Thursday, April 20, 2017

Born To (Home) Run

Wednesday night's game appeared to be headed down a similar track as Tuesday's. In miserable weather, perhaps colder than last night, combined with some late-inning rain, the Mets held a late one-run lead over the Phillies. Robert Gsellman had done yeoman's work getting himself into the 8th inning, but a leadoff double knocked him out and the run ended up scoring thanks to a 2-out, 2-strike dying quail of a hit that landed in front of Yoenis Cespedes. But, unlike in the previous few nights where the Mets could not respond, on this night they did as Jay Bruce hit a 2-run Home Run in the bottom of the 8th to provide the Mets just enough to hang on and win the game, 5-4 and end this mystifying 4-game losing streak in which everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong.

It of course is always irritating to me when I go to the first game of a series and the Mets lose, and then come back and win the next night, and that's no different on this evening, although in reality, I can't say I missed sitting out in weather that appeared to be colder on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday, among an even sparser crowd than Tuesday, in intermittent rain and from what Howie Rose told me on the radio, a dead standstill in transit as the 7 train had suspended service entirely right in the thick of the evening rush. So even if I had gone to this game instead, I would have been just as cranky and miserable as I was on Tuesday. On the other hand, the Mets win probably would have made it more worth it.

But so the game, which in addition to the positive outcome appeared to move at a much brisker pace than Tuesday, boiled down to Robert Gsellman's ability to just be his own bridge, keep the Phillies at bay and keep the Mets in the game, and he did that. Gsellman hadn't been especially good in either of his first two outings, and yes, one of them was the 16-inning game last week but in neither game did we see the toughness he'd displayed late last season. Wednesday night, we saw it back and for the most part he looked really good. He made himself the 1st starting pitcher to make the 8th inning this season by allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts through the first 7 innings. Yes, the Phillies annoyingly undid his effort by tying the game in excruciating fashion. However, Gsellman more importantly kept a majority of the Mets' relievers in the bullpen, which was good because I already discussed how the bullpen is burned out 3 weeks into the season and that's not safe.

Meanwhile, the offense continued to stagnate. Curtis Granderson isn't hitting which isn't anything new because he always starts slow. Jose Reyes isn't hitting and is kind of becoming a liability to the point where maybe it's time to just give Wilmer Flores the job or give Amed Rosario a buzz. And of course if that wasn't bad enough, two guys who were hitting, Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, left the game with injuries. Duda got banged in a rather ugly-looking collision at 1st base and at this point diagnosis seems uncertain. d'Arnaud banged his hand on someone's bat and later came out which is concerning because every time d'Arnaud comes out of a game because of an injury we don't see him again for two months, but hopefully it doesn't come to that. So, it came down to the one guy left who's been hitting, and that's Jay Bruce. I went into this season talking about how Bruce seemed out of place here and he may still be out of place here but to his credit all he's done this season is shut up and hit and basically he won this game by himself. The Mets looked dead in the water until Bruce hit a 3-run Home Run in the 6th to put the Mets ahead and then in the 8th, after the Phillies tied the game, he basically decided he'd had enough of this and hit another Home Run, this one a 2-run job, to put the Mets ahead for good and, of all things, earning himself a curtain call. And, well, he deserves it. I don't know how long this will last, I don't know how long he is for this team, I know he's a Free Agent to be, but hell, he needed to have a start like this because there's multiple players here that could very easily take his job and he's making it hard for anyone to do that right now.

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