Monday, May 12, 2014

Launching Pad

I guess going to that other, much smaller ballpark in this city was what the Mets needed to finally have a breakout offensive performance. After a good 10 day stretch where they couldn't hit anything, they went to the Bronx and staged one of those classic Subway Series games that will probably get replayed on "Mets Classics" forever. The Mets banged out 14 hits and a season-high 4 Home Runs, which allowed them to overcome two three-run deficits en route to a rousing (perhaps arousing for some) 9-7 victory in the opener of the annual Subway Series.

The Mets victory was punctuated with several instances of clutch hitting and clutch defense to go along with the outburst of power. For a while, it looked like this might be one of those run-of-the-mill games where the Mets fall behind and just don't have the juice to catch up. Bartolo Colon made one bad pitch, unfortunately he threw that bad pitch with the bases loaded, and Brett Gardner summarily popped it into the seats in Right Field for a Grand Slam. In Citi Field, that's a fly out to right. But this isn't Citi Field and the Mets found themselves instantly behind 4-1.

But, two can play at this game. The Mets, who for all their foibles do have hitters who can hit, and they set out to chip away at their deficit. Hiroki Kuroda, who's become sort of a stopper, in spite of the fact that I can only remember him breaking down and crying on the mound at Shea Stadium way back when, kept the Mets in check until the 5th, when Travis d'Arnaud played a little Home Run Derby of his own and hit a pop fly of his own that landed in the seats, another ball that's a fly out to right in Citi Field. One inning later, the Mets were even, thanks to Curtis Granderson, who returned to the place where made a name for himself smacking Home Runs over that particular Right Field fence and decided to welcome himself back by hitting one more, this one a two-run shot that evened the score 4-4.

Colon's luck ran out in the last of the 6th. The enemy started flaring hits all over the place, starting with Flavor of the Week Yangervis Solarte, and followed by dear old Kelly Johnson and finished off by what used to be Brian Roberts, and once again the Mets found themselves in a 3-run hole. But the Mets had succeeded in getting Kuroda out of the game, and into a bullpen that's often struggled just as much as their own has.

Alfredo Aceves, who's made a career out of bouncing around the AL East, took the mound in the 7th and after walking d'Arnaud, was victimized by the Mets 3rd Home Run of the night, this one by Eric Young Jr, who hit what was essentially a line drive that flew over that short Right Field wall for his 1st Home Run of the season. Daniel Murphy followed with a hit, and with Granderson up, the Mets were primed to strike for more, until Murphy decided to be a hero and steal second, where he was thrown out with relative ease.

No matter. The Mets stormed back once again in the 8th inning, and brought the game home thanks to a universal effort of clutch performances. Lucas Duda, who'd been mostly quiet to that point, kind of stole the show; his broken-bat single drove home Eric Campbell, whose slide to get around Mr. Morality was just as clutch. Duda subsequently scored when Chris Young hit the Mets 4th Home Run of the night, which was an actual Home Run that probably would have been out of most ballparks.

The Mets offense was done for the night, but Lucas Duda was just getting warmed up. In the bottom of the 8th, he made a diving stop to rob Olde Kelly Johnson and start a 3-6-3 Double Play that got Jenrry Mejia, now in the bullpen, through the inning without much trouble. Duda's play in the 9th ended up saving the game altogether. Kyle Farnsworth, who may be hitting the Met Closer Wall, came in and immediately allowed two runners aboard, setting the stage for Mr. Morality himself, Brian McCann. Mr. Morality has certainly done his share of damage to the Mets, and even though he's now old and creaky, he can still pop one out of this particular ballpark, and don't think that wasn't flashing through every Mets fan's mind. And he hit it hard, but he hit it right where Duda could dive, glove the ball and start the overshift-induced 3-5-3 Double Play to finish off a magnificent Mets victory, the kind of game that might have been begat by the comeback yesterday afternoon.

Whatever it was, the Mets proved that they are indeed capable of getting up off the mat and shoving back when the situation calls for them to do so. It would have been easy enough, the way things had been going of late, for them to just lie down and call it a night once they fell behind. But at least on this night, against this particular opponent, the Mets found a way to push back and beat said opponent at their own game.

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