Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fill The Glass

And, once again, the Mets played just a sterling boondoggle of a ballgame in The Hulk's Lair in Plasticville, Florida, one of those places where things never seem to go right no matter how good things might look on the surface. The Mets came in to the Mystery Machine humming right along. They'd had their hiccup the prior weekend, got it out of their system, and now back to business laying the smackdown on a team that richly deserved it. The Marlins came into Citi Field last week and the Mets fed them their lunch repeatedly in a 4-game wipeout.

But, things have a tendency to never happen as you'd expect it, particularly when you're going into Miami. This is a place where the Mets have played a seemingly endless string of winnable games that get away from them, annoying games where they blow leads, games where they don't score and lose on 40-foot singles and, then there's games like last night, where they look ready to strike and then puke it up before they have a chance to come back.

I'm not sure what kind of Miami-induced loss I like the least, not that any of them are preferable to any other, but at least we weren't subjected to the 40-foot single loss where the Marlins start prancing around the field like they just won the pennant (I'd assume they're saving that for the next time the Mets come to town in August). I suppose Tuesday's game was pretty objectionable, because it seems like that begat what happened Wednesday night. Off of Monday, if the Mets had come back the next night and rode the crest of Juan Lagares' game-tying double to a 9th inning victory, you come away feeling a whole lot different even if the Mets had lost last night.

But instead, they lost Tuesday, and played a see-saw of a game Wednesday that saw Bartolo Colon throw his usual Bartolo Colon kind of game, which is to say he was unspectacularly efficient. Problem was, the Mets couldn't extend their lead against Mat Latos, who looked mediocre and then got hurt, and ultimately the Marlins scraped back and tied the game on—guess what—an infield single by Giancarlo Stanton that Daniel Murphy gloved, but couldn't convert the throw. A typical Marlin play that tilted the game in their favor. Two innings later, they grabbed the lead by manufacturing a run, and though the Mets certainly could have had an opportunity against the Fish's B-closer in the 9th, down by a run, they wouldn't get a chance to come back because Alex Torres surrendered a game-incinerating 3-run Home Run to Ichiro Suzuki, the ageless wonder. Ichiro isn't known for his power, but even in his 40s and homing in on 4,200 worldwide hits, he's still someone to be reckoned with and he always had the ability to dial 8 when he really needed to. And this was one such instance.

So, instead of coming back home with the feeling that the Mets resolve continues to will them to victories and this is going to continue to carry them, instead, there's a little ennui going on because when you think about it, if Daniel Murphy doesn't hit that Home Run on Monday night, the Mets get swept and right now everything's terrible and I'm writing about how the Marlins should be disembowled by a land shark or something. So, at least it's somewhere in between, but I don't necessarily feel good about things coming off a series like this. Now, the Mets get to come home and face a Nationals team that's started to wake up and usually bludgeons the Mets at Citi Field.

On the other hand, the Mets haven't lost a game at Citi Field all season, so there's that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Typical Green Scene

I guess a trip into everyone's favorite Puke Green Hell Hole wouldn't be complete without the Mets losing to the Marlins in some annoying fashion. After Monday night's breathless victory, the Mets and Marlins staged a game that seemed headed down a similar path, with Rafael Montero in a spot start and David Phelps throwing zeroes at each other into the 6th inning. The Marlins grabbed a lead when Montero ran out of steam, but the Mets stormed right back to tie the score in the 7th. Like Monday night, the Marlins then grabbed the lead back in the last of the 8th inning when Michael Morse snaked an RBI single up the middle off Carlos Torres. But on this night, the Mets couldn't get off the mat one last time and instead fell to the Marlins in an irritating 4-3 loss.

This was, of course, the Rafael Montero "spot start" night that was planned about 2 weeks ago, in an effort to a) get some of the starters (read: Matt Harvey) an extra day's rest and will probably happen at least once a month and b) push Dillon Gee. Montero didn't pitch as well as Gee did on Monday night, but that's not to say he pitched badly. In fact, Montero did quite well, once again hammering home the point of just how loaded this Mets system is with young, talented pitching. If there was one shortcoming to Montero's night, it was that he struggled here and there with throwing strike 3, which ultimately led to him basically running out of gas in the 6th inning. That, or the fact that he just hasn't been stretched out enough for extended endurance just yet. After spending most of Spring Training and the early part of the season working in relief, in short outing instances, Montero only had a couple of opportunities to start in the Minors, so obviously he just wasn't stretched out enough just yet. I wouldn't read too much into it, but then again maybe Terry Collins or Waddlin' Warthen could have picked up on this before too much damage was done. The Marlins weren't killing him by any stretch, but once they got the door open and scraped across a run, the gates kind of opened from there and Montero just didn't have enough in the tank to close out the inning.

But, of course, down by 3, the Mets just dusted themselves off and tied the game almost immediately. They got a good break when Martin Prado yakked on a hot shot by Anthony Recker, a surefire Double Play ball that turned into a no-play (and for whatever laughable reason was scored a hit). A few batters later, Juan Lagares smoked an A.J. Ramos offering out to the fence in Center Field (the rare shot that might have been out of the park in Citi Field of all places, but in the Green Cavern it was off the wall on a hop) to score 3 runs and knot the score. Yet another example of the Mets taking advantage of their opponent's mistakes and turning it into runs on the board, something that's been key to their early-season success.

So, as the game dragged into the late innings, you had to think that the Mets had the edge. They've been winning these late & close games all year long. Alex Torres, who's done a fine job picking up the slack in the absence of Jerry Blevins, got through the 7th, and Carlos Torres, who's done a fine job picking up the slack in the absence of Jenrry Mejia, took over in the 8th, but that's where the Mets late-inning mojo finally ran out. Carlos walked a batter, then walked another batter, and then gave up a hit to Michael Morse that looked to be hard enough that Juan Lagares might have a chance to get Prado at home, but the throw was late and the Marlins had the lead. Steve Cishek came on for the 9th, and again, you had to feel good since the Mets have hit him as recently as last night, and you had to feel even better when he walked Curtis Granderson to start the inning...but the Mets couldn't do anything behind that. And all of a sudden we were reminded that we can't get too confident that the Mets will come through in games like this. It's happened a few times to date, but the law of averages in Baseball dictates that you don't come through in these kinds of games every time. Tonight was one of those times where they didn't come through.

Figures, this ought to happen to the Mets in Miami because even when times are good, the Mets lose annoying games like this in Miami.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good Very Good

Figures, the day after I took Daniel Murphy behind the woodshed for his generally sloppy and uncoordinated play, the next night he goes out and delivers probably the biggest hit the Mets have had in the early going this season. Coming into the game batting a paltry .172 and contributing a pair of damaging errors of both the literal and mental variety to a miserable Mets loss on Sunday night, Murphy flipped the storyline in his favor Monday night, delivering a clutch 3-run Home Run in the top of the 9th inning and contributing a key defensive play in the bottom of the 9th inning, stealing the show in a lighting-quick 3-1 Mets victory.

This was a lightning-quick game, over in 1 hour, 58 minutes, and for that you can thank Dillon Gee. Gee hasn't pitched badly at all to date this season; I believe the only truly bad outing he had was in Atlanta, he was passable at home against Miami and solid against Atlanta, but nonetheless his numbers pale in comparison when measured against, say, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom or Bartolo Colon. Still, all Gee has to do is pitch reasonably well for a 5th starter, and I think he's done that. Certainly, his effort last night was a good example of what Gee can do when he's really got his stuff working. His 7.2 inning effort was a study in methodically lulling your opponent to sleep, as he kept the Mickey Mouse Marlins swinging and connecting at general junk and banging ground balls all over the place. I knew he was effective because he even lulled me to sleep (or maybe it was just a full day at work), because I nodded out sometime around the 2nd inning and woke up about an hour later and the game was in the 7th inning.

Unfortunately for Gee, he was being matched by Jarred Cosart, who I'm told was in some hot water over a gambling situation, in case you needed more cannon fodder to dislike the Marlins, and when they finally got to Gee for a trio of dunk hits in the bottom of the 8th to plate the game's first run, it looked like he was in line for yet another hard-luck loss in a game where he'd been truly brilliant. But then came the 9th, and in came Steve Cishek, whom the Mets have been known to handle over the years. Juan Lagares started off the heavy lifting by hitting a double over Marcell Ozuna's head, and right then and there  you had to have a good feeling about the inning. In prior years, the situation would have been rife for Lucas Duda to strike out, and then Michael Cuddyer and Murphy would similarly fail to get the run home and all of a sudden, the good vibes generated by the 11-game win streak would have dissolved into 3 losses in 4 games and everything would be terrible again. But that didn't happen. Instead, these new Mets refuse to be the patsy, certainly not to the Mickey Mouse Marlins. Instead of flailing away, Duda worked the count and drew a walk. Cuddyer flew out, but that just set the stage for Murphy to atone for his Sunday Night Shit Show by smoking a 2-1 pitch out into the Right Field seats to put the Mets ahead for good. Then, for good measure, he ran down a Michael Morse ground ball that seemed ticketed for Right Field and got Morse by a hair at 1st, aiding Jeurys Familia to his 9th Save in as many chances and getting the Mets right back in the W column with a most rousing victory.

This is sort of a testament to just how frustrating Daniel Murphy can be, because for every game like tonight, there's one like last night, but that's just how it is being Daniel Murphy. One night, you play poorly and you're dragged over the coals, and the next day you get the winning hit and you're the toast of the team. Such a win like this, getting off the mat and getting the big hit from the guy who was at his lowest is the kind of thing that can set the tone for a season if the team is in the right place, and you sort of have that feeling like that's where the Mets are right now. They might not win every game, but they certainly don't stay down for long.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Flog City

The lights were on their brightest in the Bronx on Sunday night, as the Mets and Yankees met up for the finale of the April portion of the Subway Series in The Biggest Game In The Galaxy. ESPN, no longer featuring Jon Miller and Joe Morgan were out in full force. This goes to show just how long it's been since I've actually watched The Biggest Game In The Galaxy (the Mets have managed to avoid one in a few years), but while the announcers have changed, the content has not. ESPN's broadcasts are usually more style than substance, with their overproduced graphics and unnecessary bells and whistles that take away from just about everyone's enjoyment of the game. I'm not sure who the lead announcer is other than it's not Joe Buck, but he may as well be Joe Buck since he presents the Pepsi-Cola version of MLB announcing. Color commentary is now provided by the comedic duo of Curt Schilling and John Kruk, because they're silly and irreverent and people like that, I guess. I used to get up for the Sunday night game, but that was a different era when I was younger and wilier and I didn't have to be at work until Monday afternoon. Now, I've come around to the nuisances of Sunday Night Baseball. It's become too sugarcoated. It seems like every week, they're cramming Yankees vs. Red Sox, or Braves vs. Nationals, or Dodgers vs. Giants down our throats. That's bad enough if you don't like those teams, but for some reason, when it's the Mets and the Yankees, I find it even more of a nuisance.

The Mets and Yankees treated the viewing public to something less than the top-quality Baseball that ESPN prides itself on showing, which may serve them right, but the joke was on the Mets on Sunday night. Though the Mets still came out of the weekend with one win in three games, they kind of looked like schmucks on Sunday and in losing the series this weekend, have now ensured that Mets fans will be treated to an entire summer of "DERP DERP DERP SAME OLD MUTTS (GOBBLE SNORT DROOL)" from the mouth-breathing faction of fans of the other team. For as far as we've come, and as much as we'd like to think we're the better team, and from top to bottom we probably are, we still can't get it over on the Yankees, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't somewhat frustrating. I shouldn't care about the Yankees or their fans, and for the most part, I don't. Except when the Mets play them and things don't go well, which has been often. It's the main reason I've become completely turned off to the annual Subway Series Shit Show, to the point where I won't go to the games. It's just not worth the anxiety. It was better the last two years when we only had to go through this 4 times a year, but now it's back to six, and for some asinine reason, it's broken up so that we have the Subway Series in April, and now we get the high pleasure of playing them again in September, probably in the middle of a pennant race when the last thing we need to worry about is the Goddamn Subway Series.

So...yeah. The Mets went out and made asses of themselves in front of a national TV audience. Things started out well enough, Curtis Granderson led off the game with a Home Run off of Nathan Eovaldi, the hotshot pitcher who throws really hard but isn't any good—we remember him from his time with the Mickey Mouse Marlins. The Mets had plenty of chances to get Eovaldi on the ropes but couldn't cash in. Still, Daniel Murphy poked a 2-out double to score Juan Lagares and the Mets were on their way.

Except that Jon Niese had one of those annoying Jon Niese outings. He got through the 1st inning well enough, except that he gave up a Home Run to Captain Pariah Alex Rodriguez with 2 outs. A-Rod seems like his usual self, he clapped his hands and hot-dogged around the bases like he'd just hit a walk-off Home Run, and maybe he thought he did for all I know. He's never been one to be aware of his surroundings much. That was fine, but then everything came unglued in the 2nd inning. Niese was primed to work around a leadoff double, but with 2 outs, he gave up another double to Gregorio Petit and everything basically went to hell from there. There was another double, and a hit that was basically where Daniel Murphy was supposed to be, and another double, and a Michael Cuddyer relay throw that he basically spiked into the ground...and all of a sudden it was 5-2 and I was ready to shut things off.

The Mets didn't have much trouble with Eovaldi, as they got back to within 5-4 in the 3rd, but that was it for them. A parade of Yankee relievers, most of whom I've never heard of, kept the Mets from getting any closer. On the other side, they slipped and slopped around, and made a bunch of errors, mostly by Daniel Murphy, who ole'd a ball that led to a run, didn't slide on a close play at 2nd and instead was tagged out, and generally had one of those Daniel Murphy days where he looks about as coordinated as a nerdy 11-year old. And as the game went on, I got to thinking if maybe this is the year that Daniel Murphy becomes my #1 flog. We all know that I have one good flog per season. Usually it was a worthless pitcher like Manny Acosta or Pat Misch, and for several seasons it was Lucas Duda until he proved himself useful, but maybe it's now Murphy's turn to be in my doghouse. You know, it's Murph's walk year. You always want to start out your walk year hitting .172 with 6 errors. Now, he's probably made himself untradeable, in addition to being a general nuisance. And I like the guy, so it pains me to say this. But there's only so many years you can watch a guy play second base with the tenacity of a scalded dog until you realize it's just not going to get better. He's worked really hard to get to this point and still he makes the same absurd mental errors because I don't know why. He's a decent hitter, but he's still a streaky hitter and for all the years he's started off hitting .320 after April, he's more than often gone on to hit .246 in every month until September. Point is, we've reached the ceiling on Daniel Murphy, and if it's still so underwhelming, you have to start to think beyond him. Paging...Dilson Herrera....

Jon Niese is also a good candidate for a flogging considering he's still sort of trading high on a good season he had back in 2012, but he's never quite duplicated the numbers he had that season. When he's good, he could be one of the best lefties in the NL. Problem is, he runs in patterns of one really good start, followed by 2 passably good starts, followed by a complete stink bomb. Tonight was the stink bomb. We need to see less stink bomb from Niese if he's going to stick it out here. There's too many good pitchers itching for the opportunity to crack this rotation for him to pitch like an idiot too many times, and I'd like to think he knows that and isn't resting on the idea that he's the only lefty around here. Paging...Steven Matz...

All right. Enough Subway Series. It's getting me unnecessarily stressed out and making me forget that the Mets are still 14-5 in the early going this season. But, they're back to the NL East grind this week as they head down to Fraud Stadium in Miami before coming back to play Washington this weekend. Just get back to the kind of Baseball they were playing at home, before they had to go across town and get themselves all cocked up.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


You didn't have to be a lip reader in the 9th inning yesterday afternoon to see just how in control Matt Harvey was in shutting down the Yankees and evening up this early-season Subway Series matchup.

"C'mon!" he yelled to Terry Collins, who'd presumably come to remove him from the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning. "Lemme get this guy."

Though Harvey ultimately lost the battle against his manager, by that point he'd already won the war, whipping off a mostly effortless 107-pitch effort that saw him rather economically shut down the Yankees, going deeper than he'd gone into a game this season while only allowing 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. The Mets offense backed him with plenty of runs and Mr. Man went and did the rest as the Mets shook off the Friday night doledrums and responded with a rather easy 8-2 victory in the Bronx Mausoleum.

This game was certainly in stark contrast to the last time Harvey faced the Yankees. Not so much in Harvey's effort—he allowed 1 run in 8 innings in a Mets win—but in that game, the Mets gave him nothing to work with in the way of run support, and only a 9th inning comeback off of some closer dude saved Harvey from being hung with a loss.

Saturday, the Mets scored early and often off of C.C. Sabathia, whose years are starting to catch up to him. Lucas Duda kicked off the scoring with a 1st inning Home Run, a shot over the 260-foot fence in Right Field. Though the Yankees tied the game thanks more to Daniel Murphy having one of his Daniel Murphy moments and not covering 1st on a bunt play, the Mets struck right back with an extended 2-out rally in the 4th inning. Juan Lagares drilled an RBI triple to plate Murphy, and this was followed by a Wilmer Flores RBI single, and finished off by Kevin Plawecki's first Major League Home Run, a real laser beam of a line drive that landed in the Left Field seats. Very quickly, as the Mets have been wont to do, the Mets grabbed a lead and tacked on, putting necessary distance between themselves and the Yankees.

But the Mets didn't stop after the 4th. In the 6th, Eric Campbell, who's been sneaky good in the absence of Wright, led off with the Mets 3rd Home Run of the afternoon, a poke shot to right that was advantageously placed just over that short fence to extend the lead to 6-1. Later, Juan Lagares knocked out the 3rd of his 4th hits on the day, and then relied on his baserunning savvy to advance round the bases and score on an Esmil Rogers Wild Pitch. Plawecki bookended his fine day with another 2-out RBI, this time an 8th inning single that scored Lagares and capped off the Mets scoring.

Lagares' 4-hit day was nice, and Plawecki's Home Run was even nicer, but Harvey was obviously the story of the day. Where deGrom had failed on Friday night by not really adjusting to the Yankees attacking his pitches early in the count, Harvey instead used his entire arsenal to counter the Yankee approach. Instead of trying to blow everyone away with fastballs, which he's certainly capable of doing, Harvey instead mixed in his curve and his slider and watches as the Yankees tapped harmless ground balls all over the place. This was not only effective, but economical and essentially gave Harvey the opportunity to work deeper into the game because he just wasn't throwing that many pitches. By the 6th inning, he'd only registered an un-Harvey-like 2 strikeouts, and only then did he dial it up and start gassing guys. By the 9th inning, he'd only thrown 90 pitches, and although this would have been the perfect place to get him out of the game, Collins gave him a shot to finish things off. He certainly came close, and his whipsaw strikeout of A-Rod nearly brought the house down, but at that point, being over 100 pitches, he'd finally run out of gas and couldn't quite finish things off.

Still, I can't imagine anyone other than Harvey himself is going to complain about his inability to finish the game. When innings are supposedly a concern, maybe it's going to make a difference later in the season. Maybe not. But after this outing, he'll be rewarded with an extra day of rest before his return to the mound at Citi Field on Friday night, where everyone will certainly be keyed up. First, though, the Mets have to finish up the madness that is the Subway Series tonight on The Biggest Game in the Galaxy on ESPN. That should be flashy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Wrong Night

The prevailing thoughts among Mets fans following their streak-snapping 6-1 loss last night pretty much used logic to ease the internal pain they were undoubtedly suffering.

There will, in the span of a 162-game Baseball season, be nights like this, where Jacob deGrom doesn't have it, his pitches are up and hittable and the opponent has professional enough hitters to take advantage of that.

There will be nights where they play in a stadium that's clearly skewed towards generating more offenses, and balls will be hit there that sail over the fence, when in Citi Field, the same ball usually lands in Juan Lagares' mitt somewhere in Right Center Field.

There will be nights where the opposing team's pitcher, maligned and often injured, puts it together and simply dominates the Mets, whipping demon fastballs and hellacious sliders that nobody can catch up with, and will make the Mets 4-day old Catcher look like he's back in the sandlot.

There will be nights where the Mets enter the game with a modest winning streak, or perhaps a historic winning streak and all these kinds of things will conspire to the end of a Mets loss. It happens. That's just baseball and even the best teams tend to lose 60-65 games a season. This sort of thing is unavoidable. When a game like this happens now, with the Mets on a 11-game rampage, you just kind of lick your wounds and say "come back tomorrow," especially given the panache of the next day's starting pitcher. And at 13-4, the Mets still look pretty damn good in the grand scheme of things.

But if they had to have a night like this, and yes, I know they had to have a night like this eventually, why the hell did it have to happen at Yankees Stadium against the Yankees, thereby giving every mullet-headed mouth-breather that roots for that team the opportunity to hang that over us and say things like "duh slobber drool SEE YOU STILL CAN'T BEAT US. SAME OLD MUTS werp warp worp." The loss, I can accept. The Mets weren't going to finish out the season on a 157-game winning streak (as nice a thought as that might be). But if they were going to just not have it like that, I wish it didn't have to happen against the Yankees. That's what every Met fan is trying to not say this morning.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Turn It Up To 11

The Mets capped off a sweep of the Braves and a sweep of their entire Opening Homestand on Thursday afternoon with yet another victory that came by virtue of the Mets ability to just execute. There wasn't anything particularly fancy about this game (not that I know this firsthand; being that it was an afternoon game, I was relegated to my usual post in front of a computer screen so I haven't actually seen anything aside from some highlights), unless you consider Bartolo Colon's nimble unassisted pickoff of A.J. Pierzynski fancy. Most, I think, consider it high comedy, seeing as how Pierzynski, a 38-year old Catcher, was probably the last person to attempt to steal a base, and instead, he froze and managed to get run down by a 42-year old Pitcher who's built like an On Deck circle.

This particular play seemed to sum up the game and the series for the Mets. They made every play they needed to make, to keep themselves in games, to get ahead in games and to finish off games, and every day it was someone else stepping up to get the job done. This, perhaps, is why this now 11-game win streak the Mets are on—one that equals the franchise's best, set in 1969, tied in 1986 and equaled in 1990—feels more like the norm for this team than a mirage. Perhaps I could be wrong, perhaps the injuries and the schedule might catch up with them eventually, but you can't take wins away from a team, and the more wins they can rack up now, the better they look later in the season.

I've been saying this as the wins have mounted for the Mets, so it's not a new observation by any stretch, but it sort of hammers home the point I'm trying to make. Whenever the situation is down on this team, someone is able to pick up the team. Think about it. Winning teams are teams that get meaningful contributions from all 25 guys on the roster. When the Mets won their most recent World Series Championship, now more than a generation ago, they did it without the benefit of one standout player. Everyone played a part. The Giants have turned a roster of savvy, instinctive players into Baseball's current dynasty. Now, it's the Mets who have broken from the pack quickly by leaning on this same formula.

It seems like a surprise to most, and, sure, even I'm surprised by 11 wins in a row, but I'm not surprised that the Mets have played well this season. The Mets have been building towards this for the past 5 seasons, pretty much ever since Sandy Alderson traded for Zack Wheeler. That set everything in motion. Pieces were continually brought on and put into place until we finally have something that can gel, and it's this team right now. What happens from here, I have no idea. They could just as easily lose 11 in a row for all I know, although it seems unlikely given the way they play. But having a little trust and faith in what the plan was for the direction of the team is now starting to pay off for the believers.

And in some weird instance of happenstance, the Mets now have the opportunity to set a club record for consecutive wins tonight against, of all teams, the Yankees. The team that's been their chief tormentor basically for the past 20 years, in spite of the fact that they never meet more than 6 times in any given season. The team that's been the embodiment of everything and everyone that's just stomped on the Mets for years. Now, the shoe might be starting to slip on the other foot. Wouldn't it be fitting, the way things have played out so far this season?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Good Times

The times in which you really feel confident that someone's going to come through for the Mets to guide them to a win in a close game have been few and far between over the team's somewhat checkered history, and let's face it, in recent years, that feeling has been non-existent. But this has been a different story with the 2015 Mets. For whatever reason, you not only feel confident that someone's going to come through, you sort of have the feeling that EVERYONE will come through. Tuesday night, Curtis Granderson and Kevin Plawecki led the charge. Last night, it was Dillon Gee coming through with a solid 7-inning effort, assisted by Juan Lagares, who came up with a clutch defensive play (or, for him, a routine play), and then Wilmer Flores, who'd driven home the Mets first run early in the game, smacked a game-tying Home Run in the last of the 7th, setting the stage for an 8th inning winning rally where everything that could have gone right, did.

You need a lot of things to go right in order to win 10 games in a row, and in plating the winning run in their 10th straight win, everything just fell perfectly.

Curtis Granderson, given a rare night off in favor of John Mayberry Jr (who for whatever reason found himself hitting leadoff in Terry Collins' Valentineified lineup—although the way things have been going lately, Collins could have hit Jacob deGrom leadoff and I'd buy it) and did what you're supposed to do as a leadoff hitter in the late innings of a tied game: work the count and draw a walk. Lagares, fresh off his latest acrobatic gem in the Outfield (a twisting, over the shoulder grab of a Jace Peterson drive that got caught in a Citi Field wind gust—a fine play that Lagares usually gloves 113 out of 100 times) followed by executing a perfect hit-and-run. With Granderson in motion, Lagares basically stuck his bat out and hit a nubber of a ground ball towards the right side of the infield. But with Granderson on the move, the Braves had vacated that side of the field and not only had Lagares picked up a rather fortuitous hit, he also sent Granderson steaming all the way to 3rd. Lucas Duda followed by doing what has become the new Lucas Duda in this situation. Whereas two years ago, Duda might have either popped up to the 1st baseman or struck out, now, the new Lucas Duda inside outs a pitch in front of the left fielder to bring home Granderson with the lead run. The lead is then handed over to Jeurys Familia, who nailed down his 7th Save in as many chances to give the Mets the 3-2 victory.

Is this really how it is now? I like it when things fall into place like that for the Mets game after game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Revolution 9

So, you can take the star 3rd Baseman and team Captain, the starting Catcher, the Lefty Specialist, the Closer and one of the Starting Pitchers out of the lineup, but the Intrepid Mets steam along undaunted, riding this early season wave to their 9th consecutive win, and an easy one at that after a few squeakers, as they wiped the Atlanta Braves off the floor with a 7-1 victory.

Tuesday's game was my 3rd of the season at Citi Field and obviously, I've yet to go home disappointed in 2015. Though this was the 3rd of my 20 games for the season, it was actually the first time I'd sat in my regular seats in section 512. Opening Day, I'd been moved over a section to 513, and last Tuesday was not a plan game for me, and in fact I upgraded myself to section 418 (a little-known perk unless you're a planholder, but plan tickets are not only discounted, but you also hold the option to buy tickets at the plan rate for any other game during the season). So I guess you could call this "The People's Opening Day," since not only was I back in my regular seat, but on this Tuesday night that was rather pleasant for an April Night Game, there were probably not more than 15,000 people in the stadium. Most years, I'd just take that as being what it is, but given that the Mets had won 8 games in a row and boasted the best record in the National League, I'd say that counts as a bit of a letdown. That's a Bad Job by most Mets fans.

After Hamburgering it up at my first two games of the season, the crowd was thin enough that I was able to sidle my way up to the Pat LaFreida stand and try the Steak Frites, which was something that I'd intended to do ever since I noticed it on the menu on Opening Day. Clearly, I wasn't the only one; on that day the line was far too long to parse, and the next night, the Harveyfied crowd made things no better. But since Niese Day isn't really a thing, tonight was my night to roll and it certainly didn't disappoint. I'm rarely let down by the "premium" food selections at Citi Field (the regular fare doesn't count because there's always a night when you can get a burger with a crispy bun, which sounds far better than what goes on in Kansas City), and this is no different. Plus, it's more substantial than the $16 sandwich at almost half the price. I'd say it eats like a fancy Poutine, and since Montreal no longer has a team, it may be the closest you can get to Poutine at a Major League Stadium (admittedly, it is available at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, but in general Poutine seems to be somewhat lacking outside of its motherland of Quebec).

But I digress. I wasn't at Citi Field for the food, although it's always a good bonus, I was there for the Mets, and they like the food did not disappoint on this night. The game started off a very brisk Pitcher's Duel between Jon Niese and fat-faced new acquisition Trevor Cahill for Atlanta. The crowd, though light, was spirited as the game moved into the middle innings in under an hour without either offense making much of a peep. Though the Braves managed to get multiple men on base in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings, Niese didn't break, perhaps a testament to the new attitude that seems to be permeating throughout this team. In past years, Niese might have folded under the pressure, but not on this night. He weaseled out of the jams and kept the game scoreless long enough for his offense to get him some runs. In the 5th, this is what happened. Following an Eric Campbell walk, the newcomer Kevin Plawecki (who showed his offensive capability in his first at bat when he sizzled a line drive that unfortunately found its way directly into Freddie Freeman's mitt) followed with his first Major League hit, a clean single past God's Gift to Shortstops Andrelton Simmons. Wilmer Flores, who's started to heat up, followed with a hit of his own and the Mets had the bases loaded with none out. Unfortunately, this brought Niese to the plate. Though Niese does have the habit of sometimes running into a pitch and hitting it somewhere, he's still a pitcher and the odds were against him in this particular situation. Fortunately, Cahill was sufficiently rattled enough to throw 3 consecutive balls, putting Niese in the driver's seat. But on the 3-1 pitch, Niese appeared to have done himself no favors by hitting a ground ball right at Philip Gosselin. The same guy who nobody's ever heard of that came out of the mothballs to beat the Mets back in Atlanta. But, that seems like a generation ago and the Mets mojo is going too good right now. Gosselin summarily booted the ball, everyone was safe and Campbell scored the game's first run. From there, the floodgates opened. Curtis Granderson followed with a clean single to right, plating two more runs and producing his first two RBI of the season. Juan Lagares then knocked one up the middle to score Niese with the inning's 4th run and finish Cahill's night.

That right there was enough for the Mets, particularly with how well Niese was going, but these Mets don't go in the tank so easily. One inning later, Granderson drove in his 3rd run of the night, singling home Campbell to make the score 5-0. Niese ran out of steam in the 7th, allowing a Home Run to Cameron Maybin (that for some reason needed a review in spite of the fact that it clearly was out) and then walking Nick Markakis before departing to a fine ovation for his fine effort. Erik Goeddel followed him to the mound for a rare appearance but did himself no favors by walking Jonny Gomes, necessitating another pitching change. This time, Alex Torres did what neither Niese or Goeddel could do and get the out to finish the inning, striking out Freeman to end the drama.

By this point, the game, which appeared destined to be over in barely 2 hours a few innings ago, had slowed to a crawl. There was a bizarre delay at the start of the bottom of the 7th when it appeared the Braves broke 2nd Base. People were just sort of milling around while one grounds crew member came out to do some work, and then another followed, and then a third. Whatever the problem was, I'm not quite sure, but they managed to fix it and finally, the absurdly named Sugar Ray Marimon took the mound for the Barves. I thought you had to accomplish something in order to get that sort of a nickname, but for whatever reason, he's got it. He got the Mets in order in the 7th, but in the 8th, the Mets reached him for two more runs. Plawecki picked up his second hit of the night, and later  Granderson lofted a fly ball that Gomes didn't bother to make an effort to catch, and instead the ball fell in and bounced into the seats for a Ground-Rule double, netting him his 4th RBI of the night. With a comfortable lead, Familia took a back seat and Sean Gilmartin closed the Braves out in the 9th to finish out the Mets 9th win in a row and improved their home record to 8-0 on the season.

9 wins in a row? 8-0 at home? Everything's different about this team this season, and now sitting pretty at 11-3 on the season, they're in that sort of rarefied air that only happens in seasons that we as Mets fans end up remembering real fondly. These Mets now play with swagger. They pounce on the mistakes of their opponents and generate offense from someone else every night. Tonight, Duda, Cuddyer and Murphy were mostly quiet. The damage was done by guys like Campbell, Flores and Granderson, and Plawecki, in his Major League Debut, interjected himself right in the middle of the discussion as well. These are the kind of teams that do things, when it's someone different every night getting the big hits. I know it's early and I know 14 games does not a season make, but this team needed this kind of a start so badly I can't even describe it, and they've set a tone for this season that hasn't existed around here in years.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Reasons to Not Like You

So, even when the Mets beat, and beat up on everyone's least favorite team, the Miami Marlins, they still seem to find a way to stick it to us.

We by now all know about Jerry Blevins and Travis d'Arnaud leaving Sunday's game after being hit by balls projected off of Marlin arms or bats. The end result of this is that the Mets are now without their best lefty specialist for what appears to be close to two months, and their starting Catcher, who'd been off to a blazing hot start offensively and defensively, for probably a month at least.

Figures it would happen against the Mickey Mouse Marlins. These guys routinely find ways to annoy me, and if they can't beat us—and clearly, they can't beat us—their only recourse seems to be to beat us up.

If that wasn't enough, there's now the rumor circulating that their pompous ass of an owner, Jeffrey Loria, is sniffing around the Mets trying to poach Wally Backman to manage the team, as he's apparently grown tired of Mike Redmond. I wouldn't go so far as to blame the Marlins 3-10 start on Redmond. Remember, this is a guy who fired Joe Girardi after he overachieved with a team that had Miguel Cabrera and nobody else in particular and won Manager of the Year. It might be more likely that he overplayed his hand by giving all the money to Giancarlo Stanton and then pinning his hopes on Mat Latos and Dee Gordon, and some other guys that are all style and no substance. So, I guess he figures he'll stick it to the Mets and hire Wally Backman because he figures all the Mets fans want him to be the Manager, so he must be some great hidden secret.

Problem is, Wally Backman is never going to be the Mets manager. And the only people that want him to be the manager are the same misguided Mets fans that seem to think they can fire the owners and stage a hostile takeover of the team. At this point, I'm convinced that Backman is all hype, because if he wasn't, he would have been named the Manager 3 years ago. It's not going to happen. Get over it. Let him go manage the Marlins and go 77-85 for 2 years before Loria guts the team again and fires him.

But, Marlins and their 4 fans aside, let's worry about the Mets here. The pitcher is out, the Catcher is out, and now we get to see what Kevin Plawecki is made of. The #2 prospect in the Mets system, Plawecki is one of those guys that has been around for a while but didn't get much notice because he wasn't named Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Montero, deGrom or Nimmo. He might actually be better than d'Arnaud, if a little raw, but he's going to be up for the time being, and he's going right into the lineup from what I hear. Also up is Hansel Robles, who I know even less about, and as proof, I assumed the Mets had procured him from the Dodgers. But that's not the case. The Dodgers had a guy named Oscar Robles, and that was a long time ago. Hansel Robles has been in the organization since 2008, but it's taken him a bit of time to find himself, and now he's here. He won't be thrown into the fire quite like Plawecki will, and in fact he may find himself further down the depth chart than, say, Erik Goeddel, but for now, he's here and more power to him.

So, lick their wounds, the Mets will, and now get ready for the Barves to come into town. I'll be in attendance tonight for my 3rd game of the season as the Mets attempt to remain undefeated at home on the season, a major story in and of itself.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Know Your Place

By all rights, if there was a day that the Mets were going to lose a game, it sure felt like yesterday would be that day. Matt Harvey took the mound with a stomach bug and ultimately the Marlins wore him down to the tune of 4 runs in 6+ innings, Jerry Blevins was hit by a line drive and had to leave the game, Travis d'Arnaud was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game, both players were diagnosed with fractures that will keep them out for weeks, Buddy Carlyle let the Marlins back into the game and the Mets nearly blew a 6-run lead, but somehow, the Mets still managed to hang on and finish off a 4-game sweep of the Mickey Mouse Marlins with a 7-6 victory. The win, their 8th in a row, kept them the only team in the Majors to remain undefeated at home and extended their record to 10-3, or, more appropriately, the kind of record they've only seen in years that were 1986 and 2006 and we know how those years turned out.

One thing that was hallmark of the Mets in those particular seasons was how they handled lesser competition. In 1986, the Mets smoked the Pirates to the tune of 17 wins in 18 games. The 2006 Mets were 11-7 against Atlanta and 12-6 against Washington. So far this season, the Mets have swept the Phillies, and now they've swept the Marlins, kicking the season series against each of these teams off on the right foot.

But it's particularly gratifying to sweep the Marlins, for a variety of reasons. Whether the Mets have been good or bad, the Marlins seem to constantly be a scourge in the Mets lifestyle. When they're bad and the Mets are good, all they seem to do is whine about the "big bad Mets." And do I even need to go into how they acted like a bunch of petulant brats in 2008? They're basically an embarrassment to Baseball. Their owner, who's one of the chief culprits in the murder of the Montreal Expos, basically conned the people of South Florida into building him a new playpen (I can only imagine what dinner with this clown must be like. He's an art dealer, so he's probably one of those people that slurps his wine, walks around with a perpetual sneer and speaks without moving his jaw with some weird Michael Caine-like affectation). Every few years, after he's built up his team to the point where they're sort of contenders, he trades everyone away and starts from scratch again. And then there are the years where he tries to make everyone believe he's trying to build a winning team, and he buys up a bunch of Free Agents, and all of a sudden everyone says "OOH, THE MARLINS LOOK GOOOOD!" and then they go 7-13 in April and they tank the rest of the season before dealing everyone away. I'm not sure why any Free Agent would want to sign a long-term deal with the Marlins, because they're basically signing up for 1, maybe a year and a half in South Florida before they get traded. So, here, the Marlins have done it again, in are these fresh faces like popgun hitter Dee Gordon, and Tattootier Mat Latos, and Martin Prado, and Ichiro, and Jarred Cosart, and here we go. The Marlins get all the ink and nobody takes the Mets seriously. And why should they? Even when the Marlins were bad, they seemed to beat the Mets and start jumping around like they won a pennant or something.

But instead, the Marlins came into Citi Field 3-6 and left 3-10 and really got outclassed in doing so. Nobody deserves it more. I didn't buy the Marlins for a second and the Mets just put them in their place. At every turn, the Mets had an answer for the Marlins, and big early-season series that end up as badly as this one did for the Marlins can set the tone for the season and take you out of it before you ever have a chance to get started. Look at them. They were gonna be the Wildcard! Now, their $325 million dollar monster is grousing and grumbling already, and his contract is barely 2 weeks old. How do you think this one's going to turn out?

I know there's more to focus on, such as the fact that the Mets have some major injuries to a couple of guys that were really playing well and were a big part of the team starting 10-3 and having won now 8 games in a row, but big picture, the Mets right now are playing like such a cohesive unit that they're surviving their injuries on guile and teamwork. And they just stuck it to a team that really needed to have it stuck to. They couldn't have done it to a more deserving group of jerkoffs. I really enjoy this right now.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Glance and Peek

I've gone from one job to another, one Theater to another and one Production to another in the span of one weekend, and thus after having two nights of respite where I actually got to watch games on TV instead of being at the game or being at work, or being at a show, I was back out again, watching things unfold from the confines of an office on a computer screen where the action is fully digitized as opposed to performed by actual men in uniforms.

Wherever I seem to be, however, the Mets continue to win games, last night pulling in their 7th in a row, a 5-4 win over Jeffrey Loria and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoats to run their record to 9-3 on the season.

I was mostly filled in on things thanks to MLB's gamecast and some texts from a friend fortunate enough to be on his couch in front of his TV, where he pointed out some of the finer nuances of the game you don't get from a phalanx of computerized data (although MLB's Gamecast does now tell you not only the speed of the pitch, but exactly how far the pitch was hit and the speed of the batted ball in addition to other, inscrutable things you wouldn't know about like pFx), such as how Jacob deGrom was dominating the Marlins, basically outclassing them over his 7 shutout innings of work.

Other discussions involved that of Travis d'Arnaud's Home Run, his second of the homestand, a laser shot off of Mat Latos (you know, the big-time pitcher they got who was going to turn the team's fortunes around...with his 10.24 ERA and 0-3 record), and how Wilmer Flores was or was not going to be the answer for the Mets at Shortstop. My contention, which I've made many times over, is that Flores can hit, but he needs to get into a rhythm. He was overmatched when he arrived in 2013, and again when he was up early in 2014, but by time he got around to playing on an everyday basis late in the season, he did respond and play well. Somewhere around that point, Flores connected for his second Home Run of the series, a 2-run shot that staked deGrom and the Mets to a 5-0 lead (worth noting that the Great Pitcher Mert Lagos was, by this point, out of the game, done after 5 laborious innings).

I then was otherwise engaged and missed the bullpen, or more appropriately, Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres, slog through a couple of innings and make the game much closer than it needed to be, sort of an eerie harbinger of when the Mets bullpen was miserable and would routinely let teams sneak back into games they had no business sneaking back into. I don't know enough of Gilmartin to pass judgement, other than that he's a Rule V Rookie and usually these kind of guys aren't exactly ready for prime time. Torres has no particular reproach other than he has days like that, and most of the damage was done by Dee Gordon, who punctuated a 5-hit night (where 2 of the 5 were replay-aided) with a 2-run single that chased Torres from the game. Still, Alex Torres came in the game to put out the fire and close out the game. Fortunately, I missed this part, otherwise I probably would have been tearing what remains of my hair out in disgust as the 9th inning unfolded. But, instead, I only came back to see that the game was over and the Mets had won 5-4, as opposed to 5-0 as it was when I left. But that's OK, I guess. A 5-0 game that you end up winning 5-4 is still a win no matter how ugly it might have looked at times.

Believe it or not, the Mets are going for a 4-game sweep of the Mickey Mouse Marlins tomorrow with the Hammer, Matt Harvey, on the mound. True, the Marlins have done a number on Harvey in the past, but in a year where everything feels a little different, what's one more thing?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Swing Hard!

Bartolo Colon defies any particular description as far as his exploits as a baseball player. I recall, in my younger days, watching this sleek young fireballer throwing darts all over the place for those great Cleveland Indians teams in the late 90s. But, the years piled on and the pounds piled on and the arm wore down...and yet he's still here, which I know is mystifying to pretty much everyone who looks at him every time he sets foot on a baseball field. He can still pitch, which is perfectly logical; like most of his era, as he got older, he got wiser and better at knowing how to pitch in situations when he was no longer able to dial up the rising stink.

Then, there's his hitting.

To call Bartolo Colon's offense "interesting" might be putting it kindly. Bartolo Colon seems to adhere to the Jason Isringhausen style of hitting, which was "swing hard, you just might make contact." Izzy, in his time, was a decent hitter as pitchers go. Bartolo Colon, after spending so many years in the American League where he didn't have to hit is significantly less so.

But he still goes up there and swings hard. Most of the time, he knocks himself over or whacks the helmet off of his head. Every once in a while, though, he makes contact. Usually the ball doesn't go very far, but sometimes it falls in where nobody is and he has himself a hit, which sends everyone into an uproar. Last season, he got a hit against Oakland at Citi Field and the crowd responded with a standing ovation. Last Sunday, his RBI single was poked over a drawn-in Infield and marked the first time he'd done such a thing since 2005, and when he was announced the next day at the Home Opener, Howie Rose referred to him as "Pitcher...and Hitter." And Last night, he netted himself another RBI by connecting on a 5th inning Sacrifice Fly that tied the game at 1-1.

This was the showstopping moment of the night, although of far greater value was the 7 innings of 1-run ball he pitched, allowing Giancarlo Stanton's daily Home Run in the 1st and not much else as the Mets eventually tied, passed and beat the Marlin-poos for the second game in a row, 4-1, to net themselves their 6th win in a row and their 5th win in as many tries at Citi Field. This could have been my 3rd game of the year, but for an unavoidable work commitment that prevented me from attending, prevented me from my first Free Shirt Friday (or as my other half refers to it "Horrible Shirt Friday") of the season and basically prevented me from seeing any part of the game at all. But who needs to see the game to know that Bartolo Colon was the story of the night?

Friday, April 17, 2015

The New Year

After last night's mettle-testing 7-5 win over the Marlins, Terry Collins addressed the media by stating "a year ago, we don't win tonight."

That may well be true. On a night where they fell behind the Marlins early thanks to some predictable longballs from predictable sources, the Mets fought back and tied the game. Then they fell behind again. So they came back again. Then they went ahead. Then the Marlins tied the game thanks to a replay-reversed call that probably shouldn't have been reversed. So the Mets went out and scored some more runs, and then the bullpen kept the Marlins in check the rest of the way.

There were about 100 or so instances of this game happening at any point over the last 6 seasons, and I believe in about 97% of those instances, the Mets lost the game. Either they never came back, or they never re-tied the game, or the replay reversal let the lead run home, or they tied the game and then the bullpen allowed 6 runs in the 10th inning. Last night, none of these things happened. Instead of capitulating, the Mets stoned up and got off the mat.

The Marlins "tagged" Dillon Gee for 3 runs early, thanks to a $325,000,000 Home Run from Giancarlo Stanton and later, another Home Run from Martin Prado, who usually tends to do that sort of thing against the Mets. The Mets couldn't do much against Jarred Cosart, and so in the middle innings, the Mets were trailing and appeared primed to lose another stupid game to the fake-ass Marlins.

First, it was Wilmer Flores who struck the key blow, belting a 3-Run Home Run to tie the game. This was a rather good example of Flores' good timing, as to this point he'd neither hit a Home Run nor drove in a run period through the season's first 9 games. Though the Marlins would go back ahead in the 6th, thanks to a Marcell Ozuna bases-loaded walk given up by Rafael Montero (not really Montero's fault—this was Gee's mess that Montero got thrown in to clean up midstream), the Mets proved relentless. They plated two more runs in the 6th, thanks to yet another Lucas Duda double and followed by a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. One out later, Eric Campbell engaged in a most crucial at bat against A.J. Ramos, and after falling behind 0-2, managed to work Ramos long enough until he finally got a pitch he could handle and lofted a Sacrifice Fly to score Cuddyer and give the Mets their first lead of the night.

Still, there was quite a bit left in this game. In the 7th inning, Ichiro Suzuki unearthed himself from the mothballs (believe it or not, he's a Marlin now, as incongruous as that may seem) and did what he's best known for: hitting a line drive in a gap and running forever. His triple set the stage for what ended up being the annoying/controversial part of the night. Dee Gordon followed by hitting a smash at Daniel Murphy. With Ichiro breaking for the plate, Murphy quickly threw home...awfully. His throw pulled Travis d'Arnaud way off to the first base side of the plate. Somehow, though, d'Arnaud was able to whip back around and sufficiently block the plate and tag Ichiro out. Ichiro reached back to touch the plate, but no matter, he looked to be out. Or at least that's how it looked to me. One Marlins challenge and 5 minutes of absurdist crotch-grabbing later, the umpires somehow found enough evidence in whatever video they were looking at to overturn the call, giving Ichiro and the Marlins the tying run. This is somewhat ironic, given that the Umpires have been mandated to monitor pitching changes and inning breaks and nose-picking and other internal stalling in games, but here they were standing around with their iPods plugged in for 5 minutes while everyone stood around staring at them.

Undoubtedly steaming over this particular indignity, the Mets charged back and plated two more runs in the bottom of the 7th off of Mike Dunn (blah blah blah ex-Yankee prospect). Who was in the middle of it? Duda again! I continue to be floored at how wrong I was about him, but here he is again, driving in the eventual winning run with a parachute single to left. This was Duda's 3rd consecutive multi-hit game, leaving him hitting all of .395 this season.

That was the end of the scoring, although one couldn't be blamed for having visions of some weird Marlins rally comprised of 4 consecutive infield hits followed by a Greg Dobbs grand slam (it makes no difference that Dobbs is not currently on a Major League roster). But no. Carlos Torres pitched an uneventful 8th inning, and Jeurys Familia picked up his 4th Save in 5 games by pitching an even less eventful 9th inning.

So, the Mets have come home and not lost yet, which is kind of heartwarming for a team that for whatever reason has had all kinds of problems winning at home over the past few years. 4-0 and 5 in a row is a nice start and good enough to get the Mets now in 1st place by themselves. And they're winning games that they've had difficulty winning and beating teams that they've had difficulty beating over the past few years. Add it up and we've seen an awful lot to like in the season's first 10 days.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lineup Shakeup

The lineups that Terry Collins has been throwing out there in the early going this season seem to be something out of the book of Bobby Valentine. Every day there's something different. This can get somewhat annoying to the players, I might think, because it prevents them from getting into a real rhythm, but I don't mind it so long as it's just his way of discovering the means to an end. Except when he bats the Pitcher 8th. Collins had to do some crafty shuffling with David Wright now on the DL and Eric Campbell up in his stead. Campbell, though not completely useless, isn't Wright and isn't a #2 hitter. The first experiment in the #2 spot was Travis d'Arnaud.

d'Arnaud, who was already raking out of the gate, responded to the move with 2 hits and his first Home Run of the season. He can stay there.

Behind him, and off to an equally hot start was Lucas Duda. I've already been through the "after so many years of trashing him..." speech, so I don't need to go into how he's proven his worth. But what he needed to do was get off to a good start this season so it didn't seem like last year was a fluke. After whacking 2 hits, including his 1st Home Run of the year, a moonshot that would have been in the seats of the original Citi Field, I think it's safe to say that Duda's not just off to a good start among his teammates, but he's off to the races as one of the hottest hitters in Baseball. True, he'll likely cool at some point, but right now at .353 and even hitting lefties, he's proven that last season wasn't an aberration.

Elsewhere in the lineup, players like Juan Lagares were contributing to back Jon Niese, who pitched just fine for 6.1 innings and even chipped in with an RBI hit of his own, as the Mets scored often and finished off a sweep of the moribund Phillies with a 6-1 victory.

The game was the first Citi Field affair of the season that I wasn't present for (in spite of the way it sometimes appears, I don't actually go to every game), and thus the first time I was home to see a game on SNY with the dulcet tones of Gary, Keith and Ron providing the soundtrack to my Wednesday evening. Of course, I was late to the proceedings, a detour to go grocery shopping meant I didn't get home until the 2nd inning, at which point the Mets were trailing, but at some point they tied the game, then went ahead, and slowly but surely put the Phillies to rest; their first series sweep of Philadelphia at Citi Field since the shutout series way back in 2010.

But the Phillies are basically patsies this season, and the Mets should be handling them. A better test of where things sit might be this weekend, when the Mickey Mouse Marlins, who've put together a cute little team that's gotten people a little too excited, come to town. This should be a good snapshot of where things stand.