Monday, September 26, 2016

Asking For More

The Mets 2016 Home Finale fell upon me much quicker than I'd anticipated this season. I mentioned it at the beginning of this homestand and it seems much more prescient a thought today because now the Mets are done at home for the regular season...but none of us have any idea whether or not there's more to be said at Citi Field for 2016. If Sunday is to be it, well, the Mets went out with a bang, as they hit continually, and Philadelphia's horrible bullpen seemed all too happy to hand them baserunners and once things got rolling, they couldn't stop and so the final score wound up at 17-0, which is quite an accomplishment for a team that spent 4 months of the season looking like they were hard pressed to score 17 runs in a week.

The game of course began with the horrible Jose Fernandez news. There isn't much I could say on the matter that hasn't already been said more eloquently than I ever would, and of course rooting for a rival team of his I viewed him with trepidation because I knew he was lurking in the shadows every time the Mets and Marlins met. I had the good fortune to see him pitch in person twice during the 2016 season, but sadly I won't get to see him again.

That seemed to be hanging over Baseball as a whole on Sunday, and in tribute Yoenis Cespedes was seen hanging a Fernandez Mets jersey in the dugout prior to the game. But then the bell sounded and it was time to get back to work, as much as possible. George and I were once again present, I for my 21st game of the season, and oddly enough my 400th Mets game overall, and just trying to salvage this finale and finish out an uneven year on a winning note.

The Mets, of course, were kind enough to commemorate the occasion by plating 17 runs, which was not only a personal best for me but also tied a club record for runs in a home game and largest shutout victory. For the shutout part, we have to thank Robert Gsellman, who after three days in which the bullpen was utilized early and often, stabilized everything by tossing 7 shutout innings and not really breaking much of a sweat in the process. This gave everybody key involved another day off; neither Reed nor Familia has pitched since Thursday and at this late part of the season, getting them some extra rest could be as crucial as anything.

Gsellman also added to his exploits by picking up his first Major League hit, a 3rd inning bunt single that neither Ryan Howard or Jake Thompson seemed to want to pick up until it was too late. I didn't realize this until after the fact, but it seems Gsellman has a rotator cuff injury in his non-throwing shoulder and can't swing a bat, so all he can do is bunt. And the Phillies still couldn't do anything about it. Gsellman didn't score, but he was one of the few Met baserunners on this day that managed to not do that.

Thompson and a succession of other pitchers once again had a really hard time. I mean, that goes without saying when you allow 17 runs in a game, but those 17 runs came on only 14 hits. The Phillies pitchers threw 201 pitches, and in the process hit 4 batters, walked another 9 batters and threw 3 wild pitches in a performance so embarrassing that a kinder blogger might spare them from having their names associated with this mess, but in case you were wondering, Thompson was succeeded by Phil Klein, then Colton Murray, Frank Herrmann, Patrick Schuster and finally Luis Garcia.

When this happens, well, everyone has a good day at the plate. Jose Reyes for one managed to bat with the bases loaded 4 times, and ended up walking twice and hitting a 2-run double in the 8th that probably should have only been a single except that he kept running and forced Brandon Nimmo to 3rd. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a Grand Slam in the 7th. Curtis Granderson hit his 30th Home Run of the season in the 4th. Rene Rivera, T.J. Rivera and even Jay Bruce chipped in with 2 hits each. But when you get to 17 runs, you sort of have to just keep going, and that's what happened in the 8th inning. The Mets already led 11-0 and Schuster had in fact managed to get two outs before the inning caved in on him, and it seemed as though once Rivera reached he just lost his bearings and things spiraled out of control from there. Reyes hit his double, Eric Campbell hit a 2-run single and after Schuster was mercifully removed, Michael Conforto finished out the scoring with a 2-run double of his own.

And, so, it was down to that wistful final half inning of the afternoon, and with a chant of "WE WANT PLAYOFFS!" echoing throughout Citi Field, Jerry Blevins finished off the day and the home season with a scoreless 9th inning. what? Now comes another week of games, beginning with what's going to be a really emotionally charged series in Miami on Monday, and then a visit to Philadelphia where they'll get to see this pitching staff again. Fortunately, there's an off day in there, too, so the Mets will only have to use 4 starters from here on out. Colon, Syndergaard, Lugo, Gsellman...and that's what we're riding with. However it may fall, it falls.

For the 2016 regular season, I am done. For the second season in a row, I managed to make it to 21 games, although not necessarily in the way my plan intended me to. I took liberal advantage of the ticket exchange policies and that's what made this possible. The Mets were not as cooperative this season as they were in past years, as my record for the year was 10-11, marking my first losing season since 2009. But, the 10 wins mark three years in a row that I've seen 10 wins. I can thank teams like Atlanta (0-3) and Washington (2-2) for their contributions to this losing season. The Phillies (3-0) were much easier for me, to the point where I am now on a 9-game winning streak against Philadelphia. Far as milestones, yes, I'd mentioned that today was my 400th game (this does not include Postseason games). This season, I saw the Mets win two extra inning games on Walkoff Home Runs, I saw them score 12 runs in an inning and 17 runs in a game, both personal bests. I didn't see any one starting pitcher more than most others, the count ends up with Harvey, Syndergaard and Matz 4 times each, Colon 3 times, deGrom twice, and Montero, Verrett, Lugo and Gsellman once.

Now, as I keep saying...when am I back? Will it be October 5th? Will it be October 10th? It could be April 3rd, 2017 for all I know. But it will be at some point. Stay tuned.

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