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

Jose We Did See

We talk up great starting pitching, we crave great starting pitching, we built this Citi on great starting pitching, so when we are surrounded by extraordinary starting pitching, we are compelled to celebrate it…even if not all of it is necessarily Mets starting pitching.

The Mets took part in a fine game Sunday [1]. The wrong part, but still. It was the kind of game we’ve been romanticizing for generations. Seaver and Gibson. Gooden and Tudor. Harvey and Fernandez.

Fernandez and Harvey, technically. Jose Fernandez [2] gave up no runs in seven innings, which outdid Matt Harvey [3]’s renaissance followup of one run in seven innings. If this were some previous decade, they would have each gone nine. That doesn’t happen anymore; the last time the Mets were involved in a dual complete game was 2010 [4], R.A. Dickey [5] over Cole Hamels [6]. The last time before that was 2005 [7], Brad Penny [8], then of the Dodgers, topping Pedro Martinez [9]. The time before that, in 2002 (fleeting Met Shawn Estes [10] defeating former Met Glendon Rusch [11]), predates the founding of this blog, which is now in its twelfth season. I mention that simply to illustrate how infrequently bullpens go uncalled upon in the modern era.

Stylistically, you wouldn’t have minded both Harvey and Fernandez sticking around Sunday. For the sake of self-preservation, you were happy Matt maintained his roll from last Monday and you’d have been ecstatic had Jose gotten lost on his way to Marlins Park in the morning. But if you can allow yourself 1/162nd of non-result-oriented appreciation for baseball like it once in a while oughta be, you had to appreciate what the Miami starter was doing to the admittedly diluted Met lineup: no walks, four hits and fourteen definitive strikeouts, most of them captured on sliders so salivating that White Castle might want to borrow the recipe.

The Mets mounted one tiny semblance of a rally in Fernandez’s last inning when Michael Conforto [12] and James Loney [13] each singled with two out, Conforto actually going from first to third on Loney’s knock, something Met baserunners usually require two hits and/or an Uber to accomplish. Wilmer Flores [14], looking pretty good in the previous couple of games, was the last best hope against Fernandez. Alas, Fernandez’s final slider extinguished all hope.

If this had been one of those Clayton Kershaw [15] 8-0 leads, it wouldn’t have been so scintillating, just shruggy. But Harvey held up his end, albeit with more contact. The Marlins didn’t do much when they connected, scoring their only run in the fifth when J.T. Realmuto [16] grounded a ball up the middle that wasn’t trapped by a shift. It brought around Derek Dietrich [17], who had legitimately doubled.

That was it. Harvey, guided by the indispensable Rene Rivera [18], surrendered only two other singles and walked nobody while striking out four. Starters come away with wins for far lesser outings. Certainly Harvey, perpetually deprived of runs with which to work (he was given one in the last week), deserved no worse than an ND for his trouble. He and his team were edged was all.

The ungrudging 1-0 cap tip toward Fernandez, a Marlin so sublime that you have to assume he’ll go in the next fire sale, only extends through seven. David Phelps [19] in the eighth and A.J. Ramos [20] in the ninth did not have to go unscathed, but the Mets cobbled together nothing of substance against them. The Marlins didn’t dent Antonio Bastardo [21], for that matter. Everybody pitched well. Everybody fielded competently. Nobody walked anybody. Save for Ichiro Suzuki [22] getting thrown out at second on a pickoff (on a play in which it looked like Asdrubal Cabrera [23] absorbed another ding), nobody did anything particularly wrong. The pitching did almost everything right, the game hustled itself to conclusion in 2:17 and the souvenir we got to keep was a reminder of what a matchup between greatness and maybe getting back to greatness resembles.

Would have been better had we won. And if the starters had gone nine. And if Papelbon had fully blown a blowable save in Cincinnati. But you can’t have everything.

***

Time to plug:

• Father’s Day is less than two weeks away, so this would be an ideal moment to order a signed, inscribed copy of Amazin’ Again [24] for the paternal figure in your life. Hell, buy it for your mom, yourself, whoever. Direct it anywhere a Mets fan likes to read.

• Tuesday night, 7 PM, June 14, you’ll want to come to WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn [25], for a Metsian discussion featuring Internet pioneer Jon Springer (whose revised edition of Mets By The Numbers will be available to all attendees), D.J. Short of RotoWorld [26] and myself, author of the aforementioned book about the reigning National League champions.

• Saturday afternoon, 3 PM, June 25, I’ll be bringing the Amazin’ Again roadshow to the Queens Library in Briarwood [27], with copies of the volume about how the 2015 Mets brought the magic back to that borough in tow.

• My thanks to Newy Scruggs [28] for having me on his NBC Sports Radio show, Voices of the Game, last week. Visit the On Demand menu [29], click on Newy’s feed, scroll down to May 31, hour 3, and you can hear our conversation.

• Likewise, my deep appreciation to Pat Williams, legendary Orlando Magic architect [30] and now host of a terrific radio show in Central Florida. I taped a lively interview with him recently and planned to tell you to listen to it this weekend, but I messed up the dates and it already aired. Apparently Met batters were not the only ones swinging and missing where baseball in the Sunshine State was concerned.