There’s something inherently beautiful about a 1-0 pitchers’ duel. For the one we saw tonight, it was beautiful for both teams.
For the Mets (and for most of us reading this), of course it was beautiful because they won. But the beauty in this for the team and their fans is that this is kind of overall pitching performance we’ve come to hope for since they acquired Trevor May in 2021. This wasn’t a fluke shutout by somebody with a 5.42 ERA. Nice as they may be, this was a shutout by all the main pieces of the pitching staff. It was third baseman wannabe Jacob deGrom, who struck out ten in six innings on 76 pitches. It was Seth Lugo, who has been the most important non-closer the Mets have had this side of John Franco, for a shutout inning. It was May, who came back from injury recently as the most important non-closer the Mets have for the rest of this season, for an inning. And then it was Edwin Diaz, whose entrance music has now become viral on a global scale so much so that it has its own TikTok challenge. The mark of a good pitcher, as you know, is how he wins without his very best stuff. Diaz’s stuff was extremely good in the against the Phillies, but just a little bit off in terms of location. Nevertheless, Diaz powered through and got himself career save number 200. More importantly, he kept the Braves at bay after they swept a doublehader from Miami to gain a half game on the division tonight and remain 5.5 back.
But it was beautiful for the Phillies too. It may not seem that way in terms of the linescore, but it was apparent to everyone watching (at least everyone watching that I knew), that the Phillies were not the same Phillies they have been. Aaron Nola was as superb as any of the Mets who toed the slab tonight. But they also raised some eyebrows making deGrom work harder than the Braves did in Jake’s last start. They weren’t swinging at the slider, they weren’t chasing everything all over the place. deGrom had 10 strikeouts but they made him work. They sure as hell made Diaz work in the 9th, spitting on his sliders and forcing their way on base twice with walks before Nick Castellanos struck out to end it. One of my baseball leaning buddies asked me if I thought the Phillies were better than the Braves. I’m not ready to make that leap, but it was apparent that the Phillies had more of a plan at the plate than the Braves ever did against deGrom. With Brandon Marsh and David Robertson shoring up two of the Phillies’ biggest weaknesses (contact hitting and relief pitching), this is a team that isn’t going to be trifled with in the playoffs, and whoever they play in the playoffs had better take care of business against them because if we have to play them again, I can’t guarantee that my blood pressure is going to hold up very well for those ten days.
Though I’d welcome the chance to finally wipe the bad taste of 2007 and 2008 out of our mouths for good with a swig of playoff victory.
Today’s Hate List
- Brandon Marsh
- David Robertson
- Aaron Nola
- Bryson Stott
- Matt Vierling
P.S. Speaking of Vierling, I wasn’t with you yesterday for personal reasons. But I wanted to throw in my two cents on Friday’s 2-1 loss: I didn’t mind sending Starling Marte from left field in the 9th. Yes, the ball was shallow. But I didn’t mind the chance that Joey Cora took sending him against a rookie playing on a team that makes a lot of mistakes defensively. The throw needed to be on the money to get him, and it was. Was more bothered by the fact that Mychal Givens got the loss by pitching a 1-2-3 inning because of the dumb, stupid, asinine ghost runner rule. The Phillies’ outs were just more productive than ours in the 10th (Robertson striking out Tyler Naquin outlines why he would have been a great fit for the Mets’ bullpen.) Thanks, Manfred.