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Sweating It Out With Frank Frank

If the Mets need a new midseason slogan, how about this one:


Splattered by the Yankees in three straight at Leni Riefenstahl Stadium, the Mets then rose up in indignation and savaged the Rays on the road, sweeping a three-game set. They then strutted home from that encounter and sleptwalk through three straight losses to the Reds. So of course they welcomed in the Orioles and stomped them, with R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana authoring 5-0 masterpieces, after which Dillon Gee was merely superb in completing the three-game sweep [1].

Swept, sweep, swept, sweep. Since the Yankees arrive Friday night, following Thursday’s pause to enjoy the All-Time Mets Team, let’s hope this particular pattern doesn’t hold. The Mets are 6-6 over their last 12, and the highs and lows of emotions have been enough to produce altitude sickness.

As for the conclusion of the first sweep of the O’s in New York since Cleon Jones settled to one grateful knee, for seven innings it looked like Gee had taken a page from the Dickey/Santana playbook, baffling the listless-looking Orioles. (It didn’t help that Baltimore seemed alternately befuddled and not particularly engaged afield.) But then the tropical-aquarium conditions seemed to catch up with Gee in the eighth, a decline heralded by Wilson Betemit’s ¬†exclamatory drive into and out of seats nearly all the way to the top of the Pepsi Porch. The Orioles had closed within 4-2, and two uncashed Met runs (one on David Wright being uncharacteristically poky on the bases, the other on a ground-rule double) threatened to loom large.

Oh, uncashed runs. To quote Monty Python:

Every run is sacred
Every run is great
If a run is wasted
God gets quite irate

Or at least I think those are the words. Close enough anyway.

The Orioles nearly took the lead on a long Chris Davis drive, one that backed Scott Hairston all the way to the left-field fence and had Bobby Parnell bent over at the knees as prelude to penitence and grief before turning into an out. (The same hairy half-inning saw J.J. Hardy called out for tapping a ball into fair territory then somehow managing to hit it again with his bat, a play I don’t recall ever seeing before.)

And then the ninth. Oh boy, the ninth.

I started saying “Come on Frank Frank” before Frank Francisco’s first pitch, which means I can barely estimate how many times I said “Frank” before the Mets escaped. (It wasn’t 66 times, because I varied the number of Franks, let pitches be thrown in silence and doubled up in trying to steer the luck.) And that’s not considering how many ways I said “Frank.” Urgently. Pleadingly. Angrily. Soothingly. Desperately. Despairingly. Raggedly. Defiantly. Beseechingly.

Having slept through 25 innings without disturbing anybody, the Orioles were suddenly awake and snarlingly alive, with Nick Johnson and Betemit battling Frank Frank through two tough at-bats and then Mark Reynolds and Steve Pearce drawing walks, before Brian Roberts rolled one to Jordany Valdespin and we were safe. Whereupon the game turned back into how great Gee was, and the substitute running stories and despairing blog posts about Frank Frank’s meltdown got fed to the DELETE key.

A far better storyline, wouldn’t you agree?