- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

I Woke Up In Love This Morning

When I fell asleep last night, the first-place Mets had won their seventh in a row and held the best record in the National League. When I woke up this morning, the still first-place Mets had still won their seventh in a row [1] and still held the best record in the National League.

So this isn’t a dream. Good to know.

Inevitably we drift from the territory known as Pinch Me into the harsh light of day where we are spurred by habit and necessity to actually worry about what happens in a given baseball game. All this may feel different [2], but Saturday night’s ninth inning was a reminder that the eerily familiar lurks around every bullpen corner. Saturday night’s result was a better reminder, though, that better than previously experienced outcomes can become familiar without turning eerie.

Jacob deGrom [3] didn’t have his best command against the Marlins. Jacob deGrom hasn’t had his best command in three starts, actually, yet except for a home run in his very first inning of his season’s work, Jacob deGrom hasn’t been touched in a meaningful way by any opposing hitter. When I think of the term unflappable, I think of a pitcher whose bearing down is etched onto his face as a non-verbal warning of “OK, you’re not gonna get me, ’cause I’m gonna get you.”

I don’t get that when I look at Jacob deGrom. I look at Jacob deGrom and I see one of the guys from down the hall grabbing his Frisbee on the way to the quad. Did he finish that paper? Doesn’t he have studying to do like the rest of us? Isn’t he stressing over his grades?

What stress? Jacob’s just one of those guys who’s got the situation under control. C’mon, he says as he tosses you the Frisbee, we’re gonna mess around for a while and then a bunch of us are going in on a Busch suitcase and after that, I dunno, it’ll be fun. And he’s right. It always is when he’s throwing.

The Marlins had their moments, all of them frustrating. Three replay challenges — one ours, two theirs — went Miami’s way and none of them particularly helped the Fish cause. Giancarlo Stanton [4], whose continued menacing presence in the middle of the Marlin order is made possible by a grant from the Wilver Stargell Foundation [5] (and viewers like you), tried to fire up his teammates [6], but for eight innings they seemed as immune to his charms as deGrom and Buddy Carlyle [7] were untouched by his bat. Three strikeouts and a fly ball to right that for a change didn’t fly clear to College Point Blvd. were all Giancarlo could inspire.

The Mets, on the other hand, were led by everybody. While deGrom was being totally cool for seven innings, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores [8] were depositing baseballs over the left field fence, Eric Campbell [9] was filling in for David Wright [10] so seamlessly that he could’ve been voted acting captain and Daniel Murphy [11] lunged to cover second at the precise moment a runner on first wasn’t stealing, thus creating a hole to put two on when a double play ball was rolling rolled to where Daniel had just been standing. No, that wasn’t an actual asset, but the point is a Met made a mistake and the rest of the Mets overcame it.

Winning teams do that.

The lone visitor at raucous, sold-out Citi Field to be a real pain in our ascent was Dee Gordon [12], who fits the profile of irritating Marlin perfectly, in that he wears a Marlin uniform. As if inhabited by the spirit of Juan Pierre [13], Hanley Ramirez [14] and old Joe Robbie himself, Gordon came up five times and recorded a hit five times. For most of the game, he was no worse than a thorn in our side, the kind of prickly sticker deGrom might notice on his sock while catching the Frisbee and pluck from the fabric with no fuss.

It was Gordon who was in the middle of the Met challenge that failed in the first. Gordon was ruled safe but then thrown out almost immediately at second by d’Arnaud.

It was Gordon who was in the middle of the Marlin challenge that succeeded in the third, but only to a point. Gordon was ruled safe at first but the confusion during the marathon review session constrained Adeiny Hechavarria [15], who had taken off from second, from scoring although he had crossed home plate during the third out that ultimately wasn’t the third out (and then he was stranded there when deGrom struck out Christian Yelich [16] for the actual third out).

It was Gordon who was the Marlin on first when Murph acted out his phantom stolen base prevention strategy in the sixth, allowing him to take second despite Daniel’s best/worst instincts, yet he was left there as deGrom proceeded to set down his Frisbee, Stanton and Martin Prado [17] in that precise order.

Dee Gordon was Wile E. Coyote for three at-bats, never getting the upper hand he sought or thought. In the eighth, he saw Sean Gilmartin [18] pitching and responded with his fourth hit, a double that drove Jeff Baker [19] home with the first Miami run. It seemed no more than a harmless footnote, given that the Mets had already scored five times and Carlyle came on to extricate New York from the tiniest spot of jam Gilmartin left behind. Even when the Mets had a sixth run disallowed when the third extended replay challenge of the evening tilted toward the Marlins — Campbell not safe at first in the eighth — it was all going the Road Runner’s way. The Mets were safely ahead, Billy Joel had confirmed it was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, the manager had no reason to not give us a smile…all that remained was for the dynamic duo of Jerry Blevins [20] and Jeurys Familia [21] to nail down the win per usual and for Citi Field’s Bang Cap fireworks squadron to do their faintest imitation of your favorite Grucci Brother.

What’s that? The Mets’ most dependable relievers to date weren’t available? Terry Collins noticed that if you drive an arm into the ground it might not be terribly resilient when you need to dig it up later? Oh.

Well, that’s all right. We have Carlos Torres [22]. Carlos Torres is always available. Carlos Torres almost always comes through for the Mets.

Almost.

Saturday’s ninth was not Carlos’s time. Michael Morse [23] took him out of this park and three others to make it 5-2. Marcel Ozuna singled. Though Ichiro Suzuki [24] struck out (amid the sound of 40,000 diaphragms exhaling), Hechavarria singled, and then there was a wild pitch to put runners on second and third, and why, era of good feelings notwithstanding, is Carlos Torres still pitching? Why was Buddy Carlyle removed when he got two clutch outs in the eighth? How does a frigging Hall of Fame pitcher give up seven runs in the first inning to a bunch of ragtag bottom-feeders with the entire season on the line?

An existential crisis is always getting loose in the on-deck circle when the Marlins come to play the Mets. Yet Torres rallied to strike out J.T. Realmuto [25], leaving only one Marlin to be reeled in.

That Marlin was Dee Gordon, who was as despicable to the Met cause Saturday night as his namesake G. Gordon Liddy [26] was a couple of generations before to the cause of participatory democracy. G. Gordon was convicted for his role in the Watergate scandal. Dee Gordon was allowed to face Torres with two runners in scoring position after collecting four hits and, tactically, it was a scandal. Carlos predictably gave up Gordon’s fifth hit of the night, a two-run single to cut the Mets lead to 5-4. Yelich, who’s good, was up next. Stanton, who’s Stanton, was up after him.

Good night, Carlos Torres. Good evening, Alex Torres [27]. Wearing a protective cap [28] unlike any other ever worn by a Met pitcher before, this Torres hadn’t been dependable at all, but if Terry was going to avoid overworking Familia and Blevins, then it was going to have to be Alex Torres (or Erik Goeddel [29], who at the very least should have been fresh, not having pitched at all since the Mets clinched our provisional affections).

You know what happened next. The Marlins weren’t the Marlins. Instead, the Mets were the Mets. Alex Torres, odd hat and all, struck out Yelich. It was like he did so in slow motion. The bat slipped from Christian’s hands on his swinging third strike, leading to an instant where the entirety of Metsopotamia stared in horror before recovering to confirm, “he’s out, though, right?” Yes, he was out. The signal was made; the pyrotechnics, such as they are, could be loaded; and the Mets couldn’t be stopped. It wasn’t as easy as we might have suspected, but Dee Gordon wound up sleeping with the rest of the Fishes.

As bedtime Torres go, Alex gave us a pretty nice one.