Saturday, May 10, 2014

In The Soup

There was something very heavy and lazy about Friday night's game at Citi Field. My first May game of the season brought with it a soupy Flushing Fog, accompanied with a fine pregame mist that was more nuisance than an actual threat to game play. Nonetheless, it seemed like the weight in the air affected the game, which turned into an excruciating 11-inning, affair that had drawn close to 4 hours long by time the 9th inning rolled around. Given the general humidity and length of the game, one might have thought that the score would be something like 9-7, but it wasn't. This game went into the 9th inning at around 10:45pm with the score a mere 2-2.

Getting to that point was no particular picnic. The Mets had myriad opportunities to wipe the floor with Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez and the Phillies, loading the bases in the 1st and 2nd and getting men on base in just about every subsequent inning in one way or another before someone struck out and then flew out and the inning ended. Curtis Granderson, the subject of this week's Free Shirt Friday (or as my other half refers to it, "Horrible Shirt Friday"), drove home a run with a double in the 1st inning, but that was the only consequential offense the Mets generated off Hernandez. Everything else was little more than crotch-grabbing, but at least the Mets looked like they were making an effort. Wilmer Flores and Travis d'Arnaud each had two hits and Daniel Murphy was on base constantly, but it was mostly setup for Chris Young or Josh Satin to strike out.

That being said, Hernandez was probably the primary reason this game was dragging on so long, because he would get two strikes on every hitter, then give up about 7 foul balls before getting an out. Fortunately, the game never got away from the Mets, because the Phillies proved themselves almost equally inept on offense. Jenrry Mejia, who continues to struggle, did just about everything he could to hand the Phillies this game. Mejia was just as culpable as Hernandez for the length of the proceedings. Where Hernandez couldn't put anyone away, Mejia just kept getting ahead of hitters and then nibbling and letting the count run full. He allowed single runs in the 3rd and 5th innings, both of which involved Domonic Brown driving in Chase Utley. By the 5th, he was well over 90 pitches and when he couldn't finish out the inning, he was mercifully pulled from the game.

The departure of the starting pitchers, unfortunately, didn't speed things up. The crowd, which was larger than the usual Citi Field audience this season (whether it was the lure of free Curtis Granderson shirts or Philly fans up for the weekend) was beginning to lose interest, and it sort of felt like they were pretty listless to begin with. I missed a large swath of the first inning trying to get food; this isn't an unfounded occurrence, but it seemed like, in general, there were just so many more people trying to get food or beer or something else as opposed to sitting in their seats and watching the game. It was just that kind of night. And it probably would have been easier—frustrating, but easier—if David Wright hadn't smashed a 2-out RBI double in the bottom of the 8th inning to tie up the game. It was justice that it happened, given how many missed opportunities the Mets had, but in reality, it just served to make me concerned that an already long game was going to get even longer. And when neither team managed to score in the 9th or 10th innings, after having worked a full day and sat through 4 and a half hours of Baseball, I couldn't do it anymore. Loath as I was to do so, I had to leave. I know it was a Friday and I know nobody was dragging me out of there, but I just couldn't do it anymore.

It seemed like I picked the right moment to go, because no sooner did I depart than the Phillies took the lead off Carlos Torres. Old friend Marlon Byrd did the damage, but you could see it coming. I spent the 9th and 10th inning thinking hard about which Met had the potential to run into a fastball and pull it out of the ballpark, but none of them came through for me, and after I left nobody did anything better, and so the game ended after an absurdly long 4 hour and 39 minute-11 inning, 3-2 loss for the Mets that was more sleep-inducing rather than entertaining. After a kind of spunky period, the Mets have turned back into a bunch of duds. Whatever happened to them in Colorado and Florida seems to have followed them home, and they've dissolved into 1 win in their last 8 games. That's not quite the plan.

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