It’s a rare occurrence when I’m actually right about something, especially in regards to baseball, so I’m ecstatic when I argue a point in a post and then afterwards I’m rewarded for my brilliant observation. In yesterday’s post I made a point about Terry Collins wasting Ruben Tejada’s at-bat in the sixth by trying to bunt. He’d been hitting the ball well on the afternoon. The Mets failed to execute the bunt, nearly hit into a double-play, and the Marlins scored two in the top of the seventh, aided by a Martin Prado ball that bounced over Tejada’s head as he was drawn in for a bunt, oh the irony.
Without any choice on the matter, Collins couldn’t make Tejada bunt in the seventh with two outs and Juan Lagares on second and Curtis Granderson on first. Tejada, the best third baseman currently on the team, drilled one to deep left center, past the speedy Christian Yelich to the wall, and Lagares scored the go-ahead run.
See, this is the universe’s way of saying bunts are stupid.
You know who didn’t bunt? Bartolo Colon. He tried. The Mets pitchers always try to bunt (yet rarely succeed it seems), but he missed wildly on his attempt, bunted one into the stands with his second, and was aided by a David Phelps wild pitch to move Anthony Recker to second. Then, for a moment, I thought I was going to see the greatest moment that could ever possibly happen in the 2015 season: a Colon inside-the-park homerun:
I was convinced Colon would round the bases, and by the time Ichiro Suzuki raced back and threw the ball in I only wanted Colon to make it safely to second without being tossed out or fall down, clutching his chest. Was he panting too heavily? Is that extra sweat on his brow? These were my thoughts. Two starts ago, in his worst outing of the year against St. Louis, a little extra exertion on the bases led to a nightmare inning the next time Colon went to the mound. It all started with a Jason Heyward homerun, then next thing you know a 2-0 Cardinals lead turned into a 7-0 pasting.
Not on Sunday. In the third and fourth Colon set the Marlins down in order, and by game’s end Colon had joined Felix Hernandez as the only eight game winners in the Majors. Okay, maybe Colon’s 0.8 fWAR isn’t nearly as impressive as Felix’s 1.5 or his 9.04 K/9, but how about that 0.66 BB/9 by Colon or the five total walks issued this year? On Sunday, he didn’t walk anyone, which marks the eighth time in 11 starts he hasn’t issued a walk.
Back to Colon with the bat, though. The Mets, collectively, lead the Majors in fWAR with the bat. Collectively the group has been worth ½ a win. Their wRC+ of 13 (I know, it looks completely ridiculous) is 1300% better than the second place Giants at -4. The Mets are the only NL team with a positive wRC+. On the season, the team’s slash line by pitchers is .182/.188/.222, and though their BABIP is .279, a little high maybe, they’ve been hitting the ball pretty well considering they’re pitchers.
Collins decision to use Jeurys Familia in the eighth with only one out reaffirms my belief that managers can make a difference. With Prado at first and both Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour coming up, Collins turned to his best option in the bullpen and Familia promptly struck out Stanton with a slider about three feet outside. How anyone can hit Familia is something of a mystery to me. With a 1-0 count, he threw Stanton a 96-mph sinker that dove about a foot down and in. Familia is regularly hitting 98 with his fastball, and he threw one pitch that topped out at 100-mph in the ninth.
Maybe Familia as the closer happened by accident, but this is one of those fortune accidents that you’re thankful to have happen.
In another sign that the universe is telling me something I am now, by the act of a toddler, committed to Wilmer Flores. Yesterday, after Flores hit his eighth homer of the season in the third, putting the Mets up 3-1, my daughter immediately stopped playing and ran over and gave me a hug. This was within a second, perhaps less. She wasn’t watching the game (though believe me, I’m certain she heard Gary Cohen’s call of Flores’ homer since children hear everything), and I hadn’t pumped my fist or yelped or whatever idiotic gesture of excitement we all make when a little white ball travels incredibly far.
No. My daughter, her mind full with Cinderella and Snow White, decided to momentarily stop playing to fling her tiny person into my arms for no other reason that spontaneous joy.
So no more snarky Flores comments about errant throws, booted balls, or grounding into double-plays. I’m remade.