Clutch Gene, The Dancing Machine

It was an interesting move for the Mets, deciding to stretch out Robert Gsellman for a starting role instead of taking Walker Lockett out of mothballs as some sort of Flex-Seal type of alternative. (Omar Minaya just signed Phil Swift.) I don’t disagree with it, as the bullpen is deep if not spectacular, and the Mets are in desperate need of starters not just for Michael Wacha’s absence, but for the next injury to a starter. And the next one after that. And the one after that.

And if there are no more injuries, then there’s the decision for the Mets to make if Steven Matz goes into Philadelphia this weekend and eliminates the need for a postgame fireworks show.

Aug 12, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (65) throws a pitch during the top of the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The game started at 7:10. At 7:17, it was 3-0 Nationals. Juan Soto hit one to the Nathan’s stand on the Coca Cola Corner (and that’s not hyperbole … it went 486 feet!!!)  and what followed wasn’t a sense of dread, but a sense of “well, what the hell are you going to do at this point?” The starters other than Jacob deGrom are dropping to injury and to ineffectiveness, and the offense isn’t getting big hits. Even though Robert Gsellman played a big part in getting the Mets to the playoffs in 2016, it would be unfair for the man affectionately known as “Discount deGrom” (it’s a hair reference) to sweep into the starting rotation right away and work some sort of magic. But at 7:17, I was preparing to chuck it and watch more of the Flyers/Canadiens than I had hoped to watch.

But thankfully in the bottom of the first, life harkened back to a simpler time: 2015, when men were men, the Mets were good, and Anibal Sanchez gave up 26 home runs in 105 and 1/3 innings. Sanchez led off the game by giving up a throwback tater to Brandon Nimmo, and I thought then that this game would get interesting. Sure enough, the Mets scored four off Sanchez in the bottom of the first to take the lead. Back to back doubles by Pete Alonso and Dom Smith tied the game, and an RBI single by Andres Gimenez gave New York (NL) the lead.

Wilson Ramos extended the lead with an RBI single which knocked Sanchez out of the game, but Chipper Soto got the run back with an oppo taco in the sixth, which meant that the Mets needed to do what they have failed to do so many times this season, and that’s get the big hit. Thankfully, they got a ton of them in the 6th off Ryne Harper (who should have worn 34 just for kicks.) After Luis Guillorme walked and Brandon Nimmo pushed a bunt against the shift, J.D. Davis struck out and Jeff McNeil flew out and it looked like they were going to waste another opportunity.

Aug 12, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) celebrates his two run home run during the bottom of the sixth inning with right fielder Michael Conforto (30) and first baseman Dominic Smith (2) against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

But with two outs, Michael Conforto sent a double over Adam Eaton’s head which not only brought two runs home, but brought back memories of his game winner over Eaton’s head last August 9th. Then Alonso put it out of reach with a two run jack to left to put out out of reach at 9-4, and then Dom Smith smacked a solo homer to make it 10-4, which is a great score but unfortunately also brought back memories of last season when they blew a 10-4 lead in Washington. This being 2020, a repeat of that nonsense wouldn’t have surprised me.

But the bullpen, most notably Chasen Shreve, Jeurys Familia, and Dellin Betances were excellent in their roles in this bullpen game which served to ease Gsellman back into a starters role, and the Mets took home an 11-6 victory to stop their recent bleeding. Even bigger than the win might be the performance of Alonso and perhaps the summoning of Ramos’ bat from the grave. Whatever keeps that clutch gene around for the long haul, it’s time to do it. It’s’ only crazy if it doesn’t work.

Today’s Hate List

  1. Okay, so I think it’s time that we had a discussion.
  2. I know we have previously only done this with Barry Bonds, but …
  3. I’m ready to give Juan Soto the Bonds treatment.
  4. It’s time we walk him. Every … single … time … he bats.
  5. I’d almost walk him with the bases loaded up by a run with two outs in the ninth. That’s how good he is right now.