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.

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