Friday, May 29, 2015

Horrible Game Friday

I went to Citi Field tonight. This is nothing new, but there were specific circumstances that brought me here on this specific night. Friday night, May 29th, was not a game on my plan. Generally, I don't pick Friday night games, or I don't pick many Friday nights, mainly because I prefer the Tuesday night crowd to the Friday night crowd. Tuesday nights are for the real purists, I believe. The people that come to watch a Baseball game and maybe eat a Hot Dog and drink a Beer, but food and other such entertainment are secondary. Friday night, you start getting the weekenders, the families, the hordes of Little Leaguers and, worse, Little League Parents that clog up the escalators and block you in the concourses and generally make life difficult. To say nothing of the Brosephs that tend to show up on Fridays.

I was at Citi Field on Friday night for one reason: to see Matt Harvey. After being at Harvey's first home start back in April, I'd fallen into a string of missing him by a game, or maybe two days, or whatever, but basically I just felt like I wasn't seeing him enough for my liking. So, on Tuesday, I decided to invoke my Plan Holder Privileges. I have two seats on my plan, but as I've mentioned, sometimes either I can't make it and can't sell the tickets, or I can't find someone to go with and instead I just go by myself. In the past, this would have meant eating the ticket or selling it to some geezer outside the stadium who invariably never actually shows up in the seat. However, last year, the Mets introduced a new policy in which unused plan tickets could in fact be exchanged for seats to other games. I don't know who came up with this idea, but this person needs to be nominated for a Nobel Prize for special brilliance. I invariably end up with extra tickets here and there, and now I can actually use them for some particular benefit. In this case, it meant trading in the unused ticket from the Mets/Cardinals crapfest I attended 2 weeks ago and getting a ticket for Harvey Day.

There was, of course, some concern about Harvey based on his awful outing in Pittsburgh and his Manager's assertion that he had a case of dead arm. If Harvey had a dead arm, I'd really like to see what happens when it's alive, seeing as how he charged out to the mound tonight with smoke coming out of his ears and struck out the side on 10 pitches. The second and third innings passed with similar results. Some Marlin batters did make contact, but none of them actually reached base. Harvey was pitching with his general ferocity, and the game kind of took on the feel of another game I'd seen Harvey pitch two years ago, in which he retired the first 20 batters in order and allowed all of one infield single over 9 innings (typically, he didn't win because the Mets didn't score any runs for him).

But, then came the 4th inning, and things basically went to hell in a handbasket. First, Dee Gordon did what has to be the most Marlins thing I've ever seen done: He bunted for a hit to break up the perfect game. The only way that could have been more Marlins is if he'd done it leading off the 7th inning, but I digress. Jorge Cantu Martin Prado (Cantu/Prado/Annoying Marlins 3rd Baseman, same thing) followed with a walk to bring up Mount Rushmore, but Harvey managed to get him to fly out. This, in fact, was the only time Stanton made contact all night. This brought up Justin Bour, the Marlins rookie who looks to be a cross between John Kruk and Greg Dobbs. Earlier in the season, he surfaced in a Mets/Marlins game in Miami. My other half was in the room and noticed his figure and his mullet and stated "He looks like a mouth-breather," and later, "He looks like the kind of guy who holds a woman's head down...(you can use your imagination from here)" Basically, it seems to me like the entire career of Justin Bour is that he's going to be the second coming of Chipper Jones every time he plays the Mets, and against every other team he'll go back to being Rich Becker. Tell me I'm wrong, because you know what happened here. Harvey came in with a slider on the first pitch to Bour, but I guess it hung a little bit and Bour pulled it down the Right Field line. It looked to me like it was tailing foul, but there were a group of people clamoring over a Hot Dog vendor and standing in my way, so I couldn't really tell. Also, the crowd, full and yet tepid at best, didn't seem to be paying much attention, so basically the only thing I had to go on was Bour happily rounding the bases. That was quite a turd in the punchbowl of my evening. Not only were the Mets now losing with Harvey on the mound, but nobody really seemed to care. I heard a gentleman behind me talking on his phone about something, and he launched into something to the effect of "...Yeah, Harvey's on the mound tonight and he is DEALING. I think he just gave up a hit, he had a no-hitter going for a while, I think the 6th inning, maybe..."

It was just that kind of night.

Lucas Duda got the Mets one run back when he launched a Home Run halfway up the Pepsi Porch—not that you'd notice from the reaction of the crowd—but Harvey gave up another run in the 5th of annoying variety. Granderson Homered in the 6th and the Mets started to put a little rally together, but then Daniel Murphy had a Daniel Murphy and hit into a Double play. This was how it was going down. Harvey made a couple of bad pitches and got tagged, and meanwhile, Dan Haren, who's entire career has been a series of bad pitches was going to get away scot-free because this was one of those nights when the Mets decided not to hit. Harvey kept motoring along, through the 6th, 7th and through the 8th innings without allowing the Marlins anything further, and thus finished his night with a gritty 8 inning effort that featured an incongruous 4 runs and 6 hits, and a typical 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. Go figure. On a night like this, he should win but at that point, it didn't seem likely. Really, I think I could have predicted the endgame by that point. The Mets got a couple of hits off of A.J. Ramos—who looks every bit like one of these closers whose brains you just want to beat in repeatedly—and the Mets scored a run to make it 4-3, but they got no closer, and the Mets lost a stupid game in stupid fashion, wasting a perfectly good outing by a perfectly good pitcher in the process.

I've mentioned that I'm usually in a less-than-pleasant mood when I go to a Mets game and they lose anyway. The crowd, or, more appropriately the meatheads therein put me in even less of a good mood. It was, of course, Free Shirt Friday, and on this night the Mets were giving out perhaps the most boring Free Shirt I've ever seen, but it was sponsored by Goya, and as such, Goya had a table set up outside the stadium and was handing out free bags of something after the game let out. I tried to get close to see if it was anything good, and upon seeing it was plantain chips, I decided to pass, but at that point, I was immediately run over by a group of Kappa Phis screaming "GIMME FREE FOOD!" and some other similarly well-behaved youths scampering away with armfuls of bags. I had to pause for a second because I wonder if the allure of free food at this time of night actually trumped being aware of what you were about to shovel into your mouth. It was that kind of night. I have to remind myself that next time I have to go see Matt Harvey pitch, I should make sure it's on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. It might make for a more pleasant experience.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Multi-Talented

The story on Wednesday afternoon was less that the Mets swept the Phillies and beat into submission a team they needed to beat into submission, but how they accomplished it. Their 7-0 victory may as well instead have been the Noah Syndergaard show as opposed to a Baseball game, since this fellow making his 4th Major League appearance pretty much stole the game. Not only did he do what we expected him to do and pitch shutout baseball into the 8th inning, but he helped his own cause with a bat in his hand, going 3 for 3 and mashing a Home Run in the process.

Syndergaard allowed the Phillies nothing of note in his 7.1 innings of work. He walked none, scattered 6 hits and struck out 6, while economically throwing 101 pitches. By time he left, the game was out of reach, so no matter how unseemly the finishing duo of Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel might seem, they weren't going to blow Syndergaard's lead like Robles and the Two Torreses did to deGrom on Tuesday night.

However, it was Syndergaard's offense that got most of the attention. The Mets, facing the hopelessly obscure Sean O'Sullivan, hit 4 Home Runs. Lucas Duda hit two, which seems to be his M.O. on these weekly afternoon games, which is just fine with me. Michael Cuddyer hit one as well, his second in three games. But Syndergaard's 4th inning blast is the one everyone's going to remember. Mets pitchers tend not to hit Home Runs all that often, so it's kind of memorable when it does happen. Their last one was way back in 2012, when Jeremy Hefner connected for one, and before that, Johan Santana swatted one against Cincinnati in 2010. Prior to that, the list is dotted with names like John Maine, and Steve Trachsel, and Bobby Jones, and Mark Clark, and Armando Reynoso...not quite luminaries. But in these cases, Home Runs were sort of popgun fly balls that carried, or shots down one of the foul lines. Syndergaard did not hit a Home Run like this. Syndergaard hit a real Major League Home Run, a 430 foot bomb just to the left of dead Center Field, so not only did he hit it a long way, he actually went to the opposite field with it.

Some Pitchers can do this. They just happen to be good enough with a bat to hit like that. There aren't many of them, because generally hitters that are good enough tend not to become pitchers, but in some odd cases, you have a pitcher that's multi-talented like this. So, if you weren't already looking forward to Syndergaard's starts, now here's another wrinkle to anticipate.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ass Out Of Fire

Tuesday brought with it my 7th game of the year at Citi Field, and the 3rd of those 7 against the Phillies. Though it was my 7th game of the year, it was the first in many respects. It was the first time this season that I saw the Mets bullpen melt down and blow a lead. It was also the first time I was at a game that went into Extra Innings, a feat I feel as though I've specialized in over the past few seasons. Most importantly, however, it was my first Walk-off victory of the season, as the Mets, thanks primarily to Wilmer Flores, dragged themselves out of the fire and won the game 5-4 in 10 innings, in spite of the fact that the proceedings took about an hour and one inning longer than it needed to.

For a majority of the game, things were humming right along without even a sniff of drama. Jacob deGrom really was the story of the night, because after wheedling into and then out of trouble in the 1st inning, he settled in and basically shoved the bats up the Phillies' asses most of the night. Granted, the Phillies lineup isn't exactly daunting to navigate through, but you still need to get the job done and deGrom accomplished that. George and I weren't especially surprised by this development. Early on, we were discussing the Phillies' team concept and how there didn't seem to be one. Think about this: The Phillies starting pitcher was Jerome Williams. Jerome Williams pitched for 3 teams last year, which is impressive because I think 90% of Baseball observers probably assumed he was out of the league. Going further, Williams is best known by Mets fans for surrendering Mike Piazza's record-setting Home Run, all the way back in May of 2004. My interpretation of the Phillies team concept was that they were comprised of one Prospect (Maikel Franco), one Rule 5 guy who was in the Majors 2 years too soon (Odubel Herrera) and 7 carcasses. I was amazed when they trotted out Grady Sizemore on Opening Day as their starting Right Fielder. It's two months later and he's still playing Right Field. Ryan Howard, who was rumored to have come back to life, looked simply befuddled by deGrom, striking out 3 times, and for good measure added a 4th later in the game. That being said, I shed no tears for the Phillies. That should come as no surprise. Their management hung on to their golden era for a few too many years, and now they're paying the price.

This, then, was the Mets gain, with deGrom cruising, and the Mets plating 3 runs in the 4th inning thanks to key hits from Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer. They didn't get many other opportunities, but then they didn't really need them.

Then, of course, the 8th inning happened, and all hell broke loose. deGrom, who was hovering around 100 pitches, gave up two singles with one out, and when Terry Collins came out to remove him from the game, I wasn't pleased, but I also wasn't surprised. I also wasn't surprised when he called for Hansel Robles, who's pitched rather well lately. But Robles was, to put it kindly, not good, and after he departed the game after having faced two batters, the game was shockingly tied. Alex Torres entered the game and made things worse by giving up a hit to Chase Utley, because Torres was in the game specifically to get Utley out. He did manage to get Howard, but then there was Collins again, for his 3rd pitching change of the inning (needless to say, by this point the game had slowed to a crawl), calling for the other Torres, who might have been better off as the first choice in the inning. Carlos Torres also gave up a hit to a guy he was in the game to get out, Maikel Franco, and suddenly, the Phillies were in the lead and everything good about this game had gone down the toilet.

Fortunately, however, the Mets came back in the last of the 8th, in spite of their best efforts to squander a golden opportunity. Ken Giles, one of those dark horse-types, walked Duda and then gave up a double to Daniel Murphy. Cuddyer simply had to hit the ball somewhere in order to get the tying run home, but instead he struck out, which didn't help anyone and, I feared, totally fucked the inning. But Wilmer Flores came through with the Sacrifice Fly to re-tie the game.

Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 9th. By this point, I felt that Collins should have just said "screw it" in the 8th and just had him get the 5-out Save. Though he walked Herrera to lead off the inning (and send the surprisingly hearty contingent of Phillies fans into a tizzy), Kevin Plawecki easily threw him out attempting to steal on the first pitch to Carlos Ruiz. This was fortunate, because Ruiz got a hit as well, but Jeff Francoeur, who is no longer being cheered by Mets fans, helped out everyone by hitting into a Double Play. Unfortunately, the Mets did nothing of consequence in their half, and it was off to extra innings, and for George, who had an early meeting and a longer trip than myself, it was off to the exit. For me, it was off to a lower seat, since most people were in the same boat as George and didn't feel like sticking around for a game that was beginning to reek of 14-inning hell.

The Phillies did nothing against Familia in the 10th, further cementing my 5-out Save theory. The Mets, however, strung together a little rally in their half. Juan Lagares led off with a single against Jeanmar Gomez, and immediately prompted a pitching change, as the lefty Elvis Araujo (you know, the great Elivis Araujo) came in the game. He walked Duda right off the bat and the Mets seemed primed to go in for the kill until Daniel Murphy summoned up his inner Daniel Murphy and hit into a Double Play, the 3rd such play the Mets had managed in the game. There went that rally, I'd figured, unless someone could just reach out and flick a ball over the Shortstop's head. Michael Cuddyer seemed a likely candidate, but Araujo walked him. Wilmer Flores, who already came up with a clutch hit (even if it wasn't a hit) earlier, did what was needed, flicking a pitch over Galvis's head and into the Outfield, scoring Lagares with the winning run, earning himself a bath of water, sunflower seeds and other such detritus and sending me off to the exits with that winning spring in my step, as the frustration over the blown lead and the extra innings and the late hour sort of melted away. Funny how winning always makes you feel better.

With this win, my record for the season now jumps to 5-2. For a few minutes there, I had this dread of being 4-3. That's also 5-2, and 3-0 against the Phillies, who have yet to win a game at Citi Field all season. So, now, the Mets can wash the stink of the Pirates series off completely if they can win after the quick turnaround this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cure For The Common Mets

Well, in a game where Bartolo Colon manages to get a hit, advance on a sacrifice fly and leave with a lead, the Mets ought to win the game. Lately, that hasn't necessarily been the case, but when the Mets are playing a team even more moribund than they've looked at times, some liberties can be taken. In yet another game that's a mystery to me because I was out of the house all day, the Mets rode Colon's offense and a troika of Home Runs to a 6-3 victory over the Phillies to right the ship after being ambushed in Ye Pittsburghe over the weekend.

After a pair of patently lousy outings over the last two weeks, Colon rebounded with a cleaner outing on Monday afternoon in front of a festive Holiday crowd. He still walked two batters—including his mound opponent Severino Gonzalez—and gave up a pair of run-scoring hits to his age counterparts Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but his 6 innings were generally clean, and included 6 strikeouts mixed in with 6 hits and 3 runs. Not a great outing, but good enough that he gave the Mets a chance to win.

The Mets managed two Home Runs off of Gonzalez early in the game, one from Lucas Duda and one from Michael Cuddyer, who feels like he hasn't hit one out in about a month (Duda, on the other hand, just hits everything on a regular basis now—who saw that coming?). But the Mets didn't grab the lead for good until the bottom of the 6th, when Wilmer Flores sailed a pitch from Elvis Araujo into the seats for his 7th of the year, a 3-run shot.

Flores, who's obviously drawn a great deal of criticism lately for his defensive deficiencies, has still hit respectably in spite of that, and at this point it's actually beginning to seem like it doesn't matter what he does with the bat, people are just going to focus on his defense and think he needs to be traded for Troy Tulowitzki. I contend that these are the same people who continue to scream that Wally Backman needs to be the Manager (people are amazingly still carrying this torch), Daniel Murphy is still that loveable kid who needs time to figure it out and the Wilpons will sell the team to a consortium of schmucks that bought a billboard. But I digress. Flores sucks, but currently, he leads the Mets with his 7 Home Runs, most of which have come at Citi Field, and to make matters worse, Flores actually leads all Major League Shortstops in Home Runs. He also hasn't made an error in about a week and a half, for what it's worth. But what the hell do I know.

This upcoming stretch of games the Mets have against some bottom feeders now comes at an opportune time, because maybe the Mets can start to get a little healthy while picking up some cheap Ws in the process and get themselves back above water a little more. The past few weeks have been ugly. If they get their acts together, the next few weeks should hopefully be less so.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Horribly Terrible

The above photo of Erik Goeddel basically sums up the weekend, doesn't it.

In the recurring theme of "I didn't see the game," I watched none of the Mets/Pirates series in total and I think I'm probably better for it because the way things turned out, I can see I probably didn't want to see any of this. In their three-game obliteration of the Mets, the Pirates scored 21 runs to the Mets 4, they handed Matt Harvey the worst beating of his career and they underscored just how troubled and in need of a boost this Mets offense is.

The Mets have sort of been dancing and jabbing at their opponents for the past few weeks, ducking their underlying issues and surviving because, let's face it, their pitching is really really good. But this can only get so far, and this weekend, the Pirates delivered a haymaker. This is now getting to the point where good pitching isn't good enough, because for as good as the Mets pitchers can be and often times are, they can't outpitch their own offense and if by some chance they don't have it, you may as well throw the entire game down the shitter.

The Mets starters didn't pitch well this weekend in Pittsburgh, but even if they had, would it have made a difference? I know injuries are a problem but I'm not sure that the injured guys would be making much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. To this point, I'm comfortable with the offense I've seen from Lucas Duda...and that's about it. Curtis Granderson, perhaps, if only because he's certainly provided a good spark in the leadoff spot. Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores have provided some nice moments, too, if you're willing to look past Flores' defensive foibles (and unfortunately it seems like most Mets fans are not).

That leaves half a lineup of dreck. Eric Campbell has fallen victim to the Endy Chavez Corollary (overexposure), and probably shouldn't be playing at all. Kevin Plawecki plays like a 22-year old that's been in the Major Leagues for a month, and this is acceptable only because that's what he is. Michael Cuddyer has scuffled, and Daniel Murphy I'm convinced is just a total lost cause. The other problem is that the depth behind these guys hasn't materialized. John Mayberry Jr has done nothing, Kirk Nieuwenhuis did even less than that before getting shipped out of town, and the rest of the mob of Johnny Monell-types seem to be mostly adept at hitting into Double Plays more than anything else.

The solutions aren't much of a solution because right now, they're all hurt. Dilson Herrera, who I believe is the future of the team at 2nd Base is hurt, Travis d'Arnaud, who was off to a great start is still a week off, and who even knows when we're going to see David Wright again what with this whole spinal stenosis business. Thing is, none of these three guys by themselves will make that much of a difference, I don't believe. Nobody is going to come back and immediately start carrying the Mets offense to more victories. David Wright, as much as we'd like to think he's The Guy, just isn't that kind of player. His best seasons, which now seem further and further away than we care to remember, came when he was surrounded in the lineup by Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, and anyone can look good when they're surrounded by that kind of talent. And if Wright's going to be out indefinitely, prognosis undcertain, well, then the Mets need to make some kind of move, don't they?

I don't know who the hell is available right now, but if Sandy Alderson is conscious, he might want to think about trading Daniel Murphy, and for that matter he can trade Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, too. Murphy seems to have a nice career ahead of him as a Designated Hitter somewhere, so he ought to be useful to some well-meaning AL GM. If people aren't too convinced that Jon Niese is just White Oliver Perez, he might have some value too. I mean, management usually will trip over themselves for Left handed pitchers. Dillon Gee hasn't done anything wrong per se other than not be Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard or any other exciting young pitcher the Mets have. You'd think this kind of a market exists, because what the Mets are putting on the field right now isn't sustainable for success. Nobody's buying the charade.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday's Lunch Special

Amazingly, after winning the finale of their 4-game series with the Cardinals, the Mets earned an even split in the series. This is an impressive feat in and of itself since it kind of felt like the Cardinals swept the Mets out of their own ballpark. Giving up 19 runs in 2 games will do that, but the fact that the Mets allowed the Cardinals a combined 1 run over the other two games smoothed things over. This particular game was headlined by a pair of players that had breakout seasons last year, and have continued to build on the groundwork they've set. It's nice to see, particularly given the injuries, the inconsistency, and the general Danielmurphyness the Mets have displayed of late.

After Harvey's brilliant performance on Monday, Jacob deGrom provided a similarly outstanding effort on Thursday afternoon (surprise surprise, I didn't see the game, but I know what happened). In a pretty dire situation, deGrom delivered what would have to be, to this point, the best performance of his young career, stepping on the Cardinals' necks to the tune of 1 hit, no walks and 11 strikeouts over 8 shutout innings of work. He ensured that he didn't need much in the way of offense in this game, although after causing the fate that befell Harvey on Monday night, the Mets offense was kind enough to score 5 runs in support of deGrom.

4 of said 5 runs were provided by Lucas Duda, who continues to hit everything for the most part. Duda continued on what's been a fine start to his season by belting a pair of Home Runs, a solo shot in the 6th, and a 3-run Jibber-jabber in the 8th. Duda's had multi-Home Run games before, so this is nothing new. More impressive about his feat yesterday afternoon was the fact that his Home Runs came off of Jaime Garcia, a lefty, and Randy Choate, another lefty.

So, amazingly, after the bad comedy that was Monday night, the turd sandwich that was Tuesday and the complete and utter shit show that was Wednesday, the Mets managed a series split. This has to be considered a moral victory if nothing else, because if the Mets can manage to split a series where they gave up 20 runs and scored only 9, well, anything's possible, isn't it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Pleasant Diversion

Rather than make myself and everyone else nauseous by writing about the complete and utter debacle of a ballgame that I had to sit through Wednesday night at Citi Field, that got so out of hand so quickly that I spent the latter half of the game aimlessly milling around the stadium questioning my existence (as I am sometimes wont to do), I'll instead post this video of Lucas Duda stacking cups during one of the dopey between-inning bits. I think we'll all enjoy this much more, and maybe it will help us to forget what happened and move forward.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Feh

Tuesday night was another night I was out for some work function that required my attention and thus I arrived home just as the Mets and Cardinals were heading into the 8th inning. However, when I turned on the TV and the scorebug read STL 10 NYM 2, I was immediately revolted and filled with a desire to turn the TV back off. But for some reason, I didn't, electing instead to watch the final two lifeless innings of a game that was over before I ever had a chance to turn it on. I have to ask myself why. Is it because I wasn't subjected to Jon Niese having an entire game consisting of Jon Niese innings, and therefore the general disgust hadn't yet hit me? Was it because I just wanted to come home and watch some Baseball after a long day at work? Or had my mind simply turned completely to sawdust and at that point in the day, anything would have looked good? Whatever it was, I watched my two innings of baseball, and that's really the only worthwhile thing I have to say about this game

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mad Man


Fittingly, the night following the swan song of Mad Men, the Mets sent their own Don Draper to the mound to take on the First Place St. Louis Cardinals, the Princes of Baseball, led by their self-proclaimed Genius of a Manager, Mike Matheny. Surely, with the Cardinals in town for four, the Mets ought to have considered themselves lucky if the Cardinals allowed them to score a run, let alone win a game. But, then again, the Cardinals had to face an actual Baseball Genius in Matt Harvey on Monday night, and although he was long gone by the time things were decided, he certainly left his stamp on the evening's proceedings.

A work function kept me from watching the game—what else is new—so I didn't get to see Harvey storm out to the mound and rather effortlessly whip the Cardinals into submission. It's easy to draw the Don Draper/Matt Harvey comparison simply because both are dark, shadowy, handsome men with a penchant for sharp clothes and attractive women. There's not quite as much mystery and intrigue to Harvey than there is to Don Draper, although maybe there is—how much to we really know of Harvey? Does it matter? What matters most to the Mets fan is that he continues to have outings like he did last night, which may as well have been the Draperian equivalent of Baseball. Don Draper had to disappear on an aimless cross-country voyage, ending up at an Ashram somewhere on the Pacific Coast in order to reach his pinnacle. Matt Harvey had to have major reconstructive elbow surgery in order to discover just how fragile his talent is, but he's come back to perform just as well as he looked before he got hurt. To wit; Harvey's 8-inning, 0-run effort on Monday lowered his ERA to 1.95 on the season, and the one walk he allowed upped his season total to a robust 8.

Unfortunately, Harvey's clinical pistolwhipping of the Cardinals was mostly in vain, because as per usual, the Mets only managed to score a solitary run for him against John Lackey, and after his 8 innings, Harvey departed with but the slimmest of margins. Still, Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 9th having not blown a Save all season. Of course, then, it figures that he'd blow one against the Cardinals, because they just seem to will it so. Meat Mountain Matt Adams singled with one out, and was immediately run for by Pete Kozma, because Mike Matheny is a genius. The next batter, Yadier Molina, continued to ruin the Mets lives by singling to right. Kozma, running with the pitch, made it all the way to 3rd—again, Matheny. Genius. Failed Braves prospect Jason Heyward hit the sacrifice fly to tie the game, and, of course, deny Matt Harvey the 6th win he richly deserved. Genius Matheny and the Cardinals deemed it so.

So, the Mets continued to not hit, and the Cardinals also didn't hit, and so the game went off to Extra Innings. Amazingly, for a team that seemed to turn playing in Extra Inning games into an art form over the past few seasons, this was actually the Mets first Extra Inning game of the season. So, to make up for it, they continued to not hit through the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th innings, as Mike Matheny did what every good genius does and empty his bench and bullpen in the name of keeping things going. 6 pitchers in all paraded to the mound for the Cardinals over 13 innings, and by the 14th, with the potential lead run on 2nd and 2 outs, Matheny found he'd out-geniused himself because he was stuck having to send said 6th pitcher, Seth Maness, up to bat, where he promptly struck out against Carlos Torres.

With that being done, Matheny could have saved himself an arm by sending Maness back out there for the bottom of the 14th inning, but he instead decided to lay his cards out again and brought in Sam Tuivailala to pitch. That was all well and good, but Tuvalivalaila couldn't find the plate, so once again, Matheny had geniused himself into a corner. Eric Campbell walked and Lucas Duda did the same, and so although Matheny had gone to the mound to try to rub some of the genius off onto his young charge, it didn't take. Instead, Matheny was forced to bring his closer, Trevor Rosenthal, into the game. This particular scenario was the sort of instance you hope will work but usually doesn't. Although this was also the kind of scenario the Mets always seem to screw up. But try as they might, they couldn't foul this one up. Michael Cuddyer's certain DP ground ball was just hit too slowly to actually be a DP, and after Daniel Murphy was intentionally walked, John Mayberry Jr earned himself a sunflower seed bath by placing a ground ball in just the right spot for Jhonny Peralta to not have a play, allowing Campbell to score the winning run and giving the Mets a victory they really needed to have. It's bad enough that they sporadically go in the tank like this, but they can't go wasting all these brilliant Matt Harvey starts. Win when you're given the opportunity to win. That sounds like a Don Draper-ism if I ever heard one.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Spit And Polish

I'd batted around getting my act together and going out to Citi Field yesterday for Noah Syndergaard's home debut. The last time I rearranged myself and went to Flushing for the first home start of a Hotshot Pitching Prospect's career was two years ago when Zack Wheeler first said Hello to the Mets Faithful. That game went about as badly as any game could possibly have gone, ever. I should have known better. The Mets were playing the Nationals, and the Nationals lit Wheeler on fire to the tune of 8 Home Runs and 37 Extra Base Hits and inflicted a beating so badly on the Mets that Anthony Recker had to take his lumps and pitch an inning.

Noah Syndergaard's home debut did not go quite as poorly. I stayed home, but for no other reason than I was tired and wanted to do little more than park myself in front of the TV and watch the game, and so watching Syndergaard up close will have to wait for another day. If the results from his first two starts are any particular indication, that day should come sooner rather than later.

Syndergaard is another one of these prospects that will probably end up a little more Wheeler and a little less Matt Harvey, which isn't a knock on Syndergaard at all. Noah might have better stuff than Wheeler, but let's face it. Matt Harvey is his own beeast. Because Wheeler and Syndergaard have both been lumped in with him as this sort of holy triumvirate of Mets Pitchers, it's easy for a faction of fans to feel let down when he doesn't take the mound, snarl in fury and strike out 14 batters a game. Most pitchers don't arrive in the Major Leagues with that sort of polish. That being said, Syndergaard's first two starts have certainly been as good as advertised, even if the results haven't necessarily worked out in his favor. Tuesday in Chicago, he got rooked by Daniel Murphy's general Murphiness in the 3rd inning, had to throw about 20 more pitches than he should have to finish the inning, and the result was that he ran out of gas in the 6th and the Cubs got to him for 3 runs when he probably should have been out of the game. Yesterday, against the Brewers, he had no such troubles. His teammates got him some runs and he basically cruised from there. He didn't allow a hit until 2 outs in the 4th inning, and the Brewers scraped out a run in the 6th after Syndergaard beaned Carlos Gomez, something that clearly rattled him a bit, and he followed that up by giving up an RBI single to Ryan Braun, but nothing beyond that. Thanks to the offense picking up where they left off on Saturday and peppering 5 runs over the early innings, they were able to pick up a relatively easy victory and a series win from the Brews.

So, after two starts, I think it's pretty obvious that Syndergaard belongs here and this appearance should be more than simply a cup of coffee in Dillon Gee's stead. He needs to be here and be able to build off of a pair of starts that have been just fine from where I've been sitting. After all, this is the year that the future was supposed to ascend for the Mets,

Sunday, May 17, 2015

This Is What Happens...

...when you actually get your act together and hit the ball.

It took one more night of the Mets getting their not hitting out of their system, which they did to a tee on Friday night, but Saturday was a vastly different story. The 14 runs they hung on the Brewers, to the delight of a fedora-waving crowd represented basically the total amount of runs they'd scored in the last 14 days squashed into one 9-inning bucket of fun.

This sudden and quite welcome outburst came after a lifeless Friday night affair where Bartolo Colon for the first time all season didn't have it and got jumped on for multiple Home Runs and the mostly moribund Brewers rode the pitching of Kyle Lohse and stuck it in the Mets ear, 7-0. This game, another that I fortunately didn't watch, struck me as the kind of game that was over before most of the crowd had even made it to their seats, and had I been in attendance and had I been running late, I might have turned around at the gate and gone back home (but not really—that goes against my religion). A more depressing scenario I cannot imagine.

Saturday was the exact opposite. After some middling performances, Jacob deGrom got his act together, which was the first necessary step to victory. Not only did he do so on the mound, where he spun 6 solid innings, but also at the plate, where he picked up 3 hits. He did so while batting 8th in the lineup, and not only was he hitting 8th, but his counterpart Matt Garza was as well. The whole batting the Pitcher 8th thing seems to be becoming vogue now in the National League, much to my chagrin, not because I have a particular dislike for the strategy, but because it means that people are going to kiss Tony LaRussa's pompous ass even more. But I digress. deGrom and Garza batting 8th put the indignity of hitting 9th on Rookie Luis Sardinas, making his season debut for Milwaukee, and Wilmer Flores, who for all his foibles in the field actually leads the Mets in Home Runs.

Clearly Flores took the slight to heart, since his 4th inning Grand Slam turned a 2-0 Mets lead into a much more comfortable 6-0. But the Mets were just getting warmed up in the 4th. They re-loaded the bases immediately, and Michael Cuddyer, Daniel Murphy and Eric Campbell summarily drove all the runs home and before you knew what was going on, 10 runs had scored and the Mets had blown the doors off of Garza and his hapless replacement Brandon Kintzler to open up an 11-0 lead. Later, Kevin Plawecki and Curtis Granderson added Home Runs, because on this night, why not (although I'm sure everyone was probably yelling to save it for the next game), and in the end the Mets finished off with season highs for runs and hits and general good vibes.

So, yes. This team does have some offensive life in it, although yes, perhaps it is better to spread things around a little bit. But maybe they're starting to get their act back together a little bit, what with Washington now right up their asses.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Veryverybad

So, after two nights of actually getting to see the Mets play and being wholly dissatisfied by what I saw, I got to follow along with yesterday's action on my office computer screen, which isn't really useful since, you know, I actually have to work at work and therefore have no particular idea what's going on at any given moment. But, given the way things turned out, I didn't really miss anything of consequence. Although the Mets raced out to an early lead thanks to a pair of rare Home Runs by Anthony Recker and another Home Run by Wilmer Flores, the Mets came completely unglued in the 5th inning and ended up blowing their lead, losing the game and coming away from their 4-game series against the Darling Cubs with no wins to speak of.

Things certainly started off wonderfully. The Mets reached Travis Wood, as they've done in the past, and Jon Niese was humming right along and for a while there it seemed like the Mets were going to salvage this Chicago mess from total humiliation and bring in a victory. They were hitting, for one, which is something they hadn't done in any other game this series. Aside from the trio of Home Runs, even John Mayberry Jr chipped in with a 2-run single as the Mets built a 5-1 lead. But then came the Bottom of the 5th, and then came the roof caving in on Niese, as a Flores Error opened the floodgates and created one of my least favorite Met "things," the Jon Niese inning. Matt Szczur had already set the stage for the inning by driving home a run, but had Flores made a clean throw on an eminently easy Addison Russell ground ball, the Mets probably would have survived the inning unscathed. Instead, he threw the ball away, Szczur scored and then you could basically just take a bite out of the game. Everything went down the toilet and it was pretty much just a matter of time before the Cubs scored the winning run since the offense stopped, and when Hansel Robles wild pitched home Anthony Recker couldn't handle a Robles pitch (shows how much attention I was paying) in the 7th plated Dexter Fowler, the Cubs had their winning run.

Basically, a loss is a loss is a loss and right now the Mets are falling right back into this lousy pattern that we were all kind of hoping they'd gotten past. They get off to a hot start, and then regress back to the mean, and then the mean gets on top of them, which means that 13-3 is now 20-15 (or, 7-12), and they either get great pitching performances and don't hit, and lose the game, or you get what happened today, which is they hit, but get some ill-timed screwup and everything falls apart from there.

Now, the Mets come back home, where they'll see even more NL Central teams, starting with the Brewers, who look old and boring, and then the Cardinals come in for 4 games, and if they don't get their act together by then, this whole thing could start looking really ugly real quick.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Horrible And Terrible

I talk a lot about how I don't get to watch many Mets games when they're in Chicago, and I've also talked a lot about how I haven't been able to watch many Mets games period this season. To wit, Wednesday night's game in Chicago was actually the first time I'd been able to see Matt Harvey pitch in a game live all season. Outside of his second start, against Philadelphia, which I was at, I've either been at work, or been out, or been out at work each time Matt Harvey has been on the mound.

Wednesday, however, I was home to see the man ply his trade, replete with smoke coming out of his ears, either because he was tired of toiling away while his lousy teammates couldn't get him a run, or because Noah Syndergaard stole his thunder by making his debut last night, or because Anthony Rizzo had the audacity to punk him out on a bunt attempt (and after the shit-eating grin Rizzo had on his face after that play, don't be too surprised if Harvey sticks one in his armpit at some point down the road) or because he gave up a hit, but whatever it was, Harvey pitched a typical Matt Harvey game, 7 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts and a no decision. The no decision is typical for Harvey, as it was in 2013, because he will invariably have games like this, where he dominates, and the Mets score 1 or 2 runs for him, and then the bullpen blows the lead and the Mets lose the game. And dammit, it happened again on Wednesday. Harvey left with a 1-0 lead, Carlos Torres blew the lead in the 8th and then in the 9th I guess he thought it would be nice to take a huge dump on the mound and then leave it behind in the hopes that Jeurys Familia could clean it up. Unfortunately, this situation was untenable for Familia and he ended up walking home the winning run and the Mets lost another just sterling affair in Chicago, 2-1.

By any right, Harvey should have won the game, but then again, we've said that before and if he won every game he should have won to this point in his career, his record would probably be something ungodly like 33-8. Baseball is a little too random for things to work quite like that I know, but that being said, on this night he should have won the game. He slammed ESPN's Fish Sandwich down the toilet by striking out Kris Bryant twice and really putting him in his place, he dropped some hammers on Ratso Rizzo when he was expecting something else, and the rest of the Cubs hitters just sort of stood there and hoped for the best. But the Mets punchless lineup that's totally useless right now did nothing against the luminary that is Jason Hammel except for a run scoring ground out by Michael Cuddyer in the 6th inning. When that's the sum total of your team's offense, you've got problems.

Nonetheless, Harvey got through his 7 innings and his 100 pitches as he does, and I suppose if there was anything he did wrong, it was that he wasn't economical enough to finish the job himself. I know I've said that before, but don't ask me to link back, just take my word for it. Carlos Torres came in in the 8th and everything pretty much went downhill from there. He'd already caused enough trouble in the 8th by blowing the lead, but for whatever reason Terry Collins saw it fit to send him back out there for the 9th, in spite of having a full spate of relievers at his disposal, and if the mission in the 9th inning was to put the game on a silver platter and serve it to the Cubs, well, Torres did a sterling job of that. He gave up hits to Rizzo (who was then run for by the immensely popular Matt Szczur) and Castro and then an intentional walk. Then, and only then, Collins figured out that Torres did not have it and replaced him with Jeurys Familia, but come on. What the hell was Familia supposed to do with this mess? Admirably, he got Jorge Soler to chase some pitches out of the zone but then he walked Coghlan. You could see that coming.

So, now, if the bloom wasn't off the Mets rose before, it most certainly is now. The good vibes of the hot start are gone and now the team is a bad weekend away from unraveling into 2013 once again. There's a lot of injuries that are causing problems right now, but there's also too much Daniel Murphy and too much Kirk Nieuwenhuis flying around going 0-for-4 too. Things were supposed to be better than this. At least the Rangers won.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baseball Explosion

Tuesday night's game in Wrigley Field was enough to cause a total MLB Explosion since it involved a meeting between the Mets and Baseball's Darlings, the Chicago Cubs, the new Flavor of the Week, Kris Bryant, and, at least from the Mets perspective, the night's real story, the debut of Noah Syndergaard.

None of these three things particularly disappointed. The Cubs, behind a particularly irritating pitching performance from Jake Arrieta, wiped out the Mets, holding their mostly punchless lineup to 1 run over 8 innings. Bryant tripled and Homered and basically caused ESPN to have a total meltdown and anoint him the second coming of George Brett. Syndergaard didn't disappoint either, pitching shutout ball into the 6th inning before the Cubs finally got to him. So, basically, if you were an impartial observer who wanted action and excitement on the 11pm SportsCenter, you got what you wanted. If you, like me, were rooting for the Mets, well, you're a bit let down.

It wasn't so much that Syndergaard pitched badly. 3 runs in 5.1 innings with 6 hits and 6 strikeouts is fine for a Major League debut. Syndergaard basically displayed everything you wanted to see from him. Poise on the mound in a situation where he was probably completely over-amped, a fine array of pitches, from a hard fastball that could match Harvey for general velocity, a biting curve that he's not afraid to throw at any moment, and a changeup/sinker that drops down at the last moment that he could use some time to better harness. His first two innings were pretty effortless. The 3rd was set to go off in a similar fashion, until with 2 outs, Bryant hit a ground ball to 3rd that probably should have been an easy play, except that Daniel Murphy decided to be an asshole and lollygag a throw to 1st base that was too late to get Bryant. I know this is just another opportunity to crack on Murphy, but I can guarantee you that 100 times out of 100 David Wright whips that throw across to 1st instead of the lollipop that Murphy threw. This very nearly undid Syndergaard, because he sort of pitched around Anthony Rizzo and then for good measure walked Miguel Montero before getting Soler to fly out. The walks were on Syndergaard, no doubt, and he probably could have done a better job of squashing the inning, but he shouldn't have been in that position in the 1st place. And instead of an easy 10-pitch inning, instead he had to sweat through a 25-pitch inning.

The argument could have been made that Collins should have hit for Syndergaard in the 6th inning, but he didn't. It was kind of a borderline situation. Syndergaard labored through the 3rd and a bit more in the 5th after Bryant slashed a 2-out triple and made Ken Rosenthal swoon. At around 90 pitches I suppose nobody would have argued with him, but Collins let him throw the 6th, and at that point Syndergaard ran out of gas and the Cubs finally plated some runs.

On the other hand, since the Mets couldn't figure out Jake Arrieta or his Billy Joel beard, whether Syndergaard pitched the 6th or not, the Mets still would have lost the game. After Syndergaard departed, Alex Torres came in and created even more of a mess by walking everyone, Sean Gilmartin  followed him by giving up another run in the 7th. In the 8th, Hansel Robles came in and allowed a Home Run to Bryant that was so monstrous it got all of Chicago pregnant. And now with Home Runs in back-to-back games, we might never hear the end of Kris Bryant and how the Cubs are going to break that Championship drought.

So, that's now two losses in a row in Chicago, so I see that even if I do get to watch the Mets play there, it doesn't seem to help. Noah Syndergaard has been welcomed to the Major Leagues rather rudely, not so much because the Cubs reached him for a few runs, but because he now has the high pleasure of being on a team that won't score him any runs. We'll see how the rest of the series plays out. Syndergaard's debut couldn't energize the offense, even if it generated a lot of buzz. Tonight, we get Matt Harvey on a night where it's supposed to be 45˚ in Chicago with the wind blowing in, the day after someone else tried to steal his spotlight. Last time someone dared to abscond like that, Harvey nearly threw a no hitter. Let's see what happens this time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Via Chicago

I think I say this every year, but that's because it's true: I never see the Mets play the Cubs. I haven't seen a Mets/Cubs game live since 2010, which is longer than any other NL team, and since the Mets seem to only play these night game/day game 2-game series in Chicago every year, and they usually fall when I'm busy with something else, I haven't seen the Mets play in Chicago since probably 2006. Maybe longer. Last night was no different; a work event kept me out all night, so I missed the Mets slog around and lose to the Cubs 4-3. Based on what I've read, I missed a couple of academic Mets Home Runs late in the game after Jacob deGrom didn't have his best stuff, which is becoming a bit of an on-the-road problem for him.

I mentioned yesterday that the Cubs are sort of built in a similar mold to the Mets: a few reclamation projects that worked out, one hotshot Free Agent and a bunch of young stars that people are fawning and drooling over. I know that the Mets are sort of starting to get a little ink based on their strong start, but it seems like the Cubs have been getting this kind of attention for months now. Like the Mets, the Cubs slogged through a bunch of down years while they rebuilt. Unlike the Mets, they rebuilt their team around a bunch of young sluggers as opposed to pitching. Hitters tend to get more press than pitchers, so I suppose it makes sense that everyone's on the Cubs' jocks. You look at Anthony Rizzo, and Starlin Castro, and Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant and think these guys are going to ride that wave and finally end that century's old World Series drought. If you've been reading this blog at all, you know how I feel about teams and players that get a little too much ink without having actually accomplished everything, and so the Cubs are right on the verge of making me want to vomit.

Cubs fans are just as culpable for generating this kind of sentiment. Usually, when you have a team as moribund as the Cubs have been for decades, you sort of want to root for them to have some degree of success. But when they've made the playoffs, I've repeatedly found myself rooting against them and enjoying when they lose. And I think it's because their fans just don't seem to have any sort of a filter. I've never been to Chicago, but I have this feeling that these people walk around sniffing their own underwear and thumbing their nose at the White Sox (last World Series Championship: 2005) and generally not showing any particular self-awareness. A good example would be this instance, when I was taunted by a nebbishy Cubs fan on the 7 train on the way to a Mets/Cubs game. The Cubs didn't win the World Series in 2008, and since then, they haven't been back to the playoffs and seem to have been just as bad as the Mets since that time. But the Cubs fan seems to know no humility; rather than approaching this season with tempered hope knowing that they still need a lot to go right in order to reach the goal, they're already bouncing off the walls and every time Kris Bryant picks his nose or Ratso Rizzo grabs his crotch, they have a giant, collective orgasm.

It doesn't help matters that even when the Cubs were bad, the Mets have had this Wrigley Field thing. They got swept there last year, I think they got swept in 2013, and probably 2012, 2011 and 2009 as well. So not only do they blow through town like a sailor on leave, they don't seem to have much in the way of success there either. I don't know if watching any of these games would help the Mets cause, but maybe tonight's Major League debut of Noah Syndergaard will help to turn the tide a little bit. For once, I don't have any particular plans so I'll actually get to see a live Mets/Cubs game from what's apparently become Stepford Wrigley Field, where renovations to this 103-year old cave of a ballpark have dragged out into the regular season and feature the additions of such modern marvels like a digital scoreboard. How quaint. Apparently half the Outfield seats were open for the first time all season last night and the Cubs Bleacher Bums were out there wearing their underwear outside their pants and blowing kazoos all night. I'm sure the atmosphere will be similar tonight.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Avalanche

Since Sunday was Mother's Day, I was out wishing my Mother a Happy Birthday and didn't actually get to see the Mets/Phillies series finale. What I missed was a 7-run outburst from the Mets where from what I can gather they took advantage of Philly's mostly porous pitching. Though Bartolo Colon didn't have his usual repertoire working and even gave up a Home Run to the opposing pitcher Chad Billingsley, the Mets responded, getting a Home Run from Curtis Granderson, and some key hits from Wilmer Flores and Johnny Monell to basically overwhelm the Phillies and coast on to a 7-4 victory.

The Mets on this day banged out 14 hits, a season high, and if you've been sticking with the travails of this team the past few years, you know that 14 hits doesn't always guarantee victory. There's a multitude of instances where the Mets can pick up 10, 11, 12 hits and plate 2 runs and lose 3-2 because they get 2 men on and then proceed to ground out to 2nd for the rest of the inning. This wasn't the case on Sunday, where the Mets got plenty of men on base and actually succeeded in driving them in in most cases. For a team that's generally made a habit of scraping across 3-4 runs a night, 7 seems like coming to the Oasis in the middle of the desert. The majority of this came off of Billingsley, who gave back what he took and then some. Billingsley seems to fit the Phillies' team concept rather well; a once-promising starter with the Sad Dodgers, he underachieved, and then got hurt and basically was forgotten about completely by Baseball after missing two seasons with an injury. And now, he's surfaced in Philadelphia, because why not? Usually, these sort of reclamation projects find themselves with the bottom-feeders. A couple of years ago, he likely would have been a Met. But Pitchers of Billingsley's ilk aren't a particular need for the Mets anymore. Quite fortunately. Better it's the Mets beating him up rather than him getting beat up for the Mets.

One such Pitcher who could have been considered a reclamation project is Bartolo Colon, except that he was someone else's reclamation project after basically being retired for a year in 2010 (?). Since then, all he's done is reinvent himself as a finesse pitcher of the highest order, baffling hitters with an assortment of pitches that just aren't especially hittable. Of course, with Colon, you have to take it one game at a time because he's prone to those kind of games where he just has nothing and ends up getting lit in the 1st inning. But that hasn't happened this season, and in fact, Colon has been so deceptively good, it's easy to forget that he hasn't walked a batter since Opening Day. The 4 runs on 8 hits he allowed yesterday essentially amount to his worst start of the season, but nonetheless it was good enough to net a win on this day because, amazingly, his teammates actually scored him a few runs. This sort of thing can be helpful to a pitcher, because then they don't feel like they have to be perfect every time out (Unless you're Matt Harvey and you actually think you have to be perfect every time out). Colon ran out of steam in the 7th and the Phillies mounted a spirited comeback, but by that point, the Mets had enough of a lead that the Phillies couldn't get any closer than 5-4, and then the Mets put things away in the 9th.

The Mets now have played home-and-home with every team in their division and so now they go outside the NL East to see some other teams. To this point, their only non-division games have been against AL teams, but their next stop here will be Chicago, a team that seems to be in a similar mold to the Mets, at least if you believe the hype. This should be interesting.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Faith Rewarded

I found myself home on a Saturday night, something that seems to be a moderately rare occurrence of late, and happily, my quiet evening was accompanied by Mets baseball. More appropriately, winning Mets Baseball, because a Mets loss wouldn't have been much fun at all, considering a) they were playing the awful Phillies, b) the Phillies seemed all too happy to hand the game to the Mets by throwing their D-lineup out there, and c) They'd already lost on Friday night to the awful Phillies, and come on.

Jon Niese took the start for the Mets and continued what for him might almost be considered the Golden Age of Jon Niese. Quietly, Niese has held serve on the back end of the rotation, while sort of getting a little lost amidst Harvey/deGrom/Colon to very quietly place himself among the ranks of the best lefties in the NL. You know, where we thought he might be heading three seasons ago. I suppose it remains to be seen where this goes because Niese has been known for being mercurial and pissy, but to this point, now 6 times through the rotation, he's had, what, one bad start? For Niese, that's pretty good, particularly for a guy I've been ready to place on The Ballclub's Shitlist.

So Niese hummed along through the early part of the game, getting the same amount of run support that the Mets offense has been providing its starting pitchers lately, which hasn't been much. There was a run scoring error in the 5th inning, I want to say Lucas Duda hit the ball and Cesar Hernandez, playing in the stead of Chase Utley, who's 9-for-91 start to the season has landed him on the bench, pulled a Daniel Murphy and the Mets had a lead. But Niese ran into trouble in the 6th, where a Dilson Herrera error set up a Jon Niese inning, in which he got dinked and dunked to death by his opponent and started moping around the mound. 2 runs crossed the plate for Philadelphia, and it appeared Niese was done for the night in line for a loss.

But for whatever reason, Terry Collins let Niese hit leading off the 7th inning. Niese responded to this particular windmill by singling to center for his first hit of the season. This seemed to set off a chain reaction of general positivity across the Mets roster. Two batters later, Juan Lagares slammed a Home Run into the seats in Left to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. Niese cruised through the 7th, but after a Multiple-Torres-Induced bases loaded situation in the last of the 8th inning seemed certain to end in instant disaster, Buddy Carlyle came in the game and got Carlos Ruiz to ground into a Double Play. In and of itself, that's just fine, but it took a fine play in the hole by Ruben Tejada to start things off, and an even finer play by Dilson Herrera, who atoned for his error by hanging in to catch the relay throw, avoid a sliding runner and fire a throw off to 1st to get Ruiz by a step and end the inning. Jeurys Familia survived Utley's 10th hit of the season and a cameo appearance by Ryan Howard's carcass to lock down his 12th Save and a 3-2 Mets win that made my night that much better.

It comes back to Niese and Lagares who get the attention, but let's give Tejada and Herrera some credit here too. Herrera, after a throwing error pretty much nuked the 6th inning, shook it off and made a key play on the DP in the 8th. Tejada, on the other hand, had one of the best games he's had in probably the better part of a year, because, given a spot start for the struggling Wilmer Flores, Tejada played a flawless game in the field and even chipped in with a pair of hits and scored the Mets' first run of the night. Granted, this is one game and he's been known to have decent games amidst the general dreck he puts out, but it's at least a positive sign that he's got a pulse and wants to take advantage of whatever opportunities he has left with the team. He's apparently going to get a start today as well, or at least that's what Gary Cohen said at the end of the night, spelling Herrera at 2nd Base, so maybe he'll make something of it. Maybe.