Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stolen Win

The Mets did win that game in Los Angeles last night, didn't they?

Somehow, the Mets managed to survive going across the country on Thursday after a miserable series against the Cubs. This, of course was a trip where they lost 3 hours, and then had to come back out and play the next night when the clock read 7pm and their bodies read 10pm. They had to go up against the Dodgers, who are supposed to be turning everyone in their path into pasta, against Clayton Kershaw who's won 10 of the last 11 Cy Young Awards and a troika of MVPs, and win a game. But somehow, they did it. Somehow, they outlasted Kershaw, they got a brilliant outing from Noah Syndergaard, and then they rallied to scrape across a run in the 9th inning and quite literally steal a victory in Los Angeles.

It's been no secret that the Mets have had a series of issues in Los Angeles and last night's game certainly appeared headed down that path. Noah Syndergaard allowed a 2nd inning Home Run to Adrian Gonzalez, and given that the Mets offense is what it is, what chance did they have to equal that against the mighty Kershaw? Well, somehow the Mets eked out a run in the 4th inning to tie the game, courtesy of a well-placed Wilmer Flores hit, but you figured it was just a matter of time before the Dodgers imposed their will and went ahead. Syndergaard did his admirable best, but after 6 innings, with his pitch count over 100, he was done for the night. The game, then was at best a tossup from that point forward. Still, it was hard to overlook the work Syndergaard had done; for someone who's been markedly better at home than on the road through his first handful of Major League games, tonight was really a big step forward. Against a Dodgers lineup that featured a galaxy of stars, Syndergaard allowed but that one Home Run and one other hit, a double to old friend Justin Turner, and struck out 6.

But, Hansel Robles came in and pitched just as well as Syndergaard, allowing the Dodgers one hit and striking out 3 over two crucial innings of work to keep the game even. This kept the game tied moving into the 9th inning, although it still seemed as though it would take some kind of strange break for the Mets to be able to grab a lead, particularly against the Dodgers' closer, Kenley Jansen, one of those young hotshot closers that everyone seems to fawn over.

Lucas Duda led off the 9th against Jansen, with the infield and Outfield swung over somewhere in Orange County, and Duda did basically exactly what was needed in that particular spot: he blooped a ball down the Left Field line that nobody was able to catch up to, and the ball bounced fair and Duda reached 2nd. Wilmer Flores followed and worked the count until he finally got a pitch he could handle. Unfortunately, he lined it directly back at Jansen. Fortunately, Jansen couldn't handle the ball, it bounced away and everyone was safe. Kevin Plawecki followed, and all Plawecki needed to do was not strike out, and not hit the ball at someone in the infield. Lo and behold, he did neither, flying out deep to Joc Pederson in Center Field, Duda scored and the Mets amazingly had a lead. Jeurys Familia entered the game in the last of the 9th and did exactly what Jansen couldn't and retired the Dodgers in order, and, well, somehow the Mets came away with a win when every bit of logic said they wouldn't.

These games happen from time to time; the Mets stealing a win in a game where you figure the situation ripe for them to go down in flames. Still, the Mets won this game because they did the absolute minimum necessary on offense for them to do so and their pitching was, as usual, great. You'd like to think that they could build off a game like this and get themselves back together, but I'm dubious that this will actually happen. Mostly, I think the Mets need to just put this win in their pockets and hope they can find some similar magic today, so long as they remember to take their hats off and stay out of the aisles.

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