Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh Dammit

The problem that happens every year the Mets have any sort of tangible expectations is that there's this horrible, sinking feeling of anxiety that accompanies every game, particularly games that the Mets don't win handily over second division teams. Last night's game was one such affair; the game seemed to be playing out in the sort of fashion that would dictate that the Mets should have won, but the bullpen blew a late lead, the Mets couldn't capitalize in Extra Innings, and ultimately they lost in the 11th inning on, basically, a Wild Pitch and an Infield Single.

Really, if you consider the way the game played out, the Mets probably should have won this game. They had a 3-run Home Run by Asdrubal Cabrera overturned in the 2nd inning, and a 3-run inning turned into a 2-run inning and that second run sort of scored by dumb luck, courtesy of a Jeremy Hellickson Wild Pitch. The Phillies eventually forged ahead against Bartolo Colon, but in the 5th inning, Cespedes homered and then Duda homered and everything seemed to be full steam ahead. But the Phillies tied the game in the 7th when the normally reliable Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed faltered. On Monday, the Mets responded to this adversity by beating on Philly's bullpen, but that strategy didn't materialize last night. Over the course of 6 innings, Hector Neris, Dalier Hinojosa and Jeanmar Gomez, all pitchers that the Mets have raked over the coals at one time or another, allowed the Mets 2 baserunners and racked up 33 strikeouts, or at least it seemed that way, and in a spot where minimal offense would have netted a victory, instead the Mets found themselves in an Extra Inning game for the first time this season.

Still, Antonio Bastardo and Jim Henderson got through scoreless innings in the 8th, 9th and 10th, but Hansel Robles hiccuped in the 11th. It was the perfect storm of weird circumstances. Freddy Galvis doubled and then there was a walk, and then a Wild Pitch, and then an intentional walk to Emmanuel Burriss was called off after an intentional ball, and then Robles got Burriss and appeared primed to get out of the inning, but after getting 2 strikes on light-hitting, Peter Bourjos, Robles instead nibbled and Bourjos managed to place a ground ball in just the right spot for it to be impossible for David Wright to get him at 1st and the winning run scored.

I can tell that the low-level grumbling is already beginning. The Mets are hitting Home Runs at a pace that would destroy team records, the starting pitching for the most part has been as good as advertised and the bullpen has been reasonably solid. Yet they sit at a puzzling 7-7 and already 3.5 games behind Washington. I know it's still a little too early to get too worked up, but it's kind of concerning. The performance isn't translating to wins, for whatever reason. The fellows I e-mail with are already apoplectic. One person blamed Terry Collins for not putting Jeurys Familia in the game. Another likened this start to 2007. Both could be good points, but it's not as though the Mets were throwing junkballers out there. Bastardo, Henderson and Robles have pitched well to this point, as have Reed and Blevins. But on this night, three of these guys were had. And if anything, this start isn't like 2007. In 2007, the Mets roared out of the gate and were the best team in Baseball through the first two months of the season before complacency set in. This reminds me of 2001, when the Mets started slow, muddled around for 4 months without any real direction and by time they got their act together, it was too late.

Teams can run hot and cold, and lucky and unlucky just as much. Last season, the Mets were both hot and lucky in many key moments. So far, they've been hot, but not necessarily lucky just yet. With a little more luck, perhaps 7-7 is 10-4 and everything is wonderful. But that's not the case just yet.

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