Saturday, April 12, 2014

I've Seen This Before

A few times each season, the Mets have games like this: They get off to a nice start, score a couple of early runs and maybe tack a couple more on in the middle innings, in support of one of their starters, who's pitching a nice game. Maybe he's given up a run or two, but mostly it's been smooth sailing, and the Mets go into the back end of the game with a lead, somewhere between 2- and 4- runs.

Then, things start to go haywire. The starter generally runs out of steam without much warning, and before a reliever can get ready to come in, the tying runs have either been put on base or already allowed to score. So now, the Mets are stuck in a tie game, and in a desperate situation to keep the game even. What ensues is that there's a rapid parade of relievers that are brought into the game to pitch to specific batters and specific situations, just to try to keep the game tied. Usually, the relievers alternate between good and bad, and you can expect at least two relievers will be used simply to pitch to one batter. This is all combined with the hope that the Mets bats will get off the mat and score a couple more runs, but generally what happens is they've already gone in the tank. They will get a man on base, move him along and maybe even get him to 3rd, but usually there's a key strikeout involved and a pop fly.

The game almost always ends up going into Extra Innings, which puts the Mets at a competitive disadvantage, because by this point, they've burned through the useful part of their bullpen, leaving them forced to use one of their back-end relief pitchers for longer than they'd like. This works for an inning or two, as the pitcher walks a tightrope and weaves in and out of trouble, but eventually, the opposing team gets to him, he gets too deep into the stew and ultimately loses the game in some excruciating fashion, like a wild pitch, or a walk-off grand slam, or hitting a batter with the bases loaded.

Last night was one of those games. Things started off great, Dillon Gee was cruising along, Travis d'Arnaud hit a Home Run and the Mets seemed on their way to a nice win. Then Gee hit a wall in the 6th, J.B. Shuck tied the game with a Home Run before anybody could react to what was going on, the Mets exhausted their useful relievers just to extend the game into Extra Innings, and finally ended up with Jeurys Familia hanging out to dry, working in and out of all sorts of peril in the 9th and 10th innings before finally losing in the 11th when, of course, he wild-pitched the winning run into scoring position, ended up having to intentionally walk the bases loaded, and then managed to hit Hank Conger with a pitch to lose the game 5-4.

I know there's more to say about this game than to simply boil it down to 1 paragraph concluding with Familia did a bad job. For one, Familia did do a good job for the first two innings he was in the game, although he's beginning to strike me as more Thrower than Pitcher, which doesn't bode well. There were other things, like Gee's durability issues and the bewildering Curtis Granderson fan incident, but I fail to see how the intrigue to the game would have affected the outcome. Once the proceedings went past 1am and into Extra Innings, I knew things weren't going to end well. Especially when they were returning to Anaheim for the first time since this happened.

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