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Mets Who Go Slam in the Night

I took a little Matz nap somewhere between very late Tuesday night and very early Wednesday morning. It was peaceful. Steven Matz [1] had made it so, via professional hitting, heady baserunning and characteristically competent pitching. The pitching’s what we tune in for even if it’s also what we nod off during. Matz starts didn’t used to seem so relaxing. Nowadays (or nights), you don’t have to stare at the ceiling and count baserunners when he takes the mound.

Thanks to Steven’s third-inning trip around the bases — reach on infield hit; advance to second on Amed Rosario [2]’s single; tag up and take third on J.D. Davis [3]’s fly to deep right, Cody Bellinger’s arm notwithstanding; hustle home on a Michael Conforto [4] trickler Justin Turner couldn’t fire to Will Smith fast enough — we had a 1-0 lead. Thanks to Bellinger being Bellinger, we were behind, 2-1, before the bottom of the inning was over. Thanks to Todd Frazier [5] doing some of his best work at Dodger Stadium (remember how he dove into the stands to make that catch he didn’t make last September?), we were tied in the top of the fourth.

You expected Bellinger to go deep. You weren’t shocked Frazier did so. You knew from the beginning of his career that Matz knew how to handle a bat and use his feet. You’ve come to tentatively assume he will make it through the middle innings at least. With so much of this game tracking within the realm of possibility, you could close your eyes.

Thanks to it being late, I withdrew from consciousness. Not for good, but somewhere between Frazier homering to lead off the fourth and I’m gonna say Carlos Gomez [6] getting thrown out at second to end the top of the sixth. It had been 2-2 when I drifted, it was still 2-2 when I stirred. Matz was still holding the mighty Dodgers in abeyance, an accomplishment that could be counted as a win within a tie.

How about a win as a win? In the seventh, we had the right man up to make desirable things happen: Adeiny Hechavarria [7], the inspirational epitome of these misfit Mets. Versus reliever Yimi Garcia, Hechavarria worked out a leadoff walk. Of course he did. Adeiny puts the cat in catalyst. And as I ignored my cat Avery’s entreaties to be fed for a few more minutes, pinch-hitter Aaron Altherr [8] also walked, his base on balls produced against a second Dodger reliever, Dylan Floro. Why, yes, I did envision at some point in 2019 describing a Met rally that included Adeiny Hechavarria and Aaron Altherr as protagonists.

Add to Adeiny and Aaron another A-lister in Amed (I’ll be with you in a sec, Avery). Rosario bunted and reached when David Freese couldn’t handle Floro’s inexact toss to first. Sacrificing with two on and nobody out in the seventh didn’t seem like the most aggressive use of your leadoff hitter, but it was after midnight and we weren’t losing in Los Angeles, so whatever. The stage was set for Davis to do something spectacular. Floro struck him out. The stage remained for Conforto to do something spectacular. He hit a grand slam off Scott Alexander.

That was very spectacular. One swing, four runs. For efficiency alone you have to admire what a grand slam achieves. No wonder it has its own name, plus synonyms. GrannySalami. I prefer grand slam myself. So much grandeur right there in the title.

The Mets were up, 6-2. I was up for the rest of the game, using the next commercial break to feed Avery, by which time Dave Roberts had inserted his fourth reliever of the seventh, Ross Stripling. In the bottom of the seventh, Robert Gsellman [9] courted disaster to such an extent that I hoped Roberts could make a pitching change for our side, but Gsellman hung tough, giving back only one run and, remarkably, flying out Bellinger as the potential tying run.

Rosario, in a non-bunting situation, tripled home an additional Met run in the eighth to make it 7-3, which worried me a tad because if the Mets led by more than three but not by a whole lot more, Edwin Diaz [10] would have to come in to handle a non-save situation, and heaven forbid a closer tries to close out one of those. But that was getting ahead of oneself, because there was still the Familia [11] frame through which clutching a couch cushion seemed advisable. Jeurys indeed put a couple on, but eased all extant tension with a double play grounder that Frazier threw to Hechavarria and Hechavarria threw to Pete Alonso [12]. “Around the horn,” Gary Cohen said, and for the first time in fifty years of watching baseball, I wondered if that innocent phrase had another entendre lurking inside it, like, “oh man, I am so ‘around the horn,’ if you know what I mean.”

It was late.

The Mets faced their fifth reliever in three innings, Joe Kelly, but didn’t do anything to change the score in the ninth, indeed directing us toward Diaz for the non-save. Alex Verdugo doubled. I awaited further trouble, Somehow Edwin tricked himself into thinking he needed to bear down and did, recording the next three outs in order and preserving the 7-3 win that returned us to .500 [13] for the seventh time in the first third of this decidedly up-and-down season. I drowsily chaperoned Mickey Callaway’s and Steven Matz’s inessential reflections during the postgame show — when did Matz stop looking like he’s perpetually 14? — and, fading fast, clicked off the TV. Victorious sleep resumed.