Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Man

Fittingly, the night following the swan song of Mad Men, the Mets sent their own Don Draper to the mound to take on the First Place St. Louis Cardinals, the Princes of Baseball, led by their self-proclaimed Genius of a Manager, Mike Matheny. Surely, with the Cardinals in town for four, the Mets ought to have considered themselves lucky if the Cardinals allowed them to score a run, let alone win a game. But, then again, the Cardinals had to face an actual Baseball Genius in Matt Harvey on Monday night, and although he was long gone by the time things were decided, he certainly left his stamp on the evening's proceedings.

A work function kept me from watching the game—what else is new—so I didn't get to see Harvey storm out to the mound and rather effortlessly whip the Cardinals into submission. It's easy to draw the Don Draper/Matt Harvey comparison simply because both are dark, shadowy, handsome men with a penchant for sharp clothes and attractive women. There's not quite as much mystery and intrigue to Harvey than there is to Don Draper, although maybe there is—how much to we really know of Harvey? Does it matter? What matters most to the Mets fan is that he continues to have outings like he did last night, which may as well have been the Draperian equivalent of Baseball. Don Draper had to disappear on an aimless cross-country voyage, ending up at an Ashram somewhere on the Pacific Coast in order to reach his pinnacle. Matt Harvey had to have major reconstructive elbow surgery in order to discover just how fragile his talent is, but he's come back to perform just as well as he looked before he got hurt. To wit; Harvey's 8-inning, 0-run effort on Monday lowered his ERA to 1.95 on the season, and the one walk he allowed upped his season total to a robust 8.

Unfortunately, Harvey's clinical pistolwhipping of the Cardinals was mostly in vain, because as per usual, the Mets only managed to score a solitary run for him against John Lackey, and after his 8 innings, Harvey departed with but the slimmest of margins. Still, Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 9th having not blown a Save all season. Of course, then, it figures that he'd blow one against the Cardinals, because they just seem to will it so. Meat Mountain Matt Adams singled with one out, and was immediately run for by Pete Kozma, because Mike Matheny is a genius. The next batter, Yadier Molina, continued to ruin the Mets lives by singling to right. Kozma, running with the pitch, made it all the way to 3rd—again, Matheny. Genius. Failed Braves prospect Jason Heyward hit the sacrifice fly to tie the game, and, of course, deny Matt Harvey the 6th win he richly deserved. Genius Matheny and the Cardinals deemed it so.

So, the Mets continued to not hit, and the Cardinals also didn't hit, and so the game went off to Extra Innings. Amazingly, for a team that seemed to turn playing in Extra Inning games into an art form over the past few seasons, this was actually the Mets first Extra Inning game of the season. So, to make up for it, they continued to not hit through the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th innings, as Mike Matheny did what every good genius does and empty his bench and bullpen in the name of keeping things going. 6 pitchers in all paraded to the mound for the Cardinals over 13 innings, and by the 14th, with the potential lead run on 2nd and 2 outs, Matheny found he'd out-geniused himself because he was stuck having to send said 6th pitcher, Seth Maness, up to bat, where he promptly struck out against Carlos Torres.

With that being done, Matheny could have saved himself an arm by sending Maness back out there for the bottom of the 14th inning, but he instead decided to lay his cards out again and brought in Sam Tuivailala to pitch. That was all well and good, but Tuvalivalaila couldn't find the plate, so once again, Matheny had geniused himself into a corner. Eric Campbell walked and Lucas Duda did the same, and so although Matheny had gone to the mound to try to rub some of the genius off onto his young charge, it didn't take. Instead, Matheny was forced to bring his closer, Trevor Rosenthal, into the game. This particular scenario was the sort of instance you hope will work but usually doesn't. Although this was also the kind of scenario the Mets always seem to screw up. But try as they might, they couldn't foul this one up. Michael Cuddyer's certain DP ground ball was just hit too slowly to actually be a DP, and after Daniel Murphy was intentionally walked, John Mayberry Jr earned himself a sunflower seed bath by placing a ground ball in just the right spot for Jhonny Peralta to not have a play, allowing Campbell to score the winning run and giving the Mets a victory they really needed to have. It's bad enough that they sporadically go in the tank like this, but they can't go wasting all these brilliant Matt Harvey starts. Win when you're given the opportunity to win. That sounds like a Don Draper-ism if I ever heard one.

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