Perhaps if the Mets knew Yoenis Cespedes would hit three home runs the day after, the might ask someone to take one for the team every day. For results like a 14-4 blowout of the Phillies Tuesday, you might find any number of Mets willing to take a pitch upside the head the night before.
There are times when entire baseball seasons or championships are believed to turn, for better or worse, on single acts at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. Marshal the appropriate evidence and those beliefs can be either upheld or obliterated.
Two weeks ago, Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista over a seven-month-old bat flip, a flip at a time Bush wasn’t in a Rangers uniform. That plunk drew mere warnings to both the Rangers and the Blue Jays, before Bautista tried to take Rougned Odor out of a double play and Odor shoved then punched Bautista to trigger a bench-clearing brawl.
They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:
Right now, and at least until Game Five gets underway Sunday night, it must absolutely suck to be Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, and Terry Collins. Oh, to be back in Chicago, when Murphy was a hero of heroes, Cespedes’s inexplicable postseason disappearance could be covered, and Collins looked like someone in training to be a genius.
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.
Time alone will determine whether the Mets and the Cubs develop a history between them comparable to that between the Yankees and the Red Sox for so many decades. Neither team wants to think about things like that right now.
The Mets want to think about preparing for and even winning the World Series. The Cubs want to think about how they’ve still got a brighter immediate future now than their own arduous history or their dispatch from this postseason suggest. Neither thought is entirely untenable.
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.
So the Mets regrouped and whacked the Braves 4-0 Monday night. With the Nationals’ interleague set against the Orioles postponed, it pushed the Mets’ magic number to clinch the National League East to seven. Will it be enough to erase the sour taste of Sunday?
That was when manager Terry Collins went with the prudent course the Mets chose with and for Matt Harvey. Lifted him Sunday after five innings, seventy-seven pitches, one hit, and a 1-0 lead against the Yankees, with whom the Mets had split the weekend set coming in.
It got this bad for the Phillies this week when the New York Mash (er, Mets) came to town and blew them away in a four-game sweep: interim manager Pete Mackinin came to the postgame press conference after Thursday night’s thrashing armed with numbers. And, with the baleful conclusion, “We’re giving up way too many runs.”