Friday, August 8, 2014

Whisened Veterans

After battling their way through their series in Washington, the Mets last night moved to a place where, incredibly, they've managed to win a surprisingly large number of games the past few seasons. For several years, Steroid Field II hasn't exactly been kind to the Mets, during what was basically the Phillies Golden Era, the Mets played a whole slew of games that aren't worth remembering, as guys like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and other unmentionables gave the Mets all kinds of headaches.

Those days are, pleasantly, over, and while the Phillies appear to be trotting out all these guys now as memories of a bygone era that hasn't really fully ended, their time as a championship contender has clearly passed. Rollins, Howard and Utley remain, but shells of their former selves, bound to the Phillies by albatross-like contracts that still have years remaining on them and nobody interested in taking them on. The Mets, on the other hand, are younger, if not simply in a more promising position than the Phillies, but tonight they rode the wave of a couple of their veterans to bring home a 5-4 victory that appeared for a hot second like it was bound to end in disaster.

Bartolo Colon, who's been about as consistent as you could expect from a grossly overweight 40-year old pitcher, mowed the Phillies down for 8 innings in an outing as efficient as the one he ran off against the Phillies just a week and a half ago. Colon's mound opponent was the equally ageless A.J. Burnett, just as it was in New York that night, and while the Mets didn't attack him the way they did last week, they did still knock him around for a few runs, including a 4-run 4th inning where they managed to get 6 hits in 7 At Bats to plate 4 runs, and a 5th inning Travis d'Arnaud Home Run that staked the Mets out to a 5-0 lead.

Colon, meanwhile, allowed little to the Phillies, save a Marlon Byrd Home Run in the 7th inning, and departed after the 8th inning with a 5-1 lead that appeared to be pretty safe. But these Phillies, who have certainly kept battling against the Mets in prior years, didn't lie down, and instead jumped Dana Eveland for a few quick hits, forcing Jenrry Mejia to be rushed into the game, where the Phillies jumped him for a few more quick hits, including a Grady Sizemore drive that appeared headed towards the seats—and instant disaster—before dying at the warning track and clanging off the wall for a 2-run double that put the tying run in scoring position with 1 out. Carlos Ruiz, another of the cagey Philly veterans, followed with a dying quail of a hit out into shallow Right Field, one of those hits that seemed destined to fall in and, in another time and another place, it probably would have fallen in and allowed Shane Victorino to score the tying run and jump out of his uniform with glee. But Curtis Granderson, who lacks in age and tenure of the Philly crew or Bartolo Colon, but is certainly a sage veteran in his own right, came in and saved the day with a sliding catch for the first out, and managed to hold the runner at 3rd base. Mejia was then able to stagger his way through the final two outs, allowing a run-scoring ground out and then striking out Reid Brignac for the final out of the game, as the Mets won—and after an inning like that, perhaps you could say they won the damn thing5-4.

The win was the Mets 9th of the season over Philly, and their 6th win in Philadelphia in 7 attempts. These are the sort of statistics that you couldn't imagine happening back in 2008 or 2009, but such is Baseball. Time passes, players get old and tables eventually do turn. The hope now is that the Mets continue to trend upward and their numbers against Philadelphia begin to translate to other teams.

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