Monday, August 12, 2013


Early last month, the Mets and Diamondbacks played a stupefyingly long series at Citi Field that featured the elapsed time of approximately 6 Baseball games into 4 actual games.

This past weekend, the Mets and Diamondbacks played a series in Arizona, where the Mets have had their share of success over the years, and did not play an extra inning game, nor did they play a game that had a rain delay or some bizarre set of circumstances that caused the game to run abnormally long. The Mets won two of three said games primarily based on the efforts of several players who did not have anything to do with the Mets' prior series against Arizona.

Friday night's game certainly appeared headed towards extra innings. For most of the night, the two teams appeared to be trading jabs and barbs. The game was tied, then it wasn't tied, then Arizona was ahead, then it was tied again. Jeremy Hefner, who did appear against the Diamondbacks in New York, was pedestrian once again, and by the weekend he'd be shipped out to the minors after it appeared as though he might end up being the one season-long constant in the Mets rotation this season. Hefner's probably been pitching hurt, which may have explained why he'd been so lousy of late. Of course, the more popular reason for that might have been simply "because he's Jeremy Hefner." Either way, the Mets were behind, but then tied the game in the 8th thanks to a pair of RBI ground outs from a pair of Mets who did not play against Arizona the last time these two teams met, Justin Turner and Wilmer Flores. For Turner, who was on the DL last month, this was his 3rd RBI of the game, so he made his rare start count. It seemed likely that extra baseball would be in order as the game moved to the bottom of the 9th, but Scott Atchison, who also was on the DL and did not appear against Arizona last month, surrendered the game-winning Home Run to Paul Goldschmidt at a moment where I'd dropped attention to the game, and so I was annoyingly brought back to the action just in time to see Goldschmidt getting dowsed with water at home plate.

Saturday turned out better for the Mets, thanks primarily to Zack Wheeler, who also did not appear against Arizona, having been on the wrong end of a shellacking at the hands of the Washington Nationals the day before the D'Backs got to town. Wheeler came through with another solid performance, pitching shutout ball into the 7th inning before Aaron Hill caught up to one. Wheeler has been up and down, much like you'd expect from a young pitcher in his first season in the bigs, but when he's been good, he's been impressively good, and Saturday was another such outing. In his 6.1 innings, Wheeler allowed 6 hits, just the 1 run thanks to Hill, and for the first time since he'd reached the Majors, no walks. By time he departed, he had a 2-1 lead which got stretched to 4-1 in the 8th inning thanks to a clutch 2-out, 2-run single from Wilmer Flores. Flores, who did not play against Arizona last month due to the fact that he was still in the Minor Leagues, was all over the place this weekend, particularly on Saturday when he drove in 3 of the 4 Met runs. The Mets bullpen also did Wheeler a solid by getting through a couple of tough jams, highlighted by a bases loaded strikeout by Pedro Feliciano, who also did not appear against Arizona last month, to finish off the 8th inning. LaTroy Hawkins, who has somehow found himself the closer for the moment, finished things out from there and the Mets had evened the series with a nice, tidy 4-1 victory.

Sunday brought the return of Jonathon Niese to the mound for the Mets. Niese missed the Arizona series last month due to a rotator cuff injury. Although he wasn't at his sharpest in his return, he was effective enough to gut his way through 6 innings, while the Mets offense broke out and scored what is for them an astronomical 9 runs. Niese got 4 runs right out of the chute thanks primarily to Paul Goldschmidt, who gagged on a ground ball off the bat of Mike Baxter (guess what—didn't play against Arizona last month!) with the bases loaded and then stood there with a big ol' puss on his face while Mets dashed around the bases. Heavily involved in multiple Met rallies on Sunday was Ike Davis, who, you guessed it, didn't play against Arizona last month because he was in the Minors getting his shit together. He seems to finally have done that because all of a sudden he's become an OBA machine. Ike appeared to get on base in some form just about every time he came to the plate this past weekend. If he wasn't walking, he was getting a hit, and just about every time you looked up, there was Ike running around the bases with his helmet about to fly off his head. For the series, Ike was 3 for 5, but also walked 5 times and scored 4 runs, 3 of which came on Sunday. When the game got tight in the late innings, the Mets offense generated the necessary runs in order to put the game away, particularly Andrew Brown, who has become a bit of a Diamondback-killer after his 3-run, pinch hit Home Run extended the Met lead from 5-4 to 8-4, and Wilmer Flores, who again showed his worth by blasting his first Major League Home Run in the 9th (and then had his teammates' silent treatment botched by a spastic Daniel Murphy).

So, the Mets move on, having finished their season series with Arizona, and now go on to Los Angeles to see the Dodgers, whom the Mets have not played since April. Much has changed on both sides. 10pm starts all week, so break out the cappuccino maker.

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