You shouldn't read this recap. It won't do you any good. Tonight was a weird one, and I'm not sure I have the rhetorical skills to convey the true extent of its weirdness to you.
No doubt you're thinking, C'mon, I've seen weird games before. No you haven't. I'm talking weird-weird. Think Captain Beefheart and Olympic Opening ceremony and Eastern European variety show all happening within the universe of a 1930s Warner Brothers cartoon. You know, the ones where animated owls with Pac Man eyes imitate singers who've been dead for 90 years. That's where this game starts.
The short version is the Mets won 5-3 and stopped their three game skid. The long version might require extra spacetime dimensions to explain in full.
In truth, it started out so innocently. For the third straight game, the Dodgers drew first blood, as singles by Chone Figgins and Hanley Ramirez set up an Adrian Gonzalez RBI sac fly. (The Mets should have been grateful he stayed in the yard.) That would be the extent of LA's scoring for quite some time, however, as Jon Niese allowed nothing else in that frame and put up another zero in the second, despite a two-out double by AJ Ellis and a disturbingly deep fly ball off the bat of his opposite number, Zack Greinke.
Ah yes, Mr. Greinke. He came into Thursday's game with 21 straight starts allowing two or fewer runs. That means he's good at baseball. The Mets, you may have noticed, haven't been very good at baseball lately, losing six of their last seven. Things wouldn't have seemed nearly as dire at Citi Field tonight (apart from the clouds, anyway) had the Mets won any of those six games, none of which were started by Zack Greinke.
They didn't win any of those games, however, and thus gave themselves with the Herculean task breaking out of their funk against Greinke. To the surprise of no one, they went down in order in the first. It was considerably more surprising when Greinke labored mightily in the second. The Dodgers righty could not put away leadoff man Curtis Granderson (who is usually thoroughly put-away-able), and Grandy eventually belted a ball over Matt Kemp's head that the center fielder misplayed into a three-base hit. Eric Campbell brought him in with a sac fly to right, as Grandy challenged Yasiel Puig's fearsome arm and lived to tell the tale.
Greinke continued to struggle in the frame, walking Lucas Duda before allowing Wilmer Flores to hit a long fly to right-center. It looked for all the world to be an extra-base hit. Even Kemp gave up on the play, jogging leisurely in the ball's general direction. Puig saw things differently and made a diving catch to rob Flores of a hit, a snag virtually guaranteed to be one of the best plays of the year. He then popped up and fired the ball back to the infield to try and double up Duda, who was halfway to third base when the catch was made. Only Gonzalez dropping the relay throw prevented Puig from pulling an Endy Chavez.
Right after Puig's amazing play, Greinke walked Anthony Recker before retiring Niese to finally end the second. However, Greinke's flirtation with not-goodness appeared to be no more than a passing fancy. He retired the first two Mets batters in the bottom of the third, then saw a David Wright infield single erased when The Captain was caught stealing. In the fourth, Greinke set the Mets down in order. Puig's robbery looked like it would be the story of this game, and a precursor to an imminent Dodgers rally.
Niese decided that if the Mets were going to win this game, he'd probably have to do it all himself. He first took care of business on the mound, retiring the Dodgers in order in the third and fourth and erasing a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth by inducing a groundball double play.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Recker belted a one-out double to right center that even Puig couldn't catch. Niese followed by hitting his own double to almost the exact same spot, scoring Recker, giving the Mets their first lead of the series, and recording the first hit this season by a Mets pitcher not named Jacob deGrom. For good measure, Niese moved to third on a grounder, then scored when Daniel Murphy reached on an error by old friend Justin Turner, who was playing out of position at third base. (Although I think every position is out of position for Turner, except for Pie.)
One man can win a game all by himself, but it takes a village to lose one. Both the Mets and their Dodgers did their best to prove this true in the top of the sixth. Niese landed himself in immediate trouble by walking Figgins to bring up the heart of the Dodgers' order. A grounder to third by Puig looked like it lead to at least one out, but Murphy dropped Wright's throw and all runners were safe. Adding to the futility, Terry Collins challenged the call even though Murphy never came close to holding the ball, needlessly burning his replay privileges.
But then it was the Dodgers' turn to braincramp their way into disaster. The next batter, Hanley Ramirez, hit a pop up just out of the infield. The umps quickly and clearly called the infield fly rule. Murphy went back to catch the ball, but failed to do so when the wind knocked it to his right. Figgins took advantage of the miscue to advance to third, but Puig—apparently unfamiliar with the finer points of the infield fly rule, and confused by Murph's boo-boo—only chugged to second once Murph failed to catch the ball, under the assumption the force was in order. Murph fired a throw to Wilmer Flores, who also appeared confused, as he touched the bag with his foot but didn't tag Puig until Murph's gentle screams reminded him this wasn't a force play.
Hold on, gimme a sec to get my head together.
Okay: It was as ugly a double play, on all sides, as you'll ever see. It was technically double play, however, which allowed Niese to retire Gonzalez on a groundout and escape unscathed.
Despite the weirdness, Niese had pitched well to that point, but he started to tire and lose the plate in the top of the seventh. Five consecutive pitches out of the strike zone resulted in a walk to Scott Van Slyke and an unfavorable count to Turner. The redhead then turned on an inside pitch and parked it beyond Party City in left for a two-run homer. This meant the game was tied and also that Turner must have heard my crack about him playing Pie.
After the Mets went quietly against the first Dodgers reliever, Jamey Wright, in the sixth, Flores led off the seventh with a single that fell just in front of Van Slyke in left, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Righty Chris Perez rebounded to strike out Recker and get pinch hitter Bobby Abreu to fly out to Puig, but Flores advanced to third on the play. That allowed him to score when Juan Lagares lofted a single into shallow right, giving the Mets the lead once more.
Entrusted with this new lead in the top of the eighth, Daisuke Matsuzaka watched Puig crush a ball over Lagares' head in straight away center. Puig executed a Puigian bat flip, thinking the ball was gone, only to see it bounce against the wall for a one-out double. (Puig's mistake probably didn't cost him a triple, but I'm sure it resulted in another wave of pearl clutching.) Then, Hanley Ramirez hit a sinking line drive to left that had trouble written all over it, particularly considering that tonight's left fielder was Eric Campbell. But Soup executed an amazing diving catch, then did Puig one better by doubling Puig up at second to end the inning. That's what we call in the trade Maximum Puig. Yes, Soup...
Hold on, I seem to be bleeding from my nose. Do you guys hear that ringing?
Where was I? Oh.
Yes, Soup is indeed good food. But so are insurance runs, and the Mets set about getting some in the bottom of the eighth. After Wright hit a leadoff single, Granderson belted a Perez pitch deep to right-center and the fence-phobic Kemp. Wright scored all the way from first and Grandy scampered to third with a triple.
The Mets failed to score further when Granderson was cut down at the plate, thanks to a drawn in infield. Somehow, this did not come back to haunt them. Jeurys Familia came on for the save against the heart of the Dodgers' batting order and got Gonzalez and Kemp to each hit long fly balls run down by Lagares and Granderson, respectively. A strike out of Van Slyke ended the game and capped what was either a strange Mets win or a three-hour long interpretive dance to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.
Okay, I'm gonna go lie down for a while.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Curtis Granderson, 15.3%; Juan Lagares, 15.0%
Big losers: Jon Niese, -8.2%, Bobby Abreu, -5.0%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Juan Lagares RBI single, bottom seventh, 22.2%
Teh sux0rest play: Justin Turner two-run homer, top seventh, -30.3%
Total pitcher WPA: 8.4%
Total batter WPA: 41.6%
GWRBI!: Juan Lagares RBI single, bottom seventh