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

Growing Pains

Let’s revisit two days ago’s rather optimistic Mets recap post [1], shall we?

(You don’t want to? Tough. I don’t particularly want to either, but I’m driving this train.)

Bobby Parnell may be learning to be successful without his best slider, but nothing a pitcher can learn will get him through days when all he has is his worst slider. Parnell sidelined his fastball to throw flat helicopters to Logan Morrison and John Buck, and the resulting home run and double turned an inspiring Mets comeback into a discouraging Mets loss [2].

Daniel Murphy may be a pure hitter whose potent bat can outweigh his suspect glove, but it’s tough to outweigh an afternoon in which you drop too many flying things that you get your hands on.

As for the rest of you Mets, well, too many balls through the wickets, too many missed cutoff men, too many messes.

Dillon Gee, on the other hand, burnished his growing legend. It was obvious soon after the start of today’s game that Gee was essentially unarmed: He couldn’t command his change-up or curve, leaving him with nothing but his thoroughly average fastball, and even that seemed to have a mind of its own, flying everywhere except where Gee wanted it to go. It happens to every pitcher sometimes, and generally leads to disaster and an early exit.

But Gee, somehow, hung in there despite a lot of grimacing and fretting, even when his teammates betrayed him in the fourth: A dreadful Jose Reyes error turned two outs and none on into first and third and none out and Murphy dropped a foul pop. Cruelly asked to get six outs in an inning in which getting one seemed uncertain, Gee somehow did, keeping the Marlins at bay and walking into the dugout with a battered, vaguely startled expression. He then found himself after a shaky start to the fifth (the Marlins got the leadoff runner on in each of the first five innings), gave way to a surprisingly effective Manny Acosta, and was watching when David Wright slammed a two-run homer over Soilmaster’s left-field agglomeration of random boarded-up football crap for a thoroughly unexpected 4-3 Mets lead.

Which led to Parnell, and disaster — soaring anthems souring into minor chords and collapsing into squalling and stilled cymbals and fighting in the studio while the engineer goes out to smoke a cigarette down to the filter.

These things happen, particularly with middle relievers learning to be closers and guys whose gloves can’t be hidden. (Which isn’t a problem in that stupid beer league the senior circuit never should have acknowledged as part of baseball.) I’m not backing off my hopes for the Mets’ long-term health, or abandoning the good scenarios I see for players who have made strides this year. They have made strides; they’ll make more. But some days they go backwards and inexperience proves fatal — and on days like that, it’s hard to paint rosy-colored scenarios. This one got away, and it hurt.