Would it have disturbed some grand plan to have allowed Dillon Gee to pitch the seventh inning Thursday night? The man threw 193 innings entering his final start of the season after missing almost three months in 2012. He’s been our only starter to take the ball every turn of the rotation from the first week forward. He pulled his stuff together in late May and made himself nothing but reliable the rest of the way. He earned one inning of special consideration after filing away six innings against the Brewers at Empti Field.
Could Terry have given it to him? The Mets trailed mighty Milwaukee, 4-1, on a night that mimicked Dillon’s year. Some trouble early — a four-run second — and then everything was Geerrific. The pitcher was due up fourth in the bottom of the sixth. With 89 pitches behind him, there was no reason he couldn’t pitch the seventh unless the Mets had a serious rally cooking when it was time for Dillon to bat.
Let’s see, there was a runner on first with two out. I guess that qualifies as a serious Met rally. So Terry grabbed the first wad of Silly Putty he could find and pressed hard down on whatever page of The Book says PINCH-HIT FOR THE PITCHER HERE. He sent up Zach Lutz. Lutz grounded a ball up the middle that a competent shortstop might have handled, but Jeff Bianchi didn’t. It was ruled an infield hit. Gee would not get his 200th inning, a milestone he’d said he hoped he could reach after returning from shoulder surgery, but maybe he could still be pitcher of record on the winning side or at least avoid a loss.
No such luck. Eric Young flied out and Dillon was definitively done, a single inning shy of where he strived to be, because the universe couldn’t handle a pitcher being left in to hit with one on and two out down by three in what we’ll charitably label an implications-free game. Even as he paid respectful lip service to his manager’s obeisance to The Book, Gee’s unhappiness was apparent afterwards:
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. I wanted it for sure. It was a big goal. It would have been a nice milestone to hit […] I worked extremely hard to come back and make every start this year. And to fall one inning short is tough.”
Dillon has been the quintessential grinder from April to now. To reward him with one additional inning would have been right and proper, especially in late September. This is when you allow yourself to look away from team-first orientation and toward individual achievement if it’s not too unseemly. This is where, if you’re completely out of the race, you permit EY to run every time on because he’s chasing stolen base glory; where you arrange your rotation to give your Cy Young candidate every chance to win 20; where you do what you can to help maintain the league batting leader’s average (though you could do it more artfully than was done two years ago); where you insert Joe Hietpas behind the plate for the ninth and, if the nepotistic pressure is unbearable, Mike Glavine at first. Hell, let the Greatest Closer of All Time be visited on the mound by an active pitcher and a disabled shortstop and then tell him he might play center field on Sunday as long as we’re on the subject of personal quests and teams that are completely eliminated from championship consideration.
This is where you urge Dillon Gee to swing as best he can to help his own cause in the sixth because either way he’s getting the seventh and his 200th. How bleeping hard is that?
About as hard as hitting the ball and running to first, which was a skill set that abandoned pinch-hitter Josh Satin in the ninth. It was a comedy of presumption that unfolded as Josh lofted a fly ball far down the left field line versus closer Jim Henderson. Was it fair? Was it foul? Josh, whose job is to immediately steam counterclockwise to the nearest available base without pausing to ask questions, appointed himself judge and deemed it foul.
Except it was ruled fair and in play.
The “fair” part was accurate, which became a tad embarrassing for lead-footed Satin to realize since he had already begun to wander away from the plate to clear his head and await the next pitch. When he understood that he swung better than he thought, Josh dash-trudged to first, where he had to stop since he took his sweet time getting going.
But the ball shouldn’t have been “in play,” as it actually cleared the fence and bounced back into the outfield. Instant replay cleared up the umpires’ muddle. They emerged from their comfortably appointed video review lounge to signal “home run”. You know the gesture — it’s where you twirl your index finger in the air as if to indicate you’re not impressed…“whoop-de-doo,” in other words.
Which was how it felt watching Josh Satin score the reluctant run that turned a 4-1 loss into an eventual 4-2 loss.
If the whole business of Gee being prevented from pitching 200 innings and Satin brain-cramping in front of 200 people sounds grim, at least there was this good news: David Wright was hit in the head in the third inning.
Wait, that’s not the good news.
The good news is that he took a pitch off the ear flap from erratic Brewer starter Johnny Hellweg but later swore he felt fine, all potential disasters considered. The pitch wasn’t fired nearly as fast as the one with which Matt Cain beaned him in 2009 and it struck him in a different spot on his noggin. They checked him for concussion and he doesn’t seem to have one. He did jam his thumb when he fell to the ground, but that was also not terrible, reported The Captain, who chalked up the entire episode to “just one of those bad-luck things, you know?”
Yeah, we know, David. We know.
Hellweg didn’t tip his cap in frustrated stupidity as Cain did four years ago and proceeded to demonstrate that he was genuinely as “wild as a March hare,” per Keith Hernandez’s phrase of choice, by hitting Lucas Duda on the leg and walking Mike Baxter directly after plunking Wright. He also issued a wild pitch in the fourth, lending credence to his insistence that his accidental delivery “got to me a little bit because it’s David Wright. That’s their guy.”
Johnny is correct in that the Mets basically have one player, singular, and David Aardsma was even more spot-on when he came very much inside on catcher Jonathan Lucroy to start the eighth inning because some Brewer sooner or later had to take one for his team. It was all handled in full accordance with the section of The Code that declares you send one of ours to the trainer’s room, we send one of yours to first with a slight bruise. The Mets kind of inverted that simple transaction in May when they offered up Jordany Valdespin as a Pirate piñata. Glad to see, with three games remaining in 2013, that they’re finally up to speed on The Code.
Now if only they could put away The Book until spring.