Friday, May 20, 2016

The Minimum Necessary

Any time one of these Mets pitchers has some kind of an ailment, obviously the worst is feared. Steven Matz is probably as susceptible to panic as anyone, given his injury history and the fact that he already had a season undercut by improper handling. So, when he had elbow soreness last week, all sorts of alarm bells were sounded. But, an examination came back clean, Matz took his start this evening against the Brewers and pitched like nothing had ever been wrong. After allowing a 2-run Home Run to Chris Carter (not to be confused with Ballclub Favorite Chris "The Animal" Carter of 2010 fame) in the top of the 1st inning, Matz locked the game down and allowed the Brewers nothing thereafter, giving his teammates time to shove 3 runs across the plate and earn themselves a 3-2 victory.

Matz's strong outing was a much-needed antidote for the Mets, whose bullpen was run ragged after Harvey's foibles on Thursday night. Following the 1st inning, Matz allowed the Brewers all of one hit, a single by Hernan Perez in the 6th inning, and he was subsequently thrown out stealing 2nd. Over his 7 innings of work, Matz was exceptionally clean, allowing no walks and striking out 8 before departing after 88 pitches. Perhaps he could have gone further. But why tempt fate?

It was, of course, on the offense to try to make up the early deficit against Wily Peralta, Milwaukee's de facto Ace. Peralta hasn't pitched especially well, but he's also been pitching in mostly hopeless situations. The Brewers, a rebuilding team, boast a roster littered with obscure names you'd never heard of, among them names like Jonathan Villar, Keon Broxton and Ramon Flores. They also seem to have a bevy of old friends from lost seasons on their roster, former Mets who were kicking around in seasons like 2011 and 2013, like Chris Capuano, Carlos Torres and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who feels like a sage veteran on a team like this. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy are still kicking around there, but Braun still has some PED stink on him and additionally is now constantly injured. So, yeah. You draw the conclusion of what the Mets should be doing here. But it was a struggle. Nobody's going particularly well of late, and with Wilmer Flores on the DL and Lucas Duda and David Wright both battling assorted ailments, we end up subjected to more Eric Campbell than is necessary. It feels a little like the early half of 2015 at times.

Then, Michael Conforto comes up and swats a 2-run Home Run to the opposite field in the 6th inning and everything is right in the world.

A game like this is important to win, even if the Mets truly did the absolute minimum they could possibly do in order to win. I don't necessarily call games like this encouraging, even if there's encouraging individual performances like we saw from Matz and Conforto. It helps, but the better games are when you really can't single out a particular contributor, because everyone plays a role in some form.

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