Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cover Your Eyes

When your starting pitcher, a guy who wasn't in the Major Leagues at the start of the season and over the course of the year suddenly emerged as a phenomenon, begins a game by striking out the first 8 opposing batters that come to the plate, you figure that ought to be the story of the game, right?

Unfortunately, when said phenomenal pitcher is a Met, that isn't always a guarantee. On a night when Jacob deGrom struck out the first 8 Marlin hitters in succession before allowing a single to the opposing pitcher, Jarred Cosart, he ended up with a no-decision in a game where the Mets ended up blowing multiple leads en route to an annoying 6-5 loss.

When you lose a game after a start like deGrom had, it's frustrating, although at this particular point in the season there's not much more you can do aside from throw up your hands. The loss isn't especially damaging except for the psyche of Jeurys Familia, who suffered an 8th inning meltdown, but even that's not the first time it's happened to him, nor will it be the last and it can't take away from the fine season overall that Familia has had. But handed a 2-run lead against a team like the Marlins, playing without their best player, Giancarlo Stanton, following his ugly beaning last week, Familia couldn't seal the deal.

By time this had happened, of course, deGrom had already stolen the show by tying a record set by unremarkable Astros lefthander Jim Deshaies all the way back in 1986 and striking out the first 8 batters he'd faced. For deGrom, this was just another feather in his cap, continuing a string of sterling outings that have catapulted him into serious contention for National League Rookie of the Year. It's now to the point, particularly considering the fact that his chief competition, Billy Hamilton of the Reds, has only been marginally good, that if deGrom doesn't win, I'd be inclined to think he was robbed and it would certainly be a letdown. deGrom's 8 Ks in the first 3 innings were the story, but he did manage 5 more over the course of his 7 innings of work, giving him a career high (and Harvey-like) 13 Ks for the night.

Unfortunately, he departed losing the game. Wilmer Flores had provided him with a 2-run lead thanks to a first inning double, but other than that, the Mets hadn't done much. So when the Marlins reached him for 3 runs in the 7th, including two off the bat of former prodigal son Jordany Valdespin, it appeared that this would all be for naught. But the Mets responded by scoring 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the 7th to put deGrom in position to get a win. Travis d'Arnaud, another Met rookie that's going to end up having had a fine season, played a key role in this rally with an RBI double, and A.J. Ramos, one of those annoying Marlin pitchers, walked home another run.

We know what happened from there.

With but 11 games left in the season and the chances of playing beyond those 11 games just about nil, it's hard to get too worked up. I think I mentioned that already. But you do want to at least have those 11 games turn out a little better. There's some good things going on in general around here so maybe before too long these losses become wins and it starts to add up from there.

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