Sunday, June 5, 2016
In the big picture, sure, the Mets are about the same as they were last year when it comes down to wins and losses and place in the standings. But on an afternoon when the Mets lineup did not include Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright, Travis d'Arnaud or Lucas Duda and did include James Loney, Kevin Plawecki, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores, and later required contributions from Matt Reynolds and Alejandro De Aza, somehow they managed to win the game.
This was 27 different kinds of ugly, to be sure. For starters, there were so few people at the game that the calls of the Home Plate umpire Greg Gibson were clearly audible to those of us watching on TV (I call shenanigans on the "hot mic" argument). In the first inning, Celebrity Manager drew his ire, probably by acting as though he was entitled to circumvent the rules, but that went nowhere.
The Mets let some of the Marlin Stupid rub off on them in the early innings. This game really had all the makings of one of those annoying Marlin games where they shut down Giancarlo Stanton and instead end up getting gnawed to death by guys like Derek Dietrich, Martin Prado, Nickleback, J.T. Realmuto and Miguel Rojas. Guys that wouldn't be in the Major Leagues if it weren't for the Marlins, and guys that for whatever reason turn into superstars when they play the Mets. Even their Pitcher, Justin Nicolino, was in on the action. In the second inning, the Marlins loaded the bases, when Nicolino came up and hit what was a sure inning-ending DP. Except that it turned into the quintessential Stupid Marlins Play. Instead of throwing to 2nd, Wilmer Flores, at 3rd, vapor-locked and threw home to Plawecki. Except Plawecki seemed only marginally aware that a play might be coming to him, and so although he caught the ball well ahead of the arriving baserunner, he neglected to step on home plate, and everyone was safe. Fortunately, Bartolo Colon stopped the Marlins from doing anything further. For his troubles, Plawecki was given an error, and then after he doubled to lead off the top of the 3rd, got picked off 2nd base. So he was just off to a flying start.
The Mets now trailed Nicolino and the Marlins 2-0, and they weren't doing very much in the way of generating offense. As we've seen this past week, 2 runs can sometimes be a tall order for this group. They got 1 in the 4th inning when Loney drove in Flores, but then Michael Conforto, who's in the Keith Hernandez Dark Forest right now, struck out and Plawecki was similarly useless. The Mets finally managed to tie the game in the 6th, but this again was pulling teeth. The Mets loaded the bases with none out, but Conforto, Plawecki and the Pitcher's spot were due up and the Mets were still facing the Marlins. This seemed like the perfect situation for Nicolino to strike out everyone and then pump his fist so hard he would cause himself to levitate. Fortunately for us all, we were spared this indignity when Conforto hit a Sacrifice Fly to tie the game.
Hansel Robles entered in the 7th and Robles to be kind has been patently awful of late. He continued this trend by getting the first two batters, then walking the next two and allowing an RBI single to Miguel Rojas to put the Marlins back on top. Robles was mercifully removed from the game in favor of Jerry Blevins, as the Marlins had sent Ichiro Suzuki up to pinch hit, and Ichiro hit a line drive that appeared headed towards imminent disaster, but Juan Lagares did a Juan Lagares thing and laid out to make the catch.
Cut to the 8th inning when David Phelps (drool drool YANKEES) came in the game for the Marlins to face the bottom of the lineup. But the Mets went on the attack. Loney doubled and Conforto followed by picking up his first hit in about a week, a well-placed single that tied the game once again. Two outs later, after a walk by Curtis Granderson, Matt Reynolds hit for Lagares. Apparently, Lagares hurt his wrist making the catch two innings ago. As if the Mets didn't have enough injury trouble. But Reynolds went after the first pitch and lined a single to Center to score Conforto and give the Mets the lead for the first time in the game. The Mets continued the attack of the irregulars in the 9th inning when Alejandro De Aza hit a 2-run double in the 9th to give the Mets a 6-3 lead.
In other times, this would have been the point where the Marlins proceeded to get 3 straight singles, then an error, and then a 40-foot infield hit to drive in both the stake in our hearts and the winning run, but that didn't happen. Jeurys Familia did give up a run but it was only a run, and neither Celebrity Manager trying to create a fake argument or the 4 Marlins fans in attendance could will things any further.
Amazingly, the Mets have won the first two games of this series in spite of the fact that outside of Walker and Cabrera, they basically have a makeshift lineup in place. As I said yesterday, you do what you can to win, but I wouldn't trust this to be sustainable. Reinforcements are needed.