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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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Turning Points Can Be Easy to Miss

Bartolo Colon going for the cycle! Leaping grabs from Jose Reyes! Bullets fired by Yoenis Cespedes! Asdrubal Cabrera going deep from both sides of the plate — and making a nifty play to short-circuit the Phillies!

And of course Wilmer Flores sending one into the Flushing night to make a tense ballgame so much more relaxed.

That was fun. Unfortunately, the scoreboard-watching hasn’t been as much fun — the Marlins, Pirates and Cardinals have already won and the Giants are pummeling the Braves — but at least there’s scoreboard-watching to be done, with the Mets refusing to flatline despite daily injuries and a rotation that now features the understudies’ understudies.

But let’s go back to Wilmer’s big moment, and the wackiness that preceded it.

There was no shortage of wackiness. The bottom of the fifth began with Bartolo lacing a fastball over Freddy Galvis‘s head, a ball that was on a startled Aaron Altherr before he could adjust, sending Altherr to the wall and Bartolo to second. Reyes then dropped a little blooper just inside the right-field line — one of those parachutes into no man’s land that’s a guaranteed double. It was, except Bartolo had rumbled to third and halted there to vent clouds of steam.

No matter, right? Cabrera, who’d gone back-to-back with Reyes in the first for a 2-0 Met lead, hit the first pitch he saw to Maikel Franco at third. Colon made a half-hearted attempt to deke Franco, which went about as well as you imagined. One out, but here came Cespedes, who’d nearly decapitated poor Phillies starter Adam Morgan back in the first. Cespedes didn’t connect this time, but rapped a grounder to Cesar Hernandez at second.

Hernandez was playing back, conceding the run, but Colon didn’t break on contact. He didn’t break at all. Poor Reyes — who in most innings would have moved up to third when Cabrera hit into a fielder’s choice and then scored on Cespy’s grounder — was still pacing around at second, like a dog taken to the park and then unaccountably left leashed while lovingly gnawed Frisbees and spit-soaked tennis balls filled the air. The Mets were about to pull off the difficult but decidedly Metsian feat of starting an inning with consecutive doubles and not scoring.

Neil Walker stood between Morgan and escape. Morgan started Walker with two straight balls, but then got him to pop a change-up into foul territory behind first. It was a tough play, but there was air under the ball and Hernandez, right fielder Peter Bourjos and Ryan Howard were all converging on it.

Bourjos probably had the best shot at the ball — Hernandez had too far to go and Howard was looking over his shoulder — but he pulled up when he saw Howard steaming towards the angle of stands. Catching it would have been a good play, one deserving of praise, but not an impossible one. And Howard was there. But he’d gone a bit too far; the ball came over his left shoulder instead of his right, and plopped to the ground just out of reach of his outstretched arms.

Walker, given another life, fouled off four more pitches, then took two balls. The bases were loaded. And then, as is so often the case with baseball, what had unfolded so slowly reached a speedy conclusion: Morgan’s first pitch to Flores was a low fastball that Wilmer golfed over the fence.

We had lots to cheer for, but the turning point Friday night wasn’t the Flores grand slam — not really. It was a modest curling pop, one that neither Hernandez nor Bourjos nor Howard converted into the out that his pitcher desperately needed. A little thing, but then baseball so often turns on little things.

15 comments to Turning Points Can Be Easy to Miss

  • eric1973

    Great win, keep it going!

    Not sure who SNY’s director is, but he does not understand how to run a game.

    Keep the focus on Flores, as the fans were not going to stop cheering until he came out for a curtain call. The crowd reaction told us it happened, as we were watching the home run replay. Would have been great to see it live, rather than on video tape.

    These moments are special to those of us who anticipate things like that, as they are certainly a rarity, and a special moment was diminished.

    I’m good with skipping deGrom, I guess, as it could potentially enable him to go 5-0 down the stretch.

    Ray Ramirez gets more face time than any player, and seeing him on the mound in the 9th, looking at Gilmartin’s thumb, just had to make you laugh. He is becoming as familiar to us as Tom McKenna, who BTW, died 10 years ago this Tuesday, at the ripe old age of 88.

  • Ken K. in NJ

    One of the funnest games of the year. I see that Colon’s 2 hits have raised his average to a robust 106. How about 100 heretofore being known as the Bartolo Line?

  • Jacobs27

    Very fun game, indeed. Though it could have also turned incredibly frustrating. If Howard catches Walker’s foul pop, Bartolo’s “wackiness” is a lot less endearing and Wilmer doesn’t get a chance to be our dream come true/LHPs’ worst nightmare.

    Reyes and Cabrera sure are starting to look like a 1-2 punch this team lacked all year. Pretty cool.

    Given the situation with our starters at the moment, I’d like to suggest a managerial rule of (hopefully bloodless) thumb, going forward: if Colon gives you seven solid innings, and you’ve got a big lead, don’t push him. I don’t care if he says he’s fine. He’s 43, it’s been a long season, the wheels can come off fast and we need him strong and in a good groove all the way to the finish line.

    Let’s go Mets!

    • Eric

      I don’t fault Collins for trying to eke out another inning with Colon. The bullpen is worn down. With deGrom coming off 2 historically bad starts and missing his next start, none of the starters, including Syndergaard starting today, can be relied on to go 6 innings with 5 innings more likely. Banking an inning can make a difference.

  • LeClerc

    Four home runs and Bart’s base running magic. A great night.

    A cloud looming? DeGrom to skip Monday start against Marlins. Therefore Triple-A guy goes against Jose Fernandez. Then Lugo goes Tuesday to give Matz an extra day to prepare for Wednesday.

    Marlins, of course, are one of the teams standing in front of Mets in the Wild Card race. Dropping two to them would be a very bad thing.

    Anyway, here’s hoping Noah and Gs can complete a Phillies sweep.

    • Eric

      That goes to why, while it’s disappointing, I can’t be frustrated with this season. The 2016 Mets were built around a post-season-tempered starting rotation with the potential to be historically great 1-to-5 if Wheeler came back strong. Instead, it’s broken down to the point where the starting rotation is now a liability. The Mets are starting pitchers who are the leftovers in the cupboard after last season’s trades. (Apparently, whatever its flaws developing position players, the Mets minor league system produces serviceable starting pitching.) That the Mets are still in the play-off hunt with the core of the team broken is to their credit.

  • sturock

    I love the resurgence of Alejandro de Aza. And Jose’s nifty play at bat and in the field. (I’m no longer panning the Reyes return…I was wrong!) If only Jay Bruce could get it going…

  • Eric

    Wins have been hard to come by, so it’s disappointing the Mets didn’t gain a game on any of the teams in front of them in the WC race, especially the Marlins who came from behind late to beat the Padres. It’s too early to start counting tragic/magic numbers, but September is around the corner. Even a marathon runs out of miles to catch up. Still, the Mets didn’t fall further behind and managed to preserve the prospect of meaningful September baseball.

    Colon going 7 strong innings before (suddenly) running out of gas was valuable. I questioned Collins’ decision to use Familia after Gilmartin had to come out in the 9th – I thought former closer Henderson should have been tried to mop up. Maybe it was psychological. Maybe Collins wanted a comfortable blow-out win over a bad team to stay a comfortable blow-out win over a bad team, rather than have his team barely escape, mentally shaken by a big lead evaporating with the bullpen imploding. At this point, even big leads don’t feel safe until Reed and Familia are in.

    I’m enjoying the bonus time with Colon. He was supposed to have been pitching out of the bullpen for 2 months by now, not throwing 90+ MPH fastballs in the middle of the starting rotation and hitting line drives late in the season. Colon’s durability stands out on a brittle team.

  • Jacobs27

    Another small but encouraging sign last night: d’Arnaud taking an outside fastball the other way for a double. If he can start doing that again on a consistent basis… and Bruce remembers how to make contact with a baseball… we have an offense!

    • Eric

      Maybe Gary Sanchez’s hot start will inspire d’Arnaud by reminding him he was supposed to be the young hotshot slugging catcher in town.

  • Jacobs27

    By the way, Jason, the leashed dog in the park analogy and the “difficult but decidely Metsian feat” are great stuff!

  • eric1973

    So was “by dint of,” the other day.

  • Gil

    They’re heating up!

  • NostraDennis

    I’m not setting myself up for disappointment by labeling this nice week a “turning point”. At least not yet. But it’s nice to enjoy a nice week of baseball. Let’s have a few more nice weeks.