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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Thank Blevins They Didn’t Blow It

Though Noah Syndergaard delivered the biggest blow at Chase Field Tuesday night, Jerry Blevins prevented a bigger blow. Syndergaard homered in no-doubt fashion in the fifth to give himself and his team a 3-1 lead. A pitcher going yard will always grab your attention, even if the concept of Thor homering is no longer novel; it was his third of the year and the fourth of his career. Noah’s closing in on making us wonder what’s wrong when he doesn’t hit one out.

The very big shot was part of a four-run inning that seemed incredibly unMetlike within the context of their 2016 experience with the Arizona Diamondbacks, rumored to be a horrible last-place team, though we can’t tell. The Diamondbacks swept our boys last week at Citi Field and then throttled them Monday night at Phoenix. The can-go/did-go wrongness quotient was freaking off the charts in every encounter between the two, right up to the batter before Syndergaard, René Rivera, walloping a Braden Shipley pitch to deepest center, only to have it hauled in by 2013 Never Met Michael Bourn. It should have been a two-run double, maybe triple (even with the catcher running). Instead, it was a sac fly that scored T.J. Rivera from third, hallelujah, yet left a suitably cautious Alejandro De Aza stuck on second.

That the Mets had two baserunners preceding a long fly ball should have seemed like a victory unto itself. These are the Arizona Diamondbacks we’re talking about. They are as lethal as their uniforms are abysmal. Yet how typical, within the four-plus games of this season series — two on, nobody out, one Rivera muscles up, yet only one Rivera can score…and the first Rivera can’t even get on base.

Syndergaard made that turn of events relatively moot when he brought De Aza home with his blast, and Shipley gave up another run besides on Jose Reyes’s ensuing three-bagger and Curtis Granderson’s shockingly productive flyout. The Mets led, 4-1, going to the bottom of the fifth, and padded their margin in their half of the sixth when Kelly Johnson homered, peripatetic T.J. Rivera (with four hits and two errors, he was all over this game) singled and De Aza doubled. The D’Backs even made up for the Bourn larceny when nobody on the left side of their infield could make heads or tails out of a Reyes ground ball that went for a two-out RBI single.

Mets up, 7-1. What could possibly go wrong?

Youngish Rivera, starting at third at the last minute due to Neil Walker’s lower back pain (a condition prone to flaring up when you’ve been carrying the offense for weeks), commenced the bottom of the sixth with a bad throw to first. A wild pitch moved the baserunner, Jake Lamb, to second. Welington Castillo’s single with one out moved him to third. Mitch Haniger, who had just replaced Socrates Brito on the roster, cleared the bases with his first big league hit, a triple, and trimmed the Mets’ lead to 7-3. Every Diamondback is a Met-killer from birth, apparently.

Thor, who had been more or less cruising through the first five, popped up his next batter, but then was undermined by another Rivera miscue, this one requiring replay review to confirm. When an out call on pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin rightly turned safe, the Diamondbacks had another run. Then they had another stolen base, because NS + AZ = SB. One more hit drew Terry Gosselin onto the mound to fetch his smoldering starter, who had struck out eight but now wouldn’t make it through six. Syndergaard proceeded to fling his glove with characteristic velocity at the nearest wall, which was the second-most disconcerting sight within the Met dugout at that moment, next to noticing Jon Niese is still among us.

Enter Blevins to face Bourn. Bourn had earlier doubled, and the night before notched two hits. Perhaps he’s still sore that his free agent dance with the Mets from several winters before had tangoed into nothingness. Having robbed Rene Rivera in the fifth, he seemed primed to do more damage. I don’t have a stat to back up that assertion, but given what the Mets have had on their hands with the Diamondbacks last week and this, I can confidently cite minority owner Bill Maher’s recurring HBO segment: I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s true.

Blevins and Bourn battled for eight pitches. The count reached three-and-two. The Mets led by three. The Diamondbacks had two on. Sixteen runs had scored on Monday. Eleven runs were in on Tuesday. I didn’t know it for a fact that Bourn was going to drive in anywhere between one and three runs imminently. I just knew it was true.

Here’s some truth: Blevins struck out Bourn on the eighth pitch. Three innings later, Jeurys Familia would come on to record his fortieth save of the season by pitching a one-two-three ninth and officially preserving a nervous 7-5 Met victory — their first over these demons of the desert — but, really, Jerry saved the day. Syndergaard’s swing was more glamorous, but the one Blevins coaxed from Bourn proved the most vital.

If you stayed up to watch the entire three hours and twenty-four minutes Tuesday, on top of the three hours and twenty-nine minutes from Monday, perhaps you heard Gary Cohen list as one of the sponsors of Mets baseball on SNY Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Makes sense. You definitely need something stronger than good old Rheingold to get you through these games. By next week, it’ll be morphine.

36 comments to Thank Blevins They Didn’t Blow It

  • Dave

    To paraphrase Airplane, looks like I picked the wrong month to give up vodka AND morphine.

    TJ Rivera is looking like he might be a decent bat off the bench utility guy. Very small sample so far, but with the glove, he maybe looks like another Met who is one position away from being a position player. And Niese pitches tonight. What could possibly go wrong?

    • Gil

      And I picked the wrong month to stop sniffing glue! Classic call, there, Dave.
      Now that I have 2 children south of 5yo I just cant do these west coast games. I lasted through 5 last night which was herculean for me, and now after eating my lunch I am tempted to close the door to my office and catch 40 winks. Glad to have F&F to bring me the daily recaps in addition to MLB video recaps and of course listening to WFAN where you can hear all kinds of crazy, entertaining stuff. BBBRRRRRUUUUUUUUCCCCCEEEEEEE FROM BAYSIDE!

      I liked that Thor chucked his Mitt. When Matz chucked his, after a similar good but not great effort, he came out and threw a no hitter into the 8th his next appearance. And its also nice to see a show of emotion once in a while. I know in our game you have to guard against it, to not let it out, but sometimes…. well sometimes you have to punch Davis right in his mouth when he slides into 3rd just because you are having a bad day. These 2016 Mets could use a good brawl, or at least a bench clearing and some jawing.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    I’ve been noticing Jon Niese is still among us because I’ve been looking over my shoulder at tonight’s starting pitcher all week. I can’t confirm it, but I suspect he’s the first pitcher in Major League History to earn a spot in the starting rotation by virtue of having held the opposition (the same team yet) to 6 runs in one inning in his previous appearance.

  • Steven J

    I have now taken my Mom to two games this season. On May 11, she came to LA and we watched Thor hit two lighnting bolts and beat the Dodgers. Last night, Thor was half as good at launching rockets but just as good in the win column. Looks like I need to start taking my Mom to more of Thor’s outings.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone outside of Jonathan’s circle of family and friends (I’m presuming he has one) is looking forward to him starting. On the bright side I’m enjoying the enlivened bats we’ve been seeing for the past week or so and the looming return of YC and AC. In particular its time to give Reyes some props and Sandy as well. If you have deep moral reasons you opposed the move, that’s your right and I won’t deny you that, but many were mocking him as a has been and he has proven that wrong and then some. It’s looking like that could wind up being the underrated move of the year.

  • Niese's Nieseness

    The fact Niese is starting again may be the 7th Sign of the Mets Apocalypse.

    Matt in Richmond,
    May I suggest you stop trying to put people in their place. You have gone from protector of TC and to some extent Sandy to a daily commentary on not just what you want to say but also an attack on what other people have said previously. I’m no genius, after all I’m Niese’s Nieseness, but it seems to me you are violating FAFIF’s guideline for playing nice with others.

    • Matt in Richmond

      You may suggest anything you like, and I may choose to accept it or not. A couple of points:

      If there is a constant theme in my position it is that there is far too much certitude behind many people’s opinion. That is what I combat more than anything else. In other words, it’s not so much that I think TC is a great manager or that Sandy Alderson is a great GM, it’s that there isn’t enough evidence to support the notion that they are horrible. On the finite level it gets even murkier. People will adamantly rail against a specific move or decision that has any number of variable as if there is a black and white right and wrong. There almost never is.

      Now moving on to players. Again, it’s not that I KNEW Jose Reyes would be great, in fact I still don’t, but it was ludicrous for people to smugly say things like (I’m paraphrasing) “He shouldn’t start over Flores as he is a clear downgrade”. No, nothing was clear, but the situation dictated it was worth taking a chance, and we should now all be grateful that Sandy and TC did.

      Lastly, if I’ve violated any protocols I will take my admonishment from the wonderful authors of this site. I didn’t name any names in my comment. I didn’t directly call any one out. I didn’t use any harsh language. I’m honestly not sure what you took offense at, but if you tell me what it was I will apologize.

    • Left Coast Jerry

      To Niese’s Nieseness:

      You may want to consider changing your name to Niese’s Knee or even Niese’s Kneeseness. http://www.rotoworld.com/recent/mlb/4685/jon-niese

      And I expect to see a comment from Verrett’s Neck sometime soon. http://www.rotoworld.com/player/mlb/8081/logan-verrett

      And I don’t see anything in Matt’s comment that would violate FAFIF’s guidelines.

  • LeClerc

    Please sit Curtis (The Prisoner of the Shift) Granderson down for awhile.

    He’s not hitting. He hasn’t been hitting for quite some time. Give someone else a shot.

    If Niese starts to fold, run out of the dugout and call any sentient RP out of the bullpen. Don’t let the game get away.

  • open the gates

    Niese needs to show something tonight. He’s gotta know that the only reasons he’s here is that Harvey went on the DL, Wheeler hasn’t gone off it, Verrett was overexposed, and the Mets and Pirates both kept their receipts. To call it backing into a start is an understatement. But Gabriel Ynoa is looking over Jonathon’s shoulders, and Robert Gsellman is looking over Ynoa’s. They may not be on the level of the previous infusion of pitching talent, but they’re young and fresh and the Mets have been talking them up for a few years now. You know the Mets would love to try them out, and you know Ynoa is thinking that with Harvey and Wheeler out, this may be his best chance to make a case for a fifth pitcher spot. Tonight, Niese makes the sam case. I doubt he’ll get many more chances.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Jay Bruce slumping? Actually he has merely returned to form. Previous two seasons he hit .217 and .226. Since July 1 this year he has hit .217. So his .185 with Mets not far off. Throw out April, May, June this year and you might call him “Mr. Consistency.”

  • Rob E.

    This is completely off topic, but I’ll throw this out to the “pitch count / innings limit” crowd.” Nate Eovaldi went down with a devastating elbow injury the other day and needs a second Tommy John surgery. He is a year younger than Matt Harvey, has thrown about 200 more innings (about 700 innings in 5 years), and has thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title (162 IP) once in his career.

    How come I’ve never heard anybody in the media question HIS pitch counts or usage? He’s been in NY for two years….NOBODY cared (they care about Tanaka though). Yet with the Mets, EVERY pitch is scrutinized. Is it because no one had high expectations and thus, didn’t care? Or is it because the Yankees used him impeccably? If so, he still got hurt.

    I bring this up for two reasons: 1) you don’t KNOW who will get hurt or when, or HOW. Eovaldi’s first TJ was when he was in HS, he wasn’t abused, and pitched nine years before he got hurt again; 2) Nobody seems to care about pitch counts and innings limits with “average” pitchers. That’s fine, but what happens to them stills feeds the sample for those trying to find a correlation. And here is another example of a guy who was not abused getting hurt.

    This is a starting pitcher who averaged 140 innings a year, and got hurt. 140 innings is HALF a season of what guys threw 25 years ago. I understand being prudent with these guys, but where do you draw the line? You can’t cripple your team either. What’s the point of having players you’re afraid to use when there are no guarantees anyway?

    • Dennis

      Once again a great post by Rob!

    • Steve D

      I really don’t understand your post at all and I read it a few times.

      Every pitcher is different. I guess the best way to prevent injuries is to have smart, honest pitchers who work on mechanics and know their limitations and smart organizations that don’t put pitchers in harm’s way. I guess a really sharp pitching coach maybe could see if a pitcher is out of his natural rhythm and pitching under too much stress. Even then, injuries cannot be eliminated. I think most fans would agree the Mets have not done a good job for as long as I can remember preventing, diagnosing and reacting to injuries for pitchers and hitters.

      • Greg Mitchell

        In fact, Eovaldi’s innings have been fairly low nearly even year because he has battled one arm ailment or another since he started–and it has been said, from the start, that his mechanics suggest future arm trouble. So: an accident waiting to happen. Far from the case of those who come out the minors with good mechanics and without history of arm trouble. Those are the ones to look at. Note: I see the Tigers, still in a wild card race, have said they will now limit innings of our old friend Michael Fullmer, who is leading the league in era, I believe. Good for them. If they keep to their word.

        • Rob E.

          He has not had constant arm trouble. He had mild shoulder inflammation in 2013, and elbow inflammation that cost him 3-4 starts last year (that information comes from the 2016 Baseball Forecaster). I never heard the “accident waiting to happen” angle on him. Not saying it wasn’t said, just saying I never heard it. And he was striking out 7 batters/9, walking less than 3 batters/9, and giving up less than a hit per inning right up until his injury, so there was no hint of injury leading up to it.

          As for Fulmer, they can limit his innings all they want and it will mean little more than the proverbial rat’s ass as far as preventing a future injury goes. Ask Stephen Strasburg, and ask Madison Bumgarner.

      • Rob E.

        Well, you want “smart, honest pitchers,” yet some have said no manager should ever believe what a player says. You want good mechanics, yet the guy with PERFECT mechanics — Mark Prior — was done after 600 IP in four years. And a guy with brutal mechanics — Chris Sale — has thrown 1,000 All-Star quality innings in five years.

        This is just one exception each (there are others), and there are many examples going the other way, too. My point is that there is nothing definitive here, and it is a fool’s game trying to identify causes and assigning blame for injuries.

        And we don’t KNOW what goes on behind the Mets’ closed doors. The media likes to make a mockery of them (which makes it look bad), and they are admittedly ABYSMAL at communicating (which makes it worse), but we don’t really know what injuries they failed to prevent or what injuries they caused or what they misdiagnosed. I’m not ready to hang them with being the cause here. Each player and each injury is unique. It may or MAY NOT have anything to do with a team or a practice or a philosophy. But we will never know.

  • One thing Niese won’t have to combat tonight is high expectations.

    • Eric

      I expect at least one of Niese’s lollipop curves to be sent back high and far.

      I’d like Ynoa to get a shot at starting in the 5th slot. He couldn’t be worse than the other options.

  • eric1973

    If Niese does not fall off the mound, we can consider his appearance a success.

    BTW, I was at the weekday afternoon game a few years ago where he DID fall off the mound, due to a damaged leg. Then I went to see ‘West Side Story’ at night. Guess it was a Wednesday, as none of the main cast saw fit to show up for the evening performance.

    But I digress….

  • Mikey

    I’m glad the olympics are still on…it hasn’t been as painful keeping tabs on the Mets on my phone, and the last few games we’ve had some pleasant surprises.

    I am okay with Niese starting (Verrett definitely was not getting it done) but as someone else mentioned above he needs to have an extremely short leash. have the kid ready to step in if needed. if not, me and my 44 mph fastball are just a phone call away

  • eric1973

    But you have good location, Mikey.

  • eric1973

    I hate pitch counts and innings limits, and will only subscribe when the game is out of hand. And I’d be extra careful with the Bone Spur twins.

    Seaver said recently that he ran out of gas at around 120 pitches, and that Koosman ran out around 135.

    Back in their day, starters were expected to pitch the whole game, and paced themselves to do just that, as relievers were by and large just failed starters, and were not that good.

    Nowadays, starters throw their hardest from the very first pitch, and that, combined with talented, *groomed* relievers, makes the complete game no longer expected, and also no longer a necessity.

  • Mikey

    I hope we dont hear keith say the word “helicopter” tonight

  • Mikey

    Also i have much faith today with reyes back and ces and cabrera coming back. I mean i have this weird feeling

    Also i cant believe cabrera is almost back. I had patella tendinitis and partial tear from running a few years back and i had flashbacks when i saw him get helped off the field. It is absolute blinding pain. Im glad hea not done for the year

  • Paul Schwartz

    Was I the only one who noticed how close T.J Rivera was to a double triple? (Three hits,3 errors).
    The last,decade,seems,to have brought us,a plethora of infielders who can hit but can’t field. (Including the deep departed murph). What gives?

  • Mikey

    So true paul….i did notice that in the boxscore….very strange.

    So is that riveras rap? Yeah its just too often. I havent watched lately ….is he also a traditionally slow as shit Met?

  • Paul Schwartz

    I don’t think so. Probably more like walker than flores.

  • T.J.'s Throws

    If I hit .350 nobody will care that I can’t throw the ball across the diamond, especially on a team that can’t hit its way out of a paper bag.

  • Granderson's RBIs

    Here is all you need to know about the managerial style of Terry Coddler. After Niese gave up four runs in a little more than four innings, including two home runs, the skipper praised him. “He pitched good,” Collins said. “For a guy who hadn’t pitched in six weeks I thought he threw the ball great, so I was very happy with the way he pitched.”

  • Rob E.

    I’m not going to say Niese pitched a good game, or that I have any hope in him moving forward, but he HASN’T pitched much or for multiple innings, he pitched three good innings before having a bad fourth inning, and he wasn’t the one who put that game out of reach….it was 3-1 when he left, with two outs and a man on first. Goeddel, who has been lights out recently, turned it into a 6-1 game, and Ynoa, everyone’s better choice than Niese, turned it into a 9-1 game.

    Also, what the hell do you EXPECT a manager — ANY manager — to say to the NY media?!?!? You are right though, that IS all we need to know about his style, because torching players in the papers is a a pretty good way to lose a team, which he HASN’T.

  • Goeddel's Blowtorch

    I can assure you I wouldn’t expect any manager to take that effort and call it great. As I recall, on June 21, Hansel Robles, who has never been a starter this season (not sure if he ever was prior to this), was called on after one out in a game because Colon was injured. Without time to prepare to stretch out his arm like Niese, who knew for a while he was starting yesterday and has been a starter nearly his whole career, Robles went 3.2 scoreless innings. That was great. At best, Niese was acceptable, nothing more.

    And I’m not sure how protecting players that aren’t performing is a recipe for success. You claim he hasn’t lost the clubhouse. Are they performing any better because of it?

    Last time I checked the DBacks were 45-69 against the rest of the league. But they went 5-1 against the Mets and outscored them 47-21 in the six games. Does that sound like a team that hasn’t quit?

    Is Arizona’s roster better than the Mets? They have two players hitting higher than .270 and their best starting pitcher era is 4.47 so I think that puts that issue to bed.

    Once players know they won’t be held accountable, most of them perform like they aren’t accountable. Terry Coddler is their crutch and they know it.

  • Goeddel's Lights Were Out

    P.S. That guy who had been lights out recently gave up 3 hits and 2 runs on Monday night. I’m no english major but Monday seems pretty recent to me.

  • […] inning. I don’t know which third of an inning or who scored the five runs. To invoke Bill Maher for the second consecutive month, I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s […]