To most appearances, when the Mets opened a weekend set with the Nationals Friday night , it looked like this could become the weekend in which the Mets were driven far enough down that they might not get back up again. Battered by the disabled list and losers of nine out of ten—including the previous weekend’s sweep by the Nats in New York—the Mets didn’t just look beaten, they looked half buried.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Edubray Ramos was auditioning for the Texas Rangers to shore up their bullpen. Based on his work in the eighth inning Monday against the Mets, the Phillies righthander seems a good fit for a team sometimes renowned for waiting till next year and the last minute to settle a grudge.
Don’t even think about saying the Mets have been cured completely of their June swoon just yet. And don’t even think about saying the Cubs have been broken back to the land of the mere mortals just yet. But it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that a weekend sweep of the Cubs gave the Mets their first serious medicinal break of the year. And we use the term “medicinal” advisedly.
Standing by your man and trusting his gut is one of the most admirable qualities a baseball manager can have. Until or unless even his gut runs out of sustenance. When Jacob deGrom’s gut ran out of sustenance in the fifth inning Wednesday night, Terry Collins was caught flatfoot.
Not to take anything away from Jacob deGrom, Daniel Murphy, and all the New York Mets who did the little things right Tuesday night. (And, in Murphy’s case, one not-so-little thing even more right.) But the way the Chicago Cubs finished the evening on the brink of elimination was just too Cubs for comfort.
Maybe Cub Country, that long-battered, long-picked-on nation of Jobs, can find some small comfort in knowing that it didn’t happen with the Cubs five outs from the World Series. And maybe Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was carrying a flashlight, too.
Squaring off against Clayton Kershaw in Game One, Jacob deGrom plain outpitched the Los Angeles Dodgers’ maestro. Squaring off against Zack Greinke in Game Five Thursday night, deGrom didn’t have his first-game mojo working. So he went to his belly. And it turned out that the slender fellow with the delta wing hair and the infectiously prankish grin had all the belly he needed.
It didn’t hurt that he and his New York Mets had Daniel Murphy on their side, either. That’s why they’re going to the National League Championship Series and the Dodgers are going home early for a third straight year, possibly with their manager’s head in a noose.
Apparently, a problematic seventh inning in postseason play isn’t restricted to times when Clayton Kershaw faces the St. Louis Cardinals. Send him up against a kid like Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, even to the point of him engaging a pitching duel for the books, and the Los Angeles Dodgers bellwether runs into problems that cost ballgames as well.
If Jacob deGrom ever had a speck of doubt that his teammates could and would have his back, that speck was obliterated Monday night. It’s not every pitcher—at his level or otherwise—who can have a rare putrid start, leave his team in the hole by five, and then watch with his own jaw joining every other one hitting the floor in Citizens Bank Park as his Mets did to the Phillies what, not so long ago, the Phillies did to their opposition with long-since-gone aplomb.
What to take away from the All-Star Game other than the American League’s 6-3 win and thus home field advantage for this year’s World Series? The Mike Trout Show?
* Trout (Angels) became the first player in 38 years to lead off an All-Star Game going deep, hitting Zack Greinke’s (Dodgers) fourth pitch the other way, into the right field seats next to the Great American Ballpark visitors’ bullpen. Add scoring ahead of a powerful throw by Joc Pedersen (Dodgers) on Prince Fielder’s (Rangers) single in the fifth, and Trout—who’d reached base in the first place by beating out what might have been a double play finisher—joined Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Gary Carter as baseball’s only two-time All-Star Game MVPs.