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.
Let history record that the first run batted in of the 2016 season was delivered by a pitcher. At the plate. A pitcher who’d had only three runs batted in in his entire career (nine seasons) prior to last year, when he drove in seven. And his name wasn’t Madison Bumgarner.
Let history record further that Clayton Kershaw was the beneficiary of the worst Opening Day blowout in major leaguer history a day later. And, that Bryce Harper rocked the best postgame cap around the circuits. So far.
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.
Thor swung his hammer right out of the chute. And the New York Mets hammered and tonged the Kansas City Royals to make the World Series an honest-to-God Series again Friday night.
Noah Syndergaard said before Game Three that he had a trick up his sleeve in store for the Royals. What he really had was an opening argument to deliver. Not in the second inning. Not in the third. Not in the fourth or the fifth. Right out of the chute, top of the first, first pitch. Essentially, the message read thus:
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.
Open a World Series with an inside-the-park home run thanks to an unexpected brain vapour by the opposing battery and a pair of outfielders. Finish the game after fourteen innings and with a sacrifice fly.
These Kansas City Royals may have done crazier things than that in their two-season-and-maybe-counting return to American League supremacy. But they’re not about to bet on it.
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.
This was the kind of situation the Nats always want, Stephen Strasburg striking out thirteen Phillies, and Bryce Harper smashing a game-winning double in the bottom of the twelfth Saturday afternoon. And it didn’t mean a thing anymore when it ended in a 2-1 Nats win.
Because almost an hour before Harper tagged Phillies reliever Colton Murray with one out, Mets closer Jeurys Familia finished the Mets’ destruction of the Reds in Cincinnati to clinch the none-too-potent National League East. The division just about all the experts picked the Nats to run away with, all the way to a World Series crown, even.
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.”