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

Fortitude

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.