Saturday, April 30, 2016

Turnabout's Fair Play

I mentioned this to George, and basically everyone who would listen to me after Friday night's Mets bombarding of the San Francisco Giants: Last season, I went to a Mets/Giants game and watched the Mets get No Hit by Chris Heston. I watched the 9th inning of that game stewing in silence as the true horror unfolded.

Last night was the exact opposite of that. Rather than not hitting, the Mets hit, and hit, and hit some more in a 3rd inning that just kept on steamrolling until the Mets had plated 12 runs, something they had never before accomplished in team history.

These games usually begin innocuously, as most games tend to do. It was, of course, Friday, which means I got a Free Shirt and as I was coming off the train before going inside I passed the WOR tent, where they were giving out free shirts for answering trivia questions. I'd planned not to stop, except that I knew the answer to the question that was asked, so essentially, I shouted it out as I passed by and got a second free shirt, which appears to be a leftover from last season. Inside, it was crowded, as you'd expect on a Friday night against a contending team like the Giants and a team with a fan base that travels well like the Giants. I expected to see large swaths of Black and Orange and I certainly did, and the Finnerty's crowd was in full force out in Left Field. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

Steven Matz was on the mound for the Mets, against Jake Peavy for the Giants. The discussion that spurred involved things like George not knowing that Peavy was still in the league, twice confusing him with Brad Penny by assuming he'd pitched for the Marlins and the Dodgers, and neither of us being able to remember which teams he'd actually pitched for outside of the Padres and Red Sox. It was raining at the start of the game, kind of lightly, intermittently, but then somewhere around the 2nd inning, it started raining a little harder. My scorecard was getting wet and I had to pause and put it away as several people ran for cover outright. Someone several rows down from me put up an umbrella and blocked my view of home plate, which was just lovely. It was turning into one of those nights.

In other words, nobody knew what was about to ensue.

The Giants had been dinging Matz around over the first few innings, picking up 5 hits, but nothing of consequence. Peavy didn't allow the Mets much over the first two innings. That, of course changed rather quickly.

Peavy's control hadn't been great to begin with and of course when he walked Curtis Granderson and David Wright to start the 3rd inning, he was asking for trouble. Michael Conforto followed, and generally Conforto with men on base has been a winning proposition for the Mets. So it wasn't surprising that Conforo smashed a double to the left-center field gap to score Granderson with the first run of the game. Yoenis Cespedes followed with a single that scored both Wright and Conforto and got the Mets out 3-0.

At this point, George and I were discussing clich├ęs to describe Peavy's situation. At this point, we felt he needed to minimize the damage and let the game come back to him, but instead he only made things worse by walking Lucas Duda and giving up a long double into the Right Field corner to Neil Walker to score Cespedes. At this point, Bruce Bochy had had enough of this and removed Peavy from the game, I suppose in an effort to stop the madness, but his choice of pitcher, Mike Broadway, only managed to make things worse.

Broadway was greeted by Asdrubal Cabrera drilling another double up the alley in Left Center, the Mets 3rd double of the inning, that plated Duda and Walker to make the score 6-0 and officially close the book on Peavy's forgettable evening. Kevin Plawecki walked. Matz followed and at this point, with 6 runs home, George and I were wondering whether or not he should be bunting, or what the protocol for proper sportsmanship was in this place. Surely, Matz has proven himself capable of swinging the bat, but it seems bunting isn't quite his bailiwick and he struck out on 3 attempts.

That's the first out of the inning, after 9 batters, if you're keeping score.

Here's where the inning began to get completely out of hand. Granderson followed by smoking a Broadway offering deep to Right Field, into the dopey alcove where nobody can hit Home Runs. It looked for a brief moment like it might land in the Pepsi Coca-Cola Porch, but it didn't, and Hunter Pence I guess was distracted by whatever signs were prepared for him because he got a glove on it but didn't hold on, and instead the ball fell, Cabrera scored and Granderson was aboard on what was charitably called a very long single. At this point, any sort of wheels that remained on the Giants had come off, and the Mets were either just going to keep on hitting forever. The inning was by this point well over half an hour long and the Mets had tied my personal best inning with 7 runs. So I just wanted to see how much further they could take this. Wright dunked a single in to load the bases. Conforto did his part by lining a single to right to score Plawecki and make it 8-0, and then Cespedes followed, and basically the thought in everyone's mind at this point was that he was either going to swing like he was trying to hit a grand slam, or that he was actually going to hit a grand slam, and really, that was the only result of that at bat. And, of course, he launched the 1st pitch into the seats in the Left Field corner for said grand slam and capped off the first 12-run inning in Mets History.

So at this point, everyone was bouncing off the walls with joy, George and I are both dumbstruck by what we've just witnessed and, of course, there's still a whole rest of a game to be played with the score 12-0. And there was still only one out in the inning. But as these things tend to do, Cespedes' grand slam killed the momentum and the next two batters grounded out. That didn't take anything away from the 13 batters that came to the plate before that and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.

But as I said, there was still 6 innings left to play, and by this point, after an inning that took close to 45 minutes and an unheard of 67 pitches, 30 from Peavy and 37 from Broadway, the clock was nearing 9pm...and the game started at 7:10. Also, Matz had to sit around through that long inning. But for the most part, both teams played like they wanted to get out of there quick. Matz didn't help himself by coming out a bit wild in the middle innings, probably because it's not especially easy to

pitch with a big lead like that, and he kept walking guys and giving up hits, but again, the Giants didn't cash in, Matz finished out his 6 innings, and Jerry Blevins, Logan Verrett and Antonio Bastardo each pitched sloppy innings to finish out the night. I could expound on how messy the Mets were on the pitching side of things, but that really isn't the story of this game.

The 3rd inning of this game is of course what everyone will remember, because never mind that the Mets have never done it, but you just don't see 12-run innings very often altogether. It takes a rare combination of contact and momentum steamrolling out of control, combined with a pitcher who has the poor fortune of just having to suck it all up, which is the case of Mike Broadway, who aside from being subjected to a litany of Broadway Musical jokes had to just do his best to navigate his way through a completely hopeless situation. I'll remember it because after Matz came to the plate, I turned to George and said "The Mets have officially broken the scorecard," as you'll see here. It's not often I have to run an inning across two columns and then shove each subsequent inning down the list, but that's what happened here.

The Giants and I are now even, I believe. This sort of a game seems proper retribution for what they made me witness last season. I suppose watching Matz throw a No Hitter might have been nice, but History is History and all the better that I was there to witness it.

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