Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baseball Explosion

Tuesday night's game in Wrigley Field was enough to cause a total MLB Explosion since it involved a meeting between the Mets and Baseball's Darlings, the Chicago Cubs, the new Flavor of the Week, Kris Bryant, and, at least from the Mets perspective, the night's real story, the debut of Noah Syndergaard.

None of these three things particularly disappointed. The Cubs, behind a particularly irritating pitching performance from Jake Arrieta, wiped out the Mets, holding their mostly punchless lineup to 1 run over 8 innings. Bryant tripled and Homered and basically caused ESPN to have a total meltdown and anoint him the second coming of George Brett. Syndergaard didn't disappoint either, pitching shutout ball into the 6th inning before the Cubs finally got to him. So, basically, if you were an impartial observer who wanted action and excitement on the 11pm SportsCenter, you got what you wanted. If you, like me, were rooting for the Mets, well, you're a bit let down.

It wasn't so much that Syndergaard pitched badly. 3 runs in 5.1 innings with 6 hits and 6 strikeouts is fine for a Major League debut. Syndergaard basically displayed everything you wanted to see from him. Poise on the mound in a situation where he was probably completely over-amped, a fine array of pitches, from a hard fastball that could match Harvey for general velocity, a biting curve that he's not afraid to throw at any moment, and a changeup/sinker that drops down at the last moment that he could use some time to better harness. His first two innings were pretty effortless. The 3rd was set to go off in a similar fashion, until with 2 outs, Bryant hit a ground ball to 3rd that probably should have been an easy play, except that Daniel Murphy decided to be an asshole and lollygag a throw to 1st base that was too late to get Bryant. I know this is just another opportunity to crack on Murphy, but I can guarantee you that 100 times out of 100 David Wright whips that throw across to 1st instead of the lollipop that Murphy threw. This very nearly undid Syndergaard, because he sort of pitched around Anthony Rizzo and then for good measure walked Miguel Montero before getting Soler to fly out. The walks were on Syndergaard, no doubt, and he probably could have done a better job of squashing the inning, but he shouldn't have been in that position in the 1st place. And instead of an easy 10-pitch inning, instead he had to sweat through a 25-pitch inning.

The argument could have been made that Collins should have hit for Syndergaard in the 6th inning, but he didn't. It was kind of a borderline situation. Syndergaard labored through the 3rd and a bit more in the 5th after Bryant slashed a 2-out triple and made Ken Rosenthal swoon. At around 90 pitches I suppose nobody would have argued with him, but Collins let him throw the 6th, and at that point Syndergaard ran out of gas and the Cubs finally plated some runs.

On the other hand, since the Mets couldn't figure out Jake Arrieta or his Billy Joel beard, whether Syndergaard pitched the 6th or not, the Mets still would have lost the game. After Syndergaard departed, Alex Torres came in and created even more of a mess by walking everyone, Sean Gilmartin  followed him by giving up another run in the 7th. In the 8th, Hansel Robles came in and allowed a Home Run to Bryant that was so monstrous it got all of Chicago pregnant. And now with Home Runs in back-to-back games, we might never hear the end of Kris Bryant and how the Cubs are going to break that Championship drought.

So, that's now two losses in a row in Chicago, so I see that even if I do get to watch the Mets play there, it doesn't seem to help. Noah Syndergaard has been welcomed to the Major Leagues rather rudely, not so much because the Cubs reached him for a few runs, but because he now has the high pleasure of being on a team that won't score him any runs. We'll see how the rest of the series plays out. Syndergaard's debut couldn't energize the offense, even if it generated a lot of buzz. Tonight, we get Matt Harvey on a night where it's supposed to be 45˚ in Chicago with the wind blowing in, the day after someone else tried to steal his spotlight. Last time someone dared to abscond like that, Harvey nearly threw a no hitter. Let's see what happens this time.

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