Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Out Of Nowhere

It seems as though every year now, the Colorados come into Citi Field late in the season and manage to play the Mets tight and close. It's a combination of neither team being very good at that point in the season, plus the Mets general inability to handle their pitchers. Two years ago, we remember that the Colorados came in to New York WITH A RECORD OF 46-73, swept 4 games and threw us over the edge. Last year, the Colorados were similarly bad but at least the Mets managed to sweep them. This year, the Colorados blew into town with a record of 59-84, which may as well be the September equivalent of 46-73, and somehow almost pulled off a victory, which probably would have slightly irked the 4,000 or so fans that actually showed up to this game (myself among them). But no, the Mets decided in the bottom of the 9th that they might want to look alive, and strung together a rally to steal a 3-2 win from the Colorados in this series opener.

I have, many times, talked about how being a Mets fan in recent years has hardly been a pleasurable experience, but it's probably not much better for the Colorado fan either. Think about it. Monday night, the Colorados came into Citi Field and the following people who should be playing every day for them, and when they do play every day generally do well, were not in the lineup: Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Charlie McCharlieman and Wilin Rosario. Blackmon and Rosario were getting days off, but those other guys were hurt, and they seem to get hurt every year and it kills the team and it kills morale. So once again I watched Jon Niese and the Mets take on a Colorado lineup full of a lot of guys I'd barely heard of, if I'd heard of them at all.

My first September game at Citi Field was, not surprisingly, sparsely attended. I did not check what the paid attendance might have been, but anyone who takes that number as gospel ought to have their head examined anyway. I'd venture the guess that the "paid attendance" was somewhere between "21,250" and "24,175." The actual attendance was probably somewhere between 4 and 5,000 people. Not more. My section in 512 was virtually empty and by game's end I had scampered down to somewhere in the 400s, which is usually where I end up if I'm fixing to make a quick exit from a lost affair.

After 8 and a half innings, I was fixing for such a quick departure. The game to that point had been more or less typical of a September game on a Monday night between also-rans. The sparse crowd seemed more interested in other forms of entertainment. There were technical difficulties that precluded Simon Says with Cuppy, leaving Brandon McTalkinghead standing out on the Pepsi Porch holding his jock. Though the Mets hadn't been hitting, they at least had made their hits loud. Lucas Duda had plated the lone Mets run in the 1st inning by hitting a laser of a Double down the Right Field line to score Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The Colorados countered with a Michael Cuddyer Home Run in the 2nd, and after that, the game was pretty much all Jon Niese and Jordan Lyles, who then set about getting into and out of jams. Niese appeared on his way to another good bad game, because he failed to set the Colorados down in order in any inning, but when he got guys on, he left them there. The Mets got a runner to 3rd base in the 3rd inning when David Wright hit what was laughably scored a Triple. The ball sort of knuckled and when Brandon Barnes made an ill-advised attempt to catch Wright's sinking liner instead of just playing it on a hop, the ball sailed by him. Regardless, I'm not sure on what planet that constitutes a triple, but the official scorer deemed it as such. Wright stayed planted at 3rd from there.

It wasn't until the 8th inning, when both starters departed, that something finally happened, and that something was Nolan Arenado hitting a moon-scraper of a Home Run off of Vic Black and his creaky neck to give the Colorados the lead, 2-1. This was one of those Home Runs that made everyone groan because not only was it a bomb, not only did it put the Mets behind, but the way the game was going, it seemed like that was going to be the way it all finished out. Wright doubled in the last of the 8th and went nowhere as Duda followed with a strikeout.

And so, there we were in the Bottom of the 9th, with old friend LaTroy Hawkins coming in to save the game for the Colorados. Hawkins, who parlayed his strong season with the Mets last year into a full-time position closing games for the Colorados, was immediately greeted by Travis d'Arnaud, who took Hawkins' second pitch and shot it down the Left Field line for a Double. And immediately, everyone woke up. I started thinking about the possibilities—now all we need is a Granderson Home Run and we're golden. We can win this thing! Curtis Granderson followed and didn't hit that Home Run, but he did about the next best thing by drilling a shot into the gap in Right Center, allowing the Pinch Runner Eric Young Jr to basically walk home with tying run, and in the process making it all the way to 3rd Base without a play for the Mets 2nd triple of the night, and giving them the winning run on 3rd and nobody out. Wilmer Flores followed. Now, I was concerned. A Runner on 3rd and nobody out seems to be death to the Mets, no matter what the situation. I certainly didn't want to sit through any more Baseball than was necessary, so I thought it fairly imperative that Flores do something productive here. Not just strike out or hit a Ground Ball right at the Shortstop so he can throw Granderson out at Home. Flores did that something, hitting a fly ball out to Center that wasn't particularly deep, but it seemed deep enough for Granderson to take a shot. So Granderson took that shot, and when Drew Stubbs' throw home sailed not particularly close to its intended target, the Mets had, in fact, stolen a victory from the Colorados and sent everyone home happy.

It was my 3rd Walk-off win of the season and my 9th win in 15 games, which is impressive considering how poorly the Mets have played at home at times this year. More importantly, it showed that the Mets are still trying, even when it appears most of the fan base has lost interest and they're having a difficult time beating the Colorados and their B-lineup. I can't ever complain too much about a Mets win.

No comments: