Apr 18

Bartolo! Pitches, Hits, Wins

Prior to Friday’s game against the Marlins, the Mets ERA of 2.79 was good for fourth in the NL with a FIP of 3.52, sitting just behind Washington and Atlanta for seventh. Their WHIP of 1.057 was second behind only St. Louis, and as a team, the Mets were striking out 8.5 batters per nine (fourth) and walking only 2.1 per nine (second). The Nats used a similar strategy last year while possessing the best starting rotation in baseball: strike out a bunch, walk only a few, and let the wins pile up.

It helps when you have talent. That makes it easier.

Through the first ten games, Dillon Gee is the only starter to allow more than three earned runs in any of their starts (allowed five and four in his first two starts respectively) while only Gee (both starts) and Jon Niese in his first start have failed to complete six innings. Throw strikes. Get outs. Last six. If it were only that simple, everyone would do it, but the Mets starters have made it look easier than it is. In fact, Mets starters are pounding the strike zone with regularity so far. Prior to Friday, every starter except Niese has thrown around 67-70% of their pitches for strikes. Batters are making solid contact, certainly. The starters had already allowed nine home runs, fourth highest in all of baseball, but the bullpen had only seen 27 2/3 innings, which was 24th (or seventh lowest) in the Majors.

Bartolo Colon (3-0) on Friday essentially followed the same script. He threw strikes (66 of his 91 pitches went for strikes, or 72.5%), allowed one home run to Giancarlo Stanton in the first, and lasted seven innings. He did his typical Bartolo thing by working the corners, throwing plenty of first pitch strikes, and kept Marlins batters off balance through a mix of fastballs and sinkers with an occasional change. Colon even drove in his second run of the season, plating Eric Campbell in the fifth on a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1. It took Colon nearly ten years to drive in a run (prior to last Sunday, Colon’s last RBI was on June 10, 2005), yet it took only one more start to drive in another.

At the time I thought Terry Collins should have hit for Colon. The Mets were down 1-0, had managed just one hit off of David Phelps and that came from Wilmer Flores in the inning, and the Marlins were readying Brad Hand to face Curtis Granderson. Bring Kirk Nieuwenhuis in to hit. Score a few runs here. Up until that point, Colon had thrown 61 pitches in five innings. It’s only the eleventh game of the year. I think I was overreacting a bit. This wasn’t exactly Game 7 of the NLCS here. There are still some days left on the calendar. I’m glad Collins managed the situation and allowed Colon to hit and didn’t listen to his inner me. You know, the little voice of stupid that believes every in-game situation is everything. Colon drove in the run, and the Mets took the lead in the sixth with a pair of runs.

So, anyway, the Mets won their sixth in a row for the first time since April of 2011. Also, newly called-up Danny Muno made his Major League debut in the seventh, pinch hitting for Colon, and lined an infield single off of Marlins reliever Sam Dyson’s right hip. It was a good at-bat. Muno worked the count 3-0 then made solid contact (no pun intended) off a 94 mph 3-1 fastball. Another roster move that worked out okay.

According to Michael Baron over at Just Mets, the following are also true:

  • The Mets have won six straight games for the first time since April 21-27, 2011. It’s currently the longest winning streak in the Major Leagues.
  • The Mets are five games over .500 for the first time since July 13, 2012 when they were 46-41.
  • The Mets have won seven straight games at home, dating back to September 27, 2014. It’s the third longest winning streak they’ve had at Citi Field.
  • The Mets have won the first five home games of the season for the first time since 2005, they also did that in 2006, and tomorrow they’ll aim to tie their mark from 1985 with six straight home wins.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Mets had four comeback wins in four straight games was June 20-24, 1999.
  • Their 8-3 start is tied for the second-best start in club history – they did it in 1988, 1986, 1985 and 1972. They went 9-2 to start the 2006 season.

What Baron didn’t put there was that Stanton has now hit a homerun against the Mets in five straight games, making him the third player to do so. According to the SNY crew, the other two are Hank Aaron and Ryan Howard.

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