Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lucky 10th

Tuesday night's game was my 16th of the year at Citi Field, and my final weekday night game of the season. I've talked in some depth about how these September games have a bit of a wistful feel to them. Over the past few years, as the Mets seasons have basically fallen apart into muddled messes with too many things going wrong to even count or want to remember, September Games at Citi Field have become somewhat lonely affairs. I have a hard time cajoling anyone into going with me and I see I'm not the only one, as the crowds at Citi Field in September seem to have dwindled to the 5,000s or so. And that's sort of how you know the end is near. The sun, which can go down as late as the 4th or 5th inning at the height of the Summer, is now going down in the 1st inning, or perhaps even prior to the first pitch. That light chill, which is so prevalent in April, is back in the air. Concession stands in the Promenade Level are mostly shuttered, except those that allowed fans the general bare necessities. People stop showing up, and for my penultimate game of the season, I more or less have Section 512 to myself. Certainly, there wasn't anyone else in my row.

My season record, which has more or less been break-even for as long as Citi Field has been in existence, stood at 9-6 coming into Tuesday's game. 9 wins for a season was as good as it had gotten for me since 2009. The last time I'd witnessed 10 wins in a season was back in 2008, at a whole other Stadium, with a whole other team that was actually a contender. Since then, I'd suffered through 5-11 in 2009, a better 9-5 and 8-5 in 2010 and 2011, and break-even 8-8 and 9-9 records in 2012 and 2013. But 2014 has surprisingly been better, and by winning at least one of my final two games, I'd net my first 10-win season at Citi Field.

Bartolo Colon, who seems to have become my "pitcher of the year" for this season, was on the mound; I'd lost count but it seems like probably the 5th or 6th time I'd seen him this season. Generally, he's pitched rather well when I have been there, and last night was no exception. Though the Marlins were rather annoying and kept getting men on base, Colon managed to weave his way into the 8th inning, departing after 7.2 innings of work, striking out 7 but allowing an incongruous 12 hits. The 12 hits, however, only produced 1 run, as Colon also induced the Marlins into 3 Double Plays to kill whatever rallies they got themselves into.

On the other side, the Mets jumped on erratic Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi for 4 runs in a 4th inning rally that saw Travis d'Arnaud kick things off with a Double and then score the Mets first run when Wilmer Flores hit a screamer that banged off the wall for another double. Ruben Tejada resurfaced from Met Oblivion to finish the inning off with a 2-run single.

In the 5th, the Mets rallied again, knocking Eovaldi from the game in favor of the resurfaced Brad Penny. Penny didn't do much better than Eovaldi; after striking out Lucas Duda with 2 men on, he allowed a no-doubter of a Home Run to Wilmer Flores, and two innings later allowed a second Home Run to Flores, this one a 2-run shot. This, then, gave Flores 6 RBI on the night, the second such time he'd driven in 6 in a game this season, a Mets Rookie Record of some minor note.

When the dust cleared and Flores hit Home Plate, the Mets had run away with the game at 9-1. Buddy Carlyle and Rafael Montero finished up for Colon, and I had indeed locked down that elusive 10th win of the season at Citi Field. Those 10 wins also happen to include 7 wins in my last 8 games, a streak that seems rather impressive when you consider that this is the Mets we've been dealing with, and for a large chunk of the season, winning games at home has been a dicey proposition for them. But 10 wins is definitely something worth hanging my hat on. It's a number of some appreciable note considering it doesn't seem to happen that often.

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