NEW YORK METS: Washington Takes Game One.
Nationals Barely Out-Last the Amazin's Tenacity.
1) - Nationals - *
2) - Marlins - 1
3) - METS - 1.5
4) - Braves - 2
5) - Phillies - 5
Tuesday was the opening game of a battle for first place against the Washington Nationals. As such, I have a thing about winning first games. They send messages; whether big or small; they send messages none the less. Although, this game said a little more than I think we Mets fans cared for.
I didn't like what I saw from Josh Thole Tuesday night. This was his first negative showing since returning from a concussion. In the bottom of the twelfth, as in the tenth inning, Josh Thole failed to block a pitch in the dirt, which put the winning run on third, with one out. It looked like the Mets were going to escape the inning, but Bryce Harper singled home the game winning run in the home twelfth.
Josh Thole was failing to drop to his knees and squaring his body to the pitch. As a result, pitches in the dirt ate him up. And visually speaking, the effort looked poor. He's my dude, but I have to call it like I see it. Within the inning, he corrected himself though; but too late. The damage was done. The Mets also suffered mightily at shortstop. Omar Quintanilla (1), and Jordany Valdespin (2), committed a series of untimely E-6's as well.
Between Chris Young's return to the mound with five innings of work, and Bryce Harper's game winning single, the Mets held three different leads which, A) - the bullpen shouldn't receive too much blame for blowing on three separate occasions, because B) - the Mets got handcuffed on a series of infield dinks, thus forcing the defense into several unfortunate donuts. Sometimes that's baseball.
Tim Byrdak and Bobby Parnell were victims of odd play that ensued between the eighth and twelfth innings despite pitching fairly well. Frank Francisco, at worst was hittable. In light of the recent DFA's Sandy Alderson initiated within the bullpen, and now having Jon Rauch's and Ramon Ramirez' injury status to consider, it is just plain unfortunate Buffalo call-up, young Elvin Ramirez was pressed into pitching a second inning of work. By then Coach Terry was on his fifth reliever of the evening. And the fact Elvin was even in that position (12th inning) demonstrates how dire the Mets' bullpen situation really is.
So, against their leading competition Tuesday evening, instead of seizing the day, the Mets faults were exposed. With Thole behind the plate, and a consortium of infielders misplaying several chances at shortstop, the Mets showed their weakness up the middle. There is no sense in continually harping on Daniel Murphy's defense. And while Andres Torres is quite capable in center, it is clear the Mets are still defensively inefficient in the key positions up the middle. And then, yes, the bullpen also continues to be a season long liability.
On the positive side of this game, Terry Collins managed this contest terribly well..., again. His Boys continue to be resilient, and play with a never say die attitude. AND, they hit with power again. On Tuesday, the Mets tapped into their comeback abilities multiple times and held three different leads, as mentioned.
The secret is now out. When Clark Kent isn't fumblin' around the coffee maker at the office, he's busy moonlighting as a home run hitter for the New York Mets. When the call for Truth, Justice, and the Metropolitan Way sounded again Tuesday night, Scott Hairston stepped up and hit his eighth home run of the season in the top of the twelfth inning, to give the Mets a (then) 6-5 lead over the Nationals.
Before you knew it, Terry's Kids looked like they were going to do it again. Well, not so fast. This took extra innings, and they did lose. Regardless, sometimes we don't even know how the Mets do it. But we all know by now, Terry Collins doesn't allow his Kids to ease up for a second, even when things aren't exactly going according to plan. Even in defeat, it is clear, the team, and their skipper, are engaged together with a tremendous amount of mutual respect. And that's half your battle. With yet another eye-opener, Terry's Kids are easily reviving an old Flushing mantra which has everyone calling this year's Mets, AMAZIN', once again. And for a change, it's a pure, unpolluted, expression of the fans, and not contrived or forced by the Media.
And maybe Chris Young has shown he can be this season's answer to the Mets fifth spot in the rotation. He allowed two earned runs and six hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out two. If that's what we get in his first game back, then I guess there's hope for the fifth spot after all. At least, let's agree to call the situation, promising.
Now, I don't believe in moral victories. But I will gauge how much of a fight a team puts up in defeat. Sometimes a team's ability to be competitive, and Baseball's Law of Averages, just clash with each other. Like this game.
Being Amazin' again is cool. But "Ya Gotta Believe" - that comes way later.