Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Attack Mode

Strange as it may sound, perhaps playing the Yankees is the best thing for the Mets these days.

In another excruciatingly long game that fell mere minutes short of 4 hours, the Mets slogged their way through a muddled mess of walks, full counts, foul balls and the like. Aesthetically, this was probably the exact opposite of Monday night's game, which was a crisp, clean affair that featured the best of what both teams had to offer. Tonight was 4 hours of pure ugly. Regardless, the Mets came out on top, and really, that's all that matters in the end. With their 12-7 victory (at least I think that's what the final was, since I started nodding out towards the end of the game), the Mets swept the Bronx portion of the Subway Series for the 2nd year in a row, and additionally extended their winning streak in the Subway Series to 6 consecutive games. It's a nice feeling to have, after so many years of getting pushed around.

Whereas last night, the game was a back and forth affair that saw the Mets get up and fight back multiple times, tonight, the Mets stormed the gates from the beginning and really didn't look back. They attacked Vidal Nuno immediately, starting with Eric Young, Jr getting hit by a pitch, Daniel Murphy working a walk out of a 10-pitch At Bat, David Wright following with an RBI single and Curtis Granderson continuing to make himself at home in his former home by nailing a 3-run Home Run. Jumping out like that, one would have to think that this game would be smooth sailing.

Unfortunately, staked to a 4-run lead before he set foot on the mound, Zack Wheeler came out and had what was probably his worst outing of the season. Before the paint had dried on Granderson's Home Run, Wheeler had allowed a Home Run to Mr. Morality himself, cutting the lead down to 4-3. Wheeler's night would be punctuated by poor control, too many deep counts, too many walks, and generally looking out of sorts on the mound. A young pitcher like Wheeler will have days like this, but when his teammates actually went out and scored him a bunch of runs, it would have been nice if he'd been able to get himself through 5 innings. David Wright and Daniel Murphy drove home runs in the 4th, and in the 5th, Murphy for all intents and purposes put the nails in the coffin of this game by smoking a 3-run Home Run off the Right Field foul pole. With a now-7 run lead, Wheeler was sent back to the mound for the last of the 5th to see if he could get himself a win, if nothing else. He couldn't do that; after the Mets offense had piled up runs for him, he still couldn't throw a strike and ended up departing in favor of Daisuke Matsuzaka after only getting one out in the 5th, surrounded by more walks and an RBI hit from Alfonso Soriano.

Matsuzaka, who's no stranger to the Yankees or their ugly hats, not only rescued Wheeler but also accelerated a game that had crept past 3 hours with no end in sight. His 3.2 innings of work featured all of 2 walks, and 1 hit, a meaningless solo Home Run by Flavor of the Month Yangervis Solarte (Greatest Yankees rookie since Oscar Azocar, they said), and certainly earned the Win he got for his efforts. He kept the Yankees in check and more importantly saved the Mets bullpen by taking the game all the way to the 9th inning, where Jeurys Familia made things unnecessarily hairy before closing the game out.

Tonight's game might have lacked the starch that Monday's did, both from an ambient perspective (the crowd was much livelier on Monday--tonight they were mostly asleep and mostly gone by the 7th inning), but I doubt any Mets fan is going to complain about the results. Now, the teams move to Queens for the Citi Field leg of the Subway Series, replete with the Major League debut of Rafael Montero on tap for Wednesday night. We shall see what kind of intrigue develops.

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