Saturday, September 12, 2015

Too Close For Comfort

Things have been going along swimmingly for the Mets over the last week, perhaps a little too much so. Their trip to Atlanta had basically been a clinic in stomping on a team you should be stomping on, at least until the 8th inning on Saturday night when, for a brief moment, the Braves fought back and reminded the Mets that yes, they are still in Atlanta, and no, things are not that easy.

After 7 innings of being thoroughly dominated by a well-rested and clearly re-energized Noah Syndergaard, the Braves took advantage of an overused Tyler Clippard, stringing a couple of hits together and then getting a lightning-like 3-run Home run from Punch Hitter Adonis Garcia to erase a 4-1 deficit and tie the game.

This was problematic for a few reasons, none of which are too terrible, but annoying nonetheless. Clippard, at this point, was in a game when the Mets had a 3-run lead. Clippard had pitched the night before, and in 4 of the Mets last 5 games altogether, and before that a 2-inning effort in Miami where he was knocked around but good. Clippard right now is probably as much in need of a "skip" as any of these young starters. It's the curse of his effectiveness, I suppose, because Terry Collins feels inclined to go to him in any 8th inning where he's got a lead, but in reality, Clippard needs 2, maybe 3 days off in a row, and really, at this point, he should be used when it's totally necessary and not when it's sort of necessary. I understand why he was used; as was the case Friday night, Washington had lost their game and Collins wanted to step on the Barves while he had the chance, but instead of gassing Clippard, maybe an inning for Sean Gilmartin, or Dario Alvarez, or Erik Goeddel would have worked. Again, the Mets had a 3-run lead so there was no need to act like there was a 1-run lead.

This particular mis-step cost Noah Syndergaard a win in his return to action. Unlike Harvey, who was sort of inconsistent following his pass (and will now take another pass), Syndergaard clearly benefited from the time off, coming back and looking as dominant as he did back in June. I suspect Syndergaard might get passed again before things are said and done but if he responds to some extra rest like this, well, hey, all the better.

So, OK. Syndergaard great, Clippard overused. Tie game in the 9th inning and instead of capitulating, the Mets went right back and attacked Arodys Vizcaino before he had any idea what had hit him. Travis d'Arnaud led off the 9th inning with a double that sailed over the head of Nick Swishkakis. Kelly Johnson, who was in the middle of pretty much everything in this game, followed by smoking a hit to right field to score the Pinch Runner Eric Young Jr and the Mets had the lead right back. Later, Yoenis Cespedes, who earlier hit his daily Home Run, drove home an insurance run with a Fielder's Choice that Overratedton Simmons couldn't pull out of his hat, and the Mets took what could have been a disaster and turned it back into the win it was supposed to be.

This win was the Mets 81st of the season. So they've already surpassed their win total from 2014 and now have reached their highest win total since 2008, when they won 89 games. However, with Washington now completely reeling and continuing to embarrass themselves both on and off the field, this season stands to have a much different ending than 2008 did. But, as I keep saying every day, we're not there yet.

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