Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Proper Colon Usage

I was right back out at Citi Field on Monday night to see the Mets take on the Phillies for the 4th time this season. This has been a more than favorable matchup for the Mets this season, since the Mets have pretty much dismantled the Phillies wherever they've met to this point this year and both times Philly came in to Citi Field they got swept.

Monday night held true to form. Bartolo Colon was the hero of the night as he fired 8 shutout innings at the Phillies, who looked mostly baffled and unable to generate much in the way of anything off of him. It's quite extraordinary, and I know everyone keeps saying this, but just when it appears that Colon is teetering on the precipice of disaster, he suddenly rights his ship and ends up firing off back-to-back great starts with a one-inning relief appearance in between. Again, Colon's caveat is that he just has games where nothing works for him and you're never sure when that's going to happen, but it seems like just about every time I've seen him pitch with the Mets, he's been great and because he's got that sage veteran presence and the ability to work deep into games he still just can't be counted out.

The 8 shutout innings are nice, of course, and much needed considering nobody seems to have any idea who the hell can pitch the 7th inning in front of Clippard and Familia, but really, who cares about that. The most exciting thing Colon did last night came with a bat in his hand. In the 3rd inning, Colon hit with a man on 2nd and 1 out and was up there hacking. And hacking. And hacking some more. He hacked at every pitch thrown to him but of course struck out. In his defense, however, he kept his helmet on. In the 5th, he came up hacking again and this time made contact, lining a single off of Jerad Eickhoff that sent the crowd into a tizzy. There's a certain kind of roar that the crowd makes whenever Colon makes contact really, and I would consider it akin to the roar that the crowd makes when, say, someone like Wilmer Flores parks one in the seats. For a brief second there, I looked down to make a note in my scorecard and heard that roar, and jolted up because for a nanosecond I thought I might see a ball flying toward the fence. If Colon did something like that, however, I fear Citi Field might collapse from excitement. But there Colon was on 1st and Curtis Granderson followed by parking a Home Run well into the bullpen, which meant Colon had the luxury of trotting home and of course nearly got lapped by Granderson in the process.

A lesser good story of this game would be Michael Conforto, who in the early going seemed to be the only Mets hitter who had Eickhoff figured out. I don't know much about Eickhoff, he certainly doesn't get the ink of the other Philly pitching prospect Aaron Nola (who we'll see Wednesday) but after the Mets fed him his lunch last week he looked much more in control. Except against Conforto, who was on top of pretty much everything Eickhoff threw him. Eickhoff tried busting him inside in his first AB and Conforto shot a ball deep down the right field line that hooked foul. So Eickhoff went away and Conforto singled. Eickhoff tried to do the same thing the next time up but was not quite as lucky as in the 5th inning, Conforto again went with what Eickhoff threw him and ripped an opposite field Home Run, a line drive in the gap that just did clear the fence whether a fan assisted it or not. This, of course, was the first run of the game and set the table for the rest of the inning. Conforto got a 3rd AB against Eickhoff in the 7th, and it appeared that Eickhoff had had enough because he threw Conforto nothing close and walked him on 5 pitches.

Jeurys Familia took over a 3 run lead in the 9th, which was slightly to my chagrin because Colon was dominating and probably would have thrown one of his sleeper pitches to the Phillies and knocked them all over. Of course, he was at that magic 100 pitch death plateau so he had to be removed, but maybe Collins should think about using Familia a little less and just let his guy finish the job he started. I can't imagine it would have taken him more than 10 pitches. But instead, we had to be subjected to Familia have an attack of John Franco and give up 2 hits and a walk before finally getting Jeff Francoeur to hit into a DP. This did score a run though, the first one Familia had allowed in a month, but, again, probably avoidable. He then struck out Andres Blanco after a sweaty 9-pitch At Bat where everyone did that thing where they stood up after two strikes and then had to go through the machinations of getting up, watching Blanco foul one off or take a ball and then juice themselves back up. Finally, though, Familia put Blanco away and the Mets had a 3-1 win, their 10th in a row over Philly and my 10th win of the season altogether (4 of which have been against Philly). It also allowed them to finish out the month of August with a record of 20-8 and with Washington once again pissing away a late-inning lead to the Cardinals, they more importantly go into September with a 6 1/2 game lead in the division. This is what happens when you win 20 games in a month. Important to keep it all in perspective.

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