Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Aquamarine Heaven

For the second night in a row, the Mets played one of their patented "Stupid Games Against The Marlins." You know the kind of game I'm talking about all too well. This one had all the elements. Mets pitcher takes No Hitter late into the game while nursing a slim lead. Slim lead evaporates amid a flurry of dinky singles. Mets let golden opportunity to regain the lead pass by the wayside. Marlins win on another series of dinky hits, the last of which probably traveled about 65 feet and came with 2 outs.

Only for the second night in a row, the Mets didn't lose the game. They won the game, and they won it because in spite of losing their lead, the bullpen came in, held the line, kept the game tied and kept it tied long enough for the Mets to re-awaken and finally re-gain the lead. Then, Bobby Parnell, who doesn't have that late-game ennui that used to eat guys like Scott Schoeneweis or Aaron Heilman alive, kept the lead and closed out the game, thereby giving the Mets two things that they've been sorely lacking this season: A win in Miami and an Extra Inning win.

I suppose Wheeler is the star of the game, although by the end of things, his very solid outing appeared a distant memory. Wheeler has performed at about the level you would expect out of a 23-year old rookie to this point; lots of promise and some hiccups. But he's also shown just how good he can be when he puts it all together, and Tuesday was one of those nights when he put it all together. In his 7 innings of work, Wheeler allowed only 3 hits to go with his 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. It's only his poor fortune that those three hits and one of those 3 walks happened consecutively, saddling him with 2 runs and a no-decision.

I don't think anyone is expecting Zack Wheeler to go out throwing No Hitters, and certainly not in his 8th Major League start. And even after he'd made it through 5 innings without allowing a hit, I didn't really think it particularly likely that this, of all nights, might be the night of the 2nd No Hitter in Mets History (certainly not after what I saw Matt Harvey do earlier this season, only to get turned away at the altar). Perhaps, after Johan Santana accomplished the unthinkable last year, we, as Mets fans, don't have to pay attention with baited breath every time someone takes a No Hitter past 4 innings anymore, and that's why I wasn't so into Wheeler's potential gem. Then again, once you get into the 7th inning, you can't not start dialing in. Of course, that's when the Marlins finally broke through, with Boring Ed Lucas doing the honors. And, once that happened, the Marlins ended up rallying to tie the game. But, just as disaster appeared imminent, Wheeler got Jeff Mathis to ground into the DP and get him out of the jam.

The Mets appeared primed to get Wheeler a win after Marlon Byrd tripled to lead off the 8th, but then again, just because you hit a leadoff triple doesn't mean you're going to score, and we've learned this the hard way many times over. But, if nothing else, it set the stage for a moment that typifies these Marlins: Chad Qualls strikes out Omar Quintanilla to end the inning Qualls is so gassed up from getting out of the inning that he rears back, pumps his fist like he's Francisco Rodriguez in the 2002 World Series, and slips and falls flat on his face. I could only think that it serves him right for acting like another idiot Marlin, but then again he seemed to take it in stride, so maybe not.

Comedy relief aside, there was still a game to be won, and once things moved into Extra Innings, one couldn't be blamed for feeling skeptical. But, the Mets did what they had to do, thanks to David Wright and Marlon Byrd for getting on base, Steve Cishek for being wild, and John Buck for taking advantage of all of this, singling to plate the two winning runs and turning the game over to Bobby Parnell. Parnell once again managed to inexplicably walk Fielding Mellish with 2 outs, but this time Mount Rushmore wasn't the on deck hitter, so it was OK, and the Mets once again escaped with a win.

I give the Mets no style points for these last two games, because they haven't especially been classic wins, but any win, particularly when it's against the Marlins, is a little gem in its own right.

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