Friday, September 9, 2016

History For History

This weekend, of course, marks the final series the Mets will ever play in Turner Field, and I know there's some blithe sentimentality, and I'm being kind by calling it that, about these last three games. Most Mets fans have few to no good memories of the Mets playing in Turner Field; the meager games they did win there over the past 20 years seem paltry compared to the irritating, frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking or soul-crushing losses the Mets have suffered there. So, then, may I say that I'm happy to see Turner Field go and glad that the Mets will never have to play there again after this weekend.

All that being said, though the past can't be undone, the Mets could if nothing else do their part to shovel some dirt on the grave of this unrepentant Hell Hole by taking out the Barves a few more times and further entrench themselves in the middle of this Wildcard chase. Coming into Friday's game, the Mets had 22 games remaining and for the first time since who can remember they actually began the day in a pole position for the Playoffs if the season ended right now. But I just said there were 22 games left so whether or not they qualify on September 9th doesn't amount to a hill of beans. It's not quite Idiot Time just yet but if the Mets regressed into Idiot mode here against a team they've had a particularly annoying hard time with all season, well, wouldn't that be a fitting end to Turner Field.

Fortunately, the Mets didn't succumb to Turner Field, although for a while things didn't look especially good. We, as fans, have simply become conditioned to bad things happening in Atlanta (I demand actual proof that the Mets have won 65 games there—€”as far as I know, the Mets' record is 20-150, and one of those games was the McKay Christensen game so it really shouldn't count) and for most of this game it played that way. The Mets didn't hit Julio Teheran, who remains a Brave despite any common logic dictating that he should have been traded months ago. Robert Gsellman had his first legitimately "Blah" outing, giving up 4 runs and slogging through a miserable 3-run 5th inning where he was essentially Dansby Swanson-ed to death. Basically, this was another night in Atlanta. The Mets were dazed and on the wrong end of a 4-0 score, facing a pitcher they generally don't hit.

Then, in the 6th they hit him. Or, at least, Yoenis Cespedes hit him in the literal sense, with a shot off his shoulder, and then Curtis Granderson hit him in the Baseball sense by hitting a 2-run Home Run to bring the Mets to within 4-2. In the last of the 6th, Jim Henderson appeared primed to hand those runs back, as he got Swanson'ed as well and departed in a 1st and 3rd, no out mess and was later seen screaming and slamming his glove around. Josh Smoker, who's been kind of the stealth bomber out of the Mets bullpen in recent weeks, then came in, and rather quickly undid the damage, getting A.J. Pierzynski to strike out and then Ender Inciarte to hit into a Double Play, and punctuated the inning with one of his pirouette fist pumps. However he chose to celebrate is immaterial to me, so long as he gets the job done, and lately he's been doing that regularly.

Of greater import of course was that Smoker kept the score 4-2 and in the 8th, the Mets finally had one of their rallies. Mauricio Cabrera, who reeks of "September Callup," came in, and immediately Keith and Gary started talking about how he regularly throws 100+, which is impressive, but in this day and age, just throwing 100+ does not a successful relief pitcher make. Because although Cabrera threw 100+ plenty of times to the Mets, he wasn't fooling anyone. First, he walked Alejandro De Aza. He got Jose Reyes to hit a ground ball, but instead of the Mets getting Swanson'ed, Dansby Swanson'ed himself, booting the ball for an error. Asdrubal Cabrera walked. So, basically, Cabrera had 100+'ed himself into a giant hole, bases loaded, no out and Cespedes coming up. And, well, at this point you were thinking that Cespedes was either going to hit one to the new Barves stadium in Cobb County, or hit into a Double Play. He came closer to the former, but his fly ball was caught. Irregardless, it was a productive enough fly to score De Aza and move Reyes to 3rd. Granderson followed by corkscrewing a blooper into shallow Left that Matt Kemp did not catch, allowing Reyes to score and Asdrubal to move to 3rd. And then Kelly Johnson delivered the coup de grace, the RBI double to give the Mets a 5-4 lead, because that's what Kelly Johnson has been doing ever since he came back to the Mets. By this point, Cabrera had now covered himself in 100+ of mud and he capped his night by hitting Michael Conforto with the bases loaded to force home another run.

The Mets then had to get themselves through the rest of the night without incident, which is easier said than done in Atlanta. Addison Reed got Swanson'ed in the 8th, but was bailed out by a fine pair of fielding plays by, of all people, Eric Campbell at 1st, and, of course, when that starts happening, you're living a charmed life. Jeurys Familia also had kind of a hairy 9th, giving up a double to Adonis Garcia in front of Freddie Freeman, who of course handed Familia the Grey Poupon last season, but this time, Familia struck out Freeman, got around Nick Markakis and struck out Tyler Flowers to finish off this 6-4 victory, the Mets 6th win in a row.

6 wins!? There was a point in time, not long ago, where I thought the Mets might be hard-pressed to win 6 games for the remainder of the season. But, now, here they are, still tied for the 2nd Wildcard (or are they ahead of the Cardinals? I forget), half a game out of the 1st Wildcard, and now they've got all of us keyed up and in Pennant Race mode. Sure, it feels more fun this time around, perhaps because it didn't seem like there would be a Pennant Race this year. But I think I like the easy coast to the finish more. Just saying.

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