Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gall And Guile

The Mets seem all to happy to rely on their pitching to will them through whatever issues they're working through offensively. Sometimes, as was the case tonight, this works. But only when Bartolo Colon pitches one of those games where you have no idea how the hell he's getting the job done, but he gets the job done nonetheless.

In this sorely-needed 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, Colon pretty much put the Mets on his back and willed them through the evening. Working at a brisk pace, Colon put forth a near-effortless 7.2 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits, with 9 strikeouts and his usual no walks. The hits were basically scattered throughout the evening, and generally amounted to nothing for the Orioles. Their one real threat came in the 4th inning, but this rally only served to underscore just how Colon continues to defy time and physics to find success.

After singles by Adam Jones and Chris Davis to start the inning, he allowed a nubber of a ground ball to Delmon Young. Daniel Murphy, who looks about as sharp at 3rd Base as he does at 2nd, did one of his awkward breaks on the ball, but Colon was somehow too quick for him and picked up the ball himself. Had Murphy stayed at home, Colon could have easily flipped him the ball to force Jones. But with 3rd Base uncovered, Colon instead had to rear back and fire perhaps his best Fastball of the night to 1st to get the first out of the inning. Caleb Joseph followed. By this point, while there was still some tension in the air, I just had this feeling that Colon was going to get out of this. He just knows what to throw and when to throw it, and tonight this was working for him. He struck out Joseph on 4 pitches, the last one a backdoor slider that Joseph just waved at as though he'd decided he'd had enough. Travis Snider bounced weakly to 1st, and Colon had gotten himself out of the inning without so much as breaking a sweat. His teammates thought it nice to reward him for this particular escape act by scoring a few runs for him.

Bud Norris, who came into the game with an ERA over 12, seemed ripe for the taking in the first few innings, but the Mets just couldn't take. Runners were stranded, runners were caught stealing and there was a Double Play involved, but a key hit was nowhere to be found. But finally, in the 4th, the Mets broke through with a 3-run avalanche, started by Lucas Duda, the only Met who's hitting much of anything lately, who banged a double over Jones' head. Daniel Murphy drove him home with a rare single, and two batters later, Kevin Plawecki drove both he and Wilmer Flores in with a double.

Knowing full well that this was probably all he would get, Colon went back to work and retired 10 of the next 11 Oriole hitters, only allowing a single to Young in the 7th that amounted to nothing. Finally, Manny Machado reached him for a Home Run in the 8th, and that, I suppose, was the sign that he'd reached his limit for the night. So, he was removed, Carlos Torres finished the 8th, and Jeurys Familia shook off a rocket of a Home Run by Chris Davis in the 9th to lock down the victory from there.

I suppose I should mention that this was my 5th game of the year at Citi Field, where I was joined by the typical sparse Tuesday Night audience, peppered with screechy youth groups, random Orioles fans, Mr. Strikeout and his band of noodnicks and some other hearty souls on what was probably the first legitimately warm night at Citi Field this season. So, my record for 2015 now sits at 4-1, and if you really want to get technical about things, I'm on a really good hot streak lately. Going back to last season, the Mets have won 12 of the last 14 games I've been to. It should come as no surprise that both losses were against Washington. So maybe I should just not go when they play Washington. Or maybe Washington will go away themselves. Either way, Baltimore is close, but not Washington, and so the regional stink does not hold true. For a game to watch in person, well, you probably couldn't have picked a better one. The fielders handled all chances that came their way, even Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares made his daily Highlight Reel catch (or for Lagares, a routine play) while at the same time getting clipped somewhere in the upper regions by Michael Cuddyer (in spite of the batted ball probably being closer to Left Field than Center Field, Cuddyer probably should have known Lagares would be on the hunt), Colon was effective and generally delighted everyone in attendance with everything he did, particularly during his mostly comical At Bats, but most importantly, he worked quickly, and the game was over before 9:30, a brisk 2 hours and 19 minutes.

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