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.

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