Monday, June 24, 2013


The Mets followed up their series win in Atlanta with a series win in Philadelphia, that featured an impressive comeback, an even more impressive comeback, and a full-scale shellacking, a trio of efforts where the Mets have looked better than they've looked in about a month, probably ever since they played the Yankees.

The mixture the Mets have been going with this past week hasn't been perfect, certainly, but it has been effective, or at least effective enough to generate some liveliness and wins in the process, as opposed to the muck we've been used to. Ike Davis continues to sit around AAA. The dregs like Cowgill and Ankiel are gone. Lucas Duda now finds himself on the DL. Replacing them are players like Eric Young, Jr and Juan Lagares, not exactly the sexiest names out there, but they've been getting the job done, which is really all we've been asking for. Just go out there, make a good effort and look like you're worth something. Young and Lagares have done that, and particularly this weekend it's managed to turn those 3-1 losses into some 4-3 wins, and even made a blowout into a respectable game on Saturday.

Friday's game saw Jeremy Hefner, whose position in the rotation is now a bit more secure with Jon Niese's injury keeping him sidelined indefinitely, come out and promptly give up 3 to the Phillies in the 2nd inning. Previously, the Mets probably would have promptly lied down and died, even with Cole Hamels, he of the big mouth and lousy start to the season, on the mound. But the Mets, particularly Eric Young, Jr. and Juan Lagares, kept battling and eventually chipped away enough to turn that 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Young chipped in with a pair of hits, one of which set the table for David Wright to drive him in (proof that when people actually get on base in front of him, David Wright can drive in some runs), and later tied the game with a 2-out, 2-run single, scoring Juan Lagares, among others. One inning later, with 2 outs and Lucas Duda on 1st, it was Lagares again coming up with the clutch hit off Hamels, drilling a long double off the wall in center, a deep enough drive that Duda and the icebox he was carrying were able to chug all the way around to score the lead run.

Hefner had done a good job of keeping the Phillies at bay while the Mets came back and eventually took the lead. Though it might not have been the prettiest outing, with 10 hits allowed, he somehow managed to scrounge through, particularly with help from Lagares, who ran down a long fly ball with the bases loaded in the 5th. Now, it was up to the Bullpen to finish the job, much like they did Thursday. And much like Thursday, the bullpen answered the bell, with Scott Rice and Carlos Torres bridging the way to Bobby Parnell. Parnell, who has simply been locked in of late, stopped the Phillies without a peep in the 9th, finishing off a real, live comeback win.

With Friday a success, the Mets decided to try to come back again on Saturday, and in fact they succeeded, even if their furious late rally was negated by Kevin Frandsen's walk-off Home Run. Dillon Gee, who probably just shouldn't face the Phillies anymore, took another beating at the hands of Ryan Howard and company, departing with a 6-1 deficit that turned into 7-1 when the Mets kicked the ball around while Ben Revere circled the bases. Again, what the Mets had shown us this season is that when they went down by enough runs, you may as well stop paying attention. So I sort of did, at least until Eric Young, Jr once again came up with a big hit, this time, a 0-out, 2-run double that cut the deficit to 7-4 and set up another run later in the inning. Though that rally eventually was cut off, the Mets had one more push in them. Jonathan Papelbon, who appears to have a touch of Craig Kimbrel Disease, couldn't lay down the hammer on the Mets. Young led off with a grounder that he probably beat out, except that the umpires decided he didn't. This was unfortunate because Jordany Valdespin followed with a Home Run that made the game 7-6. Wright walked, but it appeared he would be stuck there after Byrd flew out and Murphy looked bad on a couple of pitches. But with Wright running, and Rollins covering 2nd, Murphy somehow managed to reach out and poke a slow roller that snuck through the vacated hole and into the Outfield. Wright, who was motoring and not slowing down, probably would have scored even if Ben Revere had fielded the ball cleanly. Amazingly, the Mets had come back to tie the game.

Then, it took a mere 2 pitches from Carlos Torres in the last of the 9th for Frandsen to un-tie the game and send everyone home. It was a rarity for the Mets: A loss that felt oddly like a win, if only because for once, the Mets kept playing and actually made a game out of a mess.

Sunday, Matt Harvey was on the mound, and that pretty much summed up the game. Harvey had already whipped the Phillies pretty soundly earlier in the season, and on Sunday, he did the same. The rain was the only thing that could beat Harvey, it seems, because after a brief delay in the 7th, Harvey did not return, despite only 72 pitches.

By that point, the game was already well in hand, but there was some doubt earlier in the game as to whether or not the Mets actually would be able to score some runs for him. A pair of plays in the 5th inning answered that question. First, Juan Lagares (notice how he and Young were everywhere this weekend) kicked things off by hitting a lazy fly ball to Center Field. Ben Revere caught it, no sweat. Such a can of corn, in fact, that he figured he'd just style a little and drop the ball from his mitt to his hand, and, oops, he dropped it. Unfortunately for Revere, that made it a live ball, and fortunately for Lagares, he never stopped running, the kind of trait rarely seen from most Major Leaguers, and eventually found himself on 3rd base. Now, could the Mets get him home? Omar Quintanilla couldn't, so Harvey went and did it himself, something he's had to do on more than one occasion this year. This may or may not have shamed his teammates into going out and supporting him themselves, since it kicked off a flurry of extra base hits that drove the score from 2-0, to 4-0, to 6-0 in a matter of 2 innings. David Wright in particular was heavily involved, ringing 4 extra base hits of assorted variety. The Phillies had no answer for Harvey and fared no better after he left, resulting in a resounding 8-0 win and a series victory, the Mets 2nd such win in a row. Baby steps, certainly, but something encouraging, if nothing else.

The point here is that this revolving door of personnel the Mets have been using all season long is finally starting to click a little bit, and the result is that the Mets are looking a little less dead this past week. How long or if it will last, I'm not quite sure. But if nothing else, it makes the Mets a little more interesting. I can tune in to games like this and think there's a chance, as opposed to turning it on, seeing them down a run or two and assuming the game is done. And, of course, Mr. Excitement, Part II is on the mound the next time the Mets take the field on Tuesday. 

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