Mets Game 39: Win Over Cubs
Mets 3 Cubs 2
The Mets won a game yesterday and won a game today, so that’s two in a row. If they win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak. It was happened before. So will they jack it up a little? (All apologies to Lou Brown.)
Mets Game Notes
The Wilpons should be thanking an omnipotent being every night for Matt Harvey. Where would the Mets be right now without him? Doing their best to keep from sinking below the Fish, that’s what.
Harvey won his fifth game of the year, though it wasn’t without drama. After allowing two runs in the initial inning, he simply shut down the Cubs — game over — using his trademark mix of well-placed, high-velocity fastballs, curveballs, sliders, and change-ups. The only chance he had of not winning the ballgame came when he exited. I do understand that he had thrown 106 pitches, but if I was a manager managing for a new contract, it would have been very difficult for me to place Harvey’s gem of a ballgame into the hands of Scott Rice and Greg Burke; it’s kind of like serving a Twinkie as dessert after a gourmet meal at Per Se — do you really want to do that? Do you really feel comfortable that dinner will be remembered the way you want it to, after that kind of finish?
With Darwin Barney on second base, one out, and Scott Rice relieving Harvey, David DeJesus rapped a hard-hit single to shallow right field. Barney got a late start, then stumbled, and was rounding third when Marlon Byrd picked up the ball about 40 feet from the infield dirt. The temporarily insane Bell waved Barney home, and was a dead duck by at least 15, maybe 20 feet, as Byrd threw a perfect strike to John Buck.
I would understand the decision to force the Mets to make the play if, say, the #8 hitter or pitcher was on deck, and there were two outs. But with one out, and the team’s two superstars — Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo — coming up next, I have zero explanation for the move, other than pure stupidity. Hey, people make mistakes, and coaching third base is a lot more difficult than it seems from the comfort of our sofa. But that was a really, really bad decision.
Of course, had Barney been held up, there’s no guarantee that he would have scored to tie the game; the Cubs are just as bad as the Mets when it comes to executing and fundamentals. But it would have been a very interesting ballgame had Bell not suffered vapor lock.
Also fascinating was Barney’s decision to play patty-cakes with Buck, rather than try to bowl him over. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since MLB has become a league of sissies who are more concerned with hurting themselves and protecting their seven-figure salaries rather than providing Major League Entertainment. I understand that the younger generation of hyper-protected children is fine with this new style of ball, as they have been taught to avoid injury, contact, and risk from the time they emerged from the womb. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about this evolution. Perhaps, five to ten years from now, the NFL will be a touch-football game as well. Whatever. The way I see it, for the insanely obnoxious salaries these men receive to play a little boys’ game, the least they can do is make every effort within the rules to win. That was a situation where Barney had every right to try to clean Buck’s clock, but chose instead to consider the potential bodily harm he might incur. That’s fine — it’s exactly the brand of bland baseball Bud Selig has been promoting for the past 20 years.
Edwin Jackson pitched well but was a hard-luck loser. Stinks for you, Mr. Jackson, but next time feign illness when your opponent is Mr. Harvey.
Is it me, or has Ike Davis expanded the width of his stance by another two feet? I don’t understand how he can remain in that position without pulling his groin, much less swing the bat.
Was anyone else surprised to see Lucas Duda still in left field in the bottom of the seventh, and again in the bottom of the eighth? The reasoning, I’m sure, was that Collins wanted to get Duda another at-bat before removing him. But, considering how difficult it is for the Mets to get wins, and with Harvey on the mound, I would want the very best defense possible on the field with a one-run lead. There may be some statistical analysis proving my gut wrong, but I find defense to be much more important in holding and securing a one-run win. By leaving Duda in there, Collins was essentially saying, “I don’t trust Harvey to keep shutting down the Cubs,” and/or “I don’t trust Bobby Parnell to close out the game.” But, considering he put the fragility of the game in the hands of Rice and Burke, leaving Duda in makes some sense.
Speaking of Burke, it was nice to see him throwing more underhand / Dan Quisenberry-like on most of his pitches. That’s where he needs to be if he has any hope of staying in MLB for more than a week or two.
And as for Parnell, he was impressive, throwing 95-MPH sinkers at the knees. Granted, Anthony Rizzo may have tied the ballgame had the wind been different, but it wasn’t, and Parnell earned his fifth save.