Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Only Game Worth Watching

I'd heard there was a big, important game going on tonight in New York, something about someone retiring, but I can't say I had any idea as to who they were talking about, or the team or where the game was being played. I only knew that the Mets and Nationals were playing the nightcap of my favorite thing in Baseball: the Day/Night Doubleheader. This was an important game for the Mets; in spite of the fact that they've been eliminated and are just finishing out their season at this point, they do want to finish strong, and one particular player I was hoping would finish strong was Zack Wheeler, who was making his final start of the season in this nightcap.

Wheeler unfortunately didn't get a win; not so much that he pitched especially poorly, but the start did seem somewhat typical of many of his starts this year. He worked too many deep counts early in the game, got burned in one inning—the 4th—where he gave up 3 runs without allowing any run-scoring hits, and he was finished after 5 innings. Against Gio Gonzalez, the Mets failed to hit, and thusly, Wheeler's season ended in a rather disappointing 3-0 loss.

Wheeler's future still remains bright, I think, because although he seems prone to having control issues and gassing himself too early in games, we saw this happen much less frequently as the season went on. To wit, at the end of June, Wheeler found himself having a year to rival, say, Jason Isringhausen in 1996. Wheeler sat at 3-8 with an ERA of 4.25. But over his final 15 starts of the season, Wheeler improved dramatically, to the tune of an 8-3 record and an ERA of 2.80, including 92 strikeouts in 90 innings. The end result is that although the won-loss record is unimpressive at 11-11, the 3.54 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 185 innings in his first full season in the Major Leagues is indicative of a guy who seems likely to show continued improvement as he matures.

But enough waxing poetic about Wheeler, there was another game played today, in the afternoon, in front of about 35 people in Washington, and me at home celebrating Rosh Hashana, and the Mets actually won, beating Washington for just the 4th time this season in a 7-4 decision. This was one of those games that was 37 different kinds of ugly, from the weather, which seemed perfectly damp and miserable, to the game itself, which saw the Mets jump ahead multiple times against Blake Treinen only for Dillon Gee to hand his lead back to the Nationals. Gee finished after 5, ending a kind of forgettable season for him, and turned the game over to Carlos Torres, who ended up picking up a victory when Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores ambushed Tyler Clippard on the way to homeroom and shoved him into a locker, scoring 2 runs to take a lead they would ultimately not relinquish. Very few people may have been in the stadium watching it, but the Mets did beat the Nationals, I saw it happen.

So, finally, the Mets are done with Washington, who will be going on to October while the Mets will be going home to play the Houston Astros and then fade into the background of Baseball consciousness as the calendar turns. I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like this September has seemed much more fleeting than most, as though the end of the Mets season seems to have come far too quickly for my liking.

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