Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Teagardening At Night

...And at my 10th game of the season, Taylor Teagarden happened....

It was one of those nights where I was at Citi Field simply because the schedule said I was supposed to be there. I had the tickets, I couldn't get anyone to go with me, and I certainly couldn't have been blamed for not going, after a long, tiring day of work, on a sticky, humid night where it might end up raining, after the Mets were limping home fresh off a 6-game losing streak where each game was worse than the one before it. The weather and the pitching matchup of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Marco Estrada seemed to dictate one of those sweaty, uncomfortable games that ended at 10:45 with the score 3-1 Brewers and the Mets leaving 17 men on base and striking out 14 times.

But, as I have gone on record as saying, an evening by myself at Citi Field can often be like a sanctuary of sorts, a little alone time to clear my head and watch our grand old game, or something reasonably resembling it. So, I went. Of course I did. Would you have expected any less of me?

My faith, on this particular evening, was rewarded on a multitude of fronts. Playing the streaking NL Central leading Brewers, Matsuzaka was not only quick, but effective over 6 innings, allowing but one run and generally keeping things tidy. He survived a mild mess in the 4th, courtesy of a Lyle Overbay RBI double, but that was followed by a nifty play by Ruben Tejada, who fielded a grounder by Jean Segura and alertly threw to 3rd base to get the lead runner and short circuit any further action in the inning. Later, Matsuzaka shook off a Carlos Gomez line drive that hit him somewhere along his backside, and after hopping around for a few seconds ended up staying in the game and finishing off the inning.

Matsuzaka was backed by a pair of Home Runs, the first of which came from Daniel Murphy, the cover subject of the latest edition of Mets Magazine and the subject of one of the more bewildering features therein. Rather than the usual fold-out poster that comes in the program, there was now a Daniel Murphy coloring page, which was why when I purchased my program, I was handed a little box of double-pointed, multi-colored jumbo crayons. This is what the Mets have stooped to? Crayon drawings in the program? I suppose the marketing department will try anything at this point, but if they want to please the fans, instead of coloring Daniel Murphy, they should hope that Daniel Murphy does a little more of what he did in the 3rd inning, and hit a 2-run Home Run, a line drive that just did land in the netting atop the Mo's Zone that staked the Mets to a 2-0 lead.

But the show was stolen later in the evening by Taylor Teagarden, the castoff that mysteriously surfaced with the Mets over the weekend after d'Arnaud's demotion. The move to bring up Teagarden wasn't exactly confidence-inspiring on any front; Teagarden's career arc is that of a failed prospect (whom I oh-so-wisely picked to win the AL Rookie of the Year in 2009) with a career batting average to rival Mario Mendoza's. Teagarden's first two at bats of his Met career produced two strikeouts, which essentially meant he fit right in with the team concept. But the stakes were higher when he stepped up to the plate in the 6th inning, following a troika of walks to Wright, Granderson and Duda, sandwiched around the predictable Chris Young strikeout. Nobody was exactly expecting greatness here, but sometimes, you shit a diamond and that's exactly what happened when Teagarden belted a sinking line drive towards the Right Field corner that had just enough mustard on it to bounce off the top of the fence and into the seats for perhaps the unlikeliest of Grand Slams I've ever witnessed. All of a sudden, a never-was became a folk hero in Queens, and a tenuous 2-1 lead that probably wouldn't have held up became a surprisingly comfortable 6-1 lead that felt like an avalanche of runs considering how the offense has scuffled. The 5 run lead was enough to withstand a minor hiccup from Jeurys Familia in the 8th, and he, along with Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia carried the game home, a feel-good 6-2 victory that was over in all of 2 hours and 45 minutes.

A game like tonight's is sort of a reminder of why I always go to the game when the schedule tells me to. Greg at Faith and Fear would say something like "you're already a part of the paid attendance," and he's right. If I'm going to be counted, I should be there in person, even if I might not necessarily feel like going. Besides that, you might end up seeing something you never thought you'd see, like Taylor Teagarden hitting a Grand Slam.

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