Saturday, May 31, 2014

Long And More Long

This Mets-Phillies series has been long in just about every way you could think of. Never mind the fact that last month's rainout was tacked onto the mutual Monday off-day that these two teams shared, knocking out a travel day for the Mets before they go to Chicago, but it created the rarely seen 5-game series, in which each team will probably see just about every nuance their opponent has to offer. This is good and bad, and in the case of the Mets and Phillies probably irrelevant since they play each other 18 times a year anyway.

But a long series got even longer when these two teams decided they enjoy each other's company so much, they might as well tack another game's worth of Extra Innings on top of the proceedings. While Thursday night's game featured the absolute best the Mets had to offer from a pitching standpoint, Friday and Saturday's games devolved into these two teams at their most bizarre.

Thursday, of course, featured Zack Wheeler having one of those nights where he got his act together, ripped off an awesome 6.1 innings in which he walked none and struck out 9, and actually got some run support, courtesy of, of all people, Chris Young, among others. The 4 runs he got wasn't exactly a deluge, but it was good enough, and the resurgent tandem of Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia got the game home from there, Mejia with an especially impressive 3-strikeout 9th inning to cap off a 4-1 Met victory that saw them strike out 15 Phillies in total.

And, with that, everything normal about this series was summarily thrown out the window.

Friday night saw a game that featured me drifting in and out of paying attention to things, between nodding off after a long work week and other assorted distractions and things that I had to take care of that took precedence over a Friday night Mets-Phillies tilt. It speaks to, on many levels, the way one's priorities can change as one gets older. For many years, a Mets/Phillies Friday Night game might have taken me out to a local watering hole with some compatriots to watch the affair with some of the finest brew that can be had. Even once I began to imbibe less, I would still rather park myself in front of a TV to watch the game rather than do anything else, interruptions be damned. But with other, more pressing concerns to deal with, all of a sudden, a Friday night Mets/Phillies game is now secondary to whatever else I have to do, even though what I probably want to do is just sit and watch the game. But watch, I did very little of, and by time I was able to tune in, most of the action had already unfolded and the score was 5-5 in the 9th. Gone was Rafael Montero, who got an early lead and then watched it evaporate rather quickly. Gone were those who followed him to the mound, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Scott Rice, and now it appeared Carlos Torres was going to be the innings-eater for the duration. But that duration never really came, as neither team appeared to want to budge off that 5-5 score. At some point, I ceded control of the TV to my other half in favor of War Documentaries of a different kind, and it was only later, after I glanced away from MLB's GameCast for a hot second, that the Phillies finally plated the game winner off of Jenrry Mejia in what I can only assume was in general excruciating fashion for a 14-inning game.

I can only assume that the Mets and Phillies had a real hoot of a time playing out 14 innings on Friday night because on Saturday afternoon, they went right out and did it again, following a 5 hour, 23 minute game with a 5 hour, 32 minute game that again went 14 innings. I missed a majority of this game as well, as more matters kept me out of the house and away from a TV for most of the afternoon. I'd assumed I would miss the game in its entirety, but when I got home, things were still going on, plodding along in the 11th inning. Long forgotten was another fine outing from Jacob deGrom, more fine hitting from the ageless-and-starting-to-become-overused Bobby Abreu and Ruben Tejada's long-awaited first Home Run since 2012. More freshly remembered were deGrom becoming unraveled in the 7th and allowing a Ryan Howard Home Run and Domonic Brown tying the game in the 9th off of Jeurys Familia, who certified himself as a true 2014 Met Reliever by become the 8th in that group to successfully blow a Save this season. So, further into the Philadelphia twilight things moved, far enough for the Mets emergency pitcher, Buddy Carlyle, to be summoned into the game. Carlyle, called up in favor of Montero, is one of those names you might remember if you collected Bowman Baseball Cards back in the era, when a series of cards was just a series of cards, before the whole thing blew up into an inscrutable mess of inserts and parallels. As a Major League Pitcher, Carlyle wasn't known for much and it seems he hadn't surfaced in a game in 4 years. But here he was, throwing 3 shutout innings and somehow getting a win in the deal when David Wright finally drove home a 14th inning run and Closer du jour Carlos Torres sealed the deal in a 5-4 Mets win.

So, after 3 games, it feels like the Mets and Phillies have already played a full 5-game series, but believe it or not, there's still two more games to go. Hopefully, they'll finish off one of these things in 9, but Extra Innings has become a bit of an Art Form for the Mets these days, particularly against the Phillies, where 4 of the 7 games they've played thus far this season have required more than the requisite 9 innings to decide a winner. So maybe this is just going to be their thing. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

One More Hill To Climb

Hockey in New York isn't exactly a hot-button topic, although the fan bases of the three local teams are probably about as frenetic as you can get. Even around here, where I write about Hockey once every 1,000 blog posts or so, there isn't much to say. I've been a Rangers fan by default; I grew up walking distance from Madison Square Garden and although I never went to a game, I like to see them do well and I can get behind them enough if they make a deep Playoff run.

But they hadn't made many deep playoff runs in the past years. After their miracle Stanley Cup Championship back in 1994, where names like Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter lionized themselves into heroes of the highest order in New York, the Rangers have been within shouting distance of the finals but twice, once in 1997, and again two years ago, both times ending in disappointment.

But the law of averages says these things have to turn at some point, sort of like how it was one of those pinch yourself moments for me when the 49ers went to the Super Bowl in 2012 after not having been in one for a generation, and now it's a pinch yourself moment for the Rangers, because after 20 years, they're finally going back to the Stanley Cup Finals, having beaten the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Thursday night to win their series in 6 games.

This series was truly a matchup of the NHL's old guard, a pair of Original Six teams squaring off for the right to go to the Finals. The Canadiens, Les Habitants, as they are known in their wonderful city of Montreal, are, perhaps, the flagship franchise of the NHL, having won 24 Stanley Cup Championships, but none in the last 21 years. The Rangers, however, controlled this series from the outset, winning the first two games at Le Centré Bell. The Canadiens returned the favor with an overtime win in Game 3, as the series moved to New York, but a second overtime miracle eluded them in the 4th game, as the Rangers moved within 1 win of their goal thanks to a Martin St. Louis goal. Back in Montreal, the Canadiens won a Game 5 shootout 7-4. But last night, the Rangers, behind Henrik Lundqvist, stopped the Canadiens cold. Given the slimmest of margins to work with, the Rangers defense suffocated Montreal all night until the clock ran out on the game and their season.

For the Rangers, it was the culmination of a long, troublesome road back to the Finals, after years of frustrating losses and teams that just couldn't get out of their own way. It's not the 54-year crucible that preceded the 1994 Finals, but 20 years is still 20 years. Hell, it's been close to 30 years since the Mets won a World Series Championship. Can you imagine, after the way things have broken out for the Mets, what it's going to be like when THEY finally get it together?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Forgotten Afternoon

Lost in the weeds at work, I actually completely forgot that the Mets had played a game in the afternoon until I left the office at 6pm and said to myself, "Oh. The Mets played already." Between fighting through the proverbial jungle and the fact that the alerts on my ESPN SportsCenter app mysteriously shut off several days ago without warning, it was easy to have lost this particular game in the shuffle.

They played, and they won, behind a fine outing by Bartolo Colon, backed up by a pair of Home Runs from David Wright and Lucas Duda.

In a prior era, I might have gone home and eschewed the 7 or 7:30pm replay of that afternoon's game since I would have already heard or known what had happened, but getting home and seeing the game was completely new to me. I was aware that the Mets had won, but I had no idea how anything happened, or even who was pitching for them until I put the TV on.

In reality, this wasn't what you would consider to be a memorable game in the least. It was kind of chilly out, in stark contrast to the humidity of Tuesday night, so the crowd seemed kind of sparse, although I have the feeling that these weekday afternoon games can be kind of sparse no matter what the weather. Bartolo Colon basically mowed the Pirates down with generic efficiency and the Mets pieced together a few rallies throughout the afternoon, building leads of 1-, 2- and then 3-0 before Lucas Duda's late Home Run salted things away.

I'd like to say something a little more interesting about this game, but I got nothing. Bartolo Colon still looks like a buffoon at the plate but at least he had his A-game on the mound, because he's had the propensity to look equally as foolish on his bad days. Other than that, what would you take away from this game?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fall Stall

Hard to believe, but on May 27th, I was already attending my 9th game of the season at Citi Field. This season, like many of the few directly before it, has been kind of a rhythmless season as far as the games I've attended are concerned. I've sat through multiple extra inning games, games that went too long, some nice wins, some boring losses. There's been no real consistent theme among the games except that the Mets were involved and, win or lose, it's just the Mets.

Tuesday night at Citi Field seemed to exemplify that. The Mets won, 4-2, over the Pirates, which was nice. The price, however, was that it took the Mets 3 hours and 43 minutes on a thick night in Queens to accomplish said 4-2 victory. This is kind of ridiculous, 3 hours and 43 minutes. I've been to Extra Inning games that didn't last quite that long. When you only score 6 runs total and the two teams combine for 12 hits, something really messed up must have been going on for the game to last 3 hours and 43 minutes.

But, examine the game, and you can't really come up with one definitive reason as to why this game took so damn long. Walks might be a likely culprit, and there were certainly plenty, with the Mets drawing 8 and the Pirates 6, but that shouldn't slow a game down that much. The walks, combined with both starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Jon Niese deciding they wanted to be a little more like John Maine and slowing down to a snail's pace combined with the complete and total inability to put away a hitter was this game's undoing. Volquez wasn't long for this game from the outset, as the Mets got runners on against him repeatedly, but, typical for the Mets, only managed to plate two runs in 5 innings. The Mets worked Volquez repeatedly, culminating in a 5th inning at bat by Lucas Duda where I'm pretty sure Duda fouled off no less than 12 2-strike pitches before drawing a walk.

Jon Niese, on the other side, started out wonderfully, neatly tying the Pirates up in knots through 5 innings. Then came the 6th. Oy vey, then came the 6th. Niese started out by walking the leadoff hitter Josh Harrison and he pretty much unraveled from there. A game where it seemed certain he could go much deeper into the game quickly evaporated into a string of deep counts and walks until his neat and tidy 60 pitches was nearing 100 pitches and Starling Marte was singling home the tying runs. Suddenly, the lead was gone, Niese was gone in favor of the return of Vic Black and the clock was about to strike 10pm. Much too late for the 6th inning. Black, who probably should have been here all along, came in the game and started throwing darts all over the place. And by all over the place I mean all over the place. He walked his first batter to set the stage for Ike Davis to pinch hit, the situation rife for Davis to recreate his early-season heroics. But instead, Black turned the tables on Ike, striking him out on a curveball to instead recreate many other less-memorable Ike Davis moments.

Still, the game did not speed up, even though the starters had left the game. A succession of relievers for the Pirates kept allowing Mets to reach base and, fortuitously for the Mets, a couple of them scored, allowing them to regain the lead. Ruben Tejada reached base and moved up on a pair of Jeanmar Gomez wild pitches, and then scored on a broken bat flair single from Juan Lagares. Daniel Murphy followed with a double into the corner that scored Lagares.

This, fortunately, was enough for Black and Jenrry Mejia to finish out the game, although there were plenty of moments where that appeared kind of dicey. In the 7th, Black got the first two batters out before walking Jose Tabata, which was great considering the defending NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was on deck. McCutchen got a hit to set the stage for our dear friend Gaby Sanchez, but much like he did to Davis, Black snuck a curveball by Sanchez for strike 3 to end the threat. Jenrry Mejia followed Black to the mound for the ever popular 6-out Save opportunity, and did a great job of summoning up great Mets closers of the past by immediately letting the tying runs on base and then somehow managing to get out of it. In the 8th, Mejia allowed 2 on and the Pirates sent up Pedro Alvarez to pinch hit. Alvarez hit a shot, but directly at Tejada, who turned an easy DP. In the 9th, with the clock now creeping closer to 11pm—and my bedtime—Mejia again prolonged things, allowing 2 more Pirates on (one on an error, granted, but a baserunner is a baserunner) to set up Sanchez once again. Every Mets fan had this horrible fear of Sanchez getting around on one and hitting it somewhere far, or even worse, far enough to simply tie the game and extend it even further into the night. And Sanchez almost hit it into a disastrous corner of the infield—too far away for Tejada to attempt a throw to 1st, yet not far enough away to do too much damage—so Tejada did the heady thing, as he is, in fact, sometimes capable of doing, and threw to 3rd, in time to get Travis Snider for the final out.

Usually, when the Mets win, I like to stand around and revel for a moment or two after the game. Not after this game, though. The game ended at around 10:54pm. I'd likely be on a moving 7 Express train by 11:10. If I were lucky, I'd be home before midnight. Turns out, I did luck out and get home before midnight. Barely, but before. I'll likely pay for this tomorrow, though.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rearranging

By all rights, Jacob deGrom should have picked up his first Major League win in Monday afternoon's game. His 6.2 innings of shutout ball represented his best outing to date since being recalled and furthermore, he's stabilized the pitching rotation from the gaps left by Gee and Mejia. He's unfortunately been given a grand total of 0 runs to work with over his first two starts, and so the two runs the Mets scored for him today certainly must have felt like a boatload to young Jacob.

Of course, the Mets bullpen did their best to ensure that deGrom would have to wait one more turn around the rotation to get that first win. Scott Rice started the 8th inning by allowing a Home Run to Gaby Sanchez, which isn't that big of a deal since it's more or less prerequisite that Gaby Sanchez hit a Home Run against the Mets (much better Sanchez than Ike Davis, who received a warm welcome in his return to Citi Field—much warmer than, say, the one afforded Oliver Perez over the weekend). Rice got the next two batters out, but Terry Collins then decided to remove Rice in favor of Jose Valverde.

Jose Valverde, as of about 5 minutes after the game, was then an ex-Met.

In between those two points in time, Valverde sealed his fate by allowing 4 hits, 1 walk and 4 runs while managing to get only 2 of the 4 outs necessary to seal a Met victory. Valverde allowed a spate of hits of the annoying variety, two of which served to tie the game in the 8th, the 3rd set up the lead run in the 9th, and the final one to—guess who—Gaby Sanchez—which gave the Pirates the lead and when Valverde failed to properly back up an errant throw from Curtis Granderson, allowed one more run to score and Sanchez to make it all the way to 3rd, where he would score on a sacrifice fly after Valverde was properly removed from the field.

Up until that point, the story of the game might have been the Mets netting a 5th inning run thanks to the never-before-seen Catcher's obstruction replay reversal that gave Juan Lagares a run. Instead, the tale of the tape involves the departure of Valverde, the return of Vic Black, and the dispatching of hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

Hudgens' removal is probably not as impactful, since the hitting coach doesn't actually take the field or hit the ball, but the performance of the team's offense has been pretty lousy of late and when they were going good, they were kind of sporadic. I don't know much about Lamar Johnson, but sometimes a new voice and a new philosophy can help a team that's scuffling. Whatever Hudgens had to offer wasn't working for guys like Lucas Duda, Chris Young and others.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Flip Twice

The single-admission Doubleheader, for as pure and innocent as it may be, is still a long day of Baseball, and yesterday's at Citi Field was definitely a long day of Baseball, even if it wasn't exactly a stimulating pair of games. The Mets lost one low-scoring game by virtue of poor defense and the re-emergence of the Double Play Brigade, and won the nightcap by virtue, I suppose, of being less tired than the Diamondbacks, after essentially playing 3 games in a 1-day span.

The Opening game on Sunday came on the heels of an eminently forgettable game on Saturday (that I didn't even see) and Friday night's rainout that necessitated the Doubleheader, and featured the Mets having one of those games in which the only thing they managed to do well was hit into Double Plays. The Mets hit into 5 Double Plays in the first game, which is really impressive because in the bigger picture, the Mets had a double play in more than half the innings in which they came to bat. This did not serve to benefit Rafael Montero at all, because after giving up a 1st inning Home Run to Chris Owings, Montero was brilliant for the remainder of his 7 innings. It's only fortunate, I suppose, that the Mets managed to scratch across a run for him in the second inning, so instead of leaving in line to lose, he left a tie game, but that was mere scant consolation. The Mets couldn't hit Bronson Arroyo, which isn't anything new, and old buddy Oliver Perez came out of the bullpen much to the chagrin of those in attendance and threw a scoreless inning of his own. Only in the 9th did the Diamondbacks break through by virtue of, you guessed it, one of Daniel Murphy's periodic spastic fits, where he yakked on a throw from David Wright on what would have been an inning-ending Fielder's Choice and allowed the lead run to score. The Mets offered little in response and ended up with a 2-1 loss that drove most of the audience to the exits.

Fortunately, the Mets won the second game 4-2 and avoided being swept by the lowly Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, I had to go out and missed the game, but I hear Bobby Abreu and Ruben Tejada did good things and Daisuke Matsuzaka continued to pitch well in a spot-starting role. The length of this recap befitting the second game of this particular Doubleheader, because it just felt like the kind of game that nobody was around to watch. Sort of like the second game on this particular day, a generation ago it seems.

So, the Mets can go from hosting one former club headache whom nobody liked much in Oliver Perez to hosting a former club headache whom everybody liked when Ike Davis and the Pirates come to town. I'd like to think the crowd will give Ike a much more cheerful welcome back than they did to Perez. Ike deserves at least that much.

This, by the way, is the 1,000th post here, innocuous as it may seem. Thanks to everyone for reading over the past 7 years, and here's looking forward to the next thousand!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Typical Play

The Mets, for once, benefited from the foolish play of their opponent, rather than the other way around tonight. In a sloppy affair, the Mets managed to salvage the finale of their series with the Dodgers and win for what felt like the first time in weeks with a 5-3 victory behind Jon Niese.

Niese was the star tonight for the Mets, bouncing back from a poor outing in Washington with a great 7-inning effort and even coming through at the plate, helping his own cause with an RBI double off Zack Greinke. Niese got through his night mostly unscathed by the Dodgers lineup, escaping a couple of jams thanks to some bad baserunning on the part of the mercurial Yasiel Puig, and only faltering in the 7th inning, when old friend Justin Turner gave him the proverbial pie in the face by hitting a 2-run Home Run to, at that point, tie the game 3-3.

But Niese was backed by the usual suspects, or at least the usual suspects of late, to help bring home the win for him. Juan Lagares, who continues to simply do helpful things, got Niese his lead back by poking a key 2-out RBI single that drove home the lead run. Curtis Granderson also kept his good streak going, scoring an early run and driving home an insurance run with an 8th inning triple. Jenrry Mejia shut the door in the 9th to convert his second Save.

But the game will probably be remembered for one particular play that seemed to typify the general loaginess that both these teams have been known to exhibit. We all know what play that is, because it's one of those plays that from the perspective of both teams caused you to cheer and cover your eyes at the same time. In the 6th inning, the Dodgers had 2 men on, thanks primarily to Daniel Murphy having one of his periodic spastic attacks and not catching David Wright's relay throw on a potential DP ball from Puig. Both Puig and Chone Figgins found themselves aboard and Niese was in a heap of trouble with Hanley Ramirez at the plate. Ramirez lifts a high pop fly towards second base. Murphy circles around and seems like he's got it lined up, but he must have been faking it, because the ball ended up landing on the ground not especially close to him. Another Murphy moment. Fortuitously for the Mets, the Infield Fly Rule had been called, so Ramirez was out. Murphy probably heard this and so wasn't too panicked by the dropped popup. Calmly, Murphy picked the ball up and threw to Wilmer Flores at second. But neither Flores, nor Puig, the runner steaming towards second, seemed particularly aware of the Infield Fly Rule or what it entails, because Flores didn't bother to tag Puig, instead assuming he had a force play. But, that was OK, because Puig, assuming he was forced out, ran through the base and stopped. Only then did Flores, at the urging of Murphy, realize he needed to run over and tag Puig out. After all that, the Mets ended up getting 2 outs on the play, and Niese ended up getting out of the inning without giving up a run, nice on both counts. Nice to get the outs, nice to not give up the runs, and, most of all, nice to actually have a play like that work in the Mets favor, particularly considering the lack of good luck they've had lately.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flailing Away

There are many ways to lose at Baseball. The Mets, lately, seem to be adept at finding them. Tuesday night, they basically bored themselves to death in a 4-hour stinker. Wednesday, I was on hand to watch them get a multitude of singles, often in the same inning, yet only manage to net 3 runs for their 13-hit effort and wind up losing again to the Dodgers, 4-3.

On a night that I was tired from a long day at work, the Mets also looked tired when there were men on base. Only once did they go down in order for the night, but against Hyun-Jin Ryu and his large and loud bevy of supporters, they managed nary a key hit. Ryu struck out 9 Mets in his 6 innings of work, enough to offset the 9 hits he scattered. 8 of said 9 hits were singles. The 9th was Eric Campbell's first Major League Home Run, which brought the Mets to within a run in the 6th inning, and yet that one run sort of felt like too wide a gulf for the Mets to cross. Not that they didn't try. Wilmer Flores followed Campbell's Homer with one of his three hits, but Ryu followed by striking out Anthony Recker to squash the threat.

Flores was one of three Mets to pick up three hits on the night. Juan Lagares was another, he tried to kick start rallies in the 7th and 9th innings, first by bunting for a hit (then getting erased on a Daniel Murphy Fielder's Choice), then by tripling and scoring on a Murphy groundout. David Wright also had 3 hits, one of them a 7th inning double that barely ticked off of Puig's glove. Had it rolled farther away from him, perhaps it would have allowed Murphy to score the tying run, but alas it did not, and Puig, who boasts an arm not to be trifled with, retrieved the ball before too much damage was done (not surprisingly, Chris Young followed with an inning-ending groundout). Wright was at the plate in the 9th as well, but struck out to end the game.

The victim of all this on the pitching side of the ledger was Jacob deGrom, who in his second Major League start pitched admirably well despite getting tagged for three truly monstrous Home Runs from Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Outside of those three bad pitches, deGrom looked fine from where I was sitting; just as good as he had against the Yankees and perhaps proving himself worthy of a continued spot in the rotation. He also chipped in with his second hit in as many games, if such a thing is worthy of consolation.

There is, I suppose, a limit to how worked up you can get over games like this. It's frustrating to see them get hit after hit after hit and then have someone kill the rally by striking out or hitting into a Double Play, but that's what happens on a team that's scuffling. But what can you do. It's the Mets. It's just the Mets.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

See You Tomorrow

Fortunately, I got tickets for tomorrow night's game as opposed to tonight's game. I therefore only had to suffer through this 4+ hour farce of a game on TV. Had I been there in person, I surely would have lost my mind or dissolved into some Josh Beckett-esque screaming tantrum that would have gotten me thrown out of the stadium...If there was actually anyone left in the stadium to throw me out.

The game started out reasonably well, behind Rafael Montero making his second Major League start and his second start against a difficult opponent. We've all been subjected to the Dodgers and their galaxy of stars, and their roster hasn't really turned over too much since their deep playoff run of a year ago. The Mets had all sorts of trouble putting them away last season and this year proves to be a similar struggle, as the Dodgers got to Montero in the 5th inning and put the game away in an excruciating 9th inning that dragged on into the witching hour, resulting in a 9-4 victory that for some bizarre reason was well within reach for the Mets for a few hot minutes.

After the Dodgers, behind Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe and other lesser men belted around Montero and opened up a 6-1 lead, the Mets could have packed it in for the night, and maybe they should have, but no team wants to just quit on a game, so the Mets instead decided to come back. Curtis Granderson homered and Lucas Duda homered, and Josh Beckett went apeshit, and there were men on base and the Mets were reasonably one hit away from tying the game. But that one hit never came. A succession of Dodgers relievers, those unknown like Chris Withrow, fading, like Brian Wilson, or stars, like Kenley Jansen, carried the Dodgers home through the latter innings, squashing multiple Met threats, while the Dodgers eventually scored those 3 9th inning tack-on runs that removed the drama from the affairs.

As I said, I'm particularly glad I wasn't there on this evening. That they lost the game was bad enough, but the length of this game was completely absurd. How any 9-inning, National League game lasts 4 hours and 7 minutes baffles me, but somehow these teams managed to do it. I don't remember an abundance of pitching changes or crotch grabbing, but it seemed like there were a number of deep counts, and a lot of men left on base which may have served to extend things. I may have been lulled to sleep for a few minutes at some point. All I know is that if the Mets had to get a true stink bomb like this out of their system, better it be tonight when I'm not there as opposed to tomorrow night when I will be. Here's hoping Jacob deGrom has an 8-inning outing in him en route to a 2 hour, 20 minute Mets win.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ragamuffins

It was unfortunate that moppish, muppet-like Rookie Jacob deGrom had to make his debut tonight, on a night when the Mets would provide him with nothing in the way of offensive support, leaving him to take the collar of defeat when he was finally reached for one measly run in the last of his 7 innings of work. He deserved a better fate.

In a matchup of two guys making their Major League Debuts in the pressure cooker of the Subway Series, it was deGrom who shined, throwing shutout ball into the 7th inning, but Chase Whitley matched him in his 5 innings of work, and was followed by an even more eye-popping outing from faded prospect Dellin Betances and finished off by not Mariano Rivera (because the Mets might have beaten him). Daniel Murphy and David Wright couldn't turn an overshift-induced Double Play in the top of the 7th, and Alfonso Soriano subsequently made the Mets pay by hitting a double so far up the alley in Left-Center that glue-shoed Mr. Morality Brian McCann all the way from 1st base with the game's only run. After scoring 21 runs in 2 games in the Bronx, the Mets came home and scored 0 runs in 2 games, and looked pretty silly in doing so.

Yet, though they lost both games in Citi Field, the Mets have to have emerged with a bit of enhanced regard based on the way their two young starters performed. Rafael Montero acquitted himself well enough on Wednesday night, but tonight, Jacob deGrom was great. deGrom hasn't had quite the panache of the Harvey/Wheeler prospect line, and even Montero has drawn more attention then him. And perhaps he may end up being little more than a talented trade chip, but if he's going to pitch like he did tonight, he's going to be here for a while. He seems very much out of the Bronson Arroyo mold, the kind of pitcher who sports a flowing mop of hair and an array of pitches that can get him through games and probably allow him to eat plenty of innings along the way. He also accomplished the one thing no Mets pitcher had managed to do this season and get a hit. So, once again, even though the Mets lost the game and their hitters looked foolish, at least there's something positive that can be taken away from it.

So, finally, the Subway Series excitement is done for 2014, and that's just as well. At least the Mets split the series this season instead of something worse happening.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

These New Guys

When you come away from a game and the best thought you can have is, "well, at least the game was quick," it's pretty easy to infer that the game did not go especially well for the Mets.

Though Rafael Montero, the first of two consecutive nights of Met-Starting-Pitching-Prospect-Making-Their-Major-League-Debut, didn't fare poorly, allowing 3 runs in his 6 innings of work, he and his Mets teammates were buzzsawed by the hot import Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka mastered the Mets for the duration, ending the Mets 6-game Subway Series win streak with a 4-hit shutout. It was probably to his advantage that Tanaka caught the Mets at Citi Field, where they can't hit. After a pair of games in the Bronx where the Mets lit everything on fire, they went home and went right back in the tank, like clockwork.

But enough about the offense, we can focus instead on Montero's debut, which was somewhat long-awaited, given the hype and the fact that the pitching staff needed a jolt. Jenrry Mejia was shifted to the bullpen in favor of Montero, which I suppose made sense given that Mejia was the low man in the Mets rotation as far as seniority and the fact that he'd struggled in his past few starts. I wasn't particularly a fan of the move, seeing as how Mejia has what you might say is higher upside than someone else in the rotation, but, whatever. The pitching staff was littered with names like Lannan and Germen and Farnsworth, guys that didn't inspire much of anything while people like Montero and Jacob deGrom sat around riding the bus, but that's now changed, and Montero is here and he got thrown right into the rotation in the Subway Series of all things. If that's not enough, deGrom is going to start Thursday night in his Major League debut. deGrom, who not only gives the Mets a monopoly on the guys whose last names start with a lower case "d," was going to sit the bullpen but for the mysterious lat injury to Dillon Gee (talk about things that couldn't happen at a worse time) that I seem to have missed completely.

This may not work out well in the short term, and it didn't result in a win tonight, but these are moves in the right direction. If the prospects are here and the team is just going to be sort of middling all season long, let them be middling while seeing what some of these guys can do. Montero came out tonight and pitched fine for someone making his Major League debut. Not everybody can come up and be like Matt Harvey or, heaven forbid, Collin McHugh, so 3 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings is a fine job. Hopefully deGrom does as well tomorrow and comes away with a win in the process.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Attack Mode

Strange as it may sound, perhaps playing the Yankees is the best thing for the Mets these days.

In another excruciatingly long game that fell mere minutes short of 4 hours, the Mets slogged their way through a muddled mess of walks, full counts, foul balls and the like. Aesthetically, this was probably the exact opposite of Monday night's game, which was a crisp, clean affair that featured the best of what both teams had to offer. Tonight was 4 hours of pure ugly. Regardless, the Mets came out on top, and really, that's all that matters in the end. With their 12-7 victory (at least I think that's what the final was, since I started nodding out towards the end of the game), the Mets swept the Bronx portion of the Subway Series for the 2nd year in a row, and additionally extended their winning streak in the Subway Series to 6 consecutive games. It's a nice feeling to have, after so many years of getting pushed around.

Whereas last night, the game was a back and forth affair that saw the Mets get up and fight back multiple times, tonight, the Mets stormed the gates from the beginning and really didn't look back. They attacked Vidal Nuno immediately, starting with Eric Young, Jr getting hit by a pitch, Daniel Murphy working a walk out of a 10-pitch At Bat, David Wright following with an RBI single and Curtis Granderson continuing to make himself at home in his former home by nailing a 3-run Home Run. Jumping out like that, one would have to think that this game would be smooth sailing.

Unfortunately, staked to a 4-run lead before he set foot on the mound, Zack Wheeler came out and had what was probably his worst outing of the season. Before the paint had dried on Granderson's Home Run, Wheeler had allowed a Home Run to Mr. Morality himself, cutting the lead down to 4-3. Wheeler's night would be punctuated by poor control, too many deep counts, too many walks, and generally looking out of sorts on the mound. A young pitcher like Wheeler will have days like this, but when his teammates actually went out and scored him a bunch of runs, it would have been nice if he'd been able to get himself through 5 innings. David Wright and Daniel Murphy drove home runs in the 4th, and in the 5th, Murphy for all intents and purposes put the nails in the coffin of this game by smoking a 3-run Home Run off the Right Field foul pole. With a now-7 run lead, Wheeler was sent back to the mound for the last of the 5th to see if he could get himself a win, if nothing else. He couldn't do that; after the Mets offense had piled up runs for him, he still couldn't throw a strike and ended up departing in favor of Daisuke Matsuzaka after only getting one out in the 5th, surrounded by more walks and an RBI hit from Alfonso Soriano.

Matsuzaka, who's no stranger to the Yankees or their ugly hats, not only rescued Wheeler but also accelerated a game that had crept past 3 hours with no end in sight. His 3.2 innings of work featured all of 2 walks, and 1 hit, a meaningless solo Home Run by Flavor of the Month Yangervis Solarte (Greatest Yankees rookie since Oscar Azocar, they said), and certainly earned the Win he got for his efforts. He kept the Yankees in check and more importantly saved the Mets bullpen by taking the game all the way to the 9th inning, where Jeurys Familia made things unnecessarily hairy before closing the game out.

Tonight's game might have lacked the starch that Monday's did, both from an ambient perspective (the crowd was much livelier on Monday--tonight they were mostly asleep and mostly gone by the 7th inning), but I doubt any Mets fan is going to complain about the results. Now, the teams move to Queens for the Citi Field leg of the Subway Series, replete with the Major League debut of Rafael Montero on tap for Wednesday night. We shall see what kind of intrigue develops.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Launching Pad

I guess going to that other, much smaller ballpark in this city was what the Mets needed to finally have a breakout offensive performance. After a good 10 day stretch where they couldn't hit anything, they went to the Bronx and staged one of those classic Subway Series games that will probably get replayed on "Mets Classics" forever. The Mets banged out 14 hits and a season-high 4 Home Runs, which allowed them to overcome two three-run deficits en route to a rousing (perhaps arousing for some) 9-7 victory in the opener of the annual Subway Series.

The Mets victory was punctuated with several instances of clutch hitting and clutch defense to go along with the outburst of power. For a while, it looked like this might be one of those run-of-the-mill games where the Mets fall behind and just don't have the juice to catch up. Bartolo Colon made one bad pitch, unfortunately he threw that bad pitch with the bases loaded, and Brett Gardner summarily popped it into the seats in Right Field for a Grand Slam. In Citi Field, that's a fly out to right. But this isn't Citi Field and the Mets found themselves instantly behind 4-1.

But, two can play at this game. The Mets, who for all their foibles do have hitters who can hit, and they set out to chip away at their deficit. Hiroki Kuroda, who's become sort of a stopper, in spite of the fact that I can only remember him breaking down and crying on the mound at Shea Stadium way back when, kept the Mets in check until the 5th, when Travis d'Arnaud played a little Home Run Derby of his own and hit a pop fly of his own that landed in the seats, another ball that's a fly out to right in Citi Field. One inning later, the Mets were even, thanks to Curtis Granderson, who returned to the place where made a name for himself smacking Home Runs over that particular Right Field fence and decided to welcome himself back by hitting one more, this one a two-run shot that evened the score 4-4.

Colon's luck ran out in the last of the 6th. The enemy started flaring hits all over the place, starting with Flavor of the Week Yangervis Solarte, and followed by dear old Kelly Johnson and finished off by what used to be Brian Roberts, and once again the Mets found themselves in a 3-run hole. But the Mets had succeeded in getting Kuroda out of the game, and into a bullpen that's often struggled just as much as their own has.

Alfredo Aceves, who's made a career out of bouncing around the AL East, took the mound in the 7th and after walking d'Arnaud, was victimized by the Mets 3rd Home Run of the night, this one by Eric Young Jr, who hit what was essentially a line drive that flew over that short Right Field wall for his 1st Home Run of the season. Daniel Murphy followed with a hit, and with Granderson up, the Mets were primed to strike for more, until Murphy decided to be a hero and steal second, where he was thrown out with relative ease.

No matter. The Mets stormed back once again in the 8th inning, and brought the game home thanks to a universal effort of clutch performances. Lucas Duda, who'd been mostly quiet to that point, kind of stole the show; his broken-bat single drove home Eric Campbell, whose slide to get around Mr. Morality was just as clutch. Duda subsequently scored when Chris Young hit the Mets 4th Home Run of the night, which was an actual Home Run that probably would have been out of most ballparks.

The Mets offense was done for the night, but Lucas Duda was just getting warmed up. In the bottom of the 8th, he made a diving stop to rob Olde Kelly Johnson and start a 3-6-3 Double Play that got Jenrry Mejia, now in the bullpen, through the inning without much trouble. Duda's play in the 9th ended up saving the game altogether. Kyle Farnsworth, who may be hitting the Met Closer Wall, came in and immediately allowed two runners aboard, setting the stage for Mr. Morality himself, Brian McCann. Mr. Morality has certainly done his share of damage to the Mets, and even though he's now old and creaky, he can still pop one out of this particular ballpark, and don't think that wasn't flashing through every Mets fan's mind. And he hit it hard, but he hit it right where Duda could dive, glove the ball and start the overshift-induced 3-5-3 Double Play to finish off a magnificent Mets victory, the kind of game that might have been begat by the comeback yesterday afternoon.

Whatever it was, the Mets proved that they are indeed capable of getting up off the mat and shoving back when the situation calls for them to do so. It would have been easy enough, the way things had been going of late, for them to just lie down and call it a night once they fell behind. But at least on this night, against this particular opponent, the Mets found a way to push back and beat said opponent at their own game.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Escapism

The Mets were a half-inning away from a 3-day debacle of games that took way too long to arrive at the same miserable result. Friday night's slog was followed up by a Saturday night affair that saw the Mets finally awaken after a week's worth of offensive no-shows and score all of 4 runs, but that wasn't enough as the Phillies stifled a trio of Mets rallies in the late innings and eventually scored the winning run in the 9th. Sunday seemed to be going no better; the Mets fell behind and did little in response, and so going to the bottom of the 9th, there was little reason to believe that the Mets would somehow manage to escape from this mess they'd created.

So, of course, the Mets came back, tied the game in the 9th and won it in the 11th. Of course they did.

As a team, the Mets haven't pitched especially poorly, but it's been one particular pitcher having a bad day that seems to have submarined their particular efforts in this recent poor stretch. Friday night, Jenrry Mejia had a bad game. Saturday, Kyle Farnsworth had a bad inning and it resulted in a loss. Sunday, Jose Valverde gave up a run in the 9th that appeared to be windowdressing for the Phillies, but instead wound up being a huge run when the dust cleared.

The run Valverde allowed made the score 4-1, and it seemed quite certain that Jon Niese would take the loss despite not pitching especially poorly and the loathsome Cole Hamels would pick up his 100th career win in a rare solid performance against the Mets. But rather than Jonathan Papelbon in to finish things off, it was Antonio Bastardo, and Bastardo instead let the Mets back into the game rather quickly. After an Eric Young double, Daniel Murphy launched a Home Run into the Bullpen, putting some juice back into the few fans that remained at the tail end of a game well over 3 1/2 hours long. David Wright struck out, but Chris Young followed with a double. Bastardo clearly wasn't getting it done, so out he went in favor of Friday night's starter, Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez, but he couldn't get things done either, allowing a single to Bobby Abreu that, once it ticked off Chase Utley's glove, gave you the impression that somehow the Mets would find a way, and then an RBI groundout to Juan Lagares that tied the game.

But, of course, what Mets game would be complete without some extra innings, and when Anthony Recker didn't finish the job in the 9th, the game continued until the Mets mounted their winning rally in the 11th, behind a pair of well-placed infield hits by Young and Recker, a cameo appearance by Zack Wheeler to lay down a bunt, and an intentional walk by Lagares that set the stage for the much-maligned Ruben Tejada. I surmised that this might be a good spot for Tejada to lay down a squeeze bunt, since Chris Young at 3rd has reasonably good speed and the Phillies were gearing up for a hot shot at somebody, but Tejada thought otherwise and spared the drama by lining the first pitch into Left Field for the winning hit that would have been a hit no matter where the fielders were playing, and the Mets picked up a sorely needed 5-4 win.

Next, it's everyone's favorite, the Subway Series, as the Mets engage in their annual fan-crotch-grabbing festival with their crosstown rivals for 4 games that will be talked about for years no matter what happens. Here's hoping for results much more like the ones we saw last season.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

In The Soup

There was something very heavy and lazy about Friday night's game at Citi Field. My first May game of the season brought with it a soupy Flushing Fog, accompanied with a fine pregame mist that was more nuisance than an actual threat to game play. Nonetheless, it seemed like the weight in the air affected the game, which turned into an excruciating 11-inning, affair that had drawn close to 4 hours long by time the 9th inning rolled around. Given the general humidity and length of the game, one might have thought that the score would be something like 9-7, but it wasn't. This game went into the 9th inning at around 10:45pm with the score a mere 2-2.

Getting to that point was no particular picnic. The Mets had myriad opportunities to wipe the floor with Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez and the Phillies, loading the bases in the 1st and 2nd and getting men on base in just about every subsequent inning in one way or another before someone struck out and then flew out and the inning ended. Curtis Granderson, the subject of this week's Free Shirt Friday (or as my other half refers to it, "Horrible Shirt Friday"), drove home a run with a double in the 1st inning, but that was the only consequential offense the Mets generated off Hernandez. Everything else was little more than crotch-grabbing, but at least the Mets looked like they were making an effort. Wilmer Flores and Travis d'Arnaud each had two hits and Daniel Murphy was on base constantly, but it was mostly setup for Chris Young or Josh Satin to strike out.

That being said, Hernandez was probably the primary reason this game was dragging on so long, because he would get two strikes on every hitter, then give up about 7 foul balls before getting an out. Fortunately, the game never got away from the Mets, because the Phillies proved themselves almost equally inept on offense. Jenrry Mejia, who continues to struggle, did just about everything he could to hand the Phillies this game. Mejia was just as culpable as Hernandez for the length of the proceedings. Where Hernandez couldn't put anyone away, Mejia just kept getting ahead of hitters and then nibbling and letting the count run full. He allowed single runs in the 3rd and 5th innings, both of which involved Domonic Brown driving in Chase Utley. By the 5th, he was well over 90 pitches and when he couldn't finish out the inning, he was mercifully pulled from the game.

The departure of the starting pitchers, unfortunately, didn't speed things up. The crowd, which was larger than the usual Citi Field audience this season (whether it was the lure of free Curtis Granderson shirts or Philly fans up for the weekend) was beginning to lose interest, and it sort of felt like they were pretty listless to begin with. I missed a large swath of the first inning trying to get food; this isn't an unfounded occurrence, but it seemed like, in general, there were just so many more people trying to get food or beer or something else as opposed to sitting in their seats and watching the game. It was just that kind of night. And it probably would have been easier—frustrating, but easier—if David Wright hadn't smashed a 2-out RBI double in the bottom of the 8th inning to tie up the game. It was justice that it happened, given how many missed opportunities the Mets had, but in reality, it just served to make me concerned that an already long game was going to get even longer. And when neither team managed to score in the 9th or 10th innings, after having worked a full day and sat through 4 and a half hours of Baseball, I couldn't do it anymore. Loath as I was to do so, I had to leave. I know it was a Friday and I know nobody was dragging me out of there, but I just couldn't do it anymore.

It seemed like I picked the right moment to go, because no sooner did I depart than the Phillies took the lead off Carlos Torres. Old friend Marlon Byrd did the damage, but you could see it coming. I spent the 9th and 10th inning thinking hard about which Met had the potential to run into a fastball and pull it out of the ballpark, but none of them came through for me, and after I left nobody did anything better, and so the game ended after an absurdly long 4 hour and 39 minute-11 inning, 3-2 loss for the Mets that was more sleep-inducing rather than entertaining. After a kind of spunky period, the Mets have turned back into a bunch of duds. Whatever happened to them in Colorado and Florida seems to have followed them home, and they've dissolved into 1 win in their last 8 games. That's not quite the plan.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Forgotten Afternoon

I neither saw nor heard any part of today's game. In fact, I wasn't even aware that the game was going on until almost two hours after it started.

Based on what I discovered later in the day, I see I was better off.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nothing Changes

Whether by walk-off or walk-out, it seems the Mets are mostly incapable of winning games in the puke-green hell-hole that is Mickey Mouse Stadium in Miami. After losing their requisite blown-lead walk-off last night, the Mets came out flatter than a pancake, showing little resistance whatsoever as Henderson Alvarez wiped the floor with them en route to a 6-hit shutout.

Little good to say about this game, except to mention that Bartolo Colon pitched palatably well after the Marlins threatened to light him up in the 1st inning. It looked grim after Giancarlo Stanton hit one off the top of the wall to plate Boring Ed Lucas, and Casey McGehee followed with an RBI hit of his own, but Colon rebounded and on any other night, in any other place, the Mets might have had a decent chance to match the opponent's runs and give him a shot to win, or at least draw. But tonight, no such things were happening. Those 2 runs may as well have been 12, as Alvarez dispatched the Mets with frightening efficiency, to the point where at around 8:45, I heard Gary Cohen say something to the effect of "...as we move to the 8th inning..." and realizing, "Holy shit, 8th inning already?" Alvarez dictated the pace throughout the game and the Mets had no answer. His shutout was accomplished in all of 2 hours and 8 minutes, a lightning-fast game by anyone's standard, and certainly fast for the Mets, who struggle to beat 3 hours on most nights.

The game sunk the Mets to a miserable 1-5 on their 1993 Expansion Team Tour, which has sent them into stadiums where they mysteriously have developed an incredible aversion to playing well and winning games, particularly if you look at their record in these two particular places over the past few seasons. Fortunately, they don't have to go back to one of those places at all for the remainder of the season, and as for Miami, well, they're done after tomorrow afternoon, fortunately, and don't have to go back again until late June. Unfortunately, they play 10 of their 19 games against Miami in their ballpark, so that means there's one more opportunity for an annoying, frustrating game to happen to the Mets this season. Can't wait.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mad Mets

Somewhere in 1969, Don Draper, shoved into the former office of his dearly deceased colleague Lane Pryce, drops a cigarette under his office radiator. Discouraged, he reaches under the radiator and finds something folded up, felt-like. It's orange. He pulls it out.

It's a New York Mets pennant.

The very one that Lane Pryce, the British ex-pat turned early-era Mets fan had on his office wall. Don unfolds it, looks at it, and unceremoniously tosses it in a wastebasket.

Later, Don has a change of heart. Sometime during the course of the day, the Mets pennant is removed from the trash and returned to its former place on the office wall. Somehow, its presence (perhaps combined with multiple alcoholic beverages) inspires Don Draper to dial up his friend Freddie Rumsen and suggest a trip to Shea. When Freddie shows up, a thoroughly inebriated Don suggests that they "Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets! Step right up and Greet the Mets!"

Freddie takes Don out of the office, but they never make it to Shea. Later, after passing out on his own couch, Don wakes up and asks Freddie, "Did the Mets win?"

One can't exactly be so sure which game they missed, although Mets nation has gone to some length to try to figure it out. The only sure thing we know about that afternoon game was that it happened in 1969, and although nobody knew it at the time, some pretty interesting stuff was about to go down.

This in and of itself probably made every Mets fan's night.

But if Don Draper got drunk in his office in 2014 and happened to see a Mets game like tonight's, he could very well have thrown the pennant back in the trash. The game started out like a sublime Mad Men, with Jon Niese coolly slicing through the Marlins lineup for 7 innings, while Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson continued their hot hitting with a pair of early Home Runs. Niese was clearly going to be the story of the night, and he still may be the story of the night, if only for the way in which he was shafted by a complete and total bullpen meltdown, the kind of shit show that only happens in Miami, or on a tawdry episode of Bates Motel. First Daisuke Matsuzaka kicked things off by walking everyone, then blowing the lead, and then one inning later Gonzalez Germen finished the job by kick-saving a comebacker, except that this isn't Hockey and a ball that could have been an inning-ending Double Play ended up caroming out into Right Field as the winning run danced home.

Neither I, nor Don Draper, or anyone else rooting for the Mets were amused or entertained by this outcome.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hightail it Out Of Here

After Charlie Culberson's 9th inning Home Run sailed over the Center Field fence on Saturday night, capping off another Met Nightmare in Coors Field, nobody would have blamed the Mets for just throwing up their arms and lying down on Sunday, because clearly every time the Mets go to Denver and play the Colorados, it generally results in some sort of ridiculous affair that can only happen in the rarefied air of the Rocky Mountains and ends with the Mets blowing multiple leads and the Colorados ultimately getting that monumental walk-off hit. It goes without saying, but the Mets suffered this sort of indignity in the very first game at Coors Field and it seems like it's happened at least twice in every subsequent trip to Denver the Mets have made.

Saturday's game was, more or less, your typical Coors Field game, where the Mets raced out to a 6-0 lead, before Jenrry Mejia disintegrated in the 5th inning and gave up 8 runs. Things then see-sawed back and forth from there until the Mets, behind Bobby Abreu and his effervescent smile and Juan Lagares and his hit in just the right moment conspired to give the Mets a 10-9 lead. The 10 runs, notably, being the Mets the Mets have scored in a game to date this season. But, alas, Kyle Farnsworth couldn't hold the lead, and somehow you could see that coming. It's what makes games like this that much more frustrating than, say, Friday night's game, where Zack Wheeler just got bludgeoned by the Colorados before he knew what hit him.

Sunday, though, was a different story. Somehow, Dillon Gee would be the one who finally managed to stifle Baseball's Hottest lineup, throwing 6 shutout innings and riding the wave of Lagares, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson to a surprisingly un-Coors Field-like 5-1 Met victory, giving the Mets 1 win in a 4-game series where they seemed destined to get swept right out of town.

I hope, sincerely, that the struggles that Wheeler, Mejia and Bartolo Colon had this week were simply due to the fact that they ran into the Colorados, who right now are The Hot Team. Their lineup of Charlies and Tulowitzkis and guys of a similar nature, all of whom seem to be hitting .340 or higher, have been the talk of the league right now, simply because they've been hitting and scoring runs by the bucketload, and beating up on opponents of any quality. I hope that Mejia, who had a poor outing last weekend against Florida, is just having a slight correction based on an off night and a Colorado start, and come next week, when he faces Philly on Friday night, he'll be back to the same pitcher who was holding down St. Louis and Arizona. The Hot Team can do that to you, make you look foolish for a few days, enough to scare your fan base into thinking that everything's going down the toilet, and then you rebound after you leave town. Well, the Mets next go into Miami, where they had a nice heaping portion of shit stew last season. I don't know if that bodes well. All I know is that the Mets, as usual, couldn't get the hell out of Colorado fast enough, fortunately they don't have to go there again until 2015, and at least they somehow managed to win 1 of the 4 games there. You take what you can get and go from there.