Thursday, June 30, 2016

Outliers

I'd been on vacation for the past several days, and out of any sort of range of being able to see any of the Mets games over the past 5 days. In fact, a brief internet outage prevented me from hearing anything about Tuesday's game until Wednesday's game was almost underway.

I see I missed very little.

I'll try to sum up my thoughts right now in brief, but I, like most Mets fans, don't feel very good right now. Yes, it still feels like 2015 and the Mets could snap themselves back into place and into contention, but as it sits right now, I don't know where the savior is going to come from. The Mets could at least rely on whacking around some lousy teams for a while last year to keep them afloat, but this year, they've struggled against Atlanta, they're behind the Fucking Marlins in the standings altogether (and I assure you nothing would be more galling to me than getting assed out by the fake team) and they just got their doors blown off by the Nationals.

And, if all that weren't bad enough, here come God's Gift to Baseball, 2016, the Chicago Cubs, the team that's been annihilating everyone in their path for months, and, I'm quite certain, itching to stick it to the Mets after what happened last October. I'd been toying with going to Friday night's game, but I kind of have the feeling I may want to skip this one. Maybe tonight will dictate my behavior.

Regardless, the problems with the Mets right now just feel more insurmountable than they do last year. When the offensive issues hit, the Mets tried to weather it as long as they could and then made some moves. This year, it seemed like it wouldn't be the same case, considering Cespedes was here, and Neil Walker would be an adequate enough replacement for Murphy, and sure, Walker and Cespedes and Cabrera have all played well enough. But that hasn't solved the problem. Again, the Mets came into a season with a team predicated on starting players performing to their expected levels. Not everyone has done that, and nor could they have been expected to. Larger issues, the Michael Conforto dilemma, Lucas Duda missing extended time, Kevin Plawecki's failure to ascend to name a few, magnify the offensive issues. The pitching, so talented and yet so fragile, has looked alternately amazing and miserable. And now there's bone chips or bone spurs or whatever in two of their elbows and while everyone insists everything's fine, the results seem to indicate otherwise.

But more than anything, the killer instinct isn't there. I know it's one of those weird intangible buzzwords that people like to talk about but there's something to it. How many times late last season were the Mets dead in the water only to rally and kick the other team in the teeth? Hell, they did it to Washington so many times they basically ran half their bullpen out of town. That's not happening now. Now, when they get behind it seems like the game's over, and that's really a horrible way to feel about a team.

By the end of 2008, I'd become convinced that the Mets of that era were simply good enough to contend, but not a championship team, and that 2006 was the anomaly. When they fell into the abyss in 2009, I was proven right, although I can't say I'm at all proud of that. I'm not going to go and say that what happened last year was the anomaly for this era of the Mets. If it was, that would be an embarrassment, because this thing should be shaping up to be the Golden Age of the Mets. This could still happen. Teams overachieve, as the Mets probably did in 2015, and then regress the following season after the league catches up before launching to the next level the following year. Then again, teams overachieve and then take it one step further the following year, too.

Point is, it's too soon to say that 2015 was a fluke, especially since the 2016 season is barely half over. But it doesn't look especially encouraging right now, and I'm not sure I can see where the fix for this team is coming from, and maybe that's what's most frustrating about this season to this point. They've proven, at times, that they're as good as they looked last season. But they haven't sustained that level and right now they're not even approaching it. People are already dropping out on this team and when you have a fan base that's as fragile as this one, it's not especially surprising.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Infernal Struggle

The 1985 New York Mets finished 98-64, which stands as the 4th best record in club history. They finished in 2nd place, 3 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals, and in those days, 2nd place meant that you got to go home and sit on your thumbs after the final day of the regular season.

One reason that they managed this was because their record for the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that went 57-104, was 10-8, and it was a difficult 10-8 at that. A better performance against a 104-loss team would have likely meant a different outcome for the season. One year later, the Mets did a much better job in cleaning Pittsburgh's clock to the tune of a 17-1 record. Oh by the way, the Mets won the World Series that year.

Right now, the Mets record against the Atlanta Braves, who might be lucky to match the '85 Pirates 104 losses is 6-5. And those 6 wins haven't exactly been easy. In fact, the 6th win, which they managed to pull off tonight, was downright horrifying.

Oh, sure, things looked great after 4 1/2 innings, because the Mets trashed Aaron Blair and ran out to an 8-0 lead, the sort of performance the Mets really should have been putting forth against the Braves all season. They had guys on base, guys getting hits with men in scoring position, and a coup de grace 3-run Home Run from James Loney.

And then Steven Matz, who may or may not have an elbow issue that he may or may not be telling the truth about had a complete meltdown in the bottom of the 5th and 8-0 turned into 8-6 real quick. Whatever the issue is here with Matz, he clearly wasn't the same pitcher after sitting in the dugout rubbing his elbow or his forearm during an lengthy Mets inning in the top of the 5th, and the Braves jumped all over him, knocking him from the game a few outs shy of being able to qualify for a win. Whether this is the harbinger of more injury issues, I have no idea but after a stretch in which I was ready to anoint him as the NL Rookie of the Year, he's come back to earth significantly.

On the other hand, Hansel Robles has, at least for this week, been the Mets savior.  Called upon to clean up the Matz Mess, Robles finished the 5th and for good measure pitched the 6th and 7th innings too, throwing all of 21 pitches after his 65-pitch effort on Tuesday night that saved that game. Again, like any reliever, Robles will run hot and cold but it looks like he's heating up again, and when he's going well, he looks really, really good.

So then after this, it looked like the Mets, who'd stopped hitting after they got to 8, were going to hang on, and when Collins went to Jeurys Familia with 2 out in the 8th, it seemed like they were bound and determined to hang on. Familia's no stranger to going more than an inning but it's still kind of a scary proposition. He didn't do anyone any favors by giving up a hit to Tyler Flowers and hitting Erick Aybar to start the 9th inning. With imminent disaster staring the Mets right in the face, Chase d'Arnaud came up, stood in front of his brother and bunted...badly. Wilmer Flores then tried to catch the popped-up bunt...badly. A surer-handed 3rd baseman might have caught the ball outright, but Flores dropped it. However, in dropping the ball, Flores unwittingly shit a diamond because he then essentially duped Flowers and Aybar from running at all, and further disaster turned into a Double Play. Because that's exactly how it was drawn up. d'Arnaud then stole 2nd off his brother, but Jace Peterson struck out to end the game, except that the ball got away from Travis d'Arnaud, far enough that it seemed like Peterson might actually beat it out. But Travis' desperation heave was somehow corralled by a diving Loney and after a brief replay the game was, in fact, over and the Mets had, in fact, won.

Whew. I know winning isn't easy but really, the Mets didn't need to make this game quite so difficult. On the other hand, I suppose I should just be happy that the Mets aren't getting swept again.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ugh

The Mets managed to once again shit the bed in a June game in Atlanta this evening. After leading most of they way, generating a meager amount of offense against Matt Wisler and after weathering a rather middling performance from Matt Harvey, the roof fell in on them in the last of the 8th inning as Addison Reed gave up a 2-run Home Run to Adonis Garcia, turning a 3-2 lead into an irritating and irritable 4-3 loss.

Really, what's most mystifying about all this is the fact that the Mets have lost 4 straight games to the Braves, a team that they should be pounding into submission. Last season, the Mets did a pretty good job of handling these lousy teams and that's one of the primary reasons things turned out the way they did in the end. This year, that hasn't been the case. They've had a hard time with the Braves lately, and there's really no good reason as to why this has happened. I'm stumped.

Nobody seems to have exemplified this specific issue more than Harvey, who just seems to have a thing with the Braves more than anyone else this season. At least it's not the fake-ass Marlins, but it's just as annoying. Harvey has faced the Braves 4 times already in the first half of the season and each time it seems like he's had to battle uphill the entire game. Whether it was giving up Home Runs to Mallex Smith, or giving up 4 straight 2-out doubles, or getting raked over the coals by ancient A.J. Pierzynski, he just has no answer for any of this.

Still, he departed this game with a lead, thanks to single runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th, and thanks to a pair of clutch defensive plays from Michael Conforto. Conforto's throw home to nail Emilio Bonifacio to end the 7th inning was a real thing of beauty, and even more beautiful when you consider that this is usually the sort of play that would land Travis d'Arnaud back on the DL...except that he for once emerged unscathed.

And you start to think that once again the Mets will weather their way through a 1-run late inning lead...and then Addison Reed went splat on an 0-2 slider to Adonis Garcia that clearly didn't slide and wound up in the left field seats. And with one inning left to de-stun themselves, well, you know how it went from there.

So...yeah. I don't think any team with any sort of grand aspirations should be losing 4 games in a row to a team pushing 50 losses less than halfway into the season. But somehow they have.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Agony Of Victory

At this late part of the evening, it's easy to look back on this afternoon's Mets victory and just enjoy it. For a while there things seemed to be awfully Pyrrhic, what with the postgame news of Noah Syndergaard's elbow and Yoenis Cespedes' wrist, and whatever was going on with Zack Wheeler, but it seems as though everything is reasonably OK on all fronts.

The afternoon affair, of course, meant following, vaguely, at work, so I can't say I know an awful lot about what happened, but I know it was a back-and-forth affair that seemed to be like basically every other game the Mets and Royals have played against each other over the past year. The Mets score early, they get a Home Run from Asdrubal Cabrera, and an RBI hit from James Loney, and then the Royals dink and dunk Syndergaard to death and when he gives up a Home Run to Lord Cheslor Cuthbert, the game is tied. Maybe it wasn't quite in that order, but it happened, so we'll just go with it.

For as shaky as the Mets bullpen has seemed at times, they still manage to lead the Majors in Bullpen ERA, but they still don't have the flair of the Royals bullpen. So in a tie game in the later innings the game still feels like it's tilted Kansas City's way, but Matt Reynolds reached out and knocked his first Major League Home Run off of Joakim Soria in the last of the 6th inning to put the Mets back in front 4-3, and damned if that didn't hold up for the remainder of the game. In spite of being mostly gassed after working 8.2 innings on Tuesday night, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia held the line, stepping on the Royals throat and allowing them 1 hit over the final 3 innings to close out the victory.

So, the Mets sweep this abbreviated two-game series from the Royals. If they'd managed this sort of result several months ago, maybe we'd be feeling different right now. Hell, if they hadn't gotten swept by the miserable Braves last weekend maybe we'd be feeling different right now. But you just take what you can get at this point. At least for once everyone is in one piece for one day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Plan C

Tuesday night was, as the calendar fell, my 11th game of the season at Citi Field, and an important one at that, as the Mets had lost the last 4 games I'd been to, each one a more horrible slog than the one before it. I'd figured that the scheduled starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, would be helpful in ending this streak. But the Mets intervened in the middle of the day by dropping, rather innocuously, word that Syndergaard would be pushed to tomorrow, and Bartolo Colon would pitch tonight.

No matter, I hadn't seen Colon yet this season, so perhaps he could bring me some luck. Or perhaps my other half might bring me some luck, as she made the trek to Flushing with me for the first time this season ("I'll go when the weather warms up," she said. Have I mentioned she's not the sadist I am when it comes to this stuff?)

Of course, Colon lasted all of 4 pitches in this game, as his last one was whacked back at him by the whimsically-named Whit Merrifield, directly off his thumb. Not that you could tell the severity of it from my perch in section 513, but it didn't look great and, well, it spelled the end of his night.

So...now what? I go from Syndergaard to Colon to...Hansel Robles?

I've had a bit of love/hate with Robles this season because he still pitches like he did last year, which is that sometimes he looks really good, and sometimes he looks really terrible, and there tends to be no in-between. Lately, he'd been more terrible, so let's just say I felt a bit dubious when he emerged from the bullpen with 1 out in the 1st inning, and even more dubious when he gave up a hit to Alcides Escobar. But it turned from there. Robles struck out Eric Hosmer, Travis d'Arnaud, back from Purgatory, threw out Escobar attempting to steal, and the Mets just took it from there. Robles probably earned back some of the luster he'd lost with his effort this evening. Put in an impossible spot, Robles somehow managed to make it all the way to the 5th inning, mostly on what I have to imagine was guts. I figured he'd be done after the 3rd.

It took 5 relievers in total, but somehow, the Mets managed to hold down the Royals in a game that seemed to be heading down a path similar to a majority of the games these two teams played last Fall. The Mets took an early lead off Ian Kennedy thanks to a Home Run from AsdrubAl Cabrera and, later, a Home Run from Yoenis Cespedes, and that was it. The Mets opportunities were constantly snuffed out by Royals Outfielders running down fly balls that appearEd Headed for greatness, and as such the slim lead the Mets had remained slim throughout the game. This didn't bode well. Of course, Royals batters would get hits, and constantly had men on base, and they were doing their usual annoying thing of fouling off multiple pitches and making me squirm uncomfortably. They appeared primed to break through in the 5th, when Robles finally ran out of gas and gave up a run on a single by Tyler Eibner, one of those Social-Studies-Class-Kids. Erik Goeddel then came in and gave up a frighteningly long fly ball to pinch hitter Kendrys Morales, but it died at the warning track and landed in Granderson's glove. A rare opportunity where the ball didn't fall for the Royals.

You could, I suppose, make the argument that this is a vastly reduced Royals lineup, without hell-raisers like Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon or Ben Zobrist, but then again, the Mets are pretty reduced too. Whatever the Royals threw at the Mets, Robles, Goeddel, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia weathered and the Mets managed to come away with the 2-1 victory.

So, the streak has been broken. I'm not sure if this means I now have to bring my wife with me to every game (she would probably object), or if the Mets have to lose their starting pitcher after 1 batter, or there needs to be a drunken idiot running onto the field, but at least I don't have to carry around a losing streak any further. At least not until the next one.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Spare Me

I didn't see any part of Sunday's game, and clearly I'm better for it.

No half-assed exegesis today. The Mets don't deserve my time after an weekend like this.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

System Breakdown

It seems like, without fail, the Mets play these June series against the Braves and no matter what the state of either team is, the Mets usually do a great job of handing every game to the Braves. I know there was one year, I think 2008, when the Mets were on a little bit of a roll, and then went into Atlanta and got swept in a 4-game series. Last year, they played in Atlanta at home and then in Atlanta in June and I believe they lost 2 of 3 at Home, and had to mount a furious comeback in the final game just to get to that point, and then went to Atlanta and got swept and shut out by two guys making their Major League debuts.

And if it didn't exactly happen that way, at least it felt like it did.

The Mets are now doing the same thing once again, where for the second night in a row they basically did very little to stop the Braves from kicking them in the nuts and really enjoying it much more than they should.

For about 5 innings, everything was great. Cespedes hit a Home Run, Flores hit a Home Run, James Loney even hit a triple, Steven Matz was cruising along and all was well. But then the Braves started singling Matz to death, and then Jeff Francoeur dialed it back to 2005 and hit a Home Run, and Jim Henderson gave up the tying Home Run to Tyler Flowers and the whole game turned into a bad fish sandwich that someone tried to slam down the toilet.

In the 8th inning, Ender Inciarte led off against Addison Reed and slashed a double down the Left Field line, and started clapping and bouncing around like he was Shane Victorino once he reached 2nd Base. I knew right then and there the Mets were screwed, and of course I was right. It didn't matter if Curtis Granderson lollipopped a throw back into the infield and allowed Inciarte to reach 3rd, and it didn't matter that Inciarte charged home on a ball that trickled just far enough away from Rene Rivera. That's what actually happened, but if it hadn't, he still would have found a way to score. Sometimes, you can just tell from the way a guy looks out there.

The Mets have no such spark. Their attempts to dig themselves out of this 1-run deficit turned into horrible failures as in the 8th, Cabrera singled and was subsequently planted at 1st, as Terry Collins had the either brilliant-or-totally-stupid-but-definitely-divisive idea of pinch hitting for Michael Conforto once the Braves went to lefty Hunter Cervenka. This is OK, except that the best he could do was send up Matt Reynolds, who did nothing useful. In the 9th, Wilmer Flores got aboard and then James Loney hit a double up the gap. Certainly, the Mets would have been in good shape with men on 2nd and 3rd and none out, but instead, Flores was sent home, and in a sequence that just typifies the luck the Mets have had lately, the Braves executed a perfect relay and nailed Flores at the plate, and with that went the air from the Mets.

So...now what?  This game put me in a legitimate bad mood and I thought I was beyond the point where the Mets do this to me in June. I wasn't even at the game and it pissed me off. I mean, if this is going to turn into last year, that's one thing. But why make this so damn difficult?

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Stink

I sometimes think that my luck at Mets games tends to run from season to season. It may or may not matter how well the season goes, but my record at games can often be telling. A good example might be 2007, when the Mets won 88 games, but my record, 8-11, revealed the actual struggles of the team. Then, there's years like 2009, when I suffered through a miserable 8-game losing streak and kicked off Citi Field with a 5-11 record that was just as bad as it sounds.

I've been on a good run these past few seasons, a combined 25-13 in 2014 and 2015, but it seems like this year, I've got the stink. Tonight was my 10th game of the season at Citi Field, and the Mets completely lifeless effort against the generally lifeless Atlanta Braves resulted in a 5-1 loss, which was my 4th loss in a row and dropped my 2016 record to an awful 4-6.

When I start getting into losing streaks like this, I feel compelled to break from my usual OCD patterns. Tonight, I tried new company, an Actor colleague from my job, I tried buying my program from a vendor outside the stadium and I even tried writing in block letters in my scorecard. None of these things worked. When I went on Tuesday, I tried a different set of escalators, on the 1st base side as opposed to the 3rd base side. No luck there either.

I can always try my own methods of mojo reversal but really the problem is the Mets altogether. Though Matt Harvey and his white shoes regressed in a haze of gap-to-gap line drives across several innings, the real problem was the Mets inability to hit. John Gant, who I'd later learn was one of the pieces in the Uribe/Kelly Johnson trade last season, and his weird toe-tapping, balk-baiting pitching windup stifled the Mets over 6 innings. He allowed a leadoff double to Curtis Granderson and then nothing for the next several innings, while Mets batters stood around and did nothing particularly useful. The Braves kept tacking on runs and the Mets kept wasting opportunities. Nothing could have saved this one.

Really, the stink is bigger than just me. The Mets have stink crop up from time to time and, sure, one good hot streak could fix everything, but this season seems to be dissolving into 2001-ness. There's too many injuries to too many pieces and there's been no consistency so far. They've now dug themselves a 6-game hole behind Washington, which is bad enough, to say nothing of the fact that they've been completely blasted off of the MLB backpage by the World Series Champion Cubs. And now, they have a stretch where 7 of their next 10 games are against the Braves, a team that they should be flossing their teeth with, and they come out and shit the bed in the first game. That's a bad sign. This is all a bad sign.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Past and Past

The day for the Mets and basically everyone who follows them kind of got off to a morose start when the word came down that David Wright was going to have surgery on his neck that would basically end his season, and for all we know could end his career altogether.

I don't especially feel this is the proper place to eulogize Wright's career, whether this happens to be it or not. That's a different story for another time. Right now, the Mets still have a season to worry about and at this point, I'm not entirely convinced that they're not better off without Wright in the lineup. Think about it. 2006 David Wright wasn't walking out of that dugout. We'd been getting creaky, old David Wright that can't move along runners, can't drive guys in, occasionally pops a Home Run and just isn't hitting those authoritative line drives that he made his name with. To say nothing of the fact that he's been a walking strikeout most of the season anyway.

I know that Wright is the captain and there's a whole morale thing at work here but there's only so much that morale can do when the guy who's supposedly providing it isn't making a meaningful contribution. The larger issue for the Mets has been the compounding injuries. It's not just Wright out that's problematic, it's him, combined with Duda, and d'Arnaud, and Walker, and Conforto and even Lagares, and all the depth in the world can't compensate for so many missing pieces. But the remainder of these guys will be back at some point. Which is why I'm comfortable saying what I said last year when the Mets didn't trade for Tulowitzki: I remain all in on Wilmer Flores.

Of course, then Flores went out and got hurt in tonight's game, leaving after getting hit by a Juan Nicasio pitch. But the Mets won anyway, and part of the reason is that two of these hurt guys, Neil Walker and Michael Conforto, hit Home Runs and Conforto actually looked like a hitter again after a few days to recoup and clear his head. This, in support of Bartolo Colon, who had his usual solid effort and even chipped in with a double that brought the house down. The game, then, seemed mere scenery from everything else going on, but that's now two days in a row where the Mets offense actually looked like an offense and scored some runs, so that's a step in the right direction. Now comes a number of games against Atlanta, so if the Mets want to cut into this deficit they've gotten themselves into, now would be a good time to do that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Stealing Stolen Thunder

Figures, the night after I go to Citi Field and watch the Mets nearly get no-hit, they come out, score 11 runs and Noah Syndergaard comes within 2 outs of the ever-elusive CGShO.

For 9 innings on Tuesday, I watched the Mets offense masquerade as something that was supposed to resemble a baseball team walk around in circles and not do anything of value. It seems that they were saving their efforts for this evening, where they scored runs early and often, whipped around curly-haired moppet Jeff Locke and basically cruised home from there. Their 19 hits ended up being more than they'd generated in a single game all season. In fact, who can even remember the last time they banged out 19 hits in a game?

Still, for the exploits of Wilmer Flores, and Kelly Johnson, and even Matt Reynolds, who joined in on the fun, the night was stolen by Noah Syndergaard. This is usually the case when he pitches, but tonight he seemed intent on outdoing himself. The numbers, 5 hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts, are what you usually expect. But he was working at a more efficient rate than normal and as such, with his pitch count still hovering in the 70s as the game moved into the late innings, the specter of the Complete Game remained in the conversation. Yes, he did emerge for the 9th inning for the first time in his career, but it was an ill-fated endeavor as the Pirates finally managed to get to him for a pair of runs, knocking him out of the game after 8.1 innings and 115 pitches, which is probably about the maximum I'd trust him for.

Syndergaard, of course, spent the rest of the evening grousing that he didn't finish the game out, which is natural—8 innings with minimal hits and runs and double-digit strikeouts aren't new to him but going for a 9th inning isn't—and given that the opportunity to do so doesn't come up all that often unless you're Kershaw, you want to take advantage of that. So, let him work on finishing these things off. Like on a night when I'm there. Perhaps in his next start next Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Terrible And Terrible

It seems, just because of the nature of Baseball, that there are a few times each season where the Mets just deserve to be absolutely humiliated, for one reason or another. Whether it's because they don't hit, or they don't pitch, or they don't do either, or they're just not putting a team on the field worthy of a Major League game, they just deserve it.

Tonight at Citi Field was one of those nights.

It was my 9th game of the season, and I just kind of had an ominous feeling about things. I think most Mets fans probably did. If it wasn't bad enough that half the lineup was on the DL, the remaining useful pieces were somehow injured and yet not on the DL, meaning the active roster was clogged up with dead weight, meaning the Mets had to throw out a starting lineup with Alejandro De Aza leading off, and Kelly Johnson hitting 5th...and what's the use?

Jameson Taillon, in his 2nd Major League game, by all rights probably should have no-hit the Mets tonight. The Mets were just screaming to be no-hit. They spent most of the game swinging out of their shoes and mostly rolling over pitches to the point where I think I'd marked "4-3" in my scorecard before the batter even swung. Taillon threw 6 pitches in the 1st inning, and by the end of the 5th he'd barely cracked 50, and the Mets hadn't even sniffed a hit. I was beginning to think that they'd just bored the crowd to death until the end of the 6th inning, when, after another inning of Mets batters hitting weak rollers to 1st, there was an audible smattering of boos coming from the crowd. Most of them had had it. Hell, I'd had it. Here I was, about to watch the Mets get no-hit by a rookie for the 2nd year in a row. I'd already lived through the horror of Chris Heston. I didn't need to do this again.

Then again, when Curtis Granderson singled to lead off the 7th and break up the no-hit bid, the game turned from something ignominious to just plain boring. And the crowd that was slipping into the terror zone kind of just faded out into the night.

And all I'm thinking is Poor Jacob deGrom. Once again he pitched his ass off and for a while had the Pirates totally tied in knots. But he made one mistake pitch to Jung Ho Kang in the 6th, and Kang parked it in the seats and that basically was the entire game right there. I know somewhere, someone is blaming Jim Henderson for giving up the second HR to Starling Marte in the 8th or blaming Terry Collins for leaving Henderson in for a 2nd inning, and lord knows my initial reaction was to wonder why Henderson was still in the game, but in reality, did it matter? The game was already over. Why split hairs?

I guess the solace you can take here is that it seems like every June, the Mets go into stink mode where they stop hitting and everything is terrible, and last year they somehow managed to pull themselves out of the stew. Unfortunately, we still have to live through it. That's probably the most terrible thing of it all.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Go Home Already

I know that the medically-induced pregame departure of Terry Collins was probably weighing on the minds of the Mets as they went through Sunday afternoon's mess of a game in Milwaukee. That doesn't necessarily excuse them from their performance, which I'd consider something that more closely resembled the Pittsfield Mets than Major League Baseball.

By time I gave up on the game, I'd seen no less than 4 balls thrown not especially close to their intended targets, 2 bungled batted balls that were charitably scored hits and one pitcher visibly lose his shit on the mound. I'd also seen the Mets fall into a 5-0 hole against one of those irritating pitchers that looks like he should be going to Social Studies class, not a pitcher's mound.

But, there are days like this, and sometimes you just need to vomit it out of your system all at once. You knew that trouble was abound when Wilmer Flores butchered Ryan Braun's grounder in the 1st inning, kicking it into Left Field and allowing Braun to take 2nd, and then 3rd when Alejandro De Aza basically fired the ball into the front row seats behind 1st Base. Somehow, this was scored a Double and an Error but the writing was on the wall. Later, Steven Matz would throw away a bunt attempt leading to two runs, Flores would throw away another bunt leading to two more runs, and in the process Matz had a Brad Lesley-level meltdown on the mound and only fortunately did he regain enough composure to keep the score at 5-0 and grit his way through 6 innings.

Not that the offense helped much. Zach Davies, who pitched reasonably well against the Mets in New York, completely stifled them on Sunday, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the 1st inning and then allowing nothing thereafter, so that by time the Mets did mount a cosmetic rally, it was already too late. They'd lost me by that point anyway. After 6 innings, with little hope in sight, I threw in the towel. Sometimes, you've just seen enough.

So, this 10-game road trip ends with the Mets going 5-5. They probably should have gone 7-3 or 8-2 if they'd managed to hit and not just melt down completely yesterday. On the other hand, this road trip felt like they'd gone 3-7. Regardless, this is the second time they've gotten to the end of a long road trip and just fallen completely flat, so that's something I might be a little concerned about going forward. A nice day off today should help. I hope.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gone Shopping

I've been known to do a bit of errand-running on Saturday afternoons. This can become complicated by the Mets' proliferation of 4:10pm start times on Saturdays. I could try to go out beforehand, but often other things get in the way, or I sleep too late, or I just can't get my act together. Usually, the 5-6pm hour is prime time for me to go out.

This happened to me again yesterday. I had a whole assortment of things to do in the house, and with my other half out of town for the weekend, this meant a healthy dose of housecleaning (we have a bit of a Felix & Oscar relationship. I'm Felix). I'd finished up cleaning at around 3:45 or so, right around when I'd be sitting down to watch the game. So I decided I'd do that for a few innings, and then go out around the 4th inning, and then be back in time for the latter part of the game.

So, I'd left with the Mets down 3-2. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a 2-run Home Run in the 2nd, Logan Verrett promptly handed it back and then Ryan Braun hit a moonscraper of a Home Run into the greenish abyss of Miller Park (in my opinion the second ugliest of the "Old New" Stadiums, a ballpark with more space than they seemed to know what to do with, and so in Center Field is a giant green wall with nothing on it. The puke-green Hell Hole in Miami is, of course, the ugliest). No harm, no foul, and you figured the Mets would find a way to shoot a few more runs across against Wily Peralta.

I returned, of course, to a 5-3 score, with Verrett gone after suffering the indignity of surrendering a Home Run to Peralta in the 4th. Peralta, I'm told, is a bad hitter even for a pitcher, which of course might get him lumped in with Bartolo, except that Peralta isn't nearly as entertaining. Verrett was done for the day after that, allowing 5 runs in 4 innings and kind of wrecking the afternoon for the Mets. I figured I'd missed enough, but then Antonio Bastardo gave up a Home Run to Scooter Gennett and then another one to Ryan Braun, and at that point I figured I probably should have stayed out longer. Or maybe I'd jinxed the team by going out during the game in the first place. Either way, when you allow 5 runs in a game, it's not good.

You know, there's bad wins like what happened last night and I know some people kind of wanted to shove it under the rug and forget it happened, but I'll take 10 games like last night instead of games like this, that are just boring to watch and even worse to blog about because you have to come up with something more profound than "This Game Stunk." Or maybe I don't. This game stunk.

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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not As Good As It Appears

If you were casually watching the Mets/Brewers game on Thursday, only paying attention in bits and pieces, you probably would have figured the Mets won the game 10-0.

It felt like the Mets probably should have won the game by that score, or at least scored that many runs in the process of winning, but they only managed to plate 5, and it took a pair of late-inning rallies to push their tally to that high a number as they beat the Brewers in the opening game of their 4-game series, 5-2.

The Mets jumped on hapless Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson early and often. Curtis Granderson does what he usually does and hit a Home Run to lead off the game, and the Mets generally had a lot of men on base, as their 13 hits for the game would indicate. But even though they were getting hits, they didn't score much in the way of runs, which is of course the ongoing problem that the offense has had. They hit tons of Home Runs, which is great after years upon years of the Mets not being a team that hit with a lot of power, but while this is a departure from years past, the inability to get hits with men on base and 2 outs seems a bit of the same old story. No, it's not always the case, and even this season they've had stretches where those hits do fall, but by and large it seems like the Mets have a problem killing their own rallies. The Mets had a runner in the 2nd, 2 men on in the 3rd (when in their defense they did score a run), and the bases loaded in the 4th, and none scored. And Nelson, who appeared Headed for an early exit, somehow managed to weather his way through 6 innings.

But, of course, the Brewers were little more than a minor irritant for Bartolo Colon, who gave them a healthy dose of Cheesele Gum en route to yet another strong 7-inning effort, in which he was basically cruising the entire way and only hiccuped right at the end, when his pregame block of cheese finally caught up with him Kirk Nieuwenhuis reached him for a double and then scored when Hernan Perez basically hit a line drive through Neil Walker.

The larger issue, of course, was that once the Brewers scored, it was then a 2-1 game and kind of a dicey situation. All those missed opportunities appeared primed to bite the Mets in the ass. In the 8th, against Corey Knebel, the Mets again got men on base, and in fact had the bases loaded with none out. Unfortunately, Kevin Plawecki, who's lost in the Keith Hernandez Dark Forest, the Pitcher's spot and Granderson were to follow, so nothing was guaranteed. In fact, I was waiting for the 5-2-3 DP followed by a strikeout or something similarly horrible like 3 straight pop outs. But Plawecki shut me up this time by grounding a ball through the left side for a 2-run single. In the 9th, there were more baserunners and an RBI single from Matt Reynolds, pushing the Mets run total to a mighty 5.

This was, ultimately, enough to net a victory. Even though Addison Reed allowed a run in the 8th (and he was due after not allowing a run in about a month), Jeurys Familia came in and this time worked a perfect 9th inning to close things out.

After a JoFer-induced 3-game slumber, the Mets now have come back and scored 5+ runs in 2 straight games, which feels like a bit of an avalanche in the grand scheme of things. Yes, the Brewers porous pitching does help things, but again, the Mets have faced plenty of porous pitching and not hit at all. You take advantage of the situation as much as possible.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ye Sloggers

The early portion of last night's Mets/Pirates game held to the script that I'd predicted. Noah Syndergaard wasn't quite at his best, and the Pirates dinged him for a pair of runs in a sweaty, 30-pitch 1st inning. Meanwhile, the Mets patchwork lineup was doing nothing against Jameson Taillon. Through 3 innings, Taillon was having a dream debut, carving up the Mets without much extraneous effort.

But somehow, the Mets fought back, and because of the nature of the game and the nature of the Mets at this particular point in time, it ended up being an unlikely source to get the big hit as Ty Kelly hit his first Major League Home Run with 2 outs in the 4th inning to tie the game. Kelly was later seen in the dugout jubilantly pumping his fists, and perhaps he was acting on behalf of all Mets fans, because finally, someone had stepped up and gotten a key hit in a spot where the Mets desperately needed one.

Still, there was a long way to go for the Mets to get through this game. Syndergaard immediately handed the lead back to the Pirates in the last of the 4th inning, but as he can sometimes do, he made up for it himself by doubling and later scoring in the 5th on a Michael Conforto Sacrifice fly.

The game remained tied into the late innings. Syndergaard and Taillon both departed after 6, and it seemed like clockwork that the Pirates immediately jumped on the bullpen as no sooner had Jim Henderson hit the mound that the Pirates scored another 2 runs to go back ahead 5-3. This is how it's been for the Mets. Try to keep it close, try to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can and yet it's still not enough. PNC Park and Pittsburgh haven't been as awful for the Mets as, say, San Diego or Atlanta, but the Mets hadn't won a game there in 2 seasons, they hadn't beaten the Pirates period in 2 seasons, and it seemed as though this game was headed down a parallel track. It was enough to make me want to go to bed right there.

Again, though, the Mets got off the mat. A.J. Schugel walked Alejandro De Aza to start the 8th, departed in favor of Jared Hughes and Conforto re-re-tied the game with a 2-run Home Run. Again, somewhat unlikely, for although Conforto will eventually be a likely suspect, he hasn't looked much the part of late. Not that it's of particular concern right now because young hitters often go through valleys like this, but then again, it's a testament to his fortitude to come up and do something like this even when he's in the midst of an extended slump.

So, 5-5 and away we go again. Addison Reed put the Pirates to sleep in the 8th and again in the 9th, while the Mets did little against Tony Watson, and so it was off to Extra Innings. After playing a Doubleheader on Tuesday. And with a flight to Milwaukee coming up immediately afterward. Extra Innings, it seems, hasn't been a winning proposition for the Mets of late, even though they've managed to avoid them altogether for the most part this season. A few years ago, it seemed like the Mets would play Extra Inning games on a regular basis, primarily because they were often only good enough to extend games before disaster hit. It happens less now, I suppose, because they're more decisive in their wins and losses. Or this is just one of those vicissitudes of Baseball. Probably that. But here we were on June 8th and the Mets were playing just their 3rd Extra Inning game of the season after having lost their first two, so one couldn't be blamed for having a kind of ominous feeling. Even after the Mets rallied against Cory Luebke and scored a run to take the lead for the first time all night on a dying quail of a hit from Wilmer Flores, I still felt uneasy.

Jeurys Familia, who for as shaky as he's often looked at times this season still hasn't blown a save, came in for the last of the 10th and immediately walked Fake Paul LoDuca. I mean, if he was going to do that, couldn't he have just saved the time and the pitches by sticking it in Cervelli's ribs like he deserved? While I was still stewing over this, Familia walked Jordy Mercer. Now he was in some shit. You could just see the gap hit coming and Cervelli doing a back flip across Home Plate in celebration. But Sean Rodriguez did what was most helpful and hit into a Double Play. So what does Familia do next? HE WALKS THE NEXT BATTER! I don't know what the hell the deal was, but Familia just seemed bound and determined to make this as difficult as possible. He was all over the place. David Freese followed and now I wasn't thinking game-winning hit, I was thinking game-tying hit and 15-inning debacle where they have to put deGrom in Left Field and Matt Reynolds pitches. But, Freese struck out, looking at the one good Slider Familia threw in the inning. Familia probably looked as bad as a closer could possibly look in a Save situation without actually blowing the Save and so, for as odd as it still sounds, remained perfect on the season in Save opportunities.

So, the Mets managed to escape Pittsburgh with their first win there in two years. I mean, sometimes you need to win a horrendous slog of a game like this in order to get yourselves back in line. A loss in the big picture probably wouldn't have been a disaster, although it would have meant 4 in a row and a legit losing streak. It would, however, have led to large amounts of panic in the press and among fans, and also meant that there would officially be a "Pittsburgh Thing" with the Mets. If nothing else, I'm glad to avoid either of those things for the moment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Double Misery

I'm not sure it's not just easier to say that the Pirates beat the Mets 6-2 in 18 innings on Tuesday as opposed to breaking down the shit stew of Baseball we were subjected to.

The Mets right now look exactly like they did in June of last year, which I suppose on the one hand is a good thing because they turned it around last year, but on the other hand why the fuck is this still going on? I really believed that the issues of offense and depth had been properly addressed and we weren't going to have to deal with any more extended stretches of games where our awesome starters pitch as well as can reasonably be expected of them and lose because the offense can't score a damn run. But I see I was mistaken.

So, I mean, someone owes Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom a dinner or a new Car or something because neither of them pitched especially badly. No, Matz wasn't great in the early game but he at least kept the damage against him to a minimum. deGrom had a bad 2nd inning in the nightcap. That's it. But for all intents and purposes both games appeared over once they gave up a 2nd run, and that's not sustainable at this level of play.

I know, I know, it's only June, but I feel like we have to go through this every season. You mean to tell me that the Mets couldn't figure out a way to get a run off of Jon Niese? I figured all the Mets would have to do is get a guy on 1st and have him sneeze and he'd give up 4 runs. But not the way the Mets offense is going. Steven Matz hits a triple in the 5th inning and gets stranded there because the next two guys ground out. Niese throws 7 shutout innings. Is that totally galling or what? The Mets did a wonderful job in the nightcap of making Juan Nicasio look similarly awesome.

The larger issue here is that there isn't any relief in sight. At least for the immediate time this is what we're stuck with because the 4 injured guys aren't close to coming back and there isn't exactly adequate talent available to call up. But, again, that was the same issue last year. Instead of dealing with Muno, Ceciliano, Mayberry and Recker we have Plawecki, Campbell, Reynolds and Kelly...are we at all convinced?

So, yeah. The Mets were sort of heading for a day like this. I'm not sure why I get worked up about it anymore but I guess I can't help it. Or am I that worked up at all? It seems to me in 2007/08 when this was happening, I'd go into a full-scale Francesa-level meltdown. Perhaps I've mellowed in my old age. Tomorrow, of course, the Mets send Noah Syndergaard to the mound against Jameson Taillon, the hotshot Pirates prospect making his Major League debut. Is there anyone out there who isn't convinced that Taillon is going to throw 8 shutout innings, with 1 hit and 12 strikeouts? Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Niese Knows

I was all geared up for the Mets to come into Pittsburgh to face our old friend Jon Niese on Monday night, but the rain intervened, so instead there's a Doubleheader tomorrow. And I don't mean the fake "Doubleheader" that involves a separate admission, a real, actual single-admission Doubleheader.

So we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see Niese, and I suppose on some level I wanted to wax poetic on his time with the Mets, but who cares. We know what happened. There was a lot of potential, and perhaps some of it was unfairly placed on him simply because he was a young pitcher with a modicum of talent on a really crummy team. But he never really took The Leap we expected him to take and in retrospect I wonder if he ever really had it in him.

Really, the takeaway we all had from Niese was that he was an enormous headcase who had the tendency to go to pieces whenever something bad happened, and given some of the Mets teams he played on, that was fairly often. Yes, he also had moments where he looked really, really good too. But those were all too infrequent. And, of course, he ultimately became the odd man out in a crowded rotation and was subsequently dealt to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker, who returns to his hometown and I'm sure some Pittsburgh Blogger is writing a similarly-worded post about Walker and his time with Ye Pirates.

I'd like to think that we'll see The Niese Inning at some point tomorrow. I have this sinking feeling that that might not happen, though. Not because Niese has revenge on his mind, but because the Mets right now can't do a damn thing offensively and there's no sign of reinforcements.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Your World Series

I was late in putting on Sunday's game. So late, in fact, that by time I did put it on, it was the top of the 7th inning, and the Mets had 2 men on, and 2 out, and Wilmer Flores was at the plate. Jose Fernandez had been dealing most of the day to that point, but he'd been mostly matched by Matt Harvey as the 1-0 score indicated. Of course, it was the Marlins with the one. So Fernandez strikes out Flores, and then he starts screaming and yelling and pumping his fists and basically rips his jersey off in the middle of the field.

I was beginning to compose a blog in my head about how sophomoric Fernandez was behaving. But it dawned on me. Fernandez has spent his entire career pitching for the Bum-ass Marlins, essentially a fake team that has no aspirations, no direction and is little more than a stain on the underpants of Major League Baseball. Pitching 7 shutout innings against the team that went to the World Series might be the biggest thing that's happened to him in his career. In fact, for the Marlins, this was probably their equivalent of the World Series. So, you know what, I don't blame Fernandez for going over the top like that. Let him be excited. That's probably as good as it's going to get for him this season.

Of course, what's besides the point is that the Mets continued to have a hard time generating offense, as they didn't hit Fernandez, but also didn't do anything against Corbett Conley in the 8th inning or their irritating fidgety closer A.J. Ramos in the 9th. So, you know, it's not like they posed much of a challenge. At least Harvey pitched well again, so you can take that as a moral victory, and at least they won the first two games of the series, so it's not a total loss.

On to Pittsburgh.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Antimarlin Game

The Mets ground out a rather dumbfounding 6-4 victory over the Mickey Mouse Marlins on Saturday that sort of underscored just how much this team has been wracked by injuries over the past few weeks, how much they need reinforcements, and, perhaps, how much better their team depth is in 2016 than it was in the early goings of 2015.

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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Echo Chamber

Most games played in that puke-green hell hole known more colloquially as Mickey Mouse Taxpayer Fraud Marlins Park tend to sound, to those watching on TV or listening on radio, as though they were being played in an airplane hanger. It's not because the stadium's roof is usually closed to protect the people of Miami from their normal Summertime temperatures of 89˚ with 142% humidity and a rogue late-day torrential downpour. It's because there's nobody in the stadium. So sounds just carry and echo and everything sounds weird. I feel the need to point this out every time the Mets go to Miami, just because I feel it's my duty as a Mets fan to clown the Marlins and remind everyone what a joke of a franchise they are.

When the Mets come to town, there's usually a spike in attendance. South Florida is full of transplanted New Yorkers that root for the Mets, and so, you know, they're a draw. Add Noah Syndergaard to the mix and perhaps it felt like a sellout on Friday night, with a robust crowd of 22,269 on hand. The Marlins, as we all know, only have about 4 fans, and really, if you're a Marlins fan and you stuck by this team, I'm not sure whether you deserve a Purple Heart or a kick in the head for all the crap that you continually have to endure. Remember, this is a team that's so obsessed with image over substance that they purposely hired Celebrity Manager and Celebrity Hitting Coach as a cheap ploy to try and be relevant.

All that being said, strange things tend to happen to the Mets when they go to Florida, and it's usually not good. It was already odd enough that the calendar had already turned to June and the Mets were making their first trip of the season to Wonderwheel Park. Then, there was the news that David Wright was headed to the DL for an undetermined period of time. I can't really say that this is a bad thing, though, considering that Wright's been a walking strikeout for the majority of the season and really a shell of what he once was. The real problem is that the Mets have really been decimated by injuries, to the point where Neil Walker was in the cleanup spot and guys like James Loney and Rene Rivera were now heavily involved in the picture. This kind of gave the proceedings an ominous overtone, but after looking mostly sluggish against the Dodgers and White Sox, the Mets woke up, hit 3 Home Runs and beat the Marlins 6-2.

Syndergaard, after his brief cameo on Tuesday, pitched his normal compliment of 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and striking out 9, and then later revealing he didn't have his best stuff and really had to battle his way through a few innings. Fortunately, the Mets were able to plate a couple of runs off of Tom Koehler, and in the 7th inning, James Loney had his official "WELCOME TO NEW YORK" moment when he hit his first Home Run as a Met, a 2-run shot off of Mike Dunn (duh YANKEE PROSPECT) that put the Mets ahead for good. In the 9th inning, Rene Rivera hit a Home Run of his own to give the Mets some breathing room.

So, in spite of all that's gone on, the Mets still manage to piece these things together and get contributions from these irregular guys. I don't know how long this is going to last, but the more you can cobble these things together, the better a situation you'll be in when the regular guys do get back. Whenever that is.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Punch And Punchy

Over the final 5 games of this 6 game homestand, the Mets scored a grand total of 9 runs. It should come as no surprise that their record in said 5 games was 1-4. The numbers are positively 2015.

The finale of this stretch was a real humdinger of a game, a total shit show that lasted 4 hours and 41 minutes, ran 13 innings, and was decided by Colon-like Pitcher Matt Albers drilling his first hit since 2007 and eventually scoring the game's winning run in a 2-1 mess of a game.

Lost in the box score, then, was Jacob deGrom's best outing of the season, a sterling 7-inning effort that saw him regain some of the luster he'd been lacking at times this season, giving up 5 hits, walking 2 and striking out 10. Unfortunately, in that 7th inning, he allowed a Home Run to Todd Frazier, a real sin of a thing to do because the Mets had already plated their daily run and he clearly needed to make it stand up.

So, 1-1, and away we went. As this was an afternoon game, I was relegated to sporadically following things on Gamecast, but, as usual, I have work that gets in the way, so after seeing 1-1 in the 7th inning, by time I looked again it was 1-1 in the 10th inning, followed by 1-1 in the 12th inning. This, I suppose, shouldn't have been much of a surprise. Once again operating with a short bench and a lineup that lacked Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets trotted out a lineup that included Ty Kelly, Rene Rivera, James Loney and Juan Lagares. Combine that with Michael Conforto earning the dreaded Golden Sombrero and Curtis Granderson hitting .211, and, well, you know where this is going.

I'm sure plenty of people decided instead to complain about the bullpen blowing the game again, but, much like Tuesday night, how much of that is true? Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia, Antonio Bastardo and Jim Henderson allowed a whole lot of nothing over their innings of work, and Hansel Robles also didn't give anything up, but I'm told he left with an injury so maybe that's got something to do with it. Logan Verrett was probably thrown in in the 12th with instructions to just suck it up, and he was well on his way to doing so until Albers stole the show by hitting a double to lead off the 13th, moved to 3rd when an obviously stunned Verrett threw a Wild Pitch, and then scored on a Sac Fly by Jose Abreu. Given Albers physical appearance and the fact that he's been an American League pitcher his entire career, I suppose this must be the White Sox version of a Bartolo Colon Home Run. It certainly seems to be the story of this game.

And that only underscores the problem. This is kind of embarrassing.