Apr 17

Lucas Duda’s Big Night

Moments before Giancarlo Stanton hit his first homerun of the season, I idly thought about how far he was off the plate. After a weird, stream-of-consciousness Stephen Dedalus’ like sequence, I eventually thought that attacking the outside corner would work with him but if you miss by even a little . . . bad things happen. Naturally, since we should always be punished for thinking things through, Stanton crushed a Dillon Gee meatball over the right-centerfield fence, becoming the Marlins all-time leading home run hitter.

Oddly enough, I was also really happy how Michael Cuddyer played Christian Yelich’s single down the left field line, keeping him from second with some solid defense. Yelich promptly stole second.

Gee responded well after the Stanton homer, striking out the next three. It felt as though a continuation from Saturday when Gee allowed five runs to the Braves on five hits, four of them for extra bases. That was a rough way for Gee’s season to start, and the very next inning that he pitches didn’t begin any better. It was going to be one of those nights. Not Thursday, however. Gee cruised through the second and third, then allowed Martin Prado’s first home run of the season in the fourth. Well, throwing a breaking ball that drops middle in tends to end in bad things, and this time it made the score 3-0.

Gee’s night ended in the sixth, after getting two outs then allowing a hit sandwiched between a pair of walks to Stanton and Michael Morse. No worries there. Always walk Stanton. Morse is a big fella with a dangerous swing when he’s dialed in. Ask Pat Neshek how dangerous Morse can be when he sees a pitch he likes. Anyway, 5 2/3 innings where Gee allowed five hits and two walks while striking out seven. Not bad. He got a few calls, notably Stanton’s strikeout in the fourth on a pitch that looked off the plate an inch or so. That’s fine. Eric Cooper had a pretty generous strike zone all night, so that wasn’t the most egregious expansion of the zone that happened last night.

Most impressive was how the Mets continued to battle back. I guess they call that resiliency. Down three, Wilmer Flores tattoos a very straight Jarred Cosart fastball to tie the game. Down 4-3, Lucas Duda immediately doubles and scores on a Cuddyer single to tie the game. The Mets then manufacture a run as Cuddyer takes second on Marcell Ozuna’s throw home to try and get Duda (wasn’t happening even with a good throw), goes to third on a Daniel Murphy ground out, and scores on an Eric Campbell sac fly.

Oh, wait, the Marlins tie it at five? That’s okay. The Mets immediately score two more on a Duda two out single, which was followed by a Cuddyer dribbler down the line. What could have been one of those nights turned into one of those nights where you’re happy you stayed up instead of turning to HGTV for the wife.

According to mlb.com, Travis d’Arnaud said, “We never give up. We believe that we have a chance to win every single game. Even if we’re down, we still think we can win the game. It shows that we’re fighting and we believe in ourselves.” So, yeah, I’ll buy into that. It’s early yet, but it’s difficult not to sense a little of that Baltimore Orioles “Next Man Up” magic that happens under the Buck Showalter watch.

Duda continued his extra base hit reign of terror, hitting his fifth and sixth doubles on the year. It was the third straight game with multiple extra base hits, and according to the SNY crew that makes Duda the fifth Met to do so. The others were Frank Thomas (’62), Lenny Dykstra (’87), Rico Brogna (’94), and Carlos Beltran (’06). Duda also drove in his eighth run, tying him with d’Arnaud for the team lead.

The Mets and Marlins play three more in this series, and if I can implore Bartolo Colon to do one thing, it’s this: low and very outside to Stanton.

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