Thursday, April 13, 2017
Just Like They Drew it Up
On Wednesday, the script was apparently no script whatsoever.
The late scratch of Granderson prior to the series finale in Philadelphia led to the somewhat incongruous sight of Michael Conforto starting in Center field and batting 1st. I'm not sure if anybody ever projected Conforto as a leadoff hitter, but it seemed to work. In the 1st inning, he singled and scored on a Yoenis Cespedes double. In the 3rd, he blasted a Home Run out to left field off of Vince Velasquez. Later, he walked and scored on a Cespedes sac fly. Through 5 innings, he'd scored 3 of the 5 Mets runs, the Mets were running off with a 5-0 lead, and things were just lovely.
One of the reasons they were so lovely was that Zack Wheeler, in his second start back from his extended absence, was brilliant, shutting down the Phillies and looking more like what we'd hoped. I again think it will be a mixture of his first two starts for some time, but the hope, of course, is that we see more of what we saw through the first 5 innings last night as opposed to the dreck we saw against Miami.
Then, of course, Wheeler hit the 6th and ran out of steam, allowing two hits and a walk and then departing with two outs. This is OK in and of itself, except that in the 6th inning, the Mets seem to be in a bit of a grey area in their bullpen. This may right itself once Familia returns, but currently what we get in these spots is Hansel Robles, who was appearing for the 3rd game in a row. Robles, in the early going, is a leading candidate for a Ballclub Flog, as evidenced by the fact that he came in and Maikel Franco immediately blasted his first pitch over the Center Field fence for a Grand Slam that turned an easy 5-0 lead into a hairy 5-4 game, results in doubt. And this is simply Robles. It's just Robles. No consistency and constant agita, and I didn't even have to listen to Joe Benigno to know he used that word to describe Robles.
So, now it's a one-run game and now this game has all the makings of one of those head-scratchers that gets away, and for whatever reason Robles is still in the game. He walks another guy before finally getting out of the 6th...and yet mysteriously there he was back out there in the 7th. Fortunately, after getting his good buddy Cameron Rupp to ground out he was removed and order was restored. The good quotient of the bullpen then followed, as Jerry Blevins got through the 7th, Fernando Salas commandeered the 8th and Addison Reed finished things off in the 9th, all of them accomplishing what they needed to with little drama. Which is just as well because the Mets stopped hitting after the 5th.
But, this Mets team has teeth, whether you want to recognize that or not. They won't win all the time and there will certainly be times that they will play those mystifying kinds of games where nothing goes right. But more often than not they're going to play like this, and in a situation where they need to lock it down, they're going to lock it down. It might not be quite the way it was intended, but in this series sweep of Philadelphia, they've proven they have many different ways that they can beat their opponent.