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

Crazy Times

It should be said that for the first eight innings that was a dull, lousy game.

Seriously. It was like soccer — no action but solo homers, with the Rays seemingly hellbound to one-up us in the Department of Dingers. Grady Sizemore [1] homered (and later took a cheapie away from Wilmer Flores [2]), Juan Uribe [3] matched him, but then James Loney [4] led off the very next inning with a solo shot off Jacob deGrom [5]. Daniel Murphy [6] erased that deficit with a home run in the eighth, but then in the bottom of the inning Evan Longoria [7] homered right back at him, launching a ball that kissed the top of the wall and skimmed over it, like some antimatter version of the ball off the wall.

It sure looked like the Mets were going to lose by one lousy skinny run, and I was philosophical about it. You can’t win every game, and a six-game winning streak was nothing to be sad about.

But there are nine innings to play. No really. You could look it up.

The top of the ninth came with blinking signs of disaster — but they were for Tampa Bay. Normally reliable Brad Boxberger [8] threw away a ball, leaving Lucas Duda [9] safe at first. Then a ball in the dirt ate up catcher Curt Casali [10] (hey, that’s fun to type!) for a wild pitch that moved Duda to second.

Uribe fouled out, leaving Michael Conforto [11] facing the biggest at-bat of his life. And the kid delivered, slicing a low outside pitch up the left-center alley, a ball that seemed to accelerate in flight. Duda rumbled home with the tying run and Conforto saw Kevin Kiermaier [12]‘s momentum had taken him away from the field, and so alertly grabbed second. The Rays’ Logan Forsythe [13] rescued Tampa by smothering Travis d’Arnaud [14]‘s ball up the middle, a hit that stayed on the infield and so left runners at the corners. Then Kelly Johnson [15] lashed a ball that nearly took off Asdrubel Cabrera’s head at short, but wound up in his glove. Fortunately, it was hit so hard that neither Conforto nor d’Arnaud could be doubled up — they’d barely strayed from their bases.

Two outs, tie game. Would we play until dawn?

Up stepped Flores, supported by baying Mets fans — the Trop felt like an asterisked home game all night, and at that moment it was loud for us. Flores blooped a ball to right, seemingly destined for Brandon Guyer [16]‘s glove … but Guyer was scrambling and the ball was losing altitude quickly, and it touched down just in front of Guyer’s mitt for an RBI single.

I expected the Mets to immediately give back that one-run lead, which wasn’t lack of belief in Jeurys Familia [17] and his still-absent sinker/slider combo but a grim certitude that the game would keep following the night’s script. But no, things were about to get even wackier.

I’ve been watching baseball for a long time. I’ve seen tons of batters hit potential double-play balls to the third baseman, only to have them called foul. I’ve seen the occasional instance where the play progresses only to have all involved realize the umpire is signaling that there’s no purpose to what they’re doing. I’ve seen managers miffed about whether the ball was really foul or not.

But for all those things to happen twice in a row? I don’t believe I’d ever seen that until tonight. Guyer was bound and determined to hit the ball to Uribe, and Uribe was bound and determined to extract two outs from it, and the umpires were bound and determined to tell all involved that they had to do it again. It was like the Tampa Bay player had saved the game before Guyer’s at-bat and kept hitting RESTORE in hopes of a better outcome.

Guyer hit a third grounder to Uribe, of course. This one was fair, and Uribe settled for a fielder’s choice that still sapped the Rays’ rally. Two outs later, Familia had struck out Casali to save it [18], the Mets had won seven in a row, and the Rockies — bless their little purple hearts, at least until next week — had come back to take the lead against the Nationals. (Bryce Harper [19] struck out to end it, and yes, Bryce, we most certainly do give a crap what the Nationals are doing.)

Seven in a row. It won’t last — these things never do — but for now just enjoy the fact that a bizarre, utterly unpredictable season has turned our way again.