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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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A Tale of Multiple Games

During the first game Wednesday, the Mets scored practically at will. Michael Conforto, newly anointed leadoff hitter for however long Terry Collins can resist sitting him, was a perfect fit at the top of the order, singling in the first, homering in the third. Yoenis Cespedes was Yoenis Cespedes for a second consecutive night. Asdrubal Cabrera was clutch for a second consecutive year. Vince Velasquez, whatever his gifts, was no match for our muscular Met mashers.

I enjoyed this game very much.

During the second game Wednesday, Zack Wheeler emerged as the star you were sure he was about to be when last he was a relatively permanent member of the Met rotation. Zack gave up little in the first and second, nothing in the third, fourth and fifth. About all the Phillies could do in response was step out of the box in an attempt to disturb his timing. Wheeler’s timing was disturbed for two years, yet here he was pitching as if he’d never missed a start. You think hitter hijinks are going to throw him off? The impenetrable righty defended the 5-0 lead like an ace.

I enjoyed this game very much as well.

During the third game Wednesday, in the bottom of the sixth, Wheeler the ace was — because this will happen in a pitcher’s second start after two years’ absence — huffing and puffing in an effort to blow away three more batters. The wolf, however, wouldn’t exit the doorway. Zack got two outs but loaded the bases. Away went Wheeler, along came Hansel Robles, making his eighty-fifth appearance of the thus far nine-game season…check that: it was his third night in a row pitching. Seems like more. Robles is too talented to dismiss, to enigmatic to trust fully. Enigmatic is one of those words you use when you want to acknowledge a reliever’s talent but chronically cringe when he shows up with runners on base, especially when all of the bases have runners. Cringing turned to caterwauling when the first pitch Robles threw to Maikel Franco turned into a grand slam and chopped the Mets’ lead to 5-4.

I did not enjoy this game at all.

During the fourth game Wednesday, I assumed we were screwed. Early on, I flicked away my superstitious impulses and began to mentally pencil in a series sweep and fourth consecutive victory overall. Now I was skipping over the part where I kick myself for presumptuousness and moving on to questioning my priorities. These Mets and these Phillies are out of my control, yet here I am entrusting my prospective happiness to their machinations. I entrusted it to Hansel Robles, and now I’m teetering on the emotional abyss. True, the Mets were still ahead, 5-4, but they weren’t touching the Phillies’ pen (Cespedes was particularly flummoxed by Pat Neshek) and Collins was letting Robles start the seventh, which seemed to be a death wish. The score was Mets 5 Phillies 4, which is to say the Mets were winning, but in my mind it went from Mets LOTS Phillies nada to Phillies ruining a season that was shaping up so nicely, why can’t we get more starts of at least seven innings, why is there nobody but Robles to bring in, why am I ensnared in this psychological trap? And are we sure Ryan Howard and his 48 homers cracked at the expense of Met pitching aren’t lingering menacingly over by the bat rack, never mind that the last of once-hot Phillies signed a minor league deal with the Braves last week?

I think my lack of enjoyment of this game is evident.

During the fifth game Wednesday, the Mets hung on to win, 5-4. No, they didn’t do any more hitting to speak of, but neither did the Ryan Howardless Phillies, the lot of them succumbing to Robles (he stayed through only one batter in the seventh), Blevins, Salas and Reed. They all contributed to Wheeler’s ability to wear that weirdly charming Player of the Game crown afterwards. They all pitch too often, too, but what are you gonna do in this day and age? After the second game of the season, the one the Mets lost in twelve to the Braves, a lady on the idling 7 express asked me why deGrom had to come out when he did despite having been brilliant. I said, a little sarcastically, well, you know, he went six innings. And the lady, earnest as the dickens, asked me in all sincerity if that’s now the rule in baseball because she remembered when starting pitchers went nine. No, I said, that was just a frustrated comment on how pitchers are used now. The lady thanked me. She was very nice. So was winning our fourth in a row and moving into sole possession of first place by Wednesday evening’s end, despite enduring my first bullpen-induced philosophical crisis of the season and surely not the last.

I was fine with this game.

22 comments to A Tale of Multiple Games

  • Greg Mitchell

    Due to chronic overuse of pen watch for Terry to activate Lagares and send out Rivera instead of, say, Sewald or Edgin. Then Familia comes back and he will finally send out Edgin or Sewald. Or maybe he’ll send out Conforto because, you know, pitchers can’t go 7. Or even 6. I understand that it’s good to restrict pitches on most of these guys the first two start but something has to give now. Otherwise DeGromm and Thor will need to be used as pinch-hitters half a dozen times each.

    • Dennis

      If you’re complaining about him pulling Wheeler….you do realize (other than last week) he hasn’t pitched in 2 years, right? Not saying Terry is perfect, but if you’re going to moan about him, take a look around MLB and see that almost every manager does the same thing, especially at the beginning of the season. I would take it easy…….we’re only 2 weeks into the season and they are 6-3, not 3-6.

    • 9th string catcher

      I could definitely see TC doing that but hope not – it will be more difficult for him to pull that off than usual since all Conforto has done so far is hit, and people are noticing. Plus, Sewald is basically another Montero – no need for two of them on the roster, so hopefully he’ll stick with 12 pitchers.

      And whither Jose Reyes…?

  • LeClerc

    Now heading to Miami to face Chen and Conley – seems like a mighty good time for Reyes to get some rest. Let Wilmer play third and bat fifth.

    Next time a right-hander starts for the Marlins, let’s get Conforto back in that lead-off spot.

  • Daniel Hall

    The things I screamed in my head when Hansel pitched like Gretel and forked up a perfectly decent Wheeler start at three in the morning…

    Also can’t wait for Lagares to come back. I do still kinda like him, and we currently really don’t have a strong defensive centerfielder to leave rotting on the bench.

  • Gil

    I was so happy last night until I changed the channel to ESPN and saw Danial Murphy’s stats so far this season. Man alive.

    • Is that Murphy from the second-place Nationals? He can hit all he wants as long as we win more (though, admittedly, there might eventually be a correlation between his hitting and their winning).

      • Eric

        I would be happier as a Mets fan and for Murphy if he were hitting .400 with power for, say, the Diamondbacks or better yet, the Red Sox. (Best yet, of course, is Murphy to still be hitting as a Met.)

  • Pete In Iowa

    Said it before and I’ll say it again — Murphy should be in the first year of a $100 million deal. All he had to do was take the $16 mil qualifying offer the Mets extended to him after 2015. I guess even Murph didn’t think his 2015 postseason was for real!

  • Matt in Richmond

    Early in the season it is typical for starters to have even more stringent limits on their pitch counts, necessitating ever more relief pitching. Add to that the fact that Familia not being here has shortened our pen and it’s no surprise a few guys are pitching more often than they typically will. This will smooth out once JF comes back and our starters (maybe not Wheeler) start going a little deeper. Meanwhile we’re 6-3. Not too shabby.

  • Dave

    I was going back and forth a bit between the Mets and Rangers last night, and had the Ranger game on for just a few minutes at the beginning of the 3rd Mets game, came back to a major WTF. But boy, my nominee for unsung hero of 2017, very very early version, is Fernando Salas. Been lights out, even as a candidate for his arm falling off by mid to late summer. I continue to have extremely mixed feelings about the Mets employing men who would hit women, but they could really use Familia back…although that’s assuming he isn’t rusty or distracted. My fear is that his postseason failures might be doing some damage to his psyche.

  • eric1973

    Hey, Daniel Hall,

    That Hansel/Gretel comment about Robles was the funniest thing I ever heard……… when I said it two years ago!

    Greg has caprured the Robles enigma perfectly:
    A world of talent who is mot reliable……. yet. I’ll probably give him more chances than he deserves.

    Of course the Mets have the best bench in baseball. They should all be starting, and may be soon. Conforto for Granderson was the first domino to fall, followed hopefully soon by Flores for Reyes. The cherry on top would be for Rivera to replace Walker at 2B. Not to mention the catcher Rivera replacing TDA, as a dominating staff needs a defensive catcher behind the plate.

  • Matt in Richmond

    Good Lord. This kind of thinking is the same as the old truism in football that the most popular guy in town is the backup qb……until he starts. This team will be at its best when it uses ALL of its pieces. It’s way premature to start benching guys. I guess one bad week is all it takes for people to forget that this team doesn’t make the playoffs last year without Reyes’ infusion of energy and vastly superior defense. I guess nobody remembers that Conforto hit almost .400 last year in April before going into the biggest tailspin I think I’ve ever seen. I guess Neil Walker wasn’t one of the 2 or 3 best second baseman in the league last year. Can we let things play out more than 9 games before making sweeping changes? It’ll all shake out. Let’s not forget if the average fan had it their way Bruce and Duda would probably not have been playing this year and we wouldn’t be anywhere close to 6-3.

  • eric1973

    Duda’s been a nothing his whole career, and all the whining in the world won’t change that.

  • Gil

    Greg, just wanted to let you know as a fan of the blog I’m totally fine with you reusing the title for this recap again today. 5 hours and 38 minutes. What a gritty win. They almost had to send Phil Regan in for an inning or two.

    • Paul Schwartz

      Great comment Gil! Was thinking the same thing!

    • Eric

      A game like last night’s makes us ask, who’s the Mets’ Christian Bethancourt?

      In the post-game, Collins said Rene Rivera would have pitched after Robles and Wheeler would have played 1st base (though I believe it’s more likely Wheeler would have played RF and Bruce would have moved to 1B).

      I was impressed that d’Arnaud hit the game-winning HR after catching 15 innings. I wondered why Collins didn’t put in Rivera at C and move d’Arnaud to 1B to give d’Arnaud a break. I guess Collins wanted to tire out Rivera as least he could in case Rivera was needed to pitch in short or even long relief.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Smoker will be sent out today and fresh arm summoned. Or Montero–should be starting in minors anyway.

  • Eric

    Regarding the short innings, don’t forget that the Mets staff of aces, except for Syndergaard and not including Gsellman, is repeatedly surgically repaired. Does shaving pitches and innings start to start actually protect them from further injury? Who knows.

    The “fifth game” was apprehensive but the most satisfying part of the win. The bullpen held the line after a big reversal of momentum. I was mindful that these same Phillies put up 17 on the Nationals and CBP isn’t just a bandbox for the Mets; it’s a hitter’s park for the home team, too. After Franco hit the grand slam, I was not confident the Mets would be able to hold onto the lead through the soft part of the bullpen without scoring an insurance run or two.

    But they held the line. Blevins, Salas, and Reed have picked up where they left off last season. Their stuff looks hittable on TV, but they keep doing the job. Kudos to the front office. And in another week, a relatively fresh Familia will be back to shrink down the soft part of the bullpen by an inning.

  • Eric

    As far as the crown, my criticism is that it should have orange jewels mixed in with the blue jewels.