Monday, April 4, 2016

An Untenable Situation

For as much as I wanted to deny it, I had a really bad feeling about the Mets opening their season in Kansas City. It was bad enough that the Royals wiped the Mets out last October, but now they'd be having their coronation party right in the Mets faces, and then going out with their crowd of kazoo-blowing fans and throwing the same looks at the Mets. It seemed an untenable situation. The Royals predictably made the Mets stand around for an hour while they patted themselves on the back (I'm sure what I heard about them showing a consolation video for the Mets was little more than a token gesture) and damned if it took less than an inning for that Royals Mojo to rear its ugly head once again.

The World Series started with Matt Harvey on the mound and Yoenis Cespedes botching a fly ball leading to an early Kansas City run. The 2016 season started the same way. Harvey got Mike Moustakas to hit an eminently playable line drive to left with 1 out that clanked off of Cespedes' glove for an error. 3 batters later, Moustakas had scored and thus started a game that may as well have been Game 6 of last year's World Series. The majority of the game followed suit. The Royals created breaks, got close calls, made solid contact and ultimately knocked Harvey from the game in the 6th inning, while the Mets could make no breaks, advance no runners, and didn't make much of a peep against Edinson Volquez.

This wasn't a pretty outing for Harvey, and his final line would indicate that, but I can't say I thought he pitched badly by any stretch. But if anyone needed to be reminded—and I don't think any Mets fan actually needed to be reminded—about just why the Royals are the defending World Series Champions, they went out and did it. In a game where, against basically any other team, Harvey likely would have been pitching shutout ball or 1-run ball and cruising through 6 innings, the Royals just singled him to death, taking extra bases, forcing the issue, you know, the same annoying stuff we had to live through last year, and slowly that 1-0 deficit turned into a 4-0 deficit and the game seemed pretty much nuked. But, as I've recently mentioned, and of course as the media will dictate, you're remembered by the final result, and, well, Harvey lost. So that's the endgame.

Offensively, there wasn't much to say about the Mets. They couldn't take advantage of the limited opportunities they had against Volquez, and until they managed to rally against Joakim Soria in the 8th inning it seemed pretty certain that they wouldn't push anything across. But they did have a spirited rally in that 8th, as Soria lost the plate and the Mets finally managed to catch a couple of breaks when flair hits by Lucas Duda and Michael Conforto landed safely, and suddenly that 4-0 deficit became 4-3...but they got no closer. Wade Davis looked ripe for the taking in the 9th inning, and certainly the Mets had the opportunity to tie the game after a great AB by Travis d'Arnaud and some clutch hitting from Curtis Granderson, but David Wright struck out, and Yoenis Cespedes struck out and that was the end of that.

I did like what I saw from Conforto, in particular, and also from Granderson and Duda, who put up some nice ABs and Conforto ended up finding himself on base every time he came up, something that might be lost in the overall effort. But it was overshadowed by Cespedes, who whiffed in the field and whiffed at the plate, and by David Wright, whose 9th inning strikeout seemed almost predictable. For as much as I hate to say it, Wright batting 2nd in this lineup might end up becoming a liability before all is said and done. He didn't get the necessary game action in Spring Training and it showed, as Davis made him look silly on 3 pitches and the only way he could have looked sillier would have been if Davis had thrown a slider 10 feet off the plate so David could have flailed away at it.

So, not the world's most encouraging start for the Mets, but again, the Mets aren't going to play the Royals 162 times this year, and they also don't have to play any more games in the home stadium of the defending World Series Champions anymore after Tuesday. It's easy to lose perspective because it's one game and because the Mets looked like a bunch of idiots on National TV (once again), but again, consider all the circumstances surrounding the game before jumping to conclusions. It almost seemed predestined that the breaks weren't going to go the Mets way on this night. They'll have plenty of days where they'll get the breaks they need.

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