Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flip The Results

The Mets and Nationals started the 2014 season against each other in a 3-game series at Citi Field. The Nationals came back to win the season opener, swept the series and set the tone for the entire season as the beat the Mets 15 times in 19 games for the season. But the Mets woes against the Nationals stretched longer than that; it seems to me like the Nationals have won 15 of 19 from the Mets every year since 2010. Certainly, the situation on Opening Day seemed ripe for the same results, the Mets were going into Washington, in front of a packed house expecting to see their $200 million dollar pitcher Max Scherzer throw a no hitter, Bryce Harper hit 4 Home Runs and the Nationals win the World Series all at once. But the Mets had their own ideas. While Scherzer flirted with a no hitter and Harper hit a Home Run, the Mets capitalized on some Washington miscues, picked up some timely hits and rode the pitching of Bartolo Colon and company home for a 3-1 victory to kick off the 2015 season.

I still actually haven't seen the game as I write this. The 4:10 start time fell while I was still at work and thus relegated to MLB's Gamecast at my station. Though I did record the game on DVR, various interruptions over the course of the evening precluded me from watching it. Nonetheless, I know how it turned out, even though I was in transit during the final 1 1/2 innings of the affair. It was a brisk game, and I don't think that had anything to do with the new game-speed rules that have been implemented, I think the Mets and Nationals hit the ground running and kept to a pace. Certainly, Colon and Scherzer set the tempo, each allowing first inning runners but little else otherwise. For all the whining people did about Colon being named the Opening Day starter, Colon threw it back at everyone by pitching an outstanding game. Colon's only hiccup, Harper's Home Run leading off the 4th inning, was one of only 3 hits he allowed in his 6 innings of work, and true to his usual form, he walked 1 and struck out 8.

But for as good as Colon was, Scherzer was even better. Though Curtis Granderson led off the game with a Walk, Scherzer then proceeded to set down the next 17 Met batters that came to the plate, only breaking when he walked Granderson again with 2 outs in the 6th inning. Innocuous, yes, but sometimes, that's all a team needs to get themselves going. David Wright followed with a popup that probably should have ended the inning, but with Dan Uggla ready to catch it, Ian Desmond out-Ugglaed Uggla and dropped the ball, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd, still without the benefit of a hit. That, of course, changed when Lucas Duda came up and nailed a 2-run single, the Mets first hit of the season and the first runs on the board, giving the Mets a lead they would not relinquish. One inning later, the Mets plated an insurance run when Travis d'Arnaud blasted a triple over the head of Teenage Center Fielder Michael A. Taylor to score Juan Lagares. Colon turned the ball over to Carlos Torres in the 7th, Jeurys Familia in the 8th, and when Jenrry Mejia failed to answer the bell in the 9th inning (in a scenario that recalls the fate that befell Bobby Parnell last season), newcomer Jerry Blevins and Buddy Carlyle finished things out instead, the latter earning his first career Save at the tender age of 37, keeping the Nationals off the bases and off the scoreboard.

Yes, this is only one game out of 162 and yes, this is only one game out of 18 or 19 that the Mets will play against the Nationals. But if today's game served any kind of notice, it's that the Mets aren't going to lie down against this team. It goes back to what Zack Wheeler said way back at the beginning of Spring Training. Sure, Washington's the team to beat, but we're not going to make it easy for them [sic]. Wheeler got hurt and won't be around, but that doesn't matter. He said we, and not I, and for the Mets to find the success they're looking for, they have to be able to flip that record against the Nationals. It makes a difference. This is a good start in the right direction.

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