Sunday, September 15, 2013

Learn On The Fly

The Mets won 3 of 4 from the Marlins this weekend in the type of series that, if they'd played like this the other times they played the Marlins this season, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess.

It wasn't so much that the Mets did anything particularly great over the weekend, but they did whatever was necessary to get wins. After getting stymied and looking lifeless in the opener of Saturday's real Doubleheader, they rode the surprisingly strong pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka to a win in the nightcap. Matsuzaka, who has actually improved over his last couple of outings (not that this is saying much considering how miserable he was), did what should be done against the Marlins and shut them down, giving up one run in 7 innings while working at a much more brisk pace than we're used to. Daniel Murphy homered, Lucas Duda homered (I'm still not convinced, particularly since nobody was on base), and the result was a 3-1 win. Feats like that really shouldn't have been so hard to duplicate, but I digress.

I was out on Sunday and missed all of the game, but it appears to me that once again the Mets won by doing the absolute minimum necessary offensively. I think you can classify scoring 1 run as such. But when you have Dillon Gee on the mound pitching great, you can get away with that. Gee's 8 scoreless innings were certainly win-worthy, but the bats didn't get him much of anything. It took until the 12th inning before the Mets finally scored, at which point I'm sure the fans in attendance were starting to worry about a 20-inning rerun, when Travis d'Arnaud singled home the winning run, giving the Mets the 1-0 victory.

d'Arnaud hasn't shown a great deal offensively to this point, although I feel hard-pressed to get on him for that since he's been in the Major Leagues barely a month. He can only improve and given the approach he's taken, I think he has it in him. What I see out of him is a hitter who doesn't give away at bats. He's more often than not made contact, although 15 strikeouts in 77 ABs isn't an outstanding ratio, but a lot of his solid hits just haven't fallen in. Law of averages dictates that should change. He's a slasher, not a masher, so once he gets hot, you figure we'll be seeing a lot of line drives in the gaps. Defensively, well, when every pitcher on the staff (except, oddly, Matsuzaka) has raved up and down about throwing to him, I suppose that speaks for itself. Most importantly, though, what I've seen out of him is a guy who really looks the part. He looks and sounds like a real Field General, someone who is going to someday be a leader on this team and the kind of catcher that won't be afraid to chew a pitcher out. There's probably something to the fact that the Mets gave him #15, which might be more closely associated with Carlos Beltran, but long ago, that was Jerry Grote's number, and Grote probably epitomized the take-no-crap leader better than anyone (Josh Thole, by the way, was probably the least-leaderlike Catcher). d'Arnaud is being groomed for this role and once he grows comfortable in the Majors, I like his chances of becoming this kind of player.

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