The Tigers lost a tough one on Sunday. Anibal Sanchez’s eight sterling innings went to waste, Francisco Rodriguez couldn’t maintain a ninth-inning tie, J.D. Martinez couldn’t unwrap a gift run in the eighth and the failure to cash in opportunity after opportunity was galling: three double plays in the first four innings and ten men left on base overall. How does a team go 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position and come up with only one run? When you have so many chances against a pitcher like Jacob deGrom, how do you let him off the hook? What’s wrong with the Tigers? Does Brad Ausmus even have a clue?
We don’t care about this angle, of course, but it’s easy to see how the “shoot!” lands on the other foot sometimes. Saturday night, the Mets wore it worst. Sunday afternoon, it was the Tigers’ turn. Both games could have gone either way. The latter went ours. We’ll take it.
All of what bugged Detroit satisfied us. We indeed outlasted Sanchez’s excellence, having only an extraordinarily welcome Michael Conforto opposite-field homer from the seventh to our credit after his eight innings on the Comerica mound. Perhaps Anibal was just that good. Perhaps the Met offense was just that bad. Perhaps, as Howie Rose suggested (once I had the sense to take refuge on radio from fill-in TV play-by-play), the mandated lack of amphetamines in baseball automatically saps the life from day games after night games.
DeGrom was doing his part splendidly enough, wriggling out of trouble and holding that Tiger attack to no runs until he was replaced by Jerry Blevins in the seventh, and Blevins let one of his three runners score. Jake’s pitch count and fastball were both rising and Blevins, the scouting report emphasizes, isn’t chopped liver. Nothing damaging was hit particularly hard, including the Ian Kinsler infield single that brought in the run that no-decisioned deGrom. Sometimes it’s just one of those things that gets you.
Another of those things seemed prepared to devour the Mets’ luck in the eighth when, with two on and two out, Casey McGehee — he’s played everywhere, man — grounded just enough out of range of James Loney’s grasp and Neil Walker’s glove to send a ball trickling into short right. Martinez, the man on second, was obviously going to trundle home. I could see it, you could see it, the only person who couldn’t see it was Martinez himself, who held up at third, either because he thought the ground ball was already corralled or he misread third base coach Dave Clark’s traffic signals. Clark seemed to want Martinez to keep going toward home and trail runner Justin Upton to stop at second. It was all hard to tell.
The only Tiger with a handle on the developing situation was a former one, right fielder Curtis Granderson. The third defender on the play was the one who picked up the ball and ran it in to the infield, effecting the rundown that nailed Martinez and kept the Tigers from taking the lead off Addison Reed. Surely the Mets were on the verge of being nicked to death, yet just as surely they escaped the blade.
See? It doesn’t only happen to us.
Rodriguez was asked to preserve a ninth-inning deadlock after not seamlessly closing out the two previous games. Ausmus loves his well, but it might’ve been dry. K-Rod hit leadoff man Alejandro De Aza on the arm on an oh-two count. Alejandro crumpled in pain. Terry Collins rushed out to ask a) if he was OK and b) if he was faster than Brandon Nimmo; Terry truly doesn’t know. De Aza answered affirmative to both of the above. Frankie stood on the mound during those several minutes of Met Q&A. Maybe it affected him. He threw ball one to the next batter, Walker, then a strike that was shipped directly out of the park. Neil sure loves a good Sunday pitch. The Mets led, 3-1, and didn’t give it back.
A superb win for the Mets. A better not-loss for the Mets. A terrible defeat for the Tigers in their quest to chase down the Indians, but we don’t see it that way. That’s fine, because we cultivate and nurture a myopic view of our games not to mention our world, but sometimes the most irritating setbacks irritate somebody else.
Hozzie update: He scratched at my elbow around 4:15 AM to wake me and get me to the kitchen for his desired feeding. Minutes later he scratched at my leg to let me know the transfer of food from can to plate to floor to him was taking too long. I instinctively kicked him away. This is the kind of theater we’ve rehearsed nightly for ages. It had been missing. I’m glad it’s returning…except he didn’t actually eat anything. One miracle at a time, as I like to say.
Hoboken update: Come see me at Little City Books (100 Bloomfield Street, corner of 1st and Bloomfield, across from City Hall) tonight at 7. We’ll talk Amazin’ Again, glorious 2015 Mets, frustrating 2016 Mets, any and all Mets you like. I look forward to stepping right up and greeting you there.