Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fall Stall

Hard to believe, but on May 27th, I was already attending my 9th game of the season at Citi Field. This season, like many of the few directly before it, has been kind of a rhythmless season as far as the games I've attended are concerned. I've sat through multiple extra inning games, games that went too long, some nice wins, some boring losses. There's been no real consistent theme among the games except that the Mets were involved and, win or lose, it's just the Mets.

Tuesday night at Citi Field seemed to exemplify that. The Mets won, 4-2, over the Pirates, which was nice. The price, however, was that it took the Mets 3 hours and 43 minutes on a thick night in Queens to accomplish said 4-2 victory. This is kind of ridiculous, 3 hours and 43 minutes. I've been to Extra Inning games that didn't last quite that long. When you only score 6 runs total and the two teams combine for 12 hits, something really messed up must have been going on for the game to last 3 hours and 43 minutes.

But, examine the game, and you can't really come up with one definitive reason as to why this game took so damn long. Walks might be a likely culprit, and there were certainly plenty, with the Mets drawing 8 and the Pirates 6, but that shouldn't slow a game down that much. The walks, combined with both starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Jon Niese deciding they wanted to be a little more like John Maine and slowing down to a snail's pace combined with the complete and total inability to put away a hitter was this game's undoing. Volquez wasn't long for this game from the outset, as the Mets got runners on against him repeatedly, but, typical for the Mets, only managed to plate two runs in 5 innings. The Mets worked Volquez repeatedly, culminating in a 5th inning at bat by Lucas Duda where I'm pretty sure Duda fouled off no less than 12 2-strike pitches before drawing a walk.

Jon Niese, on the other side, started out wonderfully, neatly tying the Pirates up in knots through 5 innings. Then came the 6th. Oy vey, then came the 6th. Niese started out by walking the leadoff hitter Josh Harrison and he pretty much unraveled from there. A game where it seemed certain he could go much deeper into the game quickly evaporated into a string of deep counts and walks until his neat and tidy 60 pitches was nearing 100 pitches and Starling Marte was singling home the tying runs. Suddenly, the lead was gone, Niese was gone in favor of the return of Vic Black and the clock was about to strike 10pm. Much too late for the 6th inning. Black, who probably should have been here all along, came in the game and started throwing darts all over the place. And by all over the place I mean all over the place. He walked his first batter to set the stage for Ike Davis to pinch hit, the situation rife for Davis to recreate his early-season heroics. But instead, Black turned the tables on Ike, striking him out on a curveball to instead recreate many other less-memorable Ike Davis moments.

Still, the game did not speed up, even though the starters had left the game. A succession of relievers for the Pirates kept allowing Mets to reach base and, fortuitously for the Mets, a couple of them scored, allowing them to regain the lead. Ruben Tejada reached base and moved up on a pair of Jeanmar Gomez wild pitches, and then scored on a broken bat flair single from Juan Lagares. Daniel Murphy followed with a double into the corner that scored Lagares.

This, fortunately, was enough for Black and Jenrry Mejia to finish out the game, although there were plenty of moments where that appeared kind of dicey. In the 7th, Black got the first two batters out before walking Jose Tabata, which was great considering the defending NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was on deck. McCutchen got a hit to set the stage for our dear friend Gaby Sanchez, but much like he did to Davis, Black snuck a curveball by Sanchez for strike 3 to end the threat. Jenrry Mejia followed Black to the mound for the ever popular 6-out Save opportunity, and did a great job of summoning up great Mets closers of the past by immediately letting the tying runs on base and then somehow managing to get out of it. In the 8th, Mejia allowed 2 on and the Pirates sent up Pedro Alvarez to pinch hit. Alvarez hit a shot, but directly at Tejada, who turned an easy DP. In the 9th, with the clock now creeping closer to 11pm—and my bedtime—Mejia again prolonged things, allowing 2 more Pirates on (one on an error, granted, but a baserunner is a baserunner) to set up Sanchez once again. Every Mets fan had this horrible fear of Sanchez getting around on one and hitting it somewhere far, or even worse, far enough to simply tie the game and extend it even further into the night. And Sanchez almost hit it into a disastrous corner of the infield—too far away for Tejada to attempt a throw to 1st, yet not far enough away to do too much damage—so Tejada did the heady thing, as he is, in fact, sometimes capable of doing, and threw to 3rd, in time to get Travis Snider for the final out.

Usually, when the Mets win, I like to stand around and revel for a moment or two after the game. Not after this game, though. The game ended at around 10:54pm. I'd likely be on a moving 7 Express train by 11:10. If I were lucky, I'd be home before midnight. Turns out, I did luck out and get home before midnight. Barely, but before. I'll likely pay for this tomorrow, though.

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