Thursday, September 3, 2015

Run Out Of Town

Wednesday night was my 18th game of the year at Citi Field and at my current pace, I stand to top 20 games for the first time since the majestic 1999 season. That I've made it to a healthy number of games this year shouldn't be much of a surprise. But the way things have worked out, Wednesday night was the 5th Mets/Phillies game I attended, which is the most I've seen the Mets play one opponent in one season. Happily, the Mets won all 5 games. So think about that for a second, as the Mets continue to sit in 1st place on September 3rd. The Mets are now 11-7 in games I've attended in 2015, and 5 of the 11 were at the expense of the Phillies. This is an excellent example of the things the Mets have needed to do, specifically beat up on the lousy teams in their own division. On the year, the Mets are now 13-2 against the Phillies and went 8-1 in their matchups at Citi Field.

The Mets shook off the dismal performance they had on Tuesday and went out on Wednesday with Matt Harvey on the mound, and although Harvey sort of slogged through his 6+ innings of work, allowing 4 runs and not looking his best (and later, we found out, dehydrated), the Mets offense backed him with 16 hits and 9 runs, rallying early and often and ultimately overwhelming the Phillies and running them right out of Citi Field.

The Mets had already plated a run against Aaron Nola, the other highly-touted Phillies pitching prospect the Mets saw in this series, when Kelly Johnson doubled home David Wright. Ruben Tejada followed by hitting a bit of a bloop, a jam shot that didn't look like it would amount to much as it sailed out into Right Field. But it was falling quickly and Domonic Brown ran in to try to make a backhanded grab, and ultimately he couldn't catch the ball. This in and of itself wasn't quite so noteworthy, except that the ball bounced past Brown and down towards the corner. I was following the ball and when I saw it start to rattle around in the Right Field corner with nobody making any sort of attempt to pick it up, I realized that this could very well be one of "Those Plays." I'd lost track of Brown and thought he might have dove and hurt himself, because Cesar Hernandez, the 2nd baseman, was running into the Outfield to get the ball. By time he got it, he was chasing a fruitless play; Tejada had already rounded 3rd base and easily made it home for the Inside-The-Park Home Run.

What I didn't see, and what I didn't realize had happened until I saw a replay, was that Brown, after missing the ball, ended up running into the low wall and flipping over and into the seats altogether, which kind of explained why the ball kept rolling and nobody was there to pick it up. Sometimes, you get one of those rare plays that's the perfect storm of flukishness, and this certainly qualified. And, of course, after 28 seasons of going to games and never seeing an Inside-The-Park Home Run, I've now seen two in the past week, although Swihart's hit last Friday deserves an asterisk because that was a legitimate Home Run and if a replay was necessary, it would have been called as such. What Tejada did last night—now THAT was a real Inside-The-Parker.

It was 3-0 as the game moved to the 3rd and the Mets continued to pile on Nola, who just needed to take his lumps, I suppose. Daniel Murphy doubled home Granderson with 1 out, and with 2 out, Michael Conforto came up and hit a more conventional Home Run, this one a clean shot down the Left Field line for his 2nd Home Run of the series, and his 2nd such to the opposite field to give the Mets a 6-0 lead.

It wasn't until the 5th that the Phillies finally reached Harvey, as once his energy level dropped, he really started to become hittable. He seemed to be throwing fine but didn't have that extra little bit of oomph he usually does, and so he was giving up run-scoring hits to guys like Erik Kratz and all of a sudden 6-0 got a little hairy at 6-3. But the Phillies didn't make any legitimate threat to get much closer. In the last of the 5th, Nola was gone and replaced by a fellow named Dalier Hinojosa, who was wearing uniform #94. This, then, would be another rarity, because I don't think you're supposed to see guys wearing #94 unless it's Spring Training. Or they're really eccentric. I don't know what Hinojosa's story is but I surmised that if he was wearing #94, the Mets ought to eat him for breakfast, and although for a hot second it looked like they might, Hinojosa actually did a good job of getting out of a jam only allowing 1 run. In the 6th, Hinojosa looked even better. But, as most middle relievers go, 2 innings tends to be their limit. Adam Loewen entered the game in the 7th inning and gave up an RBI single to Tejada, which turned out to be Tejada's 4th RBI of the night, and in the 8th, Colton Murray came in and gave up a rocket of a Home Run to Yoenis Cespedes, who knew it was gone the moment he hit it and took his sweet time going around the bases.

In the meantime, Harvey departed in the 7th after allowing his own rocket Home Run, this one to Darnell Sweeney, but behind him, Sean Gilmartin, Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed did a fine job keeping the game where it was and ensuring that there would be no further drama on this night, which was just fine by me. After the way the Mets lit into Nola in the early going, it would have been rather poor form, and a poor indictment of an already-beleaguered Mets bullpen, if the Phillies had drawn any closer.

So, now, the Mets go back off on the road for 10 games, visiting some of my most favorite places, Miami, Washington and Atlanta. This is, of course, their second-to-last road trip of the season and it seems like it's snuck up on me once again. Of course, this year, it feels a little different. They have to keep their pace, yes, and hope Washington continues on theirs. It sort of seems like Washington is investing everything in this series next week and as loath as I am to sound too confident, the Mets have an excellent chance to wipe them out completely. We'll see.

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