It wouldn’t be Mets if it wasn’t weird.
The Mets went into the ninth inning of their home opener down 2-1, perilously close to wasting a great pitching performance all around. Taijuan Walker was impressive through six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and four walks, only victimized in the sixth as he pitched to Jesus Aguilar with a runner on third and two outs instead of pitching around him, but Walker being aggressive and going after hitters were what made his day spectacular, and the Mets will certainly take a bunch more starts like that from Walker.
The bullpen was similarly effective as Miguel Castro’s pitches were moving without wildness, Trevor May bounced back with a strong 8th inning (his fastball to strike out Starling Marte had some spice on it), and Edwin Diaz’s ninth inning was uneventful, which is preferred. If Marte doesn’t make a great catch on Dom Smith’s sac fly in the 5th, then the drama that was about to envelop the 9th would not have been necessary.
Jeff McNeil led off the ninth, as he was hitting 7th in the order after a day off on Wednesday. Now many, including me, would be incredulous at the fact that McNeil, who has been an excellent hitter for the Mets and has been scalding the ball against the Phillies albeit with no results, would be jerked around the lineup and hitting behind the free-swinging Jonathan Villar. There is consideration for balancing the lineup by alternating lefties and righties with the useless three batter rule in effect, but it just seems wrong to have McNeil hitting so low in the order. It seems like a waste.
So when McNeil hit his game tying bomb to the Soft Drink Section to tie it and threw his bat so high that Steve Cohen had a conversation with it over a beer, I was projecting a little of my anger at the situation to McNeil as I saw him take an extra long look to the dugout after hitting that seed. I almost thought that Ray Knight was going to come out to give McNeil a high five and tell him to shake hands with Luis Rojas and not ignore him.
So Luis Guillorme follows up after an out with a single and Brandon Nimmo followed with a double. (Editor’s note: This is a great excuse to tell those of you that didn’t watch the SNY coverage that Gare came up with a great stat comparing Nimmo’s first 150 games as a leadoff hitter to every other Mets player’s first 150 as a leadoff hitter: Second in walks, second in home runs, third in extra base hits, and first on OBP. So let’s keep Nimmo up in the one slot and keep Kevin Pillar away from there, please?) Anthony Bass, who we were warned wasn’t having a great time as the Marlins’ closer, walked Francisco Lindor intentionally to bring up Michael Conforto, who had been struggling, with the bases loaded. Two quick strikes on Conforto, and was about to be rung up on a third strike …
MICHAEL CONFORTO GETS HIT BY A PITCH AND THE METS WIN IT 3-2!!!!! pic.twitter.com/R1QdgiRQJ5
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 8, 2021
There have been walk off hit batsmen before, but maybe never one quite like this. I won’t mince words here: The Mets got away with one, and the Marlins had every right to be mad. But good luck on that protest you’re about to file with the commissioner’s office. He’s got other things to worry about than to make everybody finish this game on Saturday before the regularly scheduled game. And just taking into account the 17 times that Robinson Cano was called for a swinging strike when he was throwing his bat across the plate because a white missile with red stitches was coming after him, I’m not apologizing for it, and the Mets shouldn’t either. Between that and Angel Hernandez’s existence, we’ll call it even.
Also, I’m fully convinced that the mere absence of the Wilpon family gave us this win. The incompetence of the Wilpon family gave us Bobby Bonilla’s contract, Pedro Martinez’s wrecked shoulder, and Todd Frazier twice. The dark chi of the Wilpon family gave us the karma of Ryan Church missing third base, Luis Castillo dropping a pop up to end a subway series game, and … well, Todd Frazier twice. If the Wilpons were still around, you know that not only would Conforto have been called out on a call that is rarely called, but we would have also had George Springer and his body which is mysteriously breaking down as if he had actually signed with the Mets.
(Editor’s note: Yes, I am fully aware that I wanted Springer. Look, thank your lucky stars I don’t own the team either.)
Today’s Hate List
- Derek Jeter
- Wes Helms
- Dan Uggla
- Hanley Ramirez
- Derek Jeter again