this is getting fun

September 3, 2008

Barring the two losses on this road trip, the Mets are looking like a team difficult to keep down. And those two losses (blowing a 7-0 lead to Philly and Aaron Heilman walking in the winning run in Florida) were games in which they beat themselves more than anything. What a difference it’s been from last year and earlier this season; they no longer seem like a team that’s ready to roll over and die. And that in itself is some kind of victory.

Tangible actual victories are even better. And what has been so encouraging over the last few months have been the Mets’ propensity to bounce back after a difficult loss. They’ve done so again on this road trip, coming from behind to beat the Phillies and now winning three in a row since Heilman’s blunder in Florida, two of which against the probable Wild Card winner Milwaukee Brewers (who, I’m sorry, I’m not altogether convinced by, and I thought the same thing last year when they were the hottest team for two months) in a possible NLDS preview. Monday’s game saw them come back from a 2-0 deficit to take in late innings–when did this team learn how to score in the late innings (LOLGagne)? Yesterday they spotted a 5-1 lead to Defiance, OH’s Jon Niese, making his major league debut. Niese, at least this night, turned out to be no prizewinner, as he worked in and out of trouble for three innings before being pulled in the fourth with the score 5-4 and runners on base. He’d be charged with all five Brewer runs when Nelson Figueroa gave up a bloop single that could have been worse without Beltran’s tremendous throw to cut down JJ Hardy at the plate. The defense was sharp all night; in the eighth, Endy Chavez replaced Nick Evans in left field and promptly threw out Rickie Weeks trying to stretch a single into a double, and David Wright atoned for his miserable hitting by recording the final out in the ninth as Corey Hart hit a hard shot off Joe Smith that proved all for naught with Wright smothering the ball and throwing a beaut to Delgado.

How is it possible that this nausea-inducing (I seriously almost threw up last night when Ayala was facing Weeks) bullpen has thrown thirteen scoreless innings? Were they just waiting for the September call-ups, for fortification, for increased backup? Figueroa is the only call-up whose pitched; otherwise we’ve seen the normal parade of Smith, Feliciano, Sanchez, the increasingly reliable Stokes, Schoeneweis, and Ayala. There’s something to be said for strength in numbers, and thirteen arms is a nice-looking luxury.

Lastly, Daniel Murphy is becoming our own nice-looking luxury. When he was brought in to pinch-hit in the top of the tenth, I sat back and thanked Jerry for not using him earlier, and knew there’d be something a-brewin’ (ahem). A lead-off single, a Reyes bunt that was misplayed, and an Endy Chavez sac fly conspired to manufacture the game-winning run. It seems that Murphy has been in the middle of every late-inning game-winning rally the Mets have had over the past week. His past few starts have seen him struggle early on in the game only to come up big, be on base, and score important runs at the end. Murphy late in the game and we will not lose. And he said, “It shall be so.”

***

Quote of the day comes from an interview given by Brian Schneider yesterday on WFAN, regarding the near-brawl in Florida over the weekend:

“Jacobs and some guys on their team–Scott Olsen, guys like that–are known to be idiots and do stupid things sometimes.”

Schneider, sometimes I wonder what the hell your value on this team is, but I’ve decided I love you.