John Axford, the Brewers’ closer who looks enough like George Custer that he could spend the offseason taking part in re-enactments at Little Big Horn, recently blew a save and had to depart before facing to the media. So left behind an apologetic and rather charming note, one that ended with “Cliché… cliché… cliché… another cliché. Gotta go! Love, Ax.”
So it is with games like last night’s.
Every team’s gonna win 60 and lose 60; it’s what you do with the other 42 that determine your fate.
Momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.
And so on.
For posterity, Dillon Gee didn’t have it, getting spanked by Travis Ishikawa, among others. Zack Greinke did, striking out a parade of Mets with an evil diving slider. By the bottom of the sixth it was 5-0 Brewers, and we were stuck with one of those games where players bring out their issues to work on, and never mind the results or what 5,000 diehards may think about watching a minute bit of string being played out.
And so it would have gone on a foggy night at Citi Field, except right after surrendering a home run to Rickie Weeks, D.J. Carrasco hit Ryan Braun with a sinker that did the opposite of what normally intends a sinker to do.
It looked bad to Gary Darling, who excused Carrasco for the duration. Terry Collins, fearing a welt-for-a-welt HBP for David Wright, pulled Wright and Daniel Murphy from the lineup, sending up Jordany Valdespin and Justin Turner instead. The cameras caught an obviously upset Wright speaking very animatedly with Terry in the dugout for a good chunk of the rest of the game. Which was fortunate, in a way, because the game had nothing further to recommend it.
The unfortunate part is that this seems certain to stir the usual NYC tempest in a teapot, with a lot of definitive talk about What It Means and What Has To Happen There and all the usual empty yip-yap that keeps me away from WFAN, Chris Carlin and Bob Ojeda and all the other loudmouthery that fills the 21 hours between games. I thought Terry made the right move — Wright and Murph needed a blow anyway and ironically were set to get one before Carrasco’s errant heave, and the last thing the Mets need is a Wright trip to the DL right now. (Seriously. Can you even imagine?) Terry was forthright about what he’d done and why he’d done it in the press conference, which probably made things a bit worse, but that’s Terry. For those who think he should have downplayed the Disarming Retribution angle, looking stone-faced while explaining he was resting regulars, there was no way he was going to get away with that after the very visible, animated conversation with Wright. Not in this town, at least.
Wright said and did the right things too — one of the more gratifying things about this season has been watching him finally stride into the leadership role he seemed to want no part of a couple of years ago. (Seeing him hit .408 and play a terrific third base has been pretty neat too.) Wright wanted to stand up there and take whatever the Brewers felt needed to be given, and clearly disliked the perception that he was being protected and lesser players were being sent up to be targets instead. He’s not wrong, and I’m glad he reacted that way, but then Terry wasn’t wrong either.
The hope is that when the Brewers return until September, the whole thing is so long ago that nobody wearing blue and gold feels the need to balance the scales.
Or if they do, perhaps they can wait for a blowout and hit D.J. Carrasco.
Standing mournfully at his locker after the game, Carrasco sounded fairly convincing — why would he hit a guy when he knew his job was to eat innings and spare his teammates in the pen? If all you heard was the audio, you probably came away thinking Carrasco was appropriately mournful and thoughtful. But on TV it didn’t come across that way: Carrasco kept his eyes averted, as if the cameras and microphones were so many Medusas. It was weird. Maybe he was embarrassed by having screwed up. Or maybe he was embarrassed that he’d given in to a moment of frustration. Who knows?
I wouldn’t be astonished if this accelerates Carrasco’s departure. He’s already on the thinnest of ice after a lost season and nobody sounded particularly happy with him last night. Wright said Carrasco’s motivations would be addressed in the clubhouse, which was startlingly blunt from a guy whose pronouncements are usually straight from the Derek Jeter School of Vanilla Non-Quotes. Terry, meanwhile, sounded like he’s about to make like Dallas Green and give Carrasco the Mike Maddux treatment, saving him for when it’s 10-1 or it’s the 18th inning and Mike Baxter’s already pitched.
Baxter, by the way, got another pinch-hit and followed that with another safety. Mike Baxter is unexpectedly awesome. I’d much rather think and talk about that than the other thing. Since tomorrow’s radio chatter is unlikely to be wall-to-wall Mike Baxter, though, hang in there.
You’re gonna lose 60 no matter what you do.
Momentum is Johan pitching against the Reds.