Friday, April 15, 2016

Is Anyone Really Surprised?

So, the Mets go on the road and in their first game hit 4 Home Runs en route to a win over the Cleveland Indians. Surprise, surprise.

It's not often that the Mets find themselves in Cleveland, a city that bears the reputation of bad weather and poor luck, but is also the home of several relatives (which I feel obligated to mention every time the Mets go to Cleveland), and is also the home of Progressive (nee Jacobs) field, one of the few out-of-town ballparks I have actually been to.

Friday's game seemed to be full of some incongruities for the Mets, never mind the show of strength that had eluded them over the season's first 8 games. First of all, I wasn't watching, which can happen on a Friday. After a long work week, I have been known to get home and immediately fall asleep with the radio on, thereby omitting any attention I could be paying to the first several innings of the game. Also, everyone was wearing 42, in honor of Jackie Robinson, a nice symbolic gesture that nonetheless makes every Met remind me of Butch Huskey (some other fans are reminded of other 42s, but this is where my mind goes). Then, there was the whole American League park thing. For one, the Mets start their road season this season playing 5 games in AL parks before ever playing in an NL park, which means everyone's favorite, the DH. And, finally, there was a lineup shuffling that resulted in, among other things, Michael Conforto landing in the #3 spot in the lineup, which I think is where he'll eventually end up on a permanent basis should he continue his current career arc.

Conforto warmed to this particular change rather quickly, blasting his 1st Home Run of the season in his first AB, staking the Mets to an early lead. Bartolo Colon, returning to the stadium where his career began 19 years prior, gave up the tying run in the bottom of the 1st but settled in from there and had his usual Bartolo Colon outing. This was, of course, a much different Colon from the sleek, young fireballer that initially appeared for the Indians way back in 1997, and in wearing #42 Colon was one of the rare Major Leaguers who actually got to wear his age on this day, but results are results and Colon continues to get them no matter what shape he's in.

The game remained tied at 1 until the Mets exploded in the 5th for a trio of Home Runs, which, if you're counting, gave them 4 for the game and increased the team's total for the season by 300%. Alejandro De Aza, who was given a rare start, started the inning with a Home Run, and both Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker followed with 2-run Homers and suddenly the Mets had broken open the game with this sudden, road-trip induced avalanche of offense.

It was 6-2 by time I turned in, and all-time Yankee Great Joba Chamberlain was on the mound for Cleveland without a swarm of bugs sticking to him. The Mets had ample opportunities to tack on runs, but didn't do so and it seemed to matter little. Or at least it mattered little until the 9th inning, when Addison Reed, in trying to will his way through a 2nd inning, tired and allowed a 2-out, 2-run Home Run to Carlos Santana to make a 6-2 game a 6-4 game. This, again, shouldn't have mattered; with 1 out to go, Reed probably could have ground out one more batter. But in this era of by-the-book relief pitching, Terry Collins HAD to go to Jeurys Familia for that 1-out Save, in spite of the fact that Familia had a) already worked in every game of the Florida series, including a hairy 5-out Save on Wednesday, and b) was sick. This was pretty stupid and it almost bit Collins in the ass when he gave up a hit to Yan Gomes (Yan Can Hit!) before falling into a vortex of old friends. With Marlon Byrd at the plate, Familia wild pitched Gomes to 2nd before allowing an RBI single to Byrd. Byrd was then pinch-run for by Collin Cowgill. Juan Uribe (who by the way had a 3-hit revenge game) followed and drew a 4-pitch walk. I half-expected someone like Scott Hairston or  Anthony Recker to emerge next as a pinch hitter (and only later did I discover Recker apparently is an Indian now), but instead it was Jose Ramirez, and Familia did manage to get Ramirez to fly out and end the game, which unnecessarily ended with a 6-5 score and a bit of a buzzkill for the good feelings that were flying around most of the night.

Ultimately, a win is a win and since it was the offense that supplied it on this night that's an even better thing to see. Conforto seems to like that #3 spot in the lineup, or at least I like seeing him there and maybe this will stick for a while. Cespedes looks like he's about to go on one of his raging hot streaks, which is even better to see. Mostly, it's just good to see the Mets actually playing like they mean it, which we knew would happen eventually.

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