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.

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