had pitched two days in a row. Perhaps Dale Sveum was thinking that that the Mets hadn't hit any other pitcher, maybe it would serve Marmol good to give him an inning against the Mets. What damage could they do?

Perhaps the real question should have been what damage could Marmol do, because he basically gave the Mets life, and ultimately allowed them to steal a victory out of nowhere. Of course, the Mets still had to go out there and hit the ball. I was skeptical, particularly since they hadn't been able to do that very much to that point. Even after Marlon Byrd's Home Run, I figured that was only nice from the cosmetic standpoint of they won't get shut out. Lucas Duda walked and John Buck singled, which made it slightly more interesting, but I still wasn't allowing myself to be fooled. Quintanilla sacrificed, which meant that the stage was set for a pair of guys who hadn't inspired much confidence in anyone, being Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill. Nieuwenhuis, after a great first month in the Majors last year, hadn't done anything noteworthy except for striking out a lot and picking up a season-ending injury in AAA last year. I didn't see either him or Cowgill getting the job done. But Nieuwenhuis shut me, Dale Sveum and pretty much everyone else up by launching a 3-run Home Run off the Pepsi Porch. The quintessential "Holy Shit!" moment, because who the hell thought Nieuwenhuis was going to do that? But somehow, he ran into a Marmol slider at the right moment and somehow hit it out, snatching victory from the Jaws of Defeat that appeared ready to swallow the Mets whole and spit out the bones.

This probably won't save the season and I'm pretty sure it won't spur the Mets on to a hot streak, but it might. Victories like this can juice up a team a little bit, although so can beating the Yankees 4 in a row and that didn't do anyone any good. But the Mets are off on a 11-game, 4 city road trip now and this, plus the added juice of Zack Wheeler's debut on Tuesday might actually give the Mets a little spring in their step for the next day or two. Of course, this could all go the other way if they fall on their face tonight in Atlanty.

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