Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can We Stay Here?

Maybe the Mets should just stay in Arizona.

It was a quick turnaround, after flipping the mostly lifeless D'Backs and inflicting a rare beating on usual Met-Nemesis Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday night, the Mets came out on Wednesday afternoon and won again behind Dillon Gee to sweep Arizona, go over .500 for the first time this season and finish what looked like a hellacious road trip with a 6-3 record.

It helps that, as I mentioned yesterday, the Mets were going up against a pitching staff that basically had its guts cut out before the season started and a team that just generally looked more and more befuddled as each game drew on. After letting up a single run in the 8th inning on Monday night, Met pitchers allowed the D'Backs offense nothing until Jose Valverde served up a pair of Home Runs in the 9th inning this afternoon, a fine accomplishment in its own right, but one made somewhat easier by the fact that the Met offense scored plenty of runs for the pitchers to work with.

Tuesday night, with the entire roster clad in the symbolic 42 jersey in honor of Jackie Robinson (but, of course, with every bit of respect to Mr. Robinson, I still can't look past a Mets player wearing 42 and not think of Butch Huskey—which I suppose is OK considering Huskey wore 42 in deference to Robinson), the Mets cruised. Jenrry Mejia basically got to coast through his outing after the Mets ran out to a 9-0 lead after 4 innings. Things started with Eric Young, Jr. reaching base to start the game, which kicked off a sequence in which the Mets jumped on Arroyo with a ferocity, mostly swinging at first pitch fastballs and ringing hits all over the ballpark. This generally isn't how the Mets have fared against Arroyo, but on this night, the hits kept falling, 12 in all. Young had 3 of those hits, and 3 more were had by, of all people, Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Nieuwenhuis had basically become a forgotten man in the Mets system. He was shoved out of consideration by flashier or more consistent players and left to languish in the Minor Leagues after barely batting his weight last season (his only noteworthy moment for 2013 being when he caused the downfall of Western Civilization). But after the Outfield Massacre on Monday night, it was Nieuwenhuis, and not the ancient Bobby Abreu, who got the call, and given the opportunity, Nieuwenhuis took it and ran with it, driving home a run with a 1st inning hit and following up with a 4th inning Home Run that keyed a 6-run rally, sent Arroyo to the showers, Kirk Gibson to the latrine and the game mostly to bed. Mejia left after 5 innings with a blister issue (fairly benign as compared to Monday's drama) and Gonalez Germen played the Carlos Torres role from there, closing out the game with relative ease.

Wednesday, Dillon Gee did most of the heavy lifting, throwing shutout ball for 7 innings and departing well before he could get himself into any particular trouble. By that point, the Mets had scraped out three of their five runs for the game, the first coming courtesy Anthony Recker's second Home Run of the road trip in the 2nd inning. Recker, who continues to play better than a backup Catcher, joined Lucas Duda as the only Met players with more than 1 Home Run. This, combined with his 13th inning lightning over the weekend and the fact that most of his Home Runs have come in similar key circumstances have led to some talk that maybe he ought to get some more playing time, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Anthony Recker's a great backup catcher, but give him 400 At Bats and he'll look like Omar Quintanilla. Nonetheless, he got the Mets started and chipped in with another rally-extending hit later on in the afternoon, and the Mets put the game away in the 9th when the D'Backs decided they'd had enough of trying to field the ball. Jose Valverde came in after not appearing since his Saturday night debacle and did his best to make things unnecessarily hairy, but the best he could do in that endeavor was to turn a 5-0 game into a 5-2 game.

So, now the Mets return home and have the high pleasure of getting to play America's Sweethearts, the Braves and the Cardinals, before Miami comes in, and they haven't exactly been a picnic for the Mets either. Last season, the Mets had this bizarre thing about winning on the road and looking stupid at home. I really hope this season doesn't hold more of the same. Especially since I have tickets to 4 games on this 10-game homestand.

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