Saturday, May 31, 2014

Long And More Long

This Mets-Phillies series has been long in just about every way you could think of. Never mind the fact that last month's rainout was tacked onto the mutual Monday off-day that these two teams shared, knocking out a travel day for the Mets before they go to Chicago, but it created the rarely seen 5-game series, in which each team will probably see just about every nuance their opponent has to offer. This is good and bad, and in the case of the Mets and Phillies probably irrelevant since they play each other 18 times a year anyway.

But a long series got even longer when these two teams decided they enjoy each other's company so much, they might as well tack another game's worth of Extra Innings on top of the proceedings. While Thursday night's game featured the absolute best the Mets had to offer from a pitching standpoint, Friday and Saturday's games devolved into these two teams at their most bizarre.

Thursday, of course, featured Zack Wheeler having one of those nights where he got his act together, ripped off an awesome 6.1 innings in which he walked none and struck out 9, and actually got some run support, courtesy of, of all people, Chris Young, among others. The 4 runs he got wasn't exactly a deluge, but it was good enough, and the resurgent tandem of Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia got the game home from there, Mejia with an especially impressive 3-strikeout 9th inning to cap off a 4-1 Met victory that saw them strike out 15 Phillies in total.

And, with that, everything normal about this series was summarily thrown out the window.

Friday night saw a game that featured me drifting in and out of paying attention to things, between nodding off after a long work week and other assorted distractions and things that I had to take care of that took precedence over a Friday night Mets-Phillies tilt. It speaks to, on many levels, the way one's priorities can change as one gets older. For many years, a Mets/Phillies Friday Night game might have taken me out to a local watering hole with some compatriots to watch the affair with some of the finest brew that can be had. Even once I began to imbibe less, I would still rather park myself in front of a TV to watch the game rather than do anything else, interruptions be damned. But with other, more pressing concerns to deal with, all of a sudden, a Friday night Mets/Phillies game is now secondary to whatever else I have to do, even though what I probably want to do is just sit and watch the game. But watch, I did very little of, and by time I was able to tune in, most of the action had already unfolded and the score was 5-5 in the 9th. Gone was Rafael Montero, who got an early lead and then watched it evaporate rather quickly. Gone were those who followed him to the mound, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice, and now it appeared Carlos Torres was going to be the innings-eater for the duration. But that duration never really came, as neither team appeared to want to budge off that 5-5 score. At some point, I ceded control of the TV to my other half in favor of War Documentaries of a different kind, and it was only later, after I glanced away from MLB's GameCast for a hot second, that the Phillies finally plated the game winner off of Jenrry Mejia in what I can only assume was in general excruciating fashion for a 14-inning game.

I can only assume that the Mets and Phillies had a real hoot of a time playing out 14 innings on Friday night because on Saturday afternoon, they went right out and did it again, following a 5 hour, 23 minute game with a 5 hour, 32 minute game that again went 14 innings. I missed a majority of this game as well, as more matters kept me out of the house and away from a TV for most of the afternoon. I'd assumed I would miss the game in its entirety, but when I got home, things were still going on, plodding along in the 11th inning. Long forgotten was another fine outing from Jacob deGrom, more fine hitting from the ageless-and-starting-to-become-overused Bobby Abreu and Ruben Tejada's long-awaited first Home Run since 2012. More freshly remembered were deGrom becoming unraveled in the 7th and allowing a Ryan Howard Home Run and Domonic Brown tying the game in the 9th off of Jeurys Familia, who certified himself as a true 2014 Met Reliever by become the 8th in that group to successfully blow a Save this season. So, further into the Philadelphia twilight things moved, far enough for the Mets emergency pitcher, Buddy Carlyle, to be summoned into the game. Carlyle, called up in favor of Montero, is one of those names you might remember if you collected Bowman Baseball Cards back in the era, when a series of cards was just a series of cards, before the whole thing blew up into an inscrutable mess of inserts and parallels. As a Major League Pitcher, Carlyle wasn't known for much and it seems he hadn't surfaced in a game in 4 years. But here he was, throwing 3 shutout innings and somehow getting a win in the deal when David Wright finally drove home a 14th inning run and Closer du jour Carlos Torres sealed the deal in a 5-4 Mets win.

So, after 3 games, it feels like the Mets and Phillies have already played a full 5-game series, but believe it or not, there's still two more games to go. Hopefully, they'll finish off one of these things in 9, but Extra Innings has become a bit of an Art Form for the Mets these days, particularly against the Phillies, where 4 of the 7 games they've played thus far this season have required more than the requisite 9 innings to decide a winner. So maybe this is just going to be their thing. 

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