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.

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