Friday, September 6, 2013

Almost and Wasn't

Cleveland, which I have mentioned is home to several relatives and home to one of the few Non-New York Baseball Stadiums that I've been to, is not a place that the Mets have visited very often. This is the 4th 3-game Interleague series the Mets and Tribe have played, and the 3rd such series in Cleveland. The Mets have won every series, taking 2 of 3 in Cleveland in 2002, 2 of 3 at Shea in 2004, and sweeping in Cleveland in 2010.

However, in each instance, there was still a wealth of season left and hope abound on either side. Right now, the Mets are sort of muddling their way out of another lost year while the Indians remain on the fringes of Wildcard-dom. The Indians have been a bit of a surprise team for most in the AL this year, which I have to admit is always nice to see, since I do have that Cleveland connection. That said, I obviously won't be waving any "Go Tribe" flags while the Mets are in town.

The Indians sent Scott Kazmir to the mound tonight against Zack Wheeler. Sort of a past vs. present matchup of the current Mets Phenom against the guy who was supposed-to-be-a-Mets-Phenom-before-he got-idiotically-traded-away-in-a-completely-unneccesary-deadline-deal (Of lesser note, the Indians also have Joe Smith, who was at one point a somewhat-trusted arm out of the bullpen in an era when nobody could be trusted in the bullpen). Kazmir has sort of been like Met Kryptonite since then. He'd never actually pitched against the Mets, but every time he took the mound, we watched through clenched teeth. He soared to the ranks of the AL's Best, made multiple All Star games, led the AL in Strikeouts and was a centerpiece of the Rays team that went all the way to the World Series. The Mets, of course, got approximately 35 starts out of Victor Zambrano, about 7 of which were useful and 2 of which ended with him running off the mound in pain. But Kazmir lost his stuff sometime around 2009, and within 2 years found himself bouncing around from team to team unable to find his stuff again. The Mets even brought him in on a Minor League deal, but he didn't get it together. Until this season, with the Indians. Not that he's been as great as he was with Tampa, but he's certainly found a modicum of success and played a reasonably big part in Cleveland's resurgence. But not until tonight did he face the team that dealt him away so many years ago.

He might have said it didn't matter, but he sure pitched like a guy looking to stick it to an entire franchise. In his 6 innings of work, he managed to make both himself and the Mets lineup look like it was 2004, by allowing 4 hits and striking out 12 in a dominant performance that pretty much took the starch out of the Mets to a point that they couldn't recover and save Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler wasn't bad, and in fact it could have been a lot worse for him. He extracted himself masterfully from a bases loaded jam in the 1st while only allowing 1 run, and allowed a 2nd run only because of some defensive ineptitude. He didn't help himself with 5 walks in his 5 innings, but coming away from it down only 3 runs was probably a moral victory of sorts. And yes, I'm grasping at straws, because once he left, the bullpen pretty much ensured he would get hung with a loss, allowing 5 subsequent runs to solidify an eminently forgettable 8-1 loss.

This unfortunately might be a long weekend in Cleveland. Especially with Daisuke pitching on Sunday.

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