Saturday, June 11, 2016

Toolsiness, Or Lack Thereof

8 innings of normal, run of the mill Baseball were played on Friday night in Milwaukee. I wouldn't say it was much to write home about. Matt Harvey continued his resurgence with 6 strong innings, looking, perhaps, as good as he's looked all season. True, I'm not sure if that's actually true or if I'm just saying that because Keith Hernandez deemed it so, but he gave up 1 run on 2 hits with 8 strikeouts, so I'd say that was pretty good if nothing else. The Mets, as they usually do, provided him with no run support, save for a Yoenis Cespedes bomb of a Home Run in the 6th inning off of Junior Guerra.

Otherwise, there wasn't much noteworthy about those 8 innings. Kelly Johnson, who's reappeared with the Mets this week in a deal for one-game-and-out-er Akeel Morris (and who probably shouldn't have left in the first place), made his re-debut, doubled in his first at bat and was promptly thrown out advancing later on. The Brewers made an attempt to cash in an early run but for some slick fielding and quick thinking by Asdrubal Cabrera, coupled with poor sliding by Scooter Gennett and the aiding and abetting of an Instant Replay that took too long, but, again, the follies of the game.

Yes, 8 mostly un-notable innings. Thing is, the game ended up going 11 innings. What happened in those final 3 innings was a melange of utter insanity.

Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers closer, came in the game in the 9th inning and promptly got himself into an enormous mess. He walked Cabrera, gave up a chopper to Wilmer Flores that snuck through for a hit, and then a sharp single to Johnson, far too hard hit to bring home Cabrera. That's bases loaded, nobody out if you're keeping score. Unfortunately, this was the Mets at work here, and so in rapid succession, Kevin Plawecki popped out, Neil Walker (relegated to the bench after being punctured by a Baseball on Thursday) struck out, and Curtis Granderson grounded out to finish a perfectly Metsy inning.

Jim Henderson came in for the Mets in the 9th and got himself in a similarly sticky situation. With 1 out, he walked Jonathan Lucroy, who was pinch run for by Keon Broxton. Broxton then stole second. This is rather benign, but had Plawecki made a more accurate throw, Broxton likely would have been out. Again, not out of the ordinary. The real issue was that Johnson ole'd the throw and somehow allowed it to get through his legs, just far enough away for Broxton to get to 3rd. So, now the Brewers had their chance to win. Conventional wisdom would have had the Mets walk the next two batters just to give themselves a chance, but against the Brewers, who are mostly a bunch of walking Strikeouts, Terry Collins was having none of that strategy business. His strategy? Go get 'em. Henderson walked Chris Carter, which brought up old friend Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who, of course, struck out. Aaron Hill followed by grounding out. So after each team probably should have found a way to win the game in regulation, we were going to Extra Innings.

The Mets did nothing in their half of the 10th. Conventional wisdom would have had a different pitcher in for the Mets in the bottom half, given that Henderson usually doesn't fare well in second innings or second days in a row. Therefore, Henderson came back out for the 10th and immediately walked Ramon Flores on 4 pitches. After another ball to Miguel Maldonado, Ray Ramirez appeared at the mound. Whenever Ray Ramirez shows himself on the field, it's not good, not so much because it means that a player is injured, but that said injured player must then be treated by Ray Ramirez, who I believe holds a degree from Hollywood Upstairs Medical College. Fortunately, Henderson was simply suffering from blisters, but nonetheless was removed from the game in favor of Jerry Blevins. Maldonado sacrificed Flores over to second, and then Flores took off and tried to steal 3rd. This was a good move, because he was safe, but in his attempt to be safe, Flores made what we'll generously call an overzealous slide into 3rd and the momentum carried him off the base, while Matt Reynolds alertly held a tag on him, resulting in Flores being called out. The subsequent review only confirmed what we'd already seen. Jonathan Villar then struck out, and the game continued.

The Brewers were already having a pretty toolsy night but they outdid themselves in the 11th inning. Much like they did in the 9th, the Mets attacked early, with Cabrera singling and Flores (who's really come on of late in the kind of way we knew he would if he just got the playing time) doubled, and Johnson was intentionally walked. So, here we were again. Bases loaded, no out, Kevin Plawecki up, and I'd have to be forgiven if I wasn't optimistic after the Mets shit themselves in the same situation 2 innings ago. Plawecki did his job and popped out to 1st. Reynolds followed by hitting a sharp line drive that probably should have been caught by Villar. But Villar didn't catch it and with that, the wheels just fell off of everything. Flores, trying to not get doubled off, went back to 2nd. Villar flipped the ball to Scooter Gennett at 2nd to try to salvage an out. Flores, realizing he was in a force play situation, took off for 3rd. Johnson, who was out once Gennett stepped on 2nd, then ran back to 1st. The Umpire, Ramon DeJesus, gave a safe call, presumably because he didn't know what the hell else to do. Gennett, upon seeing Johnson wheeling back to 1st, decided to get him in a rundown, and ultimately tagged him out...thereby meaning Johnson was out for the second time on the play, which isn't a thing in Baseball. The only players who managed to get things right were Cabrera, who I assume just said "Fuck it" and bolted for home the second the ball hit the ground, and Reynolds, who ran out the ball and was safe at 1st. Oh, by the way, after everyone was done scratching their heads, the Mets had the lead.

Somehow, Gary and Keith tried to rationalize this play, but how can you explain the absurd? It's just Baseball. Sometimes weird things like this happen.

Jeurys Familia, who probably should have been in for the 10th inning, came in in the last of the 11th and restored some semblance of order to the game by retiring the Brewers in order. I'm surprised he didn't walk the first 3 batters on 12 pitches and then pull off an unassisted Triple Play, but then again I think we're all relieved that that didn't actually come to pass.

So, the Mets ended up winning this masquerade of a game 2-1, their second extra inning win in 3 days, if you can believe it. Now, they get to turn around and come back this afternoon for some more.

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