For a pleasant change, Bichette didn’t happen to the Mets on Sunday. Unlike the first three games of their just-contested four-game in Denver, the Rockies didn’t crumble all over our starting pitcher. Our starting pitcher was Dillon Gee. While other Mets starters have seen their best days or are no doubt striding toward them, Dillon is experiencing them right now. Unlike his colleagues Colon, Wheeler and Mejia, he knows how to get through a fifth inning every time. He’s gotten way better at the sixth as well, which is an enormous help for a team that’s been tapping its closerless bullpen a little too much for comfort.
Saturday, Kyle Farnsworth’s final pitch landed in the distant shrubbery. Sunday, by contrast, everything landed beautifully…and I mean my version of everything.
• First, the Brooklyn Nets do what they hadn’t done in the seventh game of a postseason series since 1976 — and the Mets haven’t done in such a situation since October 27, 1986 — and win.
• Then, Gee leads the Mets into the seventh (inning) en route to a largely stressless 5-1 victory.
• Finally, on Mad Men, Don Draper discovers the late Lane Pryce’s beloved Mets pennant, affixes it to its place of honor on the office wall and drunkenly invites Freddy Rumsen to Shea, serenading him with a round of “Meet The Mets” when Freddy drops by to pick/sober him up.
It’s 1969 on Mad Men at the moment. May it be 1969 in modern Met-aphorical terms real soon.
If there’s a flaw Gee shares with every Met pitcher on staff, it’s the total and complete inability to hit. With his three at-bats producing no more than one solid out, the arms that are compelled to intermittently swing between throws are a combined 0-for-51. Gee’s turn to represent the hitless wonders didn’t by any means kill the Mets, but it’s embarrassing on principle.
National League baseball, fellas. Everything everybody does counts.
With that public service announcement brought to you by Citizens Forever Against The Designated Hitter made, we will gladly note that those whose primary job is hitting did hit. Juan Lagares singled twice and doubled once. Of course he did; he’s Juan Lagares. Daniel Murphy didn’t make with the swift baserunning early (tagged up hesitantly in the first, got himself Arenadoed at third) but his pair of hits, his run scored and his RBI forgives that little flareup of his inherent Murphness. David Wright didn’t homer, which sadly gets filed alongside dog bites man under events that aren’t earth-shattering, but his ringing double off the wall indicated he’ll someday soon put a ball over some fence somewhere. And, ladies and gentlemen, Curtis Granderson has crept to within .019 of Ruben Tejada’s batting average, trailing our potentially adequate shortstop .192 to .173. Neither gentleman is messing with Mario Mendoza’s meal money yet, but just you wait.
Don’t wait too long, though. The Mets return to the scene of the crime Monday night. They play at Miami, where their dignity was repeatedly stolen from them in 2013. You know how the Marlins were stupendously awful overall yet surprisingly competent against the Mets? There were nine games played between the rivals at the Loriatorium last year and the Miamians boosted six of them. (You were going to guess it was something closer to Marlins 20 Mets 0, weren’t you?)
There was some encouraging threshing of Fish at Citi Field recently, but don’t be lulled. The Marlins are about as good as the Mets to date in 2014. Actually, each combatant in the division is about as good as its competition. The N.L. East is smushed together within one-and-a-half games of itself. The Braves have been losing, the Nationals have been middling and the projected also-rans have been — depending on your perspective — encouraging or irritating in exceeding expectations. Your third-place Mets are a game from first and half of that from last. What makes the Marlins dangerous in the near term is they’ve been hellacious at home (14-5) and Giancarlo Stanton has been Giancarlo Stanton. The good news as we encounter a hot team? I count two items: Jose Fernandez won’t be phenoming against us — and there’s never a bad time to make a statement.
Does beating the Marlins in May in Miami qualify as a statement? All sorts of things needs to be stated at all intervals of the schedule. If the Mets are successful in this impending three-game series, we may not look back on it as a turning point toward winning, but you know if they find ways to not beat the Marlins in May in Miami, there’s a strong probability we’ll look back on it as a turning point toward losing.
I know a basketball team from a neighboring borough that has business in Miami this week, too. The Mets can set a fine example for the Nets, who earned themselves a date with the Heat after fending off those pesky Raptors. Then again, the Nets swept the Heat during the NBA’s regular season, so they’ve already set a fine example of how to make the most of visits to South Florida.
Let’s Go Mets. Let’s Go Nets. Let’s get Don off the bottle and out to Queens for a ballgame real soon.