Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Drivera Me Crazy

Several years ago, during one of those years where the Mets were a contending team that wasn't really a contender, Braden Looper became the first Pitcher to successfully blow two Saves in the same game, in an instance where the Mets had a lead in the 9th inning, blew it, took the lead in the 10th inning, blew it again, and then lost the game altogether (I had to go to the internet to look it up, but I've successfully found it).

Last night's game had that sort of eerie reminiscent feeling. Fortunately, Jeurys Familia didn't equal Looper's feat (Terry Collins being slightly the wiser than Willie Randolph, Familia didn't actually get the chance to blow the Save again). But in a harrowing affair that ran into an Extra frame, the Mets managed to emerge victorious thanks to the exploits of T.J. Rivera. Rivera picked a fine moment to hit his first Major League Home Run, in the 10th inning of a tie game off Mark Melancon, which ultimately proved to be the winning run in the Mets 4-3 victory in Washington.

This was another one of those games where I was late in tuning in, and as such I missed Noah Syndergaard's 7 scintillating innings of work. This was April Syndergaard, where he basically stoned the Nationals cold, giving up 1 run and striking out 10, while the Mets scratched out a run here, a run there, and by time I'd tuned in, they had a 3-1 lead and everything seemed just fine.

Then, of course, the 9th inning happened and Daniel Murphy interjected himself into the proceedings and everything kind of turned to mush from there. It wasn't an especially hard hit ball, and lord knows that Murphy probably spent at least 25% of his Mets career hitting ground balls towards Second Base like that, and 9.75 times out of 10, he was thrown out. But this newfangled Daniel Murphy beats the play at 1st, and the next thing we know, Jose Reyes is airmailing throws and Ryan Zimmerman is bunting, and there's more hits, and Fire Hydrant Head is involved, and my head was spinning, and Keith Hernandez wasn't making sense, and the game was tied and I was waiting for Danny Espinosa to hit the Walkoff Grand Slam and put us all out of our misery. Except that Familia managed to induce someone to hit into a Double Play, and I think the Nationals hit for Espinosa. Regardless, the game hadn't ended, and the Mets were still alive. Barely.

Then, of course, there was Rivera hitting his first Major League Home Run to put the Mets back on top, which as I already mentioned was good timing on his part but just another in a string of fine performances he's had so far in the Major Leagues. He is, perhaps, Murphy-lite, in that we don't know very much about him other than he's from the Bronx, and he can hit a little bit, and nobody's really sure what his best position is in the field so we just have to throw him somewhere and hope for the best. But if he comes up with hits like this, it's all good.

Of course, the Mets had to survive the Nationals again, and Fernando Salas was in to try to pick up his 1st Save as a Met, and he got the first two guys easily enough, but then Jayson Werth singled, because Jayson Werth always singles at inopportune times, and that brought up Murphy. Of course it did. Jerry Blevins was then summoned to try to get his first Save as a Met, and I'm sure every Mets fan had some horrible image of Murphy getting a hold of one and skipping around the bases. That would be a fitting epitaph for this mess, wouldn't it. But it didn't happen. Blevins made it as hairy as possible before finally slipping a 3-2 curve past Murphy to end the game, and that, coupled with a late-night Giants loss has now sandwiched the Mets equidistant from their Wildcard competitors. Half a game up on St. Louis, half a game behind San Francisco. 17 to play, and after tomorrow afternoon, none of them against teams that are over .500. That's a mighty fine Pennant Race.

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