Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Familiar Friendly Sights

Tuesday night at Citi Field brought about a pair of comfortably familiar performances that punctuated a 3-2 Mets victory. First of all, Matt Harvey, who's looked very un-Harvey-like over his past few outings, got back to basics, and back to pitching like a badass. His 7 innings of shutout ball were punctuated by 4 hits against a tough Toronto lineup, 6 strikeouts, no walks and 3 exuberant fist pumps and expletive-laced motivational screeches.

But you knew that at some point, Harvey was going to get back to this kind of a game, because he was too good and too motivated not to.

Perhaps of more singular importance was the way the game was finished, with Bobby Parnell coming out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and 1 out in the 8th inning and finishing off the game, picking up his first Save in close to two years while keeping the lead intact.

Up to that point, Harvey had clearly made himself the story with his 7-inning effort, which included him helping his own cause by belting an RBI double in the 2nd inning off of Blue Jays youngster Scott Copeland, who clearly looked over his head. The Mets scored 3 runs off Copeland early and he was gone by the 5th. Harvey, of course, was on cruise control, scattering his hits and finishing off with a flourish.

But, the real question was if the Mets could survive the final two innings with Familia unavailable, Robles unavailable and the untested, untried Akeel Morris lurking in the wings. Carlos Torres was summoned to try to get through the 8th inning after pitching an inning on Monday and Torres had one of those outings he's periodically prone to where he's just terrible. The Jays were stinging the ball against him, and only by dumb luck did he pick up one out because Kevin Pillar didn't pick up that the runner ahead of him, Ryan Goins, had been stopped at 3rd base on a Jose Reyes hit. Pillar instead kept steaming forward until he arrived at 3rd and was clearly horrified to see Goins standing on the base, and by that point all Pillar could do was stick a fork in his shoes and take a bite out of them.

But Torres couldn't fix his own mess and instead walked the next batter to load the bases and earn himself a trip to the showers. Then, it was Parnell, and admittedly I was feeling kind of skeptical because Parnell hadn't looked at all like Parnell, even going back to before his surgery last Spring. I surmised over the weekend that he was basically going to have to try and reinvent himself if he wanted to survive. His secondary pitches were deathly when coupled with him throwing 100mph, but when he was only throwing 92, it didn't seem quite as severe. So, he had to pick his spots. Yes, he allowed two of the runners he inherited to score, but when he needed it, he got a strikeout of Colabello to finish the 8th, and given a clean slate to start the 9th inning, Parnell just finished the job himself, and that was the sort of Parnell performance I was hoping to see. I can't call it the Parnell of old, because he wasn't blowing hitters away, but he was keeping them guessing, which is what he's got to be able to do. The age old adage of being a pitcher instead of being a thrower, and if Parnell can be a pitcher, he'll be OK. I think.

So, the Mets have swept the Citi Field portion of this Lake Ontario Series or whatever you want to call it. If you again want to get technical about it, the Mets now have a 11-0 record when playing the Blue Jays at home. That record is less successful when they play at Rogers Centre, but if nothing else, they can do no worse than split with the Jays, which is fine considering they came in to New York having won 11 straight.

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