Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If He Throws You 100 Curveballs, You’re Bound to Hit One of Them

With one out in the fifth inning, Jack Wilson hit a fly ball that looked as if it would travel over the yellow line in left field. Jason Bay, however, had the ball the whole way, timed his jump and brought the ball back, keeping a 1-1 tie intact. The next inning, The Mets and Ike Davis responded, finally catching up to the umpteenth curveball Tommy Hanson has thrown him, blasting a three-run home run to give the Mets a 4-1 lead. A wild pitch and a Jason Bay bomb later, with a fantastic effort by Gee and his Goatee, the Mets finished off the Braves 6-1. The Braves have lost five times this year, four of which have come against the Mets.

One of the coolest things about listening to the game on the radio is the suspense of a long fly ball that will be either just enough over the wall for a home run or caught on an unbelievable jump. Howie Rose is fantastic at painting the picture, and between Jason Bay leaping and him getting up off the warning track showing the ball intact was this silence that, even while at work, keeps you on the edge of your seat. There is something so outstandingly cinematic about baseball on the radio. The time between pitches allows for a vivid description of not only the game but the entire environment surrounding the baseball. “The flags are flapping in from left field, with a brisk wind blowing in behind the stands…it’s a chilly night, with most people in the stands huddling together in coats and blankets…the pitcher is wearing a blue long-sleeve shirt under his jersey…He blows on his right hand, wipes it on his pants, grips the baseball and looks in to the catcher with a deep, brooding stare.” The colors, sounds and images swirl in my head as I listen to Howie, and it makes me so happy to have Mets baseball back for the next… 7 months. Yeah, that’s right. I’m dreaming loftily.

Through his struggles, Ike Davis has held it together. Few of us panicked as he got deeper and deeper into the season without a hit, but outside of some subtle frustrations shown towards the umpires and the ground with his bat and helmet, Davis did not lose confidence.  Once he got his first hit, he was able to take a breath, relax, and wait for his pitch. Last night, the Braves walked the .571-hitting Wright to get to the .135-hitting Ike.  Curveball after curveball after curveball was thrown, which is basically the only pitch Tommy Hanson has ever tossed to him. This has proven successful, until Ike finally turned on one, driving it awesomely into the right-field stands. Even a 1 for4 night has his batting average creeping up to the Mendoza line. Hopefully, Ike can go on a tear and at least finish the year with a .280 average or so. We shall see.

I will never boo Jason Bay. I will not tell people they shouldn’t boo Jason Bay, because who they want to boo is their prerogative. Through all of his struggles, however, Jason Bay has never complained and has never dogged it, down the first base line or in the outfield. His bat might be slower through the strike zone (outside of a couple home runs lately) but the way he battles through all of this is value in and of itself. He’s a class act, and yes, his production might never be what we are paying him for. I will most certainly, however, not knock Jason Bay’s hustle.  (What if Jason Bay hits .200 but with 30 home runs? In a winning season, I’ll take it.)

It’s nice to have such a battler at the back end of our rotation as Gee and his Goatee. It is always a sign of a true professional pitcher to buckle down when given a bad hand. Dillon did this in the seventh inning after what would have been a double play was turned into two on and none out because of Josh Thole’s catcher’s interference. Gee revved up and arguably had his best stuff of the evening, getting a soft ground ball and striking out two on his way back to the dugout. When Gee is using all of his pitches, his 91 mph fastball becomes harder to catch up to. As long as he doesn’t trail away from that game plan, he will continue to be a very solid major league pitcher.

Weather permitting, Johan will make his third start of the year tonight. He has pitched so well so far, and every outing we hold our breath that nothing in that shoulder will be tweaked. At some point, he will not have an 0.90 ERA and when that day comes and his stuff is not that sharp, hopefully it will only be because of the grind of a major league season, and he will sit at his locker room telling us he just didn’t have it today but his arm feels fine.

I like what I am seeing from this team. I like what I am seeing from our New York Metropolitans.

Let’s. Go. Mets.

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