Wednesday, May 31, 2017

That's Nice Of You

The Mets had one of those "in spite of themselves" wins on Tuesday night. First of all, they started Tyler Pill, who's one of those Dillon Gee-types (in fact, I believe Gee was name-checked on more than one Mets broadcast) in that he's a pitcher who doesn't "trade high" because he doesn't have "great stuff" but he manages to overachieve because he's a "Gamer." That's a polite way of saying Pill has an excellent chance of being a spot-starter or #5 starter for a while, and he might have a hot month here and there, but don't expect too much.

But Pill surprised us all on Tuesday by working his way into and deftly out of some jams against a tough Milwaukee lineup (that's tough in spite of the fact that you haven't heard of any of them but we learned that when the Mets played them in Milwaukee). Pill gutted his way through 5.1 innings allowing just one run and departing with a 2-1 lead that became a 4-1 lead when Lucas Duda hit a Home Run in the bottom of the 6th. But, of course, since the Mets bullpen is a consistently dicey proposition, they found themselves in a sticky situation in the 7th inning when Fernando Salas loaded the bases and then had to turn things over to Jerry Blevins in order to rescue him. Blevins did his job; he struck out Travis Shaw and in spite of issuing a run-scoring walk to Domingo Santana, got Jett Bandy (still not to be confused with Jaff Decker) to pop up for what appeared to be an inning-ending out. But Asdrubal Cabrera had a moment with Baseball and did not catch the popup, and to everyone's abject horror, two runs scored and the game was tied. Goodbye, Tyler Pill Win, Hello, references to woebegone Mets Middle Infielders who should not be mentioned in polite company.

Then, of course, came the bullpen parade. Neftali Feliz begat Josh Edgin, begat Jacob Barnes, begat Addison Reed, begat Corey Knebel, begat Josh Smoker, and so on, and so forth. Mets relievers handed Brewer batters walks seemingly at will. The Mets batters did a good job of not doing much of anything. Finally, it seemed that Smoker was going to go the limit for the Mets, as the only "available" reliever was Neil Ramirez, whom nobody wanted to see. So it became somewhat imperative that the Mets figure out a way to score, particularly against Wily Peralta, deposed as a starter due to repeated ineffectiveness that seemed to disappear whenever he faced the Mets. So in the 11th, Peralta set the Mets down in order.

But finally, the Mets managed to break through in the 12th, the last possible moment before a Ramirez sighting. T.J. Rivera, whom we haven't heard much from lately (he was falling victim to the curse of overexposure anyway) hit for Smoker and singled. Michael Conforto walked. Jose Reyes moved up Rivera by grounding into a Fielder's Choice. That brought up Jay Bruce, who mercifully singled to center to score Rivera to win the game, probably about 75 minutes later than it should have ended. Irregardless, the Mets did manage to win, which is probably the most important thing. After all that, it's nice that the Mets could figure out a way to win a game like this.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

One for Two

Much like every game from the past weekend, I didn't see much of Monday afternoon's Memorial Day affair against the Milwaukee Brewers. Under other circumstances, perhaps I might have been at the game. I did have tickets at one point, as a part of my ticket package, but knowing that it was highly unlikely I'd actually be at the game, I took advantage of the perks afforded me by the Mets and swapped out the tickets.

The Mets won the game I swapped to, so I already had that in the bank, but they won yesterday as well, 4-2 over the Brewers, behind Robert Gsellman. As such, they accomplished something they could not do while they were in Milwaukee—beat the Brewers. Again, not that I saw much, but Gsellman basically won the game by himself. In addition to pitching 7 innings—a luxury given how porous the starting pitching has been of late—and also drove in a pair of runs without the virtue of picking up a hit. This, of course, provided him with his margin of victory. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 5th, Gsellman found himself at bat with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs after an RBI double by Rene Rivera tied the score. Rather than attempt a squeeze play or give himself up, Gsellman poked a fly ball to right for a sacrifice fly that scored Wilmer Flores.

One inning later, Gsellman found himself ahead 3-2 and at bat with the Bases loaded and 2 outs against Rob Scahill...and he worked out a walk to force home a run and make the score 4-2.

Having done whatever he possibly could and then some to get himself a win, Gsellman turned the ball over to Paul Sewald for the 8th and Addison Reed, who survived a hairy 9th and the Mets finished out a victory to start off this series and actually put the Mets on a 2-game win streak, something they've been hard pressed to accomplish over the past month.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Can't See

You'll have to excuse my once again totally half-assing this past weekend's games. My other half and I were away for the weekend, off to Boston, where it's All Red Sox, All The Time and if you're not the Red Sox you may as well not exist. So I didn't see much—or really any for the most part—of the weekend series in Pittsburgh.

Friday night, we were in transit, driving up to Boston and so the game was a mystery. Only when we stopped for dinner somewhere in Connecticut did I check my phone and see that the Mets were ahead by a sizeable margin, thanks to Neil Walker, who returned home and I suppose it could be said he Daniel Murphied the Pirates, hitting two Home Runs in support of Jacob deGrom, who's looking much more like himself lately and—gasp—pitched into the 9th inning! Mets win 8-1, malaise-induced losing streak stopped.

Saturday, we were out and about in Boston and although I entertained trying to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, I couldn't sell my other half on this and so I decided to pass. I ended up missing a Complete game Shutout tossed by Brian Johnson—something any Mets starter would be hard-pressed to accomplish these days—but I figured I'd at least get to see the latter part of the Mets game from my hotel since it was on FOX. Yes, for once, I was looking forward to a game on FOX. So I get back to the room, put on the TV, search for FOX...and find the Astros and Orioles. That's not the Mets and the game was a total bore, although the Astros seem to have a bunch of wonderfully enjoyable players, among them George Springer. who had a nice game. But no Mets. So I don't know what happened to the Mets up until the 9th inning, when Addison Reed blew a slim lead, the game went into extra innings, Rookie Tyler Pill was inserted in the 10th and immediately pitched like a Rookie making his Major League Debut on the road in an extra inning game, and the Mets lost 5-4.

Sunday was more of the same, although this time I knew I was guaranteed to see at least some brief snippet of the Mets game as they were scheduled for The Biggest Game In The Galaxy on ESPN and therefore wouldn't be subjected to a regional blackout. Further, we'd been taken to dinner by some local friends at a roadhouse with TVs. The TVs being the only redeeming feature of the joint because at least I could peer over and see what was going on. Matt Harvey seemed to look a little bit like his old self, and by time we left, the Mets had gone ahead 2-1 thanks to an Asdrubal Cabrera 2-run double. It was 5-1 when I resumed watching and only up from there. Harvey looked better than he'd looked all season through 6 innings, Lucas Duda hit a Home Run and the Mets did not make asses of themselves in front of a national audience, winning 7-2.

Still, the Mets went 3-3 in a week where they probably should have gone 6-0 and beat the tar out of some lousy teams. They continue to be unable to find a toehold or momentum off these wins and as such, the team appears about as boring as the teams they're playing. 21-27 on Memorial Day isn't what any of us were thinking.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Noodle Team

I would think it's safe to say most Mets fans are searching for some kind of answer after the way the last two games against the Padres played out. I have none. In terrible weather, the Mets, behind "spot starter" Rafael Montero, fell behind early, couldn't hit Dinelson Lamet, because historically when have the Mets ever hit a guy making his Major League debut, and against a meek Padres team the Mets just proved themselves even meeker in a 4-3 loss.

You could point to Michael Conforto striking out 4 times, or Jay Bruce popping out with the winning runs on base, or Addison Reed giving up what would prove to be the winning run in the 9th, or Asdrubal Cabrera, fresh off the DL, for grounding into a double play in a key spot in the 8th, but really, this game will be defined wholly by Rafael Montero and his complete and total inability to perform at the Major League level. I know that Montero somehow managed to work his way back into everyone's good graces by having a strong spring, but lots of players have strong springs and then fail to answer the bell once the season begins. This is the story of Montero's career. Tons of potential and no follow through. Given a cookie start against an opponent that should have been a cookie, Montero threw 47 pitches in the 1st inning. 47! It's more an indictment of the Padres that the score was only 2-0 at that point. Usually, when a pitcher slogs through 47 pitches in an inning, you figure the other team has hung 5-6 runs on him. But no. the Padres let him off easy. Hell, the Marlins hung 7 on him without him having to throw that many pitches.

47 in the 1st inning. By the 3rd he'd thrown 87 and I think everyone had seen enough. Paul Sewald followed and in the same number of innings threw fewer than half as many pitches and allowed 3 fewer runs. Maybe he should have been the spot starter.

I fell asleep at some point so I don't really know what went on from there. Montero will do that to you. Other than to say that by time I woke up and turned the game back on, it was the 9th inning and things hadn't exactly improved.

The Mets right now can't get out of their own way. I know that seasons go through ebbs and flows and at some point in the middle of last August I'd thought hope was lost and then it wasn't, so this group has done stranger things in less time. But under those circumstances they didn't have a bullpen full of noodles. Doesn't matter who gets used where or when, it seems. So, I mean, you want an answer? Don't look at me, man.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Inescapable Stupid

The Mets will, over the course of the season, invariably lose games to teams they ought to beat handily. Such a thing happened this evening. The Mets ran out to a 5-1 lead over the miserable Padres behind some modest hitting and a solid effort from Robert Gsellman. Gsellman departed after 6 innings, and the bullpen blew the lead and ultimately the game, allowing 5 runs before 4 pitchers collectively could record 4 outs. Still, the Mets had opportunity as the Padres seemed more than happy to hand the game back over to the Mets, but the Mets just didn't seem capable of picking up the social cue as they loaded the bases with no outs in the 9th, and when a single would likely have won the game, the next two batters struck out, and the third batter flew out meekly, and the Mets came away with a puzzling 6-5 loss.

Things started off similarly to last night. The Mets banged out several early hits off of oft-injured former gambling addict Jarred Cosart, among them a 3-run double from Wilmer Flores to kick start a 4-run 3rd inning that ultimately knocked Cosart from the game outright. They plated another run in the 4th and everything was lovely. Gsellman, in his return to the rotation, pitched reasonably well against the Padres, which is what you'd expect because the Padres lineup is just a melange of boring. Gsellman made it through 6 but was pulled there after 84 pitches, a curious move considering the state of the Mets bullpen and the fact that Blevins and Sewald, perhaps the only two somewhat-reliable arms, were deemed unavailable. But Fernando Salas, who pitched close to 2 innings on Tuesday, was, and of course after getting two outs ran out of steam. He gave up a hit to Chase d'Arnaud (which is more than could be said for his brother on this night), and then walked Matt Szczur (because Szczur's whole deal is drawing walks and being annoying) and Yangervis Solarte (duh slobber yankee prospect) before finally being pulled in favor of...Neil Ramirez. NEIL RAMIREZ?! Ramirez shouldn't be allowed near the mound unless someone has a 9+ run lead and he's done nothing to prove to me otherwise, so was anyone at all surprised that he came within a goat's whisker of allowing a Grand Slam to Wil Myers?

So by the grace of Mark the ball stays in play and the game is merely tied, and Josh Edgin then has to come in and rescue the Mets from this mess. Fine. The Mets go in the tank in the 7th and out comes Josh Smoker to start the 8th. Smoker also pitched on Tuesday and on his first pitch gave up a rocket of a Home Run to Shemp. So what happens here? You guessed it—first batter, Hunter Renfroe, parked one in the 2nd deck in Left Field.

Now the Mets are losing and the game is creeping past 3 hours. Juan Lagares starts the last of the 8th by hitting a shot to right that Renfroe drops and Lagares ends up on 2nd. He went no further. In the 9th, the Padres go to Brad Hand to close the game, which seemed perfectly normal to me because I have no idea who the Padres closer is actually supposed to be. Maybe it is Hand. I don't know but the Mets had seen plenty of Hand during his time in South Florida Purgatory. Walker singled to start, Duda drew a walk, and Flores singled past Aybar, and had the ball been a bit more well placed, Walker probably would have scored outright. But why push it with no outs? Surely, against a reeling Hand, someone out of Curtis Granderson, Rene Rivera and Juan Lagares ought to be able to push across a run and perhaps two, right?

RIGHT???

...

Sigh. To say I was glad I didn't exchange my tickets off of last night would be an understatement because if I'd been there, I'd be totally apoplectic. Again, I know that sometimes these things happen. Hell, the Mets have lost 47 of the 55 games they've played in Petco Park by the score of 2-1, no matter how good or bad or boring the Padres are. But right now, when the team is just desperately seeking some kind of consistency while they stem the tide and wait for reinforcements, losing like this when they were playing a team that barely showed any signs of life all night just baffles me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Happy Harvey Conforto Day!

I was back at Citi Field on Tuesday, though I have to say I did so with some reticence. I knew I'd be going to at least one of the Padres games this week, but I was trying to pick my matchups. For as much as I'd like to see Matt Harvey do well, I at this point felt he'd had too much to overcome and too far to go to get his act together to comfortably assume it safe to attend one of his starts. That left me to choose between Wednesday and Thursday, and initially, I'd been leaning toward Wednesday as deGrom was scheduled. But some factors precluded me from going ahead with the switch. First, when I checked on Monday, I saw that Gsellman, not deGrom, was scheduled for Wednesday. Then, I attempted to go ahead and change my tickets online, only to be blocked from doing so because I forgot that I could only exchange tickets up to 48 hours prior to the game. So, I had to suck it up, go on Tuesday and hope for the best.

I did get someone's best on Tuesday. It wasn't Matt Harvey's best. This was just as well. It was actually Michael Conforto's best. While Harvey pitched 5 innings worth of ugly, Conforto pretty much stole the game from his first At Bat. Leading off against Jhoulys Chacin, Conforto got behind in the count and then started whacking everything Chacin threw him foul. Some gentlemen sitting behind me in Section 418 were yelling at him to "Lay the bunt down! Show some strategy and get a bunt down!" but Conforto seemed to be having none of that. It took him until the 10th pitch of the At Bat before he finally got something he could handle and drove it out into the Mets Bullpen. Having thrown Conforto basically everything he had, Chacin summarily turned to mush from there and the Mets just clobbered him to death. Jose Reyes got a hit, as did Bruce and Walker, Wilmer Flores drove in a run, Lucas Duda doubled home two, Rene Rivera singled, and all of a sudden there was Conforto up again and driving in two more runs with a single to Left, making the score 7-0 and ending Chacin's night before he could negotiate through the 1st inning.

Handed this bounty, Matt Harvey went out in the 2nd inning against a completely punchless Padres lineup and walked the first batter, Ryan Schimpf. He then gave up a double to Hunter Renfroe, and then back-to-back run-scoring ground outs. The rest of Harvey's evening was similarly laborious. He walked two more batters, including Craig Stammen, who relieved Chacin, in the 3rd. In the 4th, he walked Austin Hedges with 2 outs and was fortunate that no further damage was done because although Erick Aybar hit a shot, the ball hit Hedges and resulted in an inning-ending out (haven't seen that happen in a while). In the 5th, he did not walk anyone, but he did allow a single, and in fact also struck out the side. But by that point Harvey was up over 100 pitches, and even in the 400 level I could tell that he didn't look especially comfortable through most of them. He was dragging. Watching him was a drag. It was a good thing that the Mets had run out to such a large lead.

It was 7-2 when Conforto came up for the 3rd time in the 4rd inning and hit his 2nd Home Run of the night, a shot way out into the high-130s seats in Left-center. Conforto had basically taken over the storyline for the night. Afforded two more opportunities to hit a 3rd Home Run, he grounded out in the 6th and was hit by a pitch in the 8th, which drew plenty of jeers in spite of the fact that he took a curveball off his back. Irregardless, when I remember this particular 9-3 Mets victory, I'll remember two things: I'll remember the loud group of Long Islanders that were sitting a row in front of me and kept getting up, getting drunk, taking selfies and generally interfering with my view of the game, and I'll remember how Michael Conforto stole the show because Harvey couldn't get out of his own way. Although, right now, I think Conforto stands a pretty good chance of stealing the show most nights. He's proven this quite emphatically.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Quick Out

You could almost feel a game like Sunday's brewing for the Mets, just based on the way Saturday night's game ended. After nearly blowing a large lead but hanging on to win Saturday, the Mets got their doors blown off before most of the crowd had even settled into their seats on Sunday. Tommy Milone was the victim on this particular day, as the Angels lit him up like the Crash Davis proverbial Christmas Tree early and often and then tacked on some more runs late against Hansel Robles to win the final game of this series, 12-5.

I know no Mets fan was probably expecting great things from Milone, but if nothing else, I'd like to think he's capable of more than the basically non-competitive effort he threw out there yesterday afternoon. He'd already done himself no favors by loading the bases with no outs, and then walking .154 hitting cleanup batter Jefry Marte to force in a run. Then, of course, he laid a meatball out there for C.J. Cron to whack in the seats for a Grand Slam and that basically was the game right there. I know that Terry Collins would have preferred to let Milone at least eat a few innings in a lost cause, but he allowed two more Home Runs in the 2nd, one of which was to Mike Trout, and I suppose if there was ever a good time to give up one to Trout, it was when the Mets were already behind by 5. Mercifully, Milone was pulled at 8-0, although one would have thought Rafael Montero wasn't exactly a marked improvement.

The Mets did make some kind of thinly-veiled effort to make the game respectable against Jesse Chavez, who I thought was some up-and-coming hotshot prospect for Oakland before he got traded 3 times and I realized he's actually 33 and has been in the Majors since 2008. The Mets did reach him for 3 Home Runs and cut a 9-0 deficit to 9-5 by the 6th inning, but then Hansel Robles came in for the 7th and set the record straight by puking up another 3 runs, thanks to an Andrelton Simmons Home Run. And for whatever reason, probably because I've had my fill of Robles, this bothered me more than Milone's stink bomb. With Milone, there are no expectations, and as such when he gets battered around the ballpark, you can't be too surprised and he probably won't be here much longer. With Robles, there is no excuse. He's been here 3 years and he still can't get his shit together and learn how to pitch, and even Keith Hernandez has started calling him out on that. The Mets used to have a pitcher named Manny Acosta,—Remember him? I'd rather not but I'm forced to invoke him here—and Acosta was one of those pitchers who kept hanging around and hanging around in spite of the fact that he was totally useless. We kept getting spoonfed tales about how he had "great stuff," and yet every time he came in a game, you could literally see him blindly rearing back and heaving the ball as hard as he possibly could in the general direction of Home Plate, and the results were generally disastrous. And it seems to me that Robles is basically doing the same thing. He's just heaving it up there as hard as he can without any particular regard for strategy or situation. I can't trust him in a key spot. Would you? I know I'm nitpicking and the Mets probably weren't going to win this game anyway, but you want to have the starch totally taken out of your sales? Try trimming 9-0 to 9-5 with 3 more at bats against an awful bullpen and have your own guy give up another 3 runs to negate the work you've done.

Bleh. Enough railing on Robles. Who has the energy? Just wipe this one off and come back Tuesday ready to start clean.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Baseball Hell

Last night's Mets game somehow ended up being scheduled on FOX, which as we know always goes wonderfully for the Mets. Generally, when the Mets are on National TV like that, they get sloughed off on the lesser announcers, so I feared that I'd be stuck spending my evening listening to Matt Vasgersian screeching, although at some point I'd remembered that Kevin Burkhart is still doing games for them, and it would have been nice to have him announcing the game. Much to my dismay, the game was being called by Joe Buck. I didn't know Joe Buck still absconded to doing regular season games. If that wasn't bad enough, he was joined in the booth by Alex Rodriguez.

Seriously? Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez? I feel like if I were sentenced to an eternity in hell, every Baseball game would be broadcast by Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez. There was no game. It was just Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez doing their own little show. Did you know Alex Rodriguez was wearing a Tom Ford suit? Joe Buck made sure you knew. Did you know Alex Rodriguez grew up as a Mets fan and idolized Keith Hernandez? Joe Buck mentioned that about 40 times, just in case you might not have heard him. Oh, that chuckleheaded doofus Ken Rosenthal was there, too. Joe Buck made sure you knew he spent 90 minutes tying his bow tie. But did you know that Terry Collins became the longest-tenured Mets manager? Joe mentioned that too, but in such a offhanded manner that if you coughed, you missed it.

There was a game going on behind all this, if you could pay attention beyond the white noise coming from the booth, and the Mets did play a solid game for the most part. Zack Wheeler pitched well for 5 innings before running out of steam in the 6th—the same problem he usually has where he throws too many pitches too early in the game. Michael Conforto walked 3 times, Jose Reyes had 3 hits, including the 2,000th of his career, and generally the Mets seemed to be having an easy time of things against Alex Meyer, who by the way is really tall and it's uncomfortable hitting against a pitcher who's so tall. Joe Buck told me that a few times.

At some point I kind of tuned out altogether, because the Mets were ahead and I couldn't deal with it anymore. By that point, I know that Robert Gsellman had come in and had two pretty good reclamation innings, and probably should have finished the game altogether, except that he'd been hit for, and so Neil Ramirez entered the game and immediately showed us all why he was floating around the waiver wire by allowing a walk and 2 hits, and then Addison Reed was brought into a messy inning and he was having a hard time too, walking in a run and giving up a hit, and suddenly Mike Trout was up with the bases loaded, and he swung, and I think when he made contact every Mets fan had a heart attack, but Reed must have thrown him a sucker pitch because he didn't hit it well and it only wound up being a sacrifice fly. Nonetheless, 7-2 had turned into a tenuous 7-5, and Reed managed to walk another batter to re-load the bases before he finally struck out Danny Espinosa to end the game—and we've already seen enough of Danny Espinosa with the bases loaded.

Phew. That was wholly unnecessary as far as drama was concerned, and it was on top of a wholly unnecessary night spent listening to the dulcet tones of Joe Buck and Alex Rodriguez, while Ken Rosenthal intermittently chortled and told us how awful the Mets are. Fortunately, it's back to our usual gang on Sunday, and yes, I know we're unnecessarily spoiled by getting to listen to Gary, Keith and Ron every night, but sometimes you need to listen to the lesser guys to remember just how good we have it. That would be the exact opposite of Baseball Hell.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Fixed It

Last Tuesday, I went to the Mets/Giants game and the Mets won.
Tonight, I went to the Mets/Angels game and the Mets won.

In between then and now, the Mets did not win, so perhaps I righted some cosmic force that had sucked the Mets into its vortex.

Friday night was but my 5th game of the season, when often I can be up to 8 or 9 games in mid-May, but that's simply how things work out. This wasn't even one of my regularly scheduled games; I'd swapped into the date from another night I couldn't attend. I was there with an old friend who hadn't yet been to a game at Citi Field, mostly due to the fact that he lives on the other side of the country, and whom I hadn't been to a Mets game with altogether in no less than 15 years. So that was good, and of course I have a wealth of experience introducing friends to Citi Field.

The game itself of course was one of those "Rarity" matchups, since the Angels of whatever municipality they're from only come to Citi Field but once every few years. I've caught them in town previously, in 2005 and again in 2011, although neither of those games ended particularly well. Given that the Mets were limping home, hot, out of humor and teetering on the edge of laughingstockdom once again (Thanks, Ratso Wilpon), one could not be blamed for fearing a similar result to those prior affairs. But I had a good pregame omen when I picked up a Free Shirt Friday leftover for winning Pete McCarthy's pre-game trivia at the WOR tent outside the stadium (Q: Name a Met who'd hit for the cycle. My A: Alex Ochoa). What that was a good omen for, I'm not quite certain, but any time you can snag a bonus shirt, I guess you have to take that as something positive.

So then it was inside for the game. The Angels, well, I don't know much about them other than they seem to be a popular landing spot for former Met Foils. Their lineup was littered with names such as Andrelton Simmons, Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin and hell, they were even starting Ricky Nolasco, who I believe pitched against the Mets 247 times during his Marlins tenure. This, of course, was the backup for Mike Trout, the best player on the planet right now and one of those rare visiting players who earns applause on the road out of respect. This was what was facing Jacob deGrom, who, much like everyone else on the team, just needed a good outing to right his ship. His strikeout numbers were great, but he'd been fizzling out with a number of walks and high pitch counts, and short outings, and ultimately no decisions.

So, what does he do? He walks Maybin on 4 pitches to start the game. Because of course he did. But Maybin did a fine job of handing it back by deciding it wasn't worth his time to wait for deGrom to throw another pitch and just taking off for 2nd, where he was thrown out with ease. Following that, deGrom reverted back to his old self, allowing a meaningless single to Trout and little beyond that. The Mets managed to reach Nolasco for a run in the last of the 1st thanks more to the Angels defense short circuiting. Conforto led off with a sinking line drive that Maybin apparently tried to catch with his face, and Reyes followed by laying down a bunt and would have been thrown out had C.J. Cron bothered to step on 1st base. Curtis Granderson delivered the payoff with a 2-out double that may or may not have bounced into the tarp roller but apparently gave Maybin enough of a problem to wave his hands and get a ground rule double called. Things calmed down from there until the 6th, when Rene Rivera delivered a 2-out single to score Neil Walker.

This was plenty for deGrom for the most part, who pretty much coasted from the 1st through to the 6th, in the process striking out Trout in the 4th to everyone's delight. But he ran into trouble in the 7th, first allowing a double to Simmons, because what's a game without Simmons being annoying? Then, there was a mysterious visit from Terry Collins and Ray Ramirez, which is always a good sign, but apparently deGrom talked his way out of it before Ratso Wilpon could press his "panic button." This initially didn't go well, as the blister or callous issue that deGrom had got the better of him. He walked Cron and then hit Martin Maldonado to load the bases. That brought up Espinosa, who I believe has 4 career Grand Slams and all of them were against the Mets. But with imminent disaster staring him in the face, deGrom struck out Espinosa. Ben Revere followed, and, well, what would this game be without another guy who played for every other NL East team? Revere flared a little dunker over 2nd base that appeared ticketed for game-tying-single-dom but for Jose Reyes pulling a little fountain of youth act and just tipping the ball enough with his glove to bat it in the air so he could re-catch it altogether for the 2nd out. Maybin spared any further drama by flying out on the 1st pitch, ending the inning, ending the threat, and ending deGrom's night with a clean ledger, no runs and 9 strikeouts for his 7 innings of work.

After all that, Michael Conforto did what the Angels hitters couldn't and drove one into the Left Field seats on the first pitch from Jose Alvarez. To Left off a Lefty. Is this discussion still necessary?

The remainder of the proceedings were pleasantly uneventful, as Jerry Blevins allowed another meaningless single to Trout before turning things over to Paul Sewald in the 8th, and Addison Reed had a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th. And, so, this long, strange, aggravating 7-game losing streak was over on the backs of this 3-0 victory. Was it the presence of long-overdue company? The rarity of the matchup? The bonus free shirt? Whatever it was, perhaps I'd sucked some karmic energy from the Mets the last time I was there and brought it back with me on Friday night. However, I hope I've left it at Citi Field so that the Mets can continue to win games.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gets Late Early

I know last week I didn't see and barely followed the midweek afternoon game against the Giants and my conclusion was that it was just as well since the Mets spit up a lead and lost the game. I think the same could basically be said of yesterday afternoon's game in Arizona. The only difference being that as it was on the West Coast, or as West as Arizona can be as they float between time zones for reasons I am not meant to understand, the game started at the bizarre time of 3:40 and ended up dragging out long enough that it ended as I was getting home at around 7.

What did I miss? From the end result, another 5-4 Mets loss that took 11 innings to negotiate, I would assume not much. I've mentioned innumerable times that I follow, often halfheartedly, the game on MLB Gamecast so I knew that Michael Conforto hit an early Home Run—which seems to be an almost regular occurrence—and Matt Harvey summarily tried to hand it back rather quickly. I'm not quite certain whether this outing is going to be spun as a "building block" game for Harvey or whether we just have to temper our expectations for him that this is just going to be the norm and he's turned into another Marcum. I of course hope that it's the former but every time he seems to take a step forward, he short-circuits himself. He gave up a run in the 1st, a 2-run Home Run to Jake Lamb in the 3rd, and yet was in a position to win when he left in the 6th, because Juan Lagares hit a rare  Home Run in the 4th and spurred a rally.

But, Arizona tied the game against Robert Gsellman, who mysteriously appeared in relief when I was expecting to see him start back at home on Friday, and maybe that's a bit of a relief as well since I wasn't exactly relishing the thought of his mixed bag. And then I left work and as the game was tied I wasn't quite certain what to expect other than at some point I figured I'd get a final score buzz. Eventually, I did, and it was the eye-rolling result of F/11 ARZ 5 NYM 4. That was all I really needed to know, but the backstory of course was that Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed pitched well, and then as the game moved into extra innings Rafael Montero got the call and when Montero gets the call, well...you know. He was at least courteous enough to allow the walkoff Home Run to his first batter, Chris Herrmann, but it still took him 7 pitches to get there, so I guess he can't even blow the game right.

Ugh. Is there anything else that can be said? I thought the Mets might have been able to wash the stink off in Arizona but they've instead just managed to make it worse. At some point I'm going to have to stop kidding myself into thinking they'll snap out of it. Unless they actually snap out of it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tuesday Night Ennui

I know the final score of Tuesday night's game was 5-4, which means the Mets were very much in it to the end but sometimes, you have close games that really don't feel very close. This was one such game.

The Mets seem to have a habit lately of scoring a single run very early in the game and then just kind of standing around while the other team blows by them. This happened on Tuesday as the Mets went ahead in the 2nd, and then the Diamondbacks, resplendent in their toothpaste-colored jerseys, blew up for 4 runs in the 3rd off of Tommy Milone. I guess this shouldn't be of much surprise to anyone. There were a string of ringing hits and even a steal of Home by Paul Goldschmidt that resulted in the Keith Hernandez trademark apoplectic shit fit. You know, as opposed to the Mets fans trademark apoplectic shit fit that's been going on for most of the season.

I give Milone credit for, if nothing else, not folding his tent after the sky fell in on him in the 3rd. He managed to make it into the 6th before allowing a Home Run to Yasmani Tomas, which I can't really fault him for since Tomas appears to be the NL West's version of Ryan Howard and allowing a Home Run to him is basically a rite of passage.

By that point the game had sort of dissolved into nothingness, to the point where the highlight of the game was probably Ed Lynch visiting the SNY booth and waxing poetic with Keith Hernandez. I don't remember what inning it was, only that it happened and, well, my stance on Lynch has always been that for whatever he lacked as a Pitcher, he more than made up for in personality. Anyone who read Keith's first book knows that they were and continue to be good friends (Lynch being the infamous "itinerant ballplayer" that crashed on Keith's couch for the first month of the '85 season).

That was more interesting than the game itself! I know that Curtis Granderson hit a Home Run and later Rene Rivera, who mysteriously has turned into a world-beater over the past week, also hit a 2-run Home Run against Zack Greinke and that cut the score to 5-4, but you kind of had this feeling that the Mets weren't going to get anything further and surprise, surprise they didn't. The bullpen—tonight consisting of Paul Sewald, Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins—didn't allow anything further, which was nice, but the Mets offense had already put away their bats for the night and off of hillbilly Archie Bradley and ancient Fernando Rodney the Mets did little more than strike out a bunch of times and lost to the Diamondbacks for the second night in a row and ran this current streak of misery to 6.

I'd like to think the Mets won't go 0-for-this road trip but I'm not confident in that feeling. I keep dropping these barbs about the Mets needing a little humiliation in order to get to the bottom of their problems, but really, such an instance shouldn't be necessary multiple times before June.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Puss

I made some mention about Hansel Robles and the great big puss on his face he walked around with all night on Saturday in Milwaukee, and on Monday, he came out of the bullpen in a 1-1 game in the 8th inning in Arizona and he had that same stupid puss on his face before he even hit the mound. So you knew right then and there the Mets were screwed.

They'd managed to get to this point by getting good pitching from Zack Wheeler for 6 innings. Somehow Wheeler has become the most reliable, stabilizing presence on this staff which is alternately great if you consider what he's been through to get back to this point, and terrible because that means the Mets' best pitcher has a 120-inning cap that he's going to blow through by the All Star Break. But for now he's pitched quite well, and he managed to make it through 6 innings allowing nothing beyond a Jake Lamb Home Run.

Unfortunately, the Mets left their offense in Milwaukee and against Zack Godley, whom I only know from Baseball cards but apparently pitched a game against the Mets last season, they only managed one run themselves.

So it was 1-1 in the 8th and Robles came in and immediately allowed a screamer to Paul Goldschmidt that looked like it was a Home Run. But replay reversed the call and Goldschmidt was sent back to 2nd base. Essentially this was just delaying the inevitable as Mr. Puss just cocked around a little bit before allowing an actual Home Run—this one of the 3-run variety to Yasmani Tomas—and then turned to mush from there. Jeff Mathis, whom we were constantly reminded is a career .195 hitter, homered off Robles as well, and 1-1 very quickly turned into 7-1 and everything was therefore horrible once again.

I know everyone in the bullpen at this point is culpable and I prefer to point my fingers at them than at Terry Collins, because every team has a bullpen that they need to use basically every night as it's no longer 1975 and pitchers cannot throw complete games. Your bullpen is only as good as the pitchers you have in there and if it seems as though the bullpen is overused, well, maybe they are but I think "overuse" is sort of loaded in this instance because just consider if the guys in the bullpen were pitching as often as they were and doing well? Would they still be "overused?" Point is, I'm not totally certain that these guys are overused so much as they're mediocre and at the forefront of this is Robles, who got torched on Saturday, torched again last night and more often than not he gets torched and then stomps around with that puss on his face. So, enough. He's gone from having Jeurys Familia-like potential to ending up with Erik Goeddel-like results, so I'm slapping the "Trades high/Good stuff" label on him until he proves to me different.

I have a feeling I could be waiting a while.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Exasparation

There have been seasons, or maybe I'm remembering wrong and it's just season, where the Mets were kind of dancing and jabbing, and then they went to Milwaukee and their entire season just got the life sucked out of it.

I know it's still May but after the way this past weekend played out I feel like I watched the same thing happen to the Mets. They had early leads both Saturday and Sunday, their starters gassed themselves way too early, the Brewers came back and then lit the Mets bullpen on fire.

Saturday, things seemed to be perfectly nice early in the game. Though Robert Gsellman struggled early, he settled down, got some runs thanks to Kevin Plawecki, who came through with a rare double, and from Neil Walker, who Homered, and everything was hunky dory until the 5th when Gsellman just lost it and the roof caved in. Brewers hitters started stringing hits together, guys I'd never heard of were coming off the bench and hitting (Jesus Aguilar? Didn't he surface with the 2010 Mets?), Gsellman was pulled for Hansel Robles and Robles just made things worse, capping things off by essentially throwing Travis Shaw a Bugs Bunny fastball so Shaw could hit it out and cap off an 8-run nightmare that put the Mets to bed for the night.

Sunday was basically Saturday's game, just magnified and slower in developing. Michael Conforto hit everything in sight, Neil Walker and Rene Rivera hit some more and the Mets ran out to a 7-1 lead for Jacob deGrom, who looked OK, if less than economical. But the Brewers kept pushing the envelope and pushing the envelope, and 7-1 turned into 7-3, and then relievers were involved, and Jerry Blevins couldn't get anyone out, and Fernando Salas couldn't get anyone out, and guys like Keon Broxton and Jonathan Villar were hitting Home Runs, and there was this Jesus Aguilar again, and who the hell is Manny Pina and what the hell is he doing hitting a Home Run off of Addison Reed to finish off this debacle because it was 7-1 and now it's 11-9...

I usually can find the solution hiding somewhere behind the story and the problem right now is I can't find the solution. The Mets hit all weekend but couldn't outhit their pitching and I'm not sure what the hell happened. I know guys are hurt and/or inconsistent, but maybe this is just my old theory of The Stink coming back to bite the Mets in the ass again. It starts with the Mets not tacking on runs last Wednesday and creeps into a blown save, and then a Jeurys Familia injury, and then a Matt Harvey meltdown, and then Hansel Robles and that miserable puss on his face, and then the utter collapse on Sunday. Nobody that's pitching for the Mets right now seems to be inspiring any sort of confidence.I don't know.  Sometimes you just need to get a town out of your system and maybe it's just Milwaukee's year and they'll go to Arizona and the change of scenery will help. Or is that just me trying to convince myself it's something else and not The Stink.

No photos today. That's how much this weekend troubles me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Curious Case

For obvious reasons, Matt Harvey's start on Friday night seemed to be bigger than the game itself. The game was important for the Mets—at this point I think they all are, particularly after the news of yet another major ailment affecting yet another key player—but perhaps more important for Harvey given everything that's gone on for him over the past week. I care less about the need for Harvey to repair his name in the public eye. That may be forever ruined just based on his actions, although I still believe all Mets fans want him to do well and as I've mentioned before, he owes fans nothing as far as the idea that he should succeed on their terms rather than his own. But that's the thing. He needs to figure out his own terms. I'm not certain he's done that yet. I, of course, want Harvey to do well so people will shut up, but I need to get over that idea because it probably won't ever happen.

The larger problem is, of course, that it feels less and less likely that it will ever happen just based on what we saw from him last night. While Harvey did manage to shuffle his way through five laborious innings, he was sent out for a 6th in a tie game and came totally undone, as the Brewers raked him for a pair of damaging Home Runs and never looked back on their way to beating the Mets 7-4.

The Brewers seem to be doing better than anyone expected and I'm not totally sure how, given that their roster seems to be comprised of youngsters and castaways that you haven't heard of and won't hear much of again after the end of the month when the Mets finish dealing with them for the season. Harvey was beaten early by a fellow named Jett Bandy, who I'm not entirely convinced wasn't around a few years ago under the assumed name of Jaff Decker, later by Hernan Perez, not to be confused with 16th Century Conquistador Hernan Cortes, and finished off by Bruce Bochte-like Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia who is too young to be confused with someone else. The Mets didn't exactly back Harvey well, as Neil Walker was the only one who managed to solve Matt Garza and any other offense came after it was far too late.

So, sigh. Redemption did not come for Harvey tonight and really, in a string of really disastrous outings he didn't even seem to show any marked improvement. I still think that he has it in him to get it together and honestly I would like to think it's not simply blind faith and my hope that he'll magically revert to the fucking animal that almost singlehandedly saved the World Series two years ago will actually be rewarded. And it's not enough to say that he wants to do it because I know he wants to do it, he just needs to put the work in to make it happen.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Not Sorry

Wednesday afternoon was one of those "working man's specials," and as such I didn't see any of the game, so I have to subject you to one of my "less informed" summaries.

It was good until it sucked.

That seems about the best way to sum this game up. The Mets had a perfectly good opportunity to steal a win with their Plan H starter Tommy Milone, sweep the Giants and hop over the .500 mark. They slogged their way through against Matt Cain, got a Home Run from Jay Bruce, an RBI single from Milone himself, and a 3-2 lead was handed to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.

Now, of course, I only know what transpired from there on Gamecast, so I don't know just how egregious Wilmer Flores' tide-turning error actually was. But it fucked everything up good and proper. Still, Familia ought to have been game enough to get out of this. We've seen him do it before. Then again, we've seen him come completely unglued against this opponent as well. Instead of getting another ground ball, he gave up a hit to Hunter Pence to tie the game, because, well, Hunter Pence was genetically engineered to get a hit in that spot, and then he gave up a 3 run double to Christian Arroyo to torch the whole thing. Flores then, of course, came within mere feet of atoning for his sins in the bottom of the inning but it was a day late and a bounce short and instead of a sweep, the Mets fell 6-5 and now go on the road once again a game under .500.

These do happen sometimes, irritating as it may be. If the Mets weren't so undermanned right now maybe they wouldn't have been in this situation in the first place but such are the vicissitudes of Baseball. It's still irksome. I'm not sorry I missed it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Relevant Action

I was back at Citi Field last night to see the Mets move on from the gobble gobble turkey that is the Matt Harvey saga and cruise—cruiseto an easy 6-1 victory over the Giants on the strength of a wonderful outing by onetime Harvey undercard Zack Wheeler.

It seems rather odd that here, on May 9th, I was attending only my 4th game of this season. April seems to have been a bit of a blur and in my whisened age I've decided against going to games in April simply for the sake of going to games and ultimately freezing my ass off in hopeless situations. It wasn't exactly warm out at Citi Field for May 9th regardless. But at least the Mets won the game and got me back on in the win column. It was also the second time this season I'd been to a Zack Wheeler start, which of course means I have now seen him as many times this season as Julio Teheran.

But at any rate, I was slightly on the late side in arriving, which can happen on these Tuesday nights, and so I was on line getting food while Wheeler was carving up the top of the Giants batting order in the 1st. The Giants still have these names in their lineup that can cause some irritation (that means you, Hunter Pence), but for the most part they've played rather poorly and haven't been helped by a rash of injuries of their own. So it's not just us if that makes you feel better. Wheeler struck out the aforementioned Pence, as well as Horshoe Dunkley in the 1st, but that seemed to be a mirage; those two early Ks represented half of his ultimate total for the night. The remainder of his evening wasn't necessarily a thing of beauty, but it accomplished what it needed to. Though he still threw too many pitches too early in the game, Wheeler managed to make it through 6 very solid innings, allowing the Giants a Buster Posey Home Run, a single by opposing Pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and not much else as he picked up a well-earned win in what was probably as good a game as he's pitched this season to date.

Wheeler was helped, of course, by the fact that the Mets attacked Samardzija early and often, to the point where they'd ran out to a 4-0 lead before I'd even finished eating. Neil Walker drove in the first two runs with what was charitably scored a triple after Eduardo Nunez (duh yankee prospect) butchered a sinking line drive, and later Jose Reyes and Rene Rivera drove home runs of their own. In the second, the Mets continued their onslaught when Michael Conforto and T.J. Rivera hit back-to-back doubles to extend the lead. Rivera, who's been hitting basically everything in sight of late, had 3 hits by the 4th inning. Conforto capped off his night with a long Home Run in the 7th, and the game basically sailed home from there, on a night when for whatever reason Terry Collins managed a 5-run lead as though it were a 1-run lead and burned through Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in the 8th and 9th innings.

The win, of course, brings the Mets back to .500, which doesn't seem like much but, again, when half the team is injured, including the two players considered to be most critical to the team's success, and when they've been written off as tired and old and skidding back to irrelevance, it's sort of a leaping off point. You can write the Mets off all you want, and continue to kick them, but as some point you need to own up to the fact that you're kicking a team that's won 8 of their last 11 playing 2nd and 3rd string guys after most of the same group roared back from the dead to run into the Wildcard game last year. So, again, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the team just yet. Even if they appear to be a total shit show off the field.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Mets Are Falling! The Mets Are Falling!

I didn't actually see any of Monday night's game against the Giants. A work engagement had me preoccupied as things do from time to time. But, you know, after an entire day of being subjected to some of the most venomous, gloom and doom stories about Matt Harvey and the demise of the supposedly-but-never-actually-mighty Mets, I suppose most Mets fans couldn't be blamed at all if they'd decided to start showing up to Citi Field with paper bags on their heads or simply lock themselves in a closet with the lights off for the next five years. That's basically what everyone would have you believe. On a team with no leadership, no direction and an atmosphere where the inmates are running the asylum. 25 guys, 25 cabs. And yet another instance of Mets fans being sold a bill of goods and being left holding their cocks while talent and opportunity passes them by and the other team steals their thunder.

So, I mean, why even pay attention, right? If they're just going to annoy me and break my heart again...Oh. Wait. You mean they came from behind twice on Monday night, Jacob deGrom struck out 11 batters and the Mets won the game on a Neil Walker hit in the bottom of the 9th?

Someone, somewhere dropped a "That's why they play the games" last week on the Mets to prove that they were overrated. I think another "That's why they play the games" could be used now to prove that you can't count the Mets out, no matter how terrible things may seem.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Double Disaster

You know when you wake up, look at your phone and see an ESPN alert that reads "New York Mets P Matt Harvey suspended three games without pay for violating team rules" that it's going to be a great day.

In what shook out as yet another ugly chapter in the checkered career of Matt Harvey, the embattled pitcher was suspended on the day he was supposed to take the mound against the Marlins. Of course, in the Mets' typically macabre fashion, it was reported as reasons that were "going to be kept internal," and when you leave things like this up to the imaginations of the press and the public, well, everything kind of went haywire from there. Reports of reasons for this were typically ridiculous and thoughts of the obvious cause—what was that dildo doing in Kevin Plawecki's locker anyway???—were eventually quashed when it was reported that Harvey no-showed Saturday's game.

Sigh. I try to give Harvey the benefit of the doubt but then he does things like this and I wonder why I waste my energy.

At any rate, not only did he screw himself, he screwed his team, since instead of throwing him at the Marlins on Sunday, we were subjected to poor Adam Wilk, who ostensibly was the closest thing to a warm body the Mets had available to pitch a game. And, you know, when the best guy you can throw out on the mound is a guy who maybe 10% of your fan base has heard of...Needless to say, it didn't go well.

Wilk's afternoon could rather simply be summed up as he was screwed the moment Giancarlo Stanton stepped in the batter's box. In the first inning, he hit a Home Run off the facing of the 2nd deck in Left Field. In the 3rd, he hit one even farther. By the 4th, the game was completely out of hand and Wilk was done for the day, and one can assume into the Met annals next to such names as Chan Ho Park and Brett Hinchcliffe. Therest of the team, which was probably suffering from shellshock stemming either from the Harvey news, or Wilk's performance, or both, barely made a peep against Jose Urena and the end result was that they mustered one hit in a thoroughly embarrassing 7-0 loss.

And, you know, it's "now what?" time again. The Mets now sit at 14-16, which considering the state of the team health-wise isn't awful, but if you believe what you read about the Mets, the bloom is off the rose and the team is spiraling out of control towards a 90-loss season and a return to obscurity. I don't know. Right now, all I know is that that's their record and now they're finally going to play some games against teams outside their division and eventually, the truth will come out. About everything.