Monday, May 11, 2015

The Avalanche

Since Sunday was Mother's Day, I was out wishing my Mother a Happy Birthday and didn't actually get to see the Mets/Phillies series finale. What I missed was a 7-run outburst from the Mets where from what I can gather they took advantage of Philly's mostly porous pitching. Though Bartolo Colon didn't have his usual repertoire working and even gave up a Home Run to the opposing pitcher Chad Billingsley, the Mets responded, getting a Home Run from Curtis Granderson, and some key hits from Wilmer Flores and Johnny Monell to basically overwhelm the Phillies and coast on to a 7-4 victory.

The Mets on this day banged out 14 hits, a season high, and if you've been sticking with the travails of this team the past few years, you know that 14 hits doesn't always guarantee victory. There's a multitude of instances where the Mets can pick up 10, 11, 12 hits and plate 2 runs and lose 3-2 because they get 2 men on and then proceed to ground out to 2nd for the rest of the inning. This wasn't the case on Sunday, where the Mets got plenty of men on base and actually succeeded in driving them in in most cases. For a team that's generally made a habit of scraping across 3-4 runs a night, 7 seems like coming to the Oasis in the middle of the desert. The majority of this came off of Billingsley, who gave back what he took and then some. Billingsley seems to fit the Phillies' team concept rather well; a once-promising starter with the Sad Dodgers, he underachieved, and then got hurt and basically was forgotten about completely by Baseball after missing two seasons with an injury. And now, he's surfaced in Philadelphia, because why not? Usually, these sort of reclamation projects find themselves with the bottom-feeders. A couple of years ago, he likely would have been a Met. But Pitchers of Billingsley's ilk aren't a particular need for the Mets anymore. Quite fortunately. Better it's the Mets beating him up rather than him getting beat up for the Mets.

One such Pitcher who could have been considered a reclamation project is Bartolo Colon, except that he was someone else's reclamation project after basically being retired for a year in 2010 (?). Since then, all he's done is reinvent himself as a finesse pitcher of the highest order, baffling hitters with an assortment of pitches that just aren't especially hittable. Of course, with Colon, you have to take it one game at a time because he's prone to those kind of games where he just has nothing and ends up getting lit in the 1st inning. But that hasn't happened this season, and in fact, Colon has been so deceptively good, it's easy to forget that he hasn't walked a batter since Opening Day. The 4 runs on 8 hits he allowed yesterday essentially amount to his worst start of the season, but nonetheless it was good enough to net a win on this day because, amazingly, his teammates actually scored him a few runs. This sort of thing can be helpful to a pitcher, because then they don't feel like they have to be perfect every time out (Unless you're Matt Harvey and you actually think you have to be perfect every time out). Colon ran out of steam in the 7th and the Phillies mounted a spirited comeback, but by that point, the Mets had enough of a lead that the Phillies couldn't get any closer than 5-4, and then the Mets put things away in the 9th.

The Mets now have played home-and-home with every team in their division and so now they go outside the NL East to see some other teams. To this point, their only non-division games have been against AL teams, but their next stop here will be Chicago, a team that seems to be in a similar mold to the Mets, at least if you believe the hype. This should be interesting.

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