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.

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