Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unexciting Excitement

A lifeless 6-1 Met loss to the Beautiful Barves was followed with the news that the Mets had called up Dilson Herrera to replace the disabled Daniel Murphy. The general consensus, or at least my general consensus is, well, why not? Nothing else has sparked the Mets offense on a consistent basis. The 20-year old Herrera to this point has had a very under-the-radar great season between A and AA ball. He may be known to most as "the other guy" the Mets got from Pittsburgh in the Marlon Byrd trade last season, and he may be completely in over his head making the jump from Binghamton to New York, but there's no particularly good reason for the Mets to not call him up. Wilmer Flores hasn't hit with any real consistency, Ruben Tejada is what we thought he was and David Wright is lost in the Keith Hernandez Dark Forest and battling through an injury that needs a good offseason's rest. So, why not Herrera now? See what he can do.

The news on Herrera is a good distraction to make everyone forget about the shit show that was tonight's game. Jon Niese had a good game that ended up being yet another good bad game thanks to some wind-aided extra base hits in the 8th inning, and after he departed, the bullpen did their part to ensure that the Mets would have no opportunity to come back or even attempt to face Craig Kimbrel. Daisuke Matsuzaka returned from the DL and promptly surrendered a monstrous Home Run to Ryan Donuts and that was pretty much the end of that.

The Mets are now done with the Barves in Citi Field for the season, and so they depart and the Phillies come in for their final visit of the season this weekend. I'm away visiting my Cleveland relatives so the weekend series may be glossed over entirely from where I'm sitting. The Indians are also out of town, so I won't even have a chance to see a game at Jacobs Field. This looks to be a rather sparse weekend from a Baseball standpoint, although I'm sure I'll get Dilson Herrera updates from someplace. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stupid Rerun

I tuned out a brief portion of the latter half of the Mets game tonight, and when I resumed watching, it seemed to me that the game had ended and SNY had decided they would randomly air a rerun of the 9th inning of the Mets/Nationals game from August 13th, in which the Mets, trailing by a run, rallied to get the tying and winning runs in scoring position with less than 2 outs, and rather than plating one or two runs, instead got a runner thrown out at Home, followed by a meek, game-ending out.

Then, I saw Craig Kimbrel on the mound, and I realized that it wasn't a rerun, it was just the Mets being the Mets. My stance on Kimbrel is no secret; he's a closet choke artist, and the Mets have come perilously close to proving it on several occasions, and in fact have completed the job of hanging a few blown saves on his head. Considering how well they tend to hit him, you would think it might have happened more often than it actually has. Nonetheless, the Mets haven't been game enough to finish the job on most nights, whether it was due to a great, game-saving catch or a general inability to get the key hit, and last night that reared its ugly head once again as Ruben Tejada hit into a Fielder's Choice to get Eric Campbell thrown out at home, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with the game-ending pop out to seal a 3-2 Mets loss.

Prior to that, the Mets did little to support another fine outing from Zack Wheeler, who got himself through 7 innings in spite of the fact that he appeared to be struggling more than he actually was. He allowed a leadoff Home Run to Jason Heyward, and another two runs in an excruciating 3rd inning that Wheeler had gotten himself out of, except that Tejada yakked on a ground ball from Meathead Evan Gattis with 2 outs and instead of ending the inning, resulted in an Error and a 3rd run home for the Barves, and on this night that was enough to provide a margin of victory.

Offensively, the Mets mustered a Wilmer Flores Home Run off of Julio Teheran and that's about it. They rallied in the 8th when dainty Jordan Walden came in, pranced across the mound and allowed an RBI single to Juan Lagares, but Lucas Duda turned back into a pumpkin and hit into a Double Play, and Travis d'Arnaud had the poor fortune of grounding a ball in the hole between Shortstop and 3rd that was not quite far enough to get by Overrated Andrelton Simmons, and so Simmons was able to make the play, throw out d'Arnaud at 1st and make everyone cream themselves over how he's God's Gift to Shortstops.

Then, of course, came the 9th, and the Mets getting Chokemaster Kimbrel on the ropes but, try as they might, they couldn't seal the deal and instead ended up turning the game into another reason for people to hop on the Barves Brown-nosing Bandwagon. And, hey, why not? At 5 games over .500 and 6 games out of 1st place, how could you not get behind them?! Excuse me while I go vomit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Double Play's The Thing

It was a beautiful evening at Citi Field tonight, for a multitude of reasons. Many mitigating circumstances, paramount among them the fact that the Mets beat the Braves 3-2 in a crisp, 2 hour, 27 minute game served to make my 14th game of the season at Citi Field immensely enjoyable. The win brought me back to 2 games over .500 for the season, at 8-6 at Citi Field, and also brought me to 2-1 for the season against the Braves. So much good went on in this one, the only thing I was able to complain about was that my burger had a stale bun. When Citi Field stale bread is the low point of the evening, it was probably a pretty good game.

Some particular highlights I took away tonight include Dillon Gee, who's had a string of semi-tolerable to lousy starts over the past month or so, got his act together and pitched rather well, not allowing the Barves a hit until the 4th inning and keeping them down until the 7th inning when he ran out of steam and turned things over to The Familia/Mejia Report. Juan Lagares had his usual sterling effort in Center Field, picking off a multitude of fly balls of assorted difficulty and making all of them look rather easy in the process. Offensively, his second inning single helped move along Travis d'Arnaud so that he could eventually score the Mets first run of the game. Two innings later, his Home Run into the Left Field seats plated d'Arnaud in front of him and provided the Mets with the eventual winning runs. The weather, which had become uncomfortably hot during the day, had cooled down to a rather pleasant, breezy 87˚ at game time and although I wasn't paying attention it probably went down during the game. The game itself, as I mentioned, was only 2:27, over before 9:40 and allowing me to make a quick exit and be home before 11pm, which is when I sometimes turn into a pumpkin.

However, the most enjoyable thing for me, other than the general fact that the Mets beat the Braves, was seeing the wildly overrated Barves hit into 4 Double Plays over the course of the game. This is something that at certain times has been an all too familiar sight for the Mets, but tonight, it was the Braves turn to continually shoot themselves in the foot, and I can't tell you how delightful it was to witness. Four times, the 2nd, 5th, 7th and 9th innings, the Braves got their leadoff man on, and in each of those instances they managed to screw it up. It was beautiful. Gee (or Mejia in the case of the 9th inning) got a Ground ball (or in the 5th inning, a well-placed line drive right at Lucas Duda) in the right spot, and whether it was Ruben Tejada or Eric Campbell starting it, the result was the same, 2 outs and a budding rally cut off before it could go anywhere. When your offense can only generate 3 runs and 5 hits for the night, you can still manage to win a game if your defense can put forth an effort like the one we saw tonight. If you can induce your opponent to hit into 4 Double Plays, well, you've done an excellent job of making them look like schmucks, but you've also given yourself an excellent chance to win the game, and when Mejia froze Evan Gattis with a fastball at the knees for the final strike, the Mets had done just that. They won this game on the basis of pitching and defense and one well-placed hit, and you'd have to think that if the Mets are going to find success in the future, they'll have to have plenty of games like this, where they pitch well and play outstanding defense. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wonder Of Wonders

It seems to be that, about once a week, the Mets have these anomaly games where the offense wakes up and decides to hit with authority, and they score a bunch of runs early and coast to an easy win. Sunday in Los Angeles of all places, they had one of these games. Lucas Duda continued his renaissance season with a pair of Home Runs, Travis d'Arnaud hit another Home Run, and even Ruben Tejada joined in on the fun with his 3rd Home Run of the season, all in support of Bartolo Colon, who had another of his typically efficient outings as the Mets cruised—cruisedto a 11-3 win in, of all places, Dodger Stadium, where they had enough of a lead that there was no way they could screw it up and let the Dodgers backdoor their way into the game.

It seemed fitting that the Mets would explode offensively and even manage to turn a Triple Play on defense in support of Bartolo Colon, who was certainly pitching with a heavy heart following the passing of his mother, but true to the stoic gamesman that he is, Colon found his sanctuary on the mound and his teammates rallied around him. You can certainly say many things about Colon. You can't doubt his heart, and Sunday's game was certainly an example. It certainly seemed to inspire his teammates; they attacked Kevin Correia from the start, belting Home Runs in each of the first 3 innings, and for good measure mixing in a Juan Lagares RBI triple.

The Dodgers best chance against Colon came in a 6th inning that saw them rally for a run on an Adrian Gonzalez single that put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and brought Matt Kemp to the plate. But Colon induced Kemp to ground into a rather easy Double Play, which would have been just fine in and of itself. However, Yasiel Puig, who had been the runner on 2nd, had an attack of whatever it is that makes him Yasiel Puig, and decided to steam right on through 3rd base and try to score. Alertly, Lucas Duda threw home, in time to nail Puig by a good 20 feet and seal the deal on the Triple Play, something the Mets seem to manage once every 4-5 years or so, and the kind of play that seemed to typify the way things were going for them this particular afternoon. Spurred on even more by the Triple Play, the Mets went out and iced the game with 3 more runs in the 7th inning.

So, the Mets actually won a game in Los Angeles, where it feels like they constantly do nothing but foul up and throw games away (somehow it seems that they'd only lost 6 consecutive games in LA—it felt like they hadn't won there since 2008), and finish off this somewhat abbreviated road trip at 2-3. This is mediocrity at it's finest, winning 2 of 5 games on a road trip, and yes, I suppose that the quality of the opponent has to be taken into account, but considering they frittered away two of the three games in LA and exploded for 19 runs in the two games they won, they ought to have had better results. Now, they come home and don't have to go back to the West Coast until 2015, where hopefully the schedule makers do a better job of building these road trips.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

You're Getting Old

Not even the return of Jacob deGrom could solve the Mets Dodger Stadium woes. In spite of the fact that deGrom was throwing quite well and staked to a 3-0 lead, the Dodgers continually put pressure on him and eventually overwhelmed him on their way to yet another come-from-behind win over the Mets Saturday night.

deGrom certainly didn't appear to be suffering any ill effects from the shoulder injury that had him on the shelf for two weeks. For a majority of his 6 inning outing, he looked perfectly fine as far as the quality of his pitches. The problem was that the Dodgers were hitting his pitches, and the end result was that the 3-run lead he received courtesy of a Juan Lagares Home Run didn't hold up. Adrian Gonzalez, who tagged him for a Home Run when these teams met in New York, tagged him for another one—a 3-run shot in the 5th inning that basically turned the game around—and the Mets as usual mounted very little in response against Zack Greinke.

deGrom's worst outing in weeks coming immediately after he came off the DL isn't especially alarming. The Dodgers knocked him around in New York as well, so sometimes a team just has your number, especially when you're a young pitcher. What was particularly alarming was the night David Wright had, particularly when measured against what's been a really bad season for the Mets Captain. It hasn't been talked about much, but very quietly Wright has had a patently awful season and last night's game seemed to hammer that point home with emphasis.

Wright had already grounded out to short, and hit into a pair of Double Plays by time the 7th inning rolled around. With the Dodgers ahead 5-4, and rallying against a tiring Greinke, the Dodgers decided to intentionally walk Daniel Murphy with two outs to pitch to Wright. In his formative seasons, intentionally walking someone in front of David Wright was an invitation to disaster, because Wright would get pissed off and hammer the first good pitch he saw. Now, you could almost sense Wright swinging out of his shoes as soon as he walked to the plate. He flailed at the first pitch, fouled off the second pitch, somehow laid off a pitch that was off the plate, and then swung and missed at the slider that's bedeviled him his entire career. Inning over, Rally over, and when the Dodgers tacked on two more runs in the last of the 7th, the game for all intents and purposes was over. The Mets weren't coming back, and just to spread a little more mustard on a night that was overcooked, Wright struck out again to finish the game and cap off an 0-for-5 night.

It's tough to say whether or not it's this shoulder injury that Wright has been dealing with that's been the cause of his woes, or maybe it's just the years of unsuitable lineup protection that have caught up with him, or, perhaps it's just the fact that he's a 10-year veteran, and at age 31, he's getting old. Granted, 31 isn't especially old in Baseball years, and Wright is certainly being paid like someone that's got a whole lot of years left in him. Hopefully this is just an injury issue that he's just trying to play through because that's his M.O., but it's not especially smart when this is the result we're getting out of him. Whatever it is, he won't say and he won't take himself out of the lineup either. So this is what we're stuck with.

Joy and rapture, the Mets still have one more game to play in LA. Is anyone at all optimistic?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Infernal Shit Show

I last year mused about the Dodgers being The Hot Team in Baseball, and how they were getting every conceivable break on their way to a Division title and a trip to the NLCS, where they were ultimately beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals, who might be considered the Golden Boys to the Dodgers' Hot Team. Last August, the Mets went into LA and were swept, and the Dodgers really made them look like a second-class team in the process. True, the Mets were (and perhaps still are) a second-class team, but the way that the Dodgers went about winning those three games were simply mind-boggling.

After last night's game, another Mets loss in Dodger Stadium in which they played like a bunch of idiots and really handed the game to the Dodgers, I'm starting to think more that maybe it's not so much that the Dodgers are The Hot Team as much as the Mets just have a Dodger Stadium thing. Or maybe it's just a West Coast thing, because they didn't play especially well in most of their other West Coast stops either. This has gone on much longer than just last season. Last night's simply scintillating affair was just another in a string of miserable performances the Mets have vomited up at Chavez Ravine. Four errors, two of which were committed by Wilmer Flores, served to do the Mets in, while Jon Niese had another one of his good bad starts as the Mets lost 6-2.

Things certainly got off well enough, as Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff Home Run off of Dan Haren. That was the high point of the night for the Mets. It was all downhill from there. Haren allowed the Mets two more hits over the remainder of his 7 innings, while on the other side, Niese was getting beat by guys like Dee Gordon and Erisbel Arruebarrena (you know, the great Erisbel Arruebarrena). It wasn't until the 5th inning that Flores had his attack of the blahniks and, following a bobble of a Yasiel Puig grounder, managed to trip over his own feet before he could make a throw to 1st, in a play that seemed to typify the Mets performance in this game. That particular error ultimately didn't lead to a run, but in the 7th, with Niese one pitch away from getting out of a jam and keeping the game at 2-1, Flores fielded an Adrian Gonzalez grounder cleanly, kept his footing...and unleashed a throw not especially close to Lucas Duda at 1st Base. This plated one run, knocked Niese from the game, and immediately led to two more runs when Matt Kemp doubled off of Carlos Torres. Game. Set. Match.

Though the game was for all intents and purposes over after that, the stupid didn't wear off for the Mets. They kind of creaked their way into a little rally in the 8th, and did manage to get a couple of men on for Curtis Granderson. But, in a scene reminiscent of last season, Granderson watched a 3rd strike that might not have been a 3rd strike, and then stood there and scowled at the umpire a little bit before slinking off. Later, Lucas Duda ole'd a foul pop in another play that didn't lead to any runs, but did typify the way the night was going for the Mets.

Fortunately, the Mets will get Jacob deGrom back from the DL tonight after being out for two weeks. That's a good sign since he's been one of the more brighter signs of life for the Mets this season. Unfortunately, he's got to come off the DL and pitch in Dodger Stadium, because the Mets still have two more games to play there this weekend. I expect that he'll hopefully pitch well, but something stupid is bound to happen. Gotta love those self-fulfilling prophecies.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Breakout Performers

If you blinked, you missed the Mets series in Oakland, one of those two-game series where both games come and are gone within the span of 24 hours. This series in Oakland was a particular extreme, given that Tuesday's game started late and ended Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon's game took place while I was at work and so I only ended up watching a portion of the proceedings on replay later in the evening. Fortunately, the Mets shook off their troubles and hit more than they have in several days, banging out 10 hits and scoring 8 runs, 7 of which came off of ballyhooed (and hairy) A's starter Jeff Samardzija to win a somewhat sloppy affair, 8-5.

Zack Wheeler and Lucas Duda, two Mets who have certainly enjoyed mid-Summer breakouts, were the stars of the show this afternoon, in performances that seem to have delightfully become the norm as this season has progressed. For Wheeler, it was continuing a string of strong outings, not quite perfect but good enough to get his team ahead and get himself his 9th win of the season. Wheeler didn't make it out of the 6th inning, in another instance where he threw too many pitches too early in the game, but while he was in, he pitched well, allowing 4 runs in his 5.2 innings. Only two of said runs were earned, thanks to a pair Daniel Murphy errors, the first of which wasn't a spastic fit so much as an ill-advised throw home that sailed nowhere particularly close to its intended target. The second was more the garden-variety Daniel Murphy error where it looks like someone blew up a firecracker right behind him as he was attempting to make a play.

No matter. By time Murphy happened, the Mets had already blown up for 5 runs in the 3rd inning and 2 more in the 4th. Their 4th inning rally was kicked off by Eric Campbell, whose 3rd Home Run of the season led off the inning, and capped off by Lucas Duda, who all of a sudden has become a legitimate power threat in the middle of the Mets lineup. Duda, who everyone here knows I had anointed a clueless disaster last season, has made a complete 180˚ over the past two months and has not only made me eat my words but turned into a trusted source of offensive production. He's begun to get aggressive and the results are now career highs in Home Runs and RBI and a whole lot of good vibes, including the ones he generated with his 3-run Home Run Wednesday afternoon, Last season, Lucas Duda managed to hit 15 Home Runs, and 14 of them came with the bases empty. Now, you actually look forward to Duda coming up with men on base because he's in a good enough groove that you actually feel confident that he's going to come through. Maybe not always, but certainly more than he was. It's become quite clear that the Mets chose wisely in keeping him over Ike Davis, and I'll happily eat my words and admit that I'm glad he got his act together. I won't say I was wrong, because for all of last season and the beginning of this season, I was right, but he's now proven himself much better than I gave him credit for.

So, the Mets are now done in Oakland, where it seems they were finished before they started. Now, they're off to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers, who aren't quite The Hot Team in the way they were last season, but they're still one of MLB's "Darling" teams, and Chavez Ravine hasn't exactly been a pleasant place for the Mets to play in recent years. But, we'll see how this works out for them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another One Of Those

Oakland has always been a bastion of all things a little offbeat when it comes to Baseball. Their 70s-era teams were generally a bunch of brash, bushy ruffians, guys like Jim Hunter, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and, of course, Reggie Jackson. They did things differently and won 3 consecutive World Series championships in the process. Since then, they've had the Bash Brothers, and now continue to be entrenched in the Moneyball era, thanks to their intrepid GM Billy Beane and his continued penchant for finding cheap ballplayers that somehow win when all banded together. The A's have won over the past decade or so with more regularity than you'd think, all the while adhering to the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Particularly when those parts involve things like overgrown beards, using WHAM! as your at-bat music, and playing in a ballpark with excessive amounts of foul territory, thanks to it being the last multi-sport stadium currently in use, and an inscrutable name that nobody can figure out (and that sometimes has plumbing revolts that can cover the clubhouses in sewage). Somehow, this has led to the A's having the best record in Baseball for a majority of the season, and though they've slumped recently, they're still right in the thick of the AL West race, coming into Tuesday night's affair with a 73-51 record.

This whole long preamble is sort of meant to mask having to talk about said game on Tuesday night, a 6-2 Oakland win that I didn't bother to stick around for the end of. I already went through my sleeping pattern adjustment and the fact that 10pm West Coast starts don't really work for me anymore. I managed to get through the first 4 innings of the game, and although I didn't go to sleep directly after that, I'd seen all I needed to see. By that point, Dillon Gee had suffered through his 4th inning meltdown, surrendering a 3-run triple to Coco Crisp that for all intents and purposes put the game out of reach, and Scott Kazmir, whom the Mets roughed up but good back in June (but in typical Mets fashion they could do nothing with last night), took things from there.

The Mets once again did not hit much at all, save for a Travis d'Arnaud Home Run off of Kazmir, and this seems to be nothing new of late. However, in checking the box score this morning I do see that the Mets had 7 hits in last night's game, a significant step up from the 4-a-game run they were on in the Cubs series. Still, averaging between 4-7 hits per game isn't going to do anybody any good, and if it keeps up when the Mets aren't on the West Coast, maybe I'll start going to bed even earlier.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Not Awake Just Yet

Twice in the span of three weeks, the Mets suckered me into getting tickets for Monday wraparound games by sending me a preliminary schedule that didn't list the times of any of the games. You can imagine my surprise when I found I'd purchased tickets for a pair of games that began on Monday at 12:10pm, a time that generally falls when I'm at work and not available to go to a Baseball game, as opposed to when I thought the game would be starting, 7:10pm, a time when I'm generally quite available for Baseball.

Yesterday afternoon was the second of those two games. I probably shouldn't be griping too much when I was able to sell (at a loss) my tickets for both of the games. Besides, the game two weeks ago was pretty bad and from what I was able to ascertain from the recap and final score, yesterday's game was probably as bad, if not worse.

I said yesterday that the results of the game would determine whether or not I would see the replay in the evening and I think you can safely assume that I didn't waste my time watching the replay. Therefore I have no idea what happened in the game, which I guess is just as well. I got an alert on my phone at some point in the morning that Bartolo Colon was scratched due to a family matter, and I assumed, correctly, that Carlos Torres would take the start. Torres has been an adequately dependable swing man for the Mets these past few seasons, he won't blow anyone away but he also won't kill you. That pretty much sums Torres up. A Major League pitcher who pitches reasonably well. For 5 innings, that's what he did.

Then, Torres left the game and the rest of the affair happened. Hefty lefty Dana Eveland gave up a run and I believe Buddy Carlisle was somehow negatively involved. Ratso Rizzo hit a Home Run, Joe Buck hit a Home Run and by time the dust cleared, the Mets were on a bus to Miami, half asleep, not really sure what's happened to them.

Now, the high pleasure of a cross-country trip to play an excessively late night game in Oakland, followed by a weekend in Los Angeles, where things go wonderfully for the Mets. This should be a week of Major League Baseball to behold.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wake Up, A Little

After getting their clocks cleaned by the Nationals during the week, the Mets had a nice opportunity to get their acts back together with the lowly Cubs coming into town. Of course, playing the Cubs hasn't exactly been a winning proposition for the Mets in recent times. They already went to Chicago and got swept and looked pretty stupid in doing so. Basically, nobody knew what the hell to expect from the Mets this weekend, other than they'd be playing the Cubs in another wraparound series that concludes today with a game I had, and then sold, tickets for because the game is at noon and I'm at work. And Boyz II Men would be playing a postgame concert.

Friday, the Mets won, thanks mostly to Zack Wheeler. Wheeler as usual threw too many pitches too early in the game, and had one bad inning, but he managed to grit his way through 6 2/3 innings, striking out 10 and making an Eric Campbell 3-run Home Run hold up. Behind him, Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia finished things up and the Mets held on for a 3-2 victory. The short of it is that this is a game that had it been played in Chicago, the Mets probably would have lost. One of the Mets relievers would have probably walked a bunch of guys, and then someone like Arismendy Alcantara would have hit a 2-run single and the whole thing would have blown up from there. That didn't happen, and the Mets came away with a win in spite of collecting only 4 hits against Travis Wood and his band of lesser men.

Saturday, the Mets won, thanks mostly to some timely hitting from Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares, who each drove in multiple runs and accounted for half of the Mets 4 hits. In the 6th inning, the Mets managed to score 4 runs on the strength of one hit, and that hit didn't score any runs by itself. So, if you're counting, that's 8 hits in 2 games for the Mets, and somehow they managed to win both. Jon Niese had a fine effort, at least until he ran out of gas in the 7th and finally was removed when Ryan Sweeney (not to be confused with Mike Sweeney or Mark Sweeney or Ratso Sweeney) hit a line drive off his forearm, ultimately forcing him from the game. This would have been bad in and of itself except that he left a bases loaded, no out situation for a cold Vic Black. Black, however, was up for the challenge, retiring the 3 subsequent hitters, including hotshot prospect Javier Baez and hotshot established star Anthony Rizzo (not Ratso) along the way. With Boyz II Men warming up in the wings, Buddy Carlisle, not Mejia, finished the job and the Mets won 7-3.

Sunday, the Mets turned back into the Mets and were basically stifled by Jake Arrieta, one of those reclamation projects that shuts you down and you wonder how the hell he's doing it. But, Rafael Montero was equal to the task, allowing but one run into the 8th inning in what was easily his most encouraging Major League start to date. Granted, it was against the Cubs, but the Cubs are one of those teams that seems to be building backwards, with a ton of good hitting and not much in the way of pitching, so keeping them to one run when he was totally bludgeoned by the Nationals is something to hang your hat on. But the Mets didn't score, and then they did score in the last of the 8th when Curtis Granderson flared a 2-out, 2-strike RBI single in front of Arismendy Alcantara to tie the game 1-1. But before the paint dried on that run, Mejia came in and immediately allowed a 1st pitch Home Run to Starlin Castro that put the Cubs back ahead for good. The Mets had exhausted their offensive output for the day, once again banging out 4 hits in a 2-1 loss.

So, now we have one more game with the Cubs, in their element, an afternoon affair that I won't see live, since I'll be sitting at a desk, and if things don't go well, there's a reasonably good chance that I may not see any of the game. We'll see what happens, as always.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Go Away, Please

Oh, someday there will be a day when the Mets are able to rise up and beat the Mighty Washington Nationals in their own building. It could happen next month, when the Nationals return to Citi Field to finish out their season series. But for now, whatever the Mets seem to try, it's not working against this team. They didn't hit against their struggling phenom Stephen Strasburg, their other struggling phenom Bryce Harper hit his second Home Run of this series, Adam LaRoche did what he usually does against the Mets and hit a Home Run, and the end result was a lifeless 4-1 loss and another series sweep at the hands of a team that always seems to waltz in here and make this spacious ballpark look rather small.

Taking into stock the results of the last few seasons' worth of Mets/Nationals games at Citi Field and you might think that the Nationals have hit more Home Runs in New York than the Mets have in entire seasons at home. One of these things that you can't figure out and it makes you rather sick the more you think about it. Even when the Nationals were 100-loss doormats, they somehow always managed to beat the Mets in Citi Field and now it's reached an epidemic. I've been to 38 games where the Mets have taken on the Nationals/Expos, and since 2005, when the Nationals came into existence and shamelessly and systematically erased the rich and storied tradition and history of their Quebecois predecessors, I have seen 19 games. My record in those games is is a miserable 7-12, and at Citi Field, where it seems the Nationals turn into some bizarro 1982 Brewers clone, my record is 4-9 and most of those 9 have involved either torturous, lengthy squeakers or utter massacres like I witnessed Tuesday night. Somehow, I've witnessed 4 wins, which seems a small miracle in and of itself, because I sometimes think my Citi Field record against the Nationals is something like 3-14. At least, it feels that way. I feel like every season I go to a Mets/Nationals September game and the Nationals usually win 3-0 every time. That's what this has turned into, and so it's not so surprising that the Nationals have won 11 straight games at Citi Field.

Yesterday was no different. Dillon Gee, who actually pitches reasonably well against Washington, gave up a pair of 2-run Home Runs in the 1st inning and the 4th inning and the Mets spent the rest of the game standing around not doing anything particularly meaningful. That pretty much sums it all up. For an 11th straight loss to the same team in your own ballpark, it's completely demoralizing and that's how the Mets played. Does not bear any further explanation.

Fortunately, Washington is now leaving town. Unfortunately, they still have 4 more games left to play here in September. I don't have tickets to any of these games and I'm quite certain I don't plan on making it to any of them randomly. Why subject myself to this horror show in person any more than I already committed to?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Usual Story

The Nationals beat the Mets once again at Citi Field, continuing a rather disgusting winning streak in which they repeatedly come into Citi Field and smash Home Runs all over the place, while their pitchers stifle Mets bats and cut off rallies with general regularity. After hitting 4 Home Runs on Tuesday night, the Nationals only hit 1 on Wednesday, but this was enough to provide them a margin of victory as a pair of late Mets rallies essentially ended with runners getting thrown out at home.

Bartolo Colon had his usual admirably good outing, throwing shutout ball into the 7th inning, while getting all of 1 run to work with in support of his efforts. Jordan Zimmermann, who seems to pitch against the Mets about as often as Kyle Kendrick, although Zimmermann boasts more talent and more success, weaved in and out of trouble, only allowing the Mets run to score when his Left Fielder Kevin Frandsen yakked on a Travis d'Arnaud fly ball in the 4th inning, which allowed Lucas Duda of all people to scamper around the bases and score from 1st base.

Somehow, you knew this lead wouldn't last, because it's the Mets and the Nationals at Citi Field and something stupid was bound to happen. And happen it did, in the form of a 7th inning rally that was predicated around a pair of Nationals players that seem to stick it to the Mets almost every time they play and yet fly under the radar when it comes to being labeled as "Met Killers." First, Adam LaRoche, who was doing nothing particularly good until the Mets came to town last week and he had a 2-Home Run game and hasn't stopped hitting since, doubled off Colon. Ian Desmond, who hits Home Runs off the Mets regularly enough that he might be confused with Chipper Jones, followed with a single that moved LaRoche to 3rd and Desmond himself moved to 2nd when Juan Lagares uncorked an ill-advised throw home. A pair of sacrifice flies later, the Mets lead had turned into a Mets deficit.

Try as they might, the Mets couldn't mount a good enough response. They loaded the bases in the 7th, just in time for Wilmer Flores to ground into a fielder's choice to get Lucas Duda thrown out at home, and Drew Stören followed by striking out Kirk Nieuwenhuis to get himself out of the inning. Like clockwork, Asdrubal Cabrera led off the 8th with a Home Run that made the score a virtually insurmountable 3-1.

That's not to say the Mets lay down and died. They at least showed some effort in the 9th against erratic Rafael Soriano, scoring on a Travis d'Arnaud Home Run and getting hits from Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores, setting up a 1st and 3rd, 1 out situation. But, true to form, this was followed by an Eric Campbell Fielder's Choice that saw den Dekker thrown out at home (Terry Collins mounted a rather futile challenge that was part-desperation, part simply trying to remind everyone he was awake), and a game-ending ground out by Curtis Granderson.

Tuesday night, I was at a game where the Mets were completely bludgeoned to the point where I left after 6 innings because there was no point to sticking around. Last night was the kind of game I would have stuck around for until the end, and I would have left feeling similarly disappointed and arrived home after 11pm with the same result. Somehow, I feel like I might have done better having been at Tuesday's game as opposed to Wednesday's. Maybe I should rethink getting tickets to these Mets/Nationals games until someone starts improving.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Due For A Stinker

Tuesday night at Citi Field was my 13th game of the season, and my second against the Washington Nationals. I have been to plenty of Mets/Nationals games over the past several years, and generally they haven't ended well. Last night was no exception. In a game that featured a 25-minute rain delay, 4 Nationals Home Runs—including one from an Outfielder who clearly was not more than 16 years old—and my own early departure, the Mets got torched by one of their chief nuisances, 7-1. My personal 4-game winning streak came to a crashing halt in a truly forgettable affair.

The weather was ominous all day, enough that I was somewhat skeptical about heading out to Citi Field altogether. George, who was meeting me there, bailed altogether. He wound up the wiser, given the way the evening played out. Though it didn't rain very hard, it was slightly drizzling at the beginning of the game, as Rafael Montero made the start instead of Jacob deGrom, who everyone was probably hoping to see, or Noah Syndergaard, who many others might have wanted to see. Ultimately, it's probably better that Syndergaard didn't make his debut in a home game against the Nationals, because that's been a losing proposition for the better part of the last 5 years. Even when the Nationals were lousy and losing over 100 games, they still managed to beat the Mets 10 or 11 out of 18, including 6 of 9 at Citi Field. Plus, after snaking their way through two innings without any weather-related difficulties, the heavens opened in the top of the 3rd inning, enough for me to put away my scorecard in favor of an umbrella and, when play was stopped, enough for me to run for cover and fast.

Rain Delays have, in recent years, been a rare occurrence for me at games. I'd sat through plenty at Shea Stadium but to this point, only once at Citi Field had I ended up at a game delayed, a fairly good streak. And this wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a long rain delay, but after the game resumed and played out, I sort of wished it had kept raining and the game was called.

I decided to pass the time during the delay by milling around some other levels window shopping, when the game resumed without much warning while I was down on the Field level. I scrambled back upstairs and was able to nab a Promenade Box seat, as opposed to my usual perch in section 512, not because people left during the rain delay, but because nobody was there in the first place. Montero and Doug Fister kept a brisk pace and so the game moved into the middle innings not much off the pace of a game that hadn't been delayed.

Montero hadn't been pitching badly going into the 6th inning. He'd been touched up for an opposite-field Home Run by Bryce Harper, the 21-year old Outfielder who looks 35, and a hit from another outfielder I'd never heard of who had to be making his Major League debut since he looked to be no older than 16. Michael Taylor hit a 37-hopper up the middle his first time up and later on hit a 2-run Home Run off of Carlos Torres, so he had himself quite a night even if he looks like he should be heading off to Social Studies class with his teammate Tyler Clippard. Montero ran out of gas in the 6th inning and the Nationals started bombing Home Runs off of him. He was probably done when Anthony Rendon got him, but then Ian Desmond, who might be the quietest Met Killer of them all, got him for a 2-run shot that essentially put the game out of reach.

By time Taylor hit his Home Run, things were looking bleak and it was starting to rain again, and I frankly had had enough. I was tired and not really in the mood to wait out more rain, so I figured I'd just count my losses and get the hell out of there. At 7-0, with Fister mowing the Mets down, there wasn't much to stick around for. I'm never proud of leaving a game early, but if there was ever a night to do it, this was it. So, after 6, I left. I was home before the game ended, and all I missed were some singles from Daniel Murphy and David Wright, and I believe someone on the Mets hit a sacrifice fly, because at some point they scored a run. I don't feel quite so guilty about leaving early now. Had they made the comeback of comebacks is another story, but I felt pretty certain that that wasn't going to happen. Hopefully, a scenario like this does not repeat itself again anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catch The Replay

The Monday Afternoon getaway-day game in August is something that's been rather prevalent for the Mets lately. Yesterday's game was the second, in fact, of three consecutive Monday Afternoon getaway-day games that the Mets will play. I don't know why the schedulers made it this way, and I'm not exactly thrilled by it, since it precludes me from watching a live game. On the other hand, I already know by time I get home whether or not it's worth watching the replay of the game on SNY in the evening.

This Monday's game was replay-worthy, thanks mostly to a ship-righting 7 inning effort by Jon Niese and Anthony Recker, who broke a month-long hitless streak with authority, belting a 3-run Home Run that served as the difference maker in a 5-3 Mets victory.

Though Recker hadn't had a hit since sometime around the All Star Break, he'd only been 0-for-18 during his slump, which was probably due to his being lost in d'Arnaudville. This isn't a particular defense of Recker, but he hasn't produced in a backup role the way he did last season and he's seen what little playing time he does merit—generally once a week nowadays—evaporate. But today, he got another opportunity and made it count. His 7th inning Home Run broke a 2-2 tie and provided the Mets with enough runs to earn Niese another inning and get the Mets a victory.

Niese was another feel-good story in this game. After a string of outings that were either bad, terrible, or worse than they looked, Niese finally had a good outing, working 7 innings and allowing 2 runs to the Phillies, who looked like they used up their juice coming back to win Sunday's forgettable affair. Niese mostly worked through the game without much drama, except for the 4th inning, when Darin Ruf reached him for a Home Run. Niese bridged the way to Buddy Carlisle, who pitched the 8th inning, freeing up Jeurys Familia to take the 9th inning, where he gave up a run but still wrapped up the Save, something his ailing tag-team partner Jenrry Mejia could not do on Sunday.

So, the Mets are now done in Philadelphia for the season, as strange as it may seem. But when they went there, they did well, winning 8 of the 10 games they played at Steroid Field II. A far cry from the Phillies glory years. Then again, it's a far cry from the Mets glory years, too, but at least with the Mets you get the sense that the worm is turning a little bit. But maybe it's just a side effect of playing a team that's really lousy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Keep My Mouth Shut

So, right after I started waxing poetic about the Phillies being an aging group of has-beens, they go out and pull off a comeback victory that looked to be straight out of 2008. The only thing missing was Shane Victorino doing back flips around the infield after Ryan Howard's game-winning hit (and subsequent hobble to 1st base), but for the most part, it felt like the same cast of characters doing it to the Mets.

After Zack Wheeler, playing the role of John Maine, had another fine outing, backed by a 6-run outburst from the Mets offense, Vic Black and Jenrry Mejia faltered late in the game, evoking rather horrible memories of Aaron Heilman and Luis Ayala. After scoring their 6 runs, the Mets packed it in on offense and did nothing after the 5th inning, and of course the Phillies kept scraping and clawing until they were back in the game. Chase Utley—his part hasn't changed—hit a 2-run triple in the 7th off of Black, who couldn't finish his inning off, and in the 9th, Jenrry Mejia offered just about nothing, particularly since excuses aren't an official statistic (and if you're going to pitch hurt, particularly with an injury that can be as invasive as a hernia, don't turn around and use it as an excuse for poor performances), and after staggering through his inning of work on Friday night, couldn't shut the door on this game and ultimately took the loss in rather rapid fashion.

Zack Wheeler, on the other hand, has been healthy and improving by leaps and bounds over the past several weeks, and Sunday was another step forward. Coming off a start where he really had to grind his way through 7 innings of work, Wheeler again found himself throwing too many pitches in certain spots, but for the most part kept the damage to a minimum, departing after allowing 2 runs in the 6th inning, but prior to that, not much else of note. By all rights, he should have come away with a win, but then again, how many times have we said something like that over the course of life. 

The loss in a game that was pretty much won after 6 innings was just another kick in the pants for the Mets on a day where w√ľnderkind Jacob deGrom came down with some shoulder soreness. deGrom went back to New York for the dreaded MRI. Who knows what that will reveal but if nothing else he'll miss his start Tuesday night against Washington—conveniently a game I have tickets to—and beyond that we're not quite sure yet. It still doesn't sound good. It's not quite as deflating as Matt Harvey's injury news last season, but still, any time a pitcher who's pitched well and generated excitement goes down, it's a buzzkill. Couple that with a 5-run blown lead and it's even more of a buzzkill.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In the Archives

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, when I was at a Mets/Phillies game, that I'd been involved in a discussion about a Mets game from August 9th, 1990, which featured several notable happenings, among them a wild bench-clearing brawl induced by Phillies Pitcher Pat Combs hitting Dwight Gooden, after Gooden himself had hit a pair of Phillie batters, and, later in the evening, Kelvin Torve appearing as a pinch hitter in uniform #24 and driving home the game-winning runs with a double off the right field fence at old Shea Stadium. Torve's lone shining moment with the Mets is, of course, remembered both for the hit itself as well as the ensuing controversy that boiled over his being issued #24. After a brief shitstorm, clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels then took back #24 from Torve and reissued him the much more obscure #39. #24 was mothballed once again for another 9 seasons until Rickey Henderson wore it. Rickey, of course, seems much more befitting of #24 than Torve, but it seems like Torve has been getting much more ink around here of late.

I've also mentioned, or I think I've mentioned (and if I never mentioned it, I should have), that I have kept score at every Mets game I've ever attended. This numbered 264 regular season games at Shea Stadium and, to date, another 89 at Citi Field, plus 5 Postseason games (all, of course, at Shea Stadium, and all, fortunately, Mets victories). Out of a general force of habit, I buy a program at every game I go to. Yes, it gets pricey. No, I don't care. I think of it as a general operating expense, such in the same vein as the ticket plan I buy every season. What I end up doing is I (carefully) tear the scorecard out of the program, 3-hole punch it and keep the scorecard in a binder. With my lifetime tally of games now numbering over 350, this collection has stretched into 3 binders, one covering games I attended up to 1997, a second binder covering 1998-2008, up to the end of the Shea Stadium era, and a third binder covering the Citi Field era.

This is a whole lot of preamble to the fact that I was inspired, based on the discussion of this game, to dig into my archives and find my scorecard from that night, written in the chicken scratch befitting my 11-year old self. On this date, the 24th anniversary of this wild night at Shea Stadium, I figured I'd post it here so everyone can relive this particular memory.

Some fun facts I remember about the game:
- Darryl Strawberry and Tim Teufel being late arrivals to the brawl. The brawl was precipitated when Combs hit Gooden on the leg with the first pitch of bottom of the 5th. Gooden wasted no time in dropping his bat and charging the mound, where he got one good shot off on Combs before Darren Daulton tackled him from behind. All hell pretty much broke loose from there, but Strawberry and Teufel both came charging out of the dugout after things had gotten kicked off.

- Dennis Cook getting body-slammed by an umpire during the brawl. Not surprisingly, that umpire was Country Joe West.

- Following the brawl, Gooden was pinch-run for by, of all people, Ron Darling.

- Check out the Hit totals. Though the Mets won the game, they only managed 7 hits as opposed to the Phillies 16. Leading the charge for the Phillies was Len Dykstra with 4 hits. Daulton had 3 hits before getting ejected in the brawl. Charlie Hayes also had 3 hits. For the Mets, Tom O'Malley had two hits that night, despite not entering the game until after the brawl.

- Time of the game 3 hours, 34 minutes. This was back in the day when weekday night games started at 7:35 rather than 7:10. This means the game ended at 11:09pm. I went to this game with my father and I know we didn't leave early. Though I was 11, I had already set a precedent of insanity for myself that's proven hard to break (unless I got really tired). Had this game took place in 2014, it's likely that it would have been close to 4 hours and by time it ended I likely would have been apoplectic.

If this was an enjoyable look down Mets Memory Lane, let me know. I have plenty of other memorable and less-memorable games to choose from in my archives. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Whisened Veterans

After battling their way through their series in Washington, the Mets last night moved to a place where, incredibly, they've managed to win a surprisingly large number of games the past few seasons. For several years, Steroid Field II hasn't exactly been kind to the Mets, during what was basically the Phillies Golden Era, the Mets played a whole slew of games that aren't worth remembering, as guys like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and other unmentionables gave the Mets all kinds of headaches.

Those days are, pleasantly, over, and while the Phillies appear to be trotting out all these guys now as memories of a bygone era that hasn't really fully ended, their time as a championship contender has clearly passed. Rollins, Howard and Utley remain, but shells of their former selves, bound to the Phillies by albatross-like contracts that still have years remaining on them and nobody interested in taking them on. The Mets, on the other hand, are younger, if not simply in a more promising position than the Phillies, but tonight they rode the wave of a couple of their veterans to bring home a 5-4 victory that appeared for a hot second like it was bound to end in disaster.

Bartolo Colon, who's been about as consistent as you could expect from a grossly overweight 40-year old pitcher, mowed the Phillies down for 8 innings in an outing as efficient as the one he ran off against the Phillies just a week and a half ago. Colon's mound opponent was the equally ageless A.J. Burnett, just as it was in New York that night, and while the Mets didn't attack him the way they did last week, they did still knock him around for a few runs, including a 4-run 4th inning where they managed to get 6 hits in 7 At Bats to plate 4 runs, and a 5th inning Travis d'Arnaud Home Run that staked the Mets out to a 5-0 lead.

Colon, meanwhile, allowed little to the Phillies, save a Marlon Byrd Home Run in the 7th inning, and departed after the 8th inning with a 5-1 lead that appeared to be pretty safe. But these Phillies, who have certainly kept battling against the Mets in prior years, didn't lie down, and instead jumped Dana Eveland for a few quick hits, forcing Jenrry Mejia to be rushed into the game, where the Phillies jumped him for a few more quick hits, including a Grady Sizemore drive that appeared headed towards the seats—and instant disaster—before dying at the warning track and clanging off the wall for a 2-run double that put the tying run in scoring position with 1 out. Carlos Ruiz, another of the cagey Philly veterans, followed with a dying quail of a hit out into shallow Right Field, one of those hits that seemed destined to fall in and, in another time and another place, it probably would have fallen in and allowed Shane Victorino to score the tying run and jump out of his uniform with glee. But Curtis Granderson, who lacks in age and tenure of the Philly crew or Bartolo Colon, but is certainly a sage veteran in his own right, came in and saved the day with a sliding catch for the first out, and managed to hold the runner at 3rd base. Mejia was then able to stagger his way through the final two outs, allowing a run-scoring ground out and then striking out Reid Brignac for the final out of the game, as the Mets won—and after an inning like that, perhaps you could say they won the damn thing5-4.

The win was the Mets 9th of the season over Philly, and their 6th win in Philadelphia in 7 attempts. These are the sort of statistics that you couldn't imagine happening back in 2008 or 2009, but such is Baseball. Time passes, players get old and tables eventually do turn. The hope now is that the Mets continue to trend upward and their numbers against Philadelphia begin to translate to other teams.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hangdog

After the Mets gritted out a really nice victory on Tuesday night when Zack Wheeler didn't have his best stuff but still persevered, the Mets then loafed their way through Wednesday night's forgettable affair behind Jon Niese, who once again seemed to effortlessly have a really bad game that somehow didn't look quite like he was having a bad game, but he was. This has, annoyingly, become the norm for Niese since he returned from his mysterious DL stint. He pitches deep into games, yes, but he gets dinked and dunked to death in rather short order like he did last Friday and so you end up with a game where he pitched 8 innings but gave up 5 runs and 9 hits and lost the game. Last night, he ended up getting burned on a pair of Home Runs by Adam LaRoche who dulled one over the fence in the first inning and then another one from Danny Espinosa in the 6th, and so the end result is that Niese gave up 6 runs, ended up making a lot of faces that seem similar to the above photo and the Mets lost 7-1.

I had the good fortune of being out for a work function and so therefore the game was mostly decided by time I arrived home. True, at only 3-0, the Mets still had a theoretical chance, but they weren't generating much action against Doug Fister, and so when I turned on the game, Niese was well on his way to making the game unwatchable in the 6th. Someone was on base and someone else was busy getting on base, and then Denny Espinosa involved himself in a negative fashion and I sort of tuned out from there. I know the Mets did eventually score a run off of Fister, but the only upside to that was that they weren't shut out.

This hasn't exactly been a promising stretch for Niese, who's starting to enter a phase in his career where you can't chalk his inconsistencies up to "Well, he's young" anymore. He's going to be 28 next Opening Day and while he's certainly looked the part of an emerging star at times, he's also looked the part of John Maine/Oliver Perez all too often as well, Maine in the sense that he gets very defeatist while on the mound and has a history of mysterious shoulder problems, and Perez because he's left handed and has great stuff but often times no head for pitching. This isn't 2012 anymore and he can't coast on potential anymore. It's time for him to start showing a little more in the way of results because there's younger, better, more talented pitching around him and you'd think the competition would push him to pitch to his abilities. That hasn't happened this season. Perhaps he's hurt more than he's letting on, but who knows. Either way, the age old phrase of "Jonathon Niese needs to finish out the season strong" is going to be bandied about quite a bit over the last several weeks of the season, I believe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Way Out Through

After about 3 innings on Tuesday night, you'd be hard pressed to think Zack Wheeler was long for this game. It seemed like a slight regression for him from the string of solid starts he'd been on, back to the Wheeler who was struggling with command, working too many deep counts, walking too many guys and basically burning himself out too early in the evening.

By the 7th inning, Wheeler was somehow still in the game, having settled himself down and willed himself through the middle innings allowing just about nothing to the Nationals, finishing his evening after 6.2 innings and 109 pitches allowing just 1 run. The Mets offense took advantage of some timely hitting and timely poor fielding in order to provide Wheeler with enough backing to virtually cruise to a 6-1 victory over the 1st place Nationals in the first game of a series that's probably slightly more crucial than some of us would like to believe. Or slightly less crucial than some of us actually hope it is.

Wheeler got himself in and out of trouble through most of the early innings of the game, allowing his lone run on a 2nd inning Wild Pitch, but somehow he escaped further damage when a line drive by Jose Lobaton fortuitously hit baserunner Asdrubal Cabrera. This was a shot that was probably ticketed for an RBI single or something similarly bad, but with this stroke of luck, Wheeler was able to get out of the inning. In the 3rd inning, he induced Jayson Werth to hit into a Double Play after giving up two singles to lead off the inning. He then allowed nothing until the 6th, when his defense helped him out again. Werth led off with a double and Boring Adam LaRoche followed with a single to left that appeared ticketed for a game-tying single, but for an unlikely Outfield Assist that came from Eric Campbell of all people, who charged the ball and threw out Werth at home with surprising ease. In the 7th, Wheeler finished his night by inducing yet another key Double Play from Steven Souza.

That, then, ended up the story of the night, as the team seemed to rally around each other to get themselves through this victory. When Wheeler struggled, his defense backed him up. Wheeler settled down and his offense got him some runs. Daniel Murphy chipped in with a 2-run ball that was generously scored a hit after Cabrera pretty much yakked on it and Lucas Duda drove home another run in the Mets 7th inning rally, and Wheeler helped his own cause by dunking in an RBI single in the 2nd inning. Everyone seemed to have some key contribution in this game, and it's particularly gratifying that they got their act together on this night after a rather dull weekend.