Monday, July 31, 2017

Let Me Drown

Sometimes, I miss games even though I'm home and just have other things to do, and it's just as well when that happens.

Sunday, I was, in fact, home for a majority of the Mets game. I'd been out when the game started, but it was still on when I got home, it being a Sunday game on the West Coast, which starts under sun-soaked Pacific skies at 1pm there, but 4pm here and can drag out into the early evening if things go a certain way.

However, while I was out, I did check the score on my phone and of course saw that the score was Mariners 5, Mets 0 in the 2nd inning. At that point I'd determined that the game was not worth watching, and, well, I was right. Seth Lugo got cuffed around early and often, allowing Home Runs to Nelson Cruz in the 1st and Leonys Martin in the 2nd, and the Mets basically stood around and did nothing against James Paxton, the Mariners starter who reinvented himself last season and went from kind of ragtag to one of the top pitchers in the American League. Paxton shut out the Mets through 6, the Mariners tacked on four more runs against Mets relievers after Lugo departed and the final score was an eminently forgettable 9-1. And I'm not sorry I missed it. I'm sure anyone else that did the same agrees with me.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Saturday was, as usual, one of those afternoons where I was out of the house and not watching the game. But I see I didn't miss much.

Though the Mets did have Jacob deGrom on the mound, deGrom had some early inning struggles, got rattled by hitting Mitch Haniger in the face with an errant pitch, gave up a pair of runs in the 2nd, was victimized by a Neil Walker error in the 3rd that led to another run, and then sat back and watched as his offense could not muster the effort to match those three runs against Yovani Gallardo and company. In spite of entering the game having won each of his last 8 starts, that streak came crashing to a halt in a rather boring 3-2 loss that was more symptomatic of the Mets undoing themselves rather than deGrom's pitching poorly.

The Mets certainly had opportunities. Against Gallardo, they rallied in the 6th to load the bases and scored when Tony Zych walked Wilmer Flores to force home a run. In the 7th, they had two men on and nobody out and Asdrubal Cabrera short-circuited everything by hitting into a Double Play. And they got the tying run on base in the 9th when Michael Conforto, who seems to enjoy playing in front of his hometown fans, singled home a run off of Edwin Diaz. But, no further. And when you squander rallies in a relatively low-scoring game, well, that's boring baseball. And the Mets seem to be pretty good at boring lately.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Seattle is a place where the Mets seldom visit (and aside from that a place I've never visited, but that could be said of most Major League cities) and the Mariners are a team that the Mets seldom play. I know that these Interleague games work on a 3-year shift schedule but for whatever reason, it seems like the Mets and Mariners took a particularly long time to fall into that schedule. The Mets did play in Seattle in 2014, but prior to that they hadn't faced each other since 2008, which is the last time the Mets and Mariners played in New York, which means that the game was at Shea Stadium, which means that the Mariners have never played a game at Citi Field, one of only two Major League teams to not have done so (the other being the Cleveland Indians, who haven't played the Mets in New York since 2004). So if the Mets and Mariners seem like a rare matchup, it is.

The Mets can boast a native son of Seattle in Michael Conforto, who has come out of the land of Pearl Jam and Coffee and turned into a pretty good player, as he showed in his return home, in front of a passel of Confortos. In the 3rd inning, he hit a Home Run off of lefty Ariel Miranda which, at the time, put the Mets ahead 3-0. In the 8th inning, facing Mark Rzepczynski, another lefty, he hit another Home Run, this time dragging the Mets out of a deficit and tying the game at 5-5.

In between Conforto's two Home Runs was a Rafael Montero meltdown in which he took a 4-0 lead that had been handed to him thanks to, among other things, a 2-run Home Run from Jay Bruce, and summarily handed it back. First, he allowed a Home Run to Mike Zunino, the Seattle Catcher who's one of those "Trades High" guys because he has a ton of power and no particular plate discipline. So giving up a Home Run to Zunino was no great shakes. In the 5th, he had a Montero inning, where he started giving up hits, and throwing wild pitches, and walking guys and finally was pulled from the game after walking Nelson Cruz and loading the bases. But just so you remembered, Josh Edgin came in and allowed two of said runners to score by allowing a 2-run single to Kyle Seager (because of course it was one of the Seager boys who did it to the Mets).

Meanwhile, after a lousy first few innings, Miranda had settled down and quietly put the Mets to sleep. He departed after 6 with a lead, which Hansel Robles threatened to turn into a greater lead in the 7th. Then, of course, came the 8th, and Conforto's 2nd Home Run, and then a Met rally ensued when the Mariners brought in recently-acquired former Marlin David Phelps, whom the Mets usually knock around and they were kind enough to knock him around some more. Wilmer Flores managed to beat out a potential inning-ending double play and that opened the door for Neil Walker to double home the lead run, and Curtis Granderson to drive in the insurance run to put the Mets ahead 7-5.

Paul Sewald got the Mets through the 8th, and Addison Reed worked the 9th to finish off this series-opening victory up in the Northwest. Meanwhile, if one could use this as a segue opportunity, as the game was going on, news of another Mets trade broke, which seemed kind of mystifying to me, but while the Mets are and should be in sell mode, they traded for Marlins closer A.J. Ramos. This, I would assume, is insurance for an impending Reed trade, and nothing further. While Ramos is a perfectly capable pitcher, well, he was on the Marlins and you all know how I feel about that. I've particularly singled out Ramos for Marlin-ish behavior (excessive celebration, irritating gyrations on the mound) and part of me isn't convinced that this is another Marlin Ruse that's going to bite the Mets in the ass at some point. But, on the other hand, he is a capable pitcher, and he's a Met now, so, welcome, A.J. Ramos. We hope to wash the stink of your prior franchise off of you as quickly as possible.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fare Thee Well

Thursday night's Mets/Padres game was sort of emotionally pre-empted by the pregame news that Lucas Duda had been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Granted, a move like this was forthcoming and certainly Duda's life span with the Mets was limited at best given his impending Free Agency, but, still, when a home-grown player that's been in the organization for years moves on, there's still a little bit of sadness attached to it. Certainly, Duda's time with the Mets had its ups and downs, and I picked on him maybe a little more than I should have, but for once, someone I really ragged on quite a bit in 2012 and 2013 shut me up good and proper when he emerged for a career year in 2014, and came up with several key hits in big spots during 2015. More than that, Duda was a favorite of my other half, who had a Duda shirt and usually stopped whatever she was doing to watch an At Bat, and was always happy to see him when she went to games with me. She was particularly distraught over this; the news of the trade broke as I was leaving work, and when I arrived home, she greeted me with a scowl and said "I'm not going to the games anymore! THEY TRADED DUDA! HOW COULD THEY TRADE DUDA?!" and of course any logical explanation about the business of Baseball went out the window.

Duda, himself, handled himself with particular class on his way out the door. Others (Curtis Granderson) had a harder time of things. Irregardless, Duda is off to Tampa, where we wish him all the best for the remainder of this season, and wherever he may end up in 2018.

There was still a game to be played, however, and it featured the Major League debut of Chris Flexen, a young righthander who was one of those named I'd heard of but didn't know much about. Flexen was up from Binghamton to make this start in the Wheeler spot in the rotation. You have starry-eyed fantasies about guys like this coming up and setting Baseball on fire in spots like this, but sometimes these sorts of things can backfire. The Mets got him a 1st inning run against Luis Perdomo, which helped, but you still can never tell until you the kid on the mound. And whether it was nerves or whatever, Flexen looked very much like what he was: a young pitcher that kind of got overwhelmed by the moment. It's never helpful to have your entire family in the seats watching (and his poor mother looked like she was ready to pass out the entire time) but, well, we know what happened. Flexen gave up a Home Run to Manuel Margot, his first batter, then walked the next batter, then gave up a hit. Disaster seemed imminent but for a pair of slick plays to tag out Padre baserunners at Home Plate, and Flexen escaped his first inning only having allowed 1 run.

Flexen did not fare nearly as well in the 2nd inning, when, after loading the bases, he allowed a long double to Margot that ultimately scored 3 runs and kind of sealed Flexen's fate. To his credit, he came back and worked a clean 3rd inning, but by that point the damage had been done and this game, which was just creeping along, was headed for a repeat of last night where I turn it off and go to bed early. Tyler Pill emerged after Flexen and made things worse, allowing a 3-run Home Run to Dusty Coleman that made the score 7-1.

I was about to throw in the towel, but then the Mets rallied in the 7th, scoring 4 runs off a trio of Padres pitchers, and involved a long double by Yoenis Cespedes and an even longer Home Run by Jay Bruce. This got the score to 7-5, and, well, this was the Padres...

...but it was also the Mets and they got no closer than 7-5, going down meekly in the 8th and gonged out of the stadium in the 9th.

So, the Mets leave San Diego, where they did not get swept, and they did not lose every game 2-1, but they also leave in no better shape than they were when they arrived, which is basically the same old story here. Actually, you could say they leave in worse shape since they've now officially started to break down the roster a little bit and by time they return to New York, who knows who's here and who will be gone.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Real Snoozer

I knew the Mets wouldn't escape San Diego without losing at least one game, and of course they filled that quota with a legitimate stinker on Wednesday night. Steven Matz didn't have it—he hasn't had it for a while now, which is troubling—and the Mets hitters continually hit into bad luck against Jhoulys Chacin and the result was a 6-3 loss that I didn't bother to stick around to the end for; it being late and I being tired, I shut it down at the 7th inning stretch.

This seemed to be a doomed game from the start. Chacin, whom the Mets beat down completely in May, looked to be a different pitcher on this night and generally did a good job of minimizing potential damage. On the other side, Steven Matz just got clubbed around. Manuel Margot hit a 2-run Home Run in the 1st, and in the 3rd, Matz got in more trouble and couldn't get out of it, allowing an RBI double to Wil Myers and, later, a 3-run triple to Luis Torrens that only by some divine gust of wind did not wind up being a Grand Slam outright. That put the game at 6-1, and basically everything went to hell from there. Matz departed in favor of Erik Goeddel and, later, Tyler Pill, which should tell you all you needed to know.

Meanwhile, the Mets had their opportunities, but of course did not capitalize on them. In the 6th, they rallied a little bit, loaded the bases, got Chacin out of the game and were one long hit away from being back in the game, but Lucas Duda flew out, and although they got a run home on a Jose Reyes walk, a Rene Rivera screamer that seemed ticketed for Center Field was run down by Allen Cordoba for an inning-ending ground out.

From there, not much else. Wilmer Flores hit an academic Home Run but by that point I'd gone to sleep, but I'm told it did actually happen.

One more here in San Diego, a series that feels much longer than the three games it's encompassed so far. Tonight, the Major League Debut for youngster Chris Flexen, up from my old haunt in Binghamton. We wish him well, or at least that he doesn't look like he's choking on his tongue like Kyle Lloyd was on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trojan Win

The Mets won their second straight in San Diego on Tuesday, one of those gritty games where they battle behind and come back to win. I'm always happy with a win, but sometimes it's amusing when they have to peck and scrape and claw against a terrible team. But that's sort of emblematic of the way the season has gone.

Tuesday night, the Mets were in trouble from the start when the Padres Trojan Horse'd them. They were supposed to face Jhoulys Chacin. When they faced Chacin in May, they fed him his lunch good and proper and he didn't make it out of the 1st inning. But whether Chacin actually had back spasms, or he just had "back spasms," he didn't start and instead the Mets would face Kyle Lloyd, a young fellow making his Major League debut, and on short enough notice that they had no advance scouting. Seems legit.

So there's Lloyd, standing out there looking like he's just been kicked out of a space shuttle without a helmet on, facing the Mets. Meanwhile, and I didn't notice it yesterday, but the Padres seem to have changed their uniforms again, from the mustard-yellow monstrosity that they used to sport to something that now seems to be a replica of the 1984 Tigers. I don't necessarily like watching a team whose jerseys make me feel like I'm watching a different team. I felt the need to point that out.

But at any rate, Lloyd gave up a Home Run to Yoenis Cespedes in the 1st. But then he sort of settled down. Seth Lugo, on the other side, had his own troubles. He gave up a Home Run to Hunter Renfroe in the 2nd, again, no great shakes since Renfroe is clearly destined to be one of those Met Killers. He also gave up a 2-run Home Run to Allen Cordoba. This put the Padres up, 3-1.

Usually, when the Mets face a guy making his Major League debut, it has a tendency to not go well. The Padres have a history of proving this in execution. But Lloyd seemed to run out of steam around the 4th, and the Mets managed to fight back and tie the game in the 5th thanks to an RBI double by Asdrubal Cabrera. This knocked Lloyd out of the game altogether, and then when Cespedes followed with another RBI double, the Mets had the lead and Lloyd was actually in line for a loss. However, his teammates, specifically Matt Szczur, got him off the hook and tied the game in the last of the 5th.

The Mets regained the lead in the last of the 7th on a play that seemed to typify the fortunes of these two teams. Granderson singled with 1 out against generically-named Jose Torres, and with two outs, Phil Maton (I will be sorely disappointed if Maton is not from Quebec or at least of French Canadian descent) was summoned to face Cespedes. And he fooled Cespedes, if only to get him to put an ugly check swing on a ball that nonetheless rocketed down the Right Field line. A troika of Padres then picked up the ball and threw it not particularly close to bases or players, and as such a Cespedes triple turned into a Cespedes Little League Home Run, giving the Mets a 6-4 lead.

From there, Paul Sewald had a Good Paul Sewald night and Addison Reed again gave up a run and made things unnecessarily stressful but still managed to close out a 6-5 victory. Another one of those kind of 6-5 victories. I'm not sure if this is something worth celebrating or not.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Refreshing Result

San Diego is a place where the Mets go once a season. I've never been there myself but I hear it's lovely basically all times of the year. However, the Mets seem to not enjoy themselves much, particularly since they opened Petco Park back in 2004 (?). I've mentioned it before, as I have about many Self-fufilling Met Prophecies or Met Hexes that crop up, but it bears mentioning since this is a four-game series, but the Mets in San Diego is generally a losing proposition. I know that this is the place where Bartolo Colon broke Baseball last year, but otherwise, the Mets have played approximately 60 games in Petco Park over the last 14 seasons and their record is something to the effect of 18-42, and of those 42 losses, 34 of them were by a 2-1 score, and the other 8 were of some variety of either almost being no-hit by pitchers making their first or second Major League start, or a walk-off Grand Slam.

Point is, for the Mets, for whom consistent play has been a dicey proposition this season, a trip to San Diego isn't going to help much. San Diego has been having a miserable season, but they still managed to take two of three from the Mets in New York. Now we're here in San Diego.

Monday night, the Mets won, and, well, they probably should have won given that Jacob deGrom was pitching, and yet they managed to almost blow it at the end. deGrom, as has been the case over the past several weeks, was brilliant, striking out the side in the first and just humming along from there as the Mets offense provided him with a modicum of support. Wilmer Flores hit a Home Run against Clayton Richard and his irritatingly jerky delivery in the 2nd, Yoenis Cespedes tripled home a run and scored another in the 3rd, and Jay Bruce and Travis d'Arnaud also drove home runs. That eliminated the fear of yet another 2-1 loss, which was nice, and behind a cruising deGrom seemed to give the impression that the Mets had the game well in hand. deGrom allowed two runs late, a bomb of a Home Run to Hunter Renfroe in the 7th, and then back-to-back doubles with 2 outs in the 8th. Otherwise, he was his usual quietly efficient self.

Then, of course, we got to the 9th. Addison Reed, whose name has been one of the leading ones bandied around in trade talks, took the mound and gave up another Home Run to Renfroe. Again, I'll take that with a grain of salt since Renfroe has been killing everyone lately. Then, of course, he gave up a hit to Manuel Margot and another hit to Hector Sanchez, and that brought up Jabari Blash. I don't know much of Blash other than he's one of these really tall, wiry types who hasn't amounted to much in a limited role in the Majors, so it stands to reason that if anyone was going to whack a 3-run Home Run and fuck up a perfectly good game, it would be him, and damned if he didn't almost do that, hitting a ball that just barely slipped to the foul side of the foul pole and required a replay review to make sure. Following that scare, Reed then got his shit together and struck out Blash. Matt Szczur followed, and, well, wouldn't it have to be Matt Szczur, then? He hit it well, but right to Bruce and that ended a 5-3 victory that was probably significantly hairier than it needed to be. But, then again, that's the Mets in 2017. Much hairier than it needs to be.

Monday, July 24, 2017


It was Sunday at Citi Field yesterday, so naturally the Mets did not win.

This Sunday Thing the Mets have had is kind of epidemic, and completely baffling and as a result the Mets are, I believe, the only team that has not swept a home series in the Major Leagues this season. Or at least they deserve to be. Once again, the Mets won the first two games of a weekend series, and then came out on Sunday and sleepwalked through the afternoon. Unlike other such weekends where the starting pitcher came out and allowed 6 runs in the 1st inning, the Mets kind of just hung around all afternoon, following a brief rain delay. Rafael Montero had yet another one of his "little victory" outings, in the sense that, yes, he did pitch 7 innings this time. But he still gave up 3 Home Runs, to Khris Davis, Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman, and while they were all solo Home Runs, they were Home Runs nonetheless and as such were enough to beat the Mets on this day.

The Mets, on the other side, did nothing beyond a Michael Conforto Home Run against Daniel Gossett. Somehow, they managed to tie the game in the 6th inning, and for a brief second there, with Montero still humming along, it seemed like maybe the Mets had broken that Sunday Thing. But they went to the well with Montero one too many times, Chapman lofted a fly ball into the seats with 2 outs, and the air went out of the Mets from there. So, instead of perhaps talking about another comeback win, or another walkoff, or, dare I say, a series sweep, we're instead stuck discussing how Rafael Montero's outing was a "little victory."

I talked yesterday about how the Mets biggest problem this season has been their total inconsistency. If that's number 1, I think number 2 has to be the acceptance of the "little victory" as the norm. The 2017 Mets weren't supposed to be gunning for the little victories.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Best and The Worst

One of the irritating things about the Mets in 2017 is that they show no particular consistency on a day-to-day basis, and often even on an intra-game basis. Tonight's game was a pretty good example of this. Zack Wheeler had nothing on this night and somehow managed to grit his way through 5 innings, but nonetheless left with the Mets trailing 5-0. The offense seemed to be pretty lifeless through those first 5 innings, as they managed nothing of consequence against Sean Manaea. It appeared to be one of those nights that would be eminently forgettable. 

Then, of course, the Mets struck for 4 in the 6th, tied the game in the 8th, and won it 6-5 on a walk-off Home Run by Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the 9th.

That's been the Mets. Alternately horrendous, lifeless and full of heart and guts. And that's what's made this season so particularly irritating, because they show all these signs of being so much better than they've been to this point.

Wheeler, of course, did nobody any favors with his poor outing, and I'm beginning to think that Wheeler may simply be hitting the proverbial wall. I mean, you can't expect too much more out of a pitcher who's missed two full seasons. At times this year, he's looked really good and as such you'd like to think he could regroup, get stronger in the offseason and come back next year ready to strike. But for tonight he didn't have much. He gave up a Home Run to the leadoff hitter Matt Joyce, he was walking guys and giving up long hits, and it sort of seemed like the Mets were buried before anyone even picked up a bat.

And for the most part this was the case, at least until the 6th inning, when they finally reached Manaea, one of these up-and-comers, and got back in the game. It figured that Jay Bruce (Home Run) and Michael Conforto (RBI double) were heavily involved in this inning. They didn't get all the way back, but at least they got it close. Then, Blake Treinen came in and, of course, stopped the rally and just to make everyone even more indignant, pitched a scoreless 7th inning as well.

Liam Hendriks entered the game in the 8th and it seemed like the Mets were going to just squander their opportunity as Jose Reyes followed a T.J. Rivera single by...hitting into a Double Play. Not Helpful. Travis d'Arnaud followed by doubling off the wall in Center, and Lucas Duda followed as a pinch-hitter. Oakland then went to Daniel Coulombe, their lone Lefthander, or at least I think he's their lone lefthander, but Duda, unperturbed, singled to Center to score d'Arnaud with the tying run.

So, after all that...the game was tied. Hansel Robles came in for the 9th and, for once, did not make me want to cover my eyes or shut off the TV, and for once did not allow the first batter to tee off and hit the ball into the second deck. In fact, had he not walked Khris Davis, perfectly acceptable given his stature, he would have had a clean inning outright. But again, not consistent for him.

Oakland then went to Simon Castro for the 9th, and at this point I was thinking which of the three batters the Mets had coming up could hit the walkoff Home Run. Asdrubal Cabrera led off. He'd hit a memorable Walkoff Home Run last year, that I witnessed. He has a penchant for this sort of stuff. So he lined out to right. Yoenis Cespedes. Saw him hit a walkoff Home Run last year too. He's got a penchant as well. Struck out. Wilmer Flores. Haven't seen him hit a walkoff Home Run, but I have seen him come up with multiple walkoff hits...And he won the Free Steak by hitting a 1-0 pitch into the Left Field seats, to finish the game and earn the ever-elusive Double "Outta Here" from Gary Cohen, capping off a game that saw the Mets dig their own grave and then dig themselves right back out of it. Go figure.

You wonder if the Mets could have gotten up off the mat like this a few more times earlier in the season, maybe they wouldn't be in this mess.

Friday, July 21, 2017

You Jerks

The Oakland A's are in town this weekend, for one of those obscure interleague matchups that only occurs once every three years and seems much odder than, say, the Orioles coming to town. We'll get another one of these really weird matchups next weekend too, but I'll worry about that when I have to.

Currently, the A's are on my shitlist. Not because I hold some residual bitterness from 1973, because that was 6 years before I was born, but because of something they did earlier this week, totally under the radar. I know the A's aren't going anywhere this season and they're generally one of the more active teams around the trade deadline, but they went and dealt their two best relief pitchers, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, to the Fucking Nationals, thereby strengthening their weak spot. I mean, what the fuck? Why help those clowns out? Now, I know that Billy Beane is a pretty shrewd judge of talent, to the point where I'd be leery of dealing him prospects he wants, simply because if he wants someone that badly, he may know something you don't. I'm not certain that was in play here, because I don't know who Oakland got in return (and in fact I didn't even know about the trade until 2 days after it happened), and, I'm not sure I care. The A's are by and large never the Mets problem. We have to see the Fucking Nationals 44 times a year and dammit, I don't want them getting any better. In fact, I'd like to see the other 29 teams purposely collude to NOT trade them pitching help and let them inevitably screw things up on their own. To wit: The Mets themselves have a few relief pitchers on the trading block, and Sandy Alderson has essentially said outright that he wouldn't trade them to the Fucking Nationals.

So, yeah. The A's pissed me off. So hopefully, the Mets teach them a lesson this weekend. They got off to a good start this evening, running out to a lead thanks to a pair of Home Runs from Michael Conforto and 5 solid, if unspectacular, innings from Steven Matz, and then surviving a hairy late charge by the A's to win the series opener, 7-5.

I'd like to talk about Matz and Conforto a little more, but of course since it was Friday and I wasn't at the game, I went home and fell asleep, and by time I woke up and put the game on, it was the 8th inning and Erik Goeddel was busy making a mess of things. He'd gotten lit up by Josh Phegley and Jed Lowrie, and then was removed in favor of Addison Reed, probably earlier than one would prefer, and, well, he wasn't good. He walked Rajai Davis and gave up another run-scoring hit by Marcus Semien, and then he was removed for Jerry Blevins. Because when you think 5-out Save, you think Jerry Blevins.

So, of course, Blevins got the 5-out Save. He got around Yonder Alonso and Khris Davis, the punch in Oakland's lineup, to finish the 8th and got through the 9th rather quietly to seal the victory.

Now, of course, the Mets did plate some of their runs against Blake Treinen, one of the pitchers Oakland acquired in their trade with Washington, if you can take some consolation from that. I wouldn't. In fact, I'd rather have the Mets take out Treinen with him still in a Washington uniform. I mean, Conforto hit his two Home Runs off of Paul Blackburn and Frankie Montas, the latter being another Beane Deadline Special, acquired from the Dodgers last season. Where I'm going with this now, I'm not sure. I guess the bottom line is that generally when Beane is making deals, usually nothing good comes from it.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sneaky Win

The Mets nearly snuck an entire game past me this afternoon. While I did know that they had an afternoon game, and in fact I also knew that it was a 12:10pm game, which they play on occasion in the Summer, I'd lost track of time altogether until some point much later in the afternoon and by time I'd clicked on, the game was already in the 5th inning and humming right along.

By and large, and of course since I didn't see it I can't speak much to it, but it appeared to be a pitchers duel between Seth Lugo and Lance Lynn, or, a pair of nondescript righthanded pitchers taking advantage of an early-afternoon getaway-day game on a 95˚ afternoon. Lucas Duda hit an early Home Run but that was about it. I'd glanced away after checking in in the 5th, and of course when I looked back, it was the 7th inning and the game was tied. A little later, I checked back again and saw that Tommy Pham had hit a Home Run off of Erik Goeddel and the Cardinals had a 2-1 lead in the 8th. My thought process then went as follows:

1) Well, that's the game.
2) Figures it was lousy Goeddel that gave it up.
3) Man, I hate the Cardinals.
4) I'm going to go out and run some errands now.

So I went out and ran my errands. I was probably out for about 45 minutes and that's being generous. It may have been closer to 30. But nonetheless, I came back and checked my screen and...huh. The Mets won, 3-2.

Apparently all I needed to do was go out, because while I was out, Wilmer Flores pinch hit in the last of the 8th and hit a Home Run to re-tie the game, and in the 9th, the Mets got a couple of runners on base, and then with two outs, Jose Reyes hit a chopper behind 1st base that was knocked down by Matt Carpenter. Generally, this is a fairly routine out, except when Jose Reyes busts it down the 1st base line and Trevor Rosenthal forgets to cover the base. Then, extra innings turns into a fortuitous Mets victory and, for once, it's the Cardinals that are left holding their jocks and looking like jackasses. Couldn't happen to a better bunch.

So, after all this, the Mets split this series with the Cardinals and...surprise surprise, are still no better off than they were at this time last week. So at least they're not totally mailing it in, but the more this continues and the more the Mets just play at par, the less time remains and...oh, what's the use? Enjoy beating the Cardinals. Don't think about anything beyond that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sweati Field

I was back at Citi Field tonight, on an utterly sweltering, uncomfortable evening, for what will in all likelihood be my only game for the month of July. I'd mentioned a couple of days ago that I, strategically, chose Wednesday and I unabashedly say that I swapped in to this game because I wanted to see Jacob deGrom pitch. This was my 12th game of the season and the 5th time I'd drawn deGrom and generally this has been a winning proposition. Lately, it's been about as close to a lock as you can get given how good a groove he's been in, going back to when I saw him pitch against Chicago last month.

How good has deGrom been? So good that he was able to shut down the Cardinals for the better part of 7 innings and shut up their obnoxious, underwear-sniffing fans to the point where I barely noticed they were there. It helped that the Mets jumped on Mike Leake early and often. Leake wasn't helped by some lousy defense, but he wasn't exactly fooling the Mets hitters. With 2 outs in the 1st and Asdrubal Cabrera on 2nd, he gave up, in order, an RBI single to Yoenis Cespedes, a long, opposite-field RBI double to Lucas Duda, and then an opposite-field RBI single to Wilmer Flores. The 2nd inning was no better; Cespedes drove in another run, Jay Bruce drove in a run, and Jose Reyes drove in two more, and the Mets had supplied deGrom with a 7-run avalanche.

The Mets offense, then, went in the tank as Leake departed and the Mets managed very little against a succession of oddly-named Cardinal Relievers such as John Brebbia, Matt Bubbia and Sam Blubbia. deGrom, of course, had the Cardinals in a sleeperhold from the get-go, in spite of the fact that he didn't look his sharpest and in fact had to waste 12 pitches on the first batter of the game, Matt Carpenter. I would guess the temperature didn't help; although the game seemed to be moving along rather briskly, the fact that it was an absolute oven at Citi Field just made the game feel as though it was creeping towards 3+ hours. Summers in New York City can be like this, but on these particular days, where it's about 92˚ out, with 75% humidity and winds from the south at about 2 mph can just be unbearable, and as such I took to such heat-beating tasks as taking my cap over to the nearest waterfountain and drenching it before putting it back on my head. Didn't help.

And so deGrom was cruising along until the 7th, when he had a runner on 1st with 2 outs and Luke Voit at the plate (because Genius Mike Matheny decided to empty his bench once the score got to 7-0). deGrom appeared to have Voit struck out, but was for whatever inane reason overruled by Joe West at 1st Base, meaning he had to go back out to the mound and finish the At Bat. And of course he instead allowed an RBI double to Voit and instead of finishing the 7th, was then pulled from the game to a rousing ovation nonetheless.

In the 8th, a combination of Paul Sewald and Jerry Blevins made things unnecessarily hairy. Magnanimous Sierra drove home 2 runs with a single and suddenly the Cardinals had the tying run at the plate. But since Genius Mike Matheny had already burned through his bench, he was forced to send up Adam Wainwright. But because the Mets are the Mets, Blevins walked Wainwright, and as such had to be rescued from himself by Addison Reed, who mercifully struck out Voit to end the inning.

I feel as though that particular inning underscored the evening, which is to say that the whole affair was thoroughly sweaty and mostly excruciating...And the Mets won the game, 7-3. Can you imagine if they'd lost? If it was like that and they played the sort of game they did last night, I would have likely left in the 5th inning. Winning can make everything a little more bearable. Even broiling heat.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lifeless Tuesday

It's been a running theme this season that I keep turning games on late and as such there have been nights where things seem to be decided before I even turn the thing on. Tonight, I turned the game on in the 5th inning, Rafael Montero was on the mound and the Mets were behind 4-0. I gave the proceedings about an inning before I threw in the towel. This was just as well; the Mets managed only 3 hits as Michael Wacha threw a CGShO at them.

On nights such as this, where the Mets just run into a buzzsaw and there's nothing to be done, you try to search for some kind of silver lining. Somehow, the silver lining in this game was the fact that Montero managed to get through 6 innings without either a) getting eaten alive by the opponent or b) throwing 180 pitches and having his arm fall off.

If that's what Mets fans need to rest their heads easy at the end of the day, well, who am I to say otherwise? I can't come up with anything better to think about.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Back to Business

So, I'm back from vacation and it seems I've missed very little. While I was away, the Mets, predictably, got throttled in a Morning game in Washington, did nothing noteworthy against the Cardinals, dispersed for the All-Star Break, came back, won the first two games over the weekend against the Colorados, and then as they usually do, got lit on fire on Sunday. I saw none of these games, and in fact was out of the country for most of them. I even missed Michael Conforto represent the Mets at the All Star Game, where he got a hit while Joe Buck was busy extolling the virtues of someone who wasn't even on the field at that moment.

But so tonight was the first game I'd had the opportunity to see since I returned, and in fact I actually had tickets for tonight, but instead opted to swap them out for Wednesday for a variety of reasons, among them that day's starting pitcher. I tend to rue these Mets/Cardinals games, generally because the Cardinals are constantly persnickety and annoying, and their fans run around with selfie sticks and sniff their own underwear. I've gone over the whole "least favorite fans" bit innumerable times, and Cardinals fans are near the top of that list.

I made a wise decision not going tonight. Though I put the game on late and actually missed Zack Wheeler's outing altogether, I had the poor fortune of tuning in just as Hansel Robles made his return after an exile to AAA, and as such had the poor fortune of seeing Tommy Pham send Robles' second pitch into orbit for a 3-run Home Run that essentially scorched the game from there. It's nice to see that Robles really changed and grew and improved as a pitcher in his time in the minors. And you wonder why I've had enough of him.

The Mets still don't quit, though, and against Adam Wainwright (and by tuning in late, I missed the assorted waxing poetic about Wainwright and 2006 and another era that ultimately left us wanting more), they fought back for a pair of runs thanks to a Lucas Duda Home Run and a Jose Reyes not-Home Run that was kicked around the Outfield by Magneuris Sierra or whatever his name is. But they got no closer than 6-3. That's not to say they didn't have opportunities, but against Brett Cecil (not an ex-Yankee), the Mets got two men on in the 9th, and had Yoenis Cespedes at the plate, with a 3-0 count...and Cespedes summarily swung at a sucker pitch and hit into an easy Double Play to end the game.

This is my welcome back? Gee. Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Eyeroll City

These Mets/Nationals games seem to make me far too aggravated nowadays for me to give any sort of rational exegesis on the game itself. All I know is that the Mets, in particular Steven Matz, played their heart out for most of the night only to once again end up with their jocks in their hands while the Nationals came away with a victory.

The game began at a rather incongruous 6:05 and as such I tuned in about an hour late, but I'd missed nothing as Matz and Stephen Strasburg threw zeroes at each other for most of the night. At some point, I stepped away but returned just in time to see Jerry Blevins give up a 2-run Home Run to Michael Taylor. I figured that was the game right there, but then the Nationals awful bullpen reared its head and gave the Mets a minor window. Still, Matt Albers had 2 outs and 2 strikes on Curtis Granderson, but, undaunted, Granderson hit a 2-run Home Run to tie up the game.

For a few brief, fleeting moments, it seemed like this could be the jolt the Mets needed as they started off their statistical second half of the season, but then the Mets awful bullpen showed that the Nationals aren't the only team with late-game issues. Paul Sewald walked the leadoff hitter, which is like basically saying to the Nationals, "HERE PLEASE HAVE THIS GAME," Josh Edgin walked another and then Ryan Raburn hit a dying quail of a single that Yoenis Cespedes couldn't catch and if that wasn't bad enough probably hurt himself trying to catch, and the Mets lost the game anyway, 3-2. Fuck you, Nationals. Just, fuck you. That's my summation. Fuck you, Nationals.

* * *

On vacation for the next week plus, which will overlap the All Star Break. So let's just assume that the Mets will lose this morning's game, because why the hell would the Mets win a game that starts at 11:05am, but they'll win on Wednesday because deGrom is pitching. Thursday, they're off, so they can lick their wounds and get the Nationals stink off of them. Then, it's a weekend in St. Louis, and I don't think the Cardinals are having a good year for once, so maybe the Mets can take 2 of 3. Or lose 2 of 3. One or the other. Go with that. Happy 4th, stay out of the aisles, and take your hat off.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Just As Well

I didn't see any of Sunday's game as other commitments drew me out of the house for a majority of the afternoon. It's just as well. Based on the 7-1 final score I didn't miss much. Rafael Montero, from what I'm told, wasn't good, but also wasn't terribly lucky. Nonetheless, he battled, which I guess is sort of the zero-sum argument for the Mets this season. They've battled. But that only counts for so much. Montero might have battled, but he still stuck the Mets in a 4-run hole and they couldn't hit their way out of it against Nick Pivetta, who became the 13th Phillies player to appear in this series that I've absolutely never heard of before this weekend. His performance, I would think, assures him being the darling of Fantasy league Waiver Wires at this hour.

The only other noteworthy news was of course the announcement of the annual All Star Team. The game itself has become more spectacle than anything else, which I guess was inevitable, but nonetheless, you still root for your guys to draw the honor and Michael Conforto is the lone Mets representative. He's of course hurt now, and was finally put on the DL yesterday after spending the previous 5 days essentially sucking up a roster spot in spite of being unable to play. And he'd slumped through most of June. But, if there was a Met to deserve this, it would be Conforto, I'd think. Plus, guys are always dropping out of the game at the last minute and as such the potential exists for other roster changes, so perhaps a name like deGrom might find themselves in LoriaLand on July 11th, where Joe Buck will sneer his name during the pregame introductions.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


If nothing else, the Mets, in a year where basically everything that's gone wrong, continue to fight, and sometimes they actually provide a bit of a glimpse of greatness. This happened on Saturday, one of those weird late afternoon starts that they seem to play almost exclusively now. Zack Wheeler didn't have it, he was betrayed by his defense, the bullpen faltered late, the Mets found themselves behind, but somehow they got off the mat, and thanks to 7th inning Home Runs by T.J. Rivera and the day's bobblehead honoree Asdrubal Cabrera, came back to beat the Phillies in a hideous affair, 7-6.

Certainly, this wasn't quite what Doubleday had in mind back when he invented the game (nor what Doubleday had in mind when he purchased the Mets in 1980). Wheeler started for the Mets and was good early against a once-again moribund Phillies lineup, but he hit a wall in the 4th. Against stiffer competition this might not have gone so well. Against the Phillies, he only allowed two and wasn't helped by a pair of errors (and yes, one was his own), but after slogging along and throwing an inordinate number of pitches, he couldn't finish the inning and the Mets found themselves in the bullpen far earlier than is palatable.

The Mets, however, came back against Jeremy Hellickson, one of those guys who's constantly getting traded or rumored to be getting traded. Jay Bruce drove home a run on a groundout and Lucas Duda followed by hitting a Home Run into the Apple to put the Mets back ahead. Erik Goeddel, who's resurfaced here despite still not being particularly good and now sporting a ridiculous coif, spit the lead back up, and so the game was tied 3-3. Fernando Salas followed, pitched a good 6th inning, and then Terry Collins pushed his luck and tried to squeeze another inning out of him, so of course he allowed a 3-run Home Run to Tommy Joseph.

Hellickson, meanwhile, was pitching like the anti-Wheeler and had thrown about 75 pitches through 6 innings, and with the lead, there seemed no reason to remove him. So, of course, he allowed a Home Run to Rivera to start the last of the 7th. And that ended Hellicksonnn's day, in favor of Pat Neshek and his bizarre 1890s windup. Neshek pitched a solid inning on Friday but was less effective on Saturday, giving up a double to Travis d'Arnaud and a pinch-hit single to Wilmer Flores, which then set the stage for Cabrera to repeat his Home Run Heroics from last September.

Then, of course, it rained. It looked like it was going to rain basically the entire game, but they stopped the game in the top of the 8th inning, and in spite of Collins being rather incensed by the whole thing, it was probably a good idea since it was pouring where I was and generally what happens where I am usually ends up at Citi Field 10 minutes later. So that halted things for a spell but eventually the game resumed, Addison Reed came in, finished the 8th, finished the 9th and finished the game, a good 4 and a half hours after it started, as Saturday afternoon became Saturday night.

So, now, the Mets have done what they needed to do here and can sweep the Phillies tomorrow if all goes well. Then again, "all goes well" has been a dicey proposition for the Mets this season. But, still, they fight.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Brief Moment

I was back at Citi Field on Friday night, for my 11th game of the season and the 6th of which I didn't actually sit in the seats I'd selected for my plan. One of these little plan-holder quirks is, of course, the ability to not simply exchange tickets, but to exchange them for whichever seating area you so choose, and as such I've found myself sitting in all sorts of different parts of Citi Field. This night, I found myself over in section 331, in the Excelsior level, sort of out in shallow Left Field. I wouldn't call it my preferred section, but it's just a change of pace. Why the hell not?

Friday was also the 4th time this season I've drawn Jacob deGrom, which has generally worked out well to this point. deGrom's recent renaissance in fact started at a game I was at a few weeks ago against the Cubs, in which deGrom threw a Complete Game and really dominated in the process. Since then, he's been on a roll and, given that and given the weak Phillies lineup he was about to face, and you had to feel pretty confident about the Mets chances. Sometimes, you have a good feeling about games and then things end up blowing up. I had that sort of ominous feeling as I got my Fuku and headed up to my seats.

Then, of course, the game started and deGrom got to work, looking every bit as good as he'd looked in his previous three starts. On the other side was Ben Lively, whom I'd never heard of prior to a few days ago when I looked up the pitching matchup, and I still really don't know who he is, other than he's on the Phillies and he's a young pitcher, and he was certainly lucky in the early going because the Mets had him on the ropes in the 1st and 2nd innings and he managed to induce a pair of double plays. However, in the 2nd, he undid his good fortune by walking deGrom and giving up an infield hit to Curtis Granderson that scored the game's first run. In the 4th, Jose Reyes tripled when Odubel Herrera had a moment with Baseball and Travis d'Arnaud singled him home to make the score 2-0.

Meanwhile, deGrom continued to dominate, and in fact going into the 5th inning, he hadn't allowed a hit. I'd noticed this as I was keeping score, and usually it's around the 5th inning of these kinds of games where the fans start to pick up on it too, and you start to feel that building tension in the crowd. Of course, this was going on in typical deGrom fashion, which is pretty quiet. He was striking out plenty of batters, but I wouldn't say I felt like he had "no-hit" stuff. In fact, he was hovering up around 80 pitches, and as such going further into the game, pitch count probably would have been of some concern, and of course it becomes a thing and adds to the stress of the moment. But, you go with it. deGrom got the first two outs in the 5th, and then came Andrew Knapp, another one of these players I knew nothing about. deGrom got two quick strikes and then that roar started to build, because he was working on a thing here, and Knapp lofted a high fly ball out to Center Field. I turned and looked at Granderson, and then I saw Cespedes making a mad dash out towards Center Field and immediately thought, "Oh shit. He can't see it." Granderson was standing there with his hands out, which of course is the universal sign for No Good, and the ball ended up landing behind him and Knapp wound up on 3rd base with a gift triple. deGrom then gave up a soft single to old friend Ty Kelly to score Knapp and make the score 2-1. And finally, he got the 3rd out.

This was a major swing in mood, because you go from thinking that he's got a chance to do something, to all of a sudden now we have to tack on some more runs and the game's in doubt, to say nothing of the extra pitches deGrom had to expend to get through the 5th. However, this run proved more fluke than anything else as deGrom regrouped, struck out the side in the 6th, allowed a clean single to Nick Williams that I think made everyone feel better about the loss of the no-hit bid two innings earlier, and then finished out his night with 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk and 12 strikeouts, etching his name near the top of my personal best strikeout performances. This was good, because the Mets did nothing further against Lively or anyone else the Phillies threw out there. So the job of finishing fell to Jerry Blevins, who allowed a double to slick-looking Cameron Perkins—yet another Phillie I've never heard of—but nothing further, Paul Sewald, who finished the 8th, and Addison Reed, who made quick work of things in the 9th to seal up this 2-1 Mets victory.

This, then, puts me at 6-5 in my 11 games, for all intents and purposes my halfway point of the season. No, I didn't get that special, transcendent performance from deGrom I thought might be possible, but then again, I suppose it's just as well that we didn't have to go down that rabbit hole of pitch counts and "maybe so's" and instead the Mets just won the damn game, which is what they're supposed to be doing against the Phillies, even if this situation seems kind of hopeless.