Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Hard Night's Night

Friday night, the Mets battled the Pirates to a standstill before they finally cracked in the 10th inning. Last night, the Mets and Pirates waged a similar war of attrition, this one deadlocked through 13 innings before the Mets ultimately imploded in the 14th. Much like Friday, this was an annoying loss that could have come down to one break not going the Mets way, but once again, the Mets could neither create nor capitalize on the few opportunities they had, and once again the Pirates did, and the end result was yet another extra inning loss that you can only just scratch your head about.

This game sort of had the stench of last night on it from the beginning. Jon Niese, who's done a rather good job of late of being less Jon Niese had an attack of himself in the 1st inning. After retiring the first two batters with relative ease, he had a tough battle against Andrew McCutchen, which isn't out of the ordinary considering McCutchen is one of the best players on the planet right now. Niese missed on a real borderline 2-2 pitch, a testament to the inconsistencies of Bob Davidson's strike zone that managed to piss off everyone all night long. Niese then walked McCutchen and basically set the following pitch on a tee for Aramis Ramirez to hit it out into the seats. This was sort of the hallmark of Niese when something got his panties in a bunch, and I thought he'd moved beyond that, but it seems he hasn't. He gave up another hit and nearly annihilated himself altogether but eventually he got out of the inning. In the 3rd, Gregory Polanco, who came to New York hacking out of his shoes, whacked one off the foul pole for another Home Run to put the Pirates up 3-0.

Much like last night, the Mets had a hard time figuring out the Pirates' starter. This time, it was Charlie Morton, who used to be a ninny until they decided to Roy Halladay him. Now he's less of a ninny and he proved this by throwing shutout ball into the 7th. But then he tired, and Juan Uribe mashed a Home Run, and following an Aramis Ramirez error, Michael Conforto hit a Home Run of his own and in a blink the game was tied. This again sort of underscores Conforto's abilities in a big spot. In his small sample size, Conforto has looked like a Rookie more often than not, but there have been moments where we get a glimpse of why he's got so much hype attached to him. He did it last week in Tampa, and he did it again here, coming up with a big hit in an opportunity spot and tying the game.

And so, the game stayed tied, partially thanks to both Bullpens, who pitched lights out once again, and partially thanks to Yoenis Cespedes who came up with the throw of the year in the 9th inning. Michael Morse Clone Sean Rodriguez laced a hit up the gap in Left Center that took an odd bounce off the wall, away from Cespedes, and Rodriguez got a little too happy and attempted to stretch a double into a triple, except that Cespedes fielded the ball and rifled a throw to 3rd that not only got Rodriguez, but got him with ease. Juan Lagares has made a habit of making throws like that, at least when he was going good, but I'm not sure even he could have made a play like that.

So, further into the night we went, as Carlos Torres, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia were matched by Joakim Soria, Tony Watson, Arquimedes Caminero (I could type that name forever) and the resurfaced Joe Blanton. Hansel Robles, in particular, delivered three clutch innings in this endeavor that was clearly going to hinge on another odd break. And unfortunately, much like last night, it was the Pirates that took the break in the 14th inning against Sean Gilmartin.

Gilmartin, who's been mostly underutilized of late, was thrown into this game in the 13th inning. I know that as a Rule 5 guy, the Mets have tried to spot Gilmartin in low pressure spots but he's pitched well enough and he's been forced to pitch in some ridiculously extended games that maybe he should get a little more burn. Whatever it is, a little rust can't be unexpected out of him. This bit him in the ass in the 14th inning when he allowed a leadoff double to Francisco Cervelli, who was annoying when he was on that other New York team and continues to be annoying with Pittsburgh. Starling Marte followed and you didn't need to be a genius to know he was trying to move the runner over. He seemed primed to accomplish that by hitting a chopper to the right side, which probably would have been an easy out at 1st, except that Daniel Murphy had yet another attack of Daniel Murphyism and decided he'd be better off taking a flying leap across the infield and attempting to throw out the lead runner at 3rd Base. Now, I've watched a lot of Baseball in my lifetime and I've seen some pretty good first basemen make some pretty tough plays. A play like this, on the kind of chopper Marte hit was difficult enough of a play that I'm pretty certain the only 1st Basemen that could pull that off are Keith Hernandez and maybe 2 other people. Daniel Murphy was not one of those people. Never mind that he's lucky Uribe bailed his ass out and caught the throw because it was ticketed for the 3rd row. Murphy's play was so ill-advised I can't even get over it because instead of taking the sure out, now the Pirates had 2 on, none out and the entire inning was fucked. Chris Stewart's RBI single was inevitable and the insurance run was as well, and instead of just having to make up one run, they had to make up two and against Melancon that was too much to ask.

So, yeah. Two games against the Pirates that they could have won, but didn't, and while it's nice to say that they can hang with these guys, they still haven't beaten them and that's now 0-12 against Pittsburgh and Chicago for the season, which I find severely troubling when you consider that these are both teams that are probably going to the Playoffs and if the Mets are lucky enough to get that far (and as Washington continues to sleepwalk through games this becomes increasingly likely), chances are they'll see one of these teams again.

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