Apr 28

Gee, Murphy Lead Mets in Miami

From a fan’s perspective, I’ve always found 1-0 games a mixed bag. The casual observer benefits from the expedited game time, zipping through innings as though the teams are late for a party, and unless every inning includes multiple full counts and a scattering of walks the games end just over two hours. These are entertaining. When a baseball game doesn’t turn into the real-life equivalent of a Ken Burns’ documentary it’s a win. Speaking of, if your team wins, it’s a great time. Your starting pitcher was amazing and your guys gutted out a tough fought game, showing some hidden reserve of fortitude by winning a close one.

Losing these games, however, is awful.

Echo above your starting pitcher being amazing, but now your team is offensively challenged. The difference is a single run, but a shutout is sad and depressing and a sure sign of ineptitude. My guys can’t hit!

I was certain it would end that way on Monday. The Mets finished the Sunday night error-fest against the Yankees around 11 P.M., landed in Miami in the wee hours of Monday morning, and according to the SNY crew probably received, on average, around 4-5 hours of sleep. Take it from a guy who has trouble sleeping. It’s the worst to only get a few hours. Everything seems slow, including thoughts and reactions. Take that general grogginess, ask these guys to bat against Jarred Cosart who’s slinging his cutter to the corners at 95mph and breaking off a curve that broke south as though suddenly weighed down with ball bearings and it’s little wonder the Mets managed two hits through eight.

In reality, those two hits came in the second and third innings respectively. Between the fourth and eighth, the team was napping.

Dillon Gee, though, pitched so well none of that mattered. Here’s the play-by-play for the first inning: Dee Gordon grounded out to second. Martin Prado grounded out to second. Giancarlo Stanton grounded out to second.

I’d keep going. Except for a Jacob Realmuto flyout to Juan Lagares in the second, the Marlins, a team well rested after a 1 P.M. home game against the Nationals on Sunday, attacked the strike throwing Gee early in the count and wore out the infielders’ mitts for their troubles. On the evening Gee recorded 15 ground ball outs, but through five, Gee had induced 12 ground ball outs, the one flyout, and two strikeouts. Coming into the season Gee had recorded nearly 25% of his outs via groundballs, so it was telling that his sinker had so much movement and life Monday night. It was great to see him pitch well.

Gee was hitting the outside corner with regularity, mixing in his sinker and change effectively. If he felt any pressure with the call up of Rafael Montero who is scheduled to start on Tuesday you couldn’t tell from last night. With two outs in the eighth, Gee had retired 14 straight Marlins. Then the Marlins recorded three straight hits, scored a run, and Gee’s night was over. He was at 70 pitches. Let that sink in. Gee had thrown 70 pitches through 7 2/3, and he was agonizingly close to his first complete game since 2013. With the way the Mets offense was going Gee would have needed to pitch 10 or 11 innings, but that wouldn’t be a problem. At that rate, he was good for two or three more innings. Carlos Torres (1-0) threw one pitch in relief to the always dangerous Stanton, and the inning was over.

In the ninth, as you’re well aware, Daniel Murphy hit a three-run home run that erased all that yuck from the last half inning.

Look at the grin on Murphy’s face as he nears home plate. That’s great to see. This season has been frustrating for him so far with the bat and the glove, but this sort of makes things better, right? If the rest of the team was napping from the early morning travel Murphy’s bat awoke in time to provide a shot of espresso.

Losing 1-0 would have been frustrating. After Sunday night, I thought it would be nice for the team to win on the road against a Marlins team that had won five in a row. It wasn’t critical, of course, because it’s only April, but these intra-division games are always important no matter when you play them.

Thanks to Murphy’s heroics, the team could sleep well after all.

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