How good are three-day weekends? This one’s off to a pretty good start for the Metropolitans. There was a party going on tonight and everyone was there: the BABIP Gods were chillin’, the defense was in fine form, Lady Luck even hung around for a good spell. And Thor? He looked as relaxed as he ever has, dropping mad game on the whole of Los Angeles. Sure, the offense only brought sparklers to a Fourth of July party, but that token effort turned out to be enough to bring smiles to those who stuck around till the end.
Hooo. We get to do this again tomorrow?
Well, Saturday’s aces have quite an act to follow. Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw provided a study in two contrasting but equally devastating curveballs tonight. Game recognized game as they dueled to a 1-1 tie before departing, although Syndergaard's hair was generally declared to be way cooler. Kershaw’s huge breaker had Mets hitters’ mechanics thrown off all night, looking like the neighborhood drunks lurching this way and that. But those who have been talking smack about how Syndergaard had kicked his massive curve to the curb because of his time in Las Vegas can definitely quit all that mess now. His tight, low-to-mid 80s curve was nearly untouchable tonight, with sliding and diving action on that hammer like Thor had it on a string. He commanded it well in the strike zone, and equally well as a pitch that started out looking like a strike but then took off like it hit a Slip-and-Slide after some ice luges.
No one had much luck hitting on the curve tonight. Thor went to it 27 times, racking up 18 strikes along with 6 whiffs and several cue-ball scratches on 14 swings. Justin Turner managed to throw his bat at one curve and dump a double into left-center to lead off the fourth and set up one of the few threats that Syndergaard's awesomeness would face. But Lucas Duda would then hit the floor, turning in back-to-back diving stabs to his right (so clutch, Dude). The second snatch-catch culminated with beating Yasiel Puig to the bag with a nifty little dance-step by Little Luke over a head-first spill by Puig, all with Turner playing the frozen wallflower at third.
Syndergaard was cruising early on, his only mistake being a change-up that Adrian Gonzalez jumped all over, sending it to the bleachers for the only Dodger joy of the night. But Syndergaard got bogged down in the sixth after committing an error on a comebacker that he tried to barehand and dropped for an E-1. He labored to 32 pitches in the inning as ESPN helpfully flashed a graphic that Syndergaard has scuffled to an 8.53 ERA in sixth innings so far in his young career. After a walk to our frenemy Turner (that guy was everywhere tonight) put two on with one out, Gonzalez rallied while down in the count and cracked open what looked like a sure RBI to left-center.
But instead we got what looked like last year’s Juan Lagares, who got a TREMENDOUS jump on the ball and put it to sleep in his gentle carress. Lagares followed that up with a super-weak throw into second from shallow center, which allowed the runner to get back when he probably should have been doubled up. AWKWARD. This could have ended up being a party foul, but no biggie: facing Puig with a full count, Syndergaard went to (what else?) his curve for his final pitch, which glided and swerved safely away from the slugger’s big cut for the budding ace’s sixth K of the night.
The Mets’ hitters had an equally tough time finding their groove against the three-time Cy Young Award winner. They got their run off him in the fourth when John Mayberry Jr. bounced a ball that boogied between Turner and the third-base line for a double. Kershaw then bounced a ball in the dirt, allowing Mayberry to do the electric slide over to third. With the infield playing back with no one out, Duda unfortunately did the ‘Chicken Dance’ (aka popped up to the infield), feeding the fatalism of all Mets fans looking on. But now with one down, the Dodgers brought the infield in, allowing Wilmer Flores to slip a grounder between Gonzalez and second baseman Howie Kendrick for an RBI knock. High five! Alright.
The BABIP Gods were just getting into the swing of things though, hooking the Mets up with a second run as well in the ninth, set up by a pop-fly double by Duda and a 69-foot single by Flores. (Don’t get any ideas, BABIP Gods, I know you were feeling your oats here). The ponderous Kenley Jansen, who falls off to his left with each delivery, was unable to corral Flores’ dribbler slightly to his right. If he had, we would be talking about another faux paux by the Mets right now, as Duda would have been caught dead in his tracks while trying to cop a feel of third base. But that’s not the way it went down at all. Duda DID get to third base tonight.
I see you, Lady Luck. And I think I want to kiss you right now.
Kevin Plawecki flashed his "fundies" (fundamentals, in Keithspeak) for the win, driving an 0-2 pitch to deep center to give the Mets the 2-1 lead. All that was left was for Jeurys Familia to bag it up, you had to like the way he worked it in a 1-2-3 ninth, no diggity. Hey yo, hey yo, hey yo, hey yo, Hansel Robles looked good (two innings, one hit, three strikeouts in his 2nd win of the year in relief).
The Mets will now definitely be getting a late afternoon start tomorrow, but tonight feels SOOO worth it. Let’s just hope we avoid a hangover. Drink plenty of fluids, fellas. And bring those BABIP guys around again tomorrow. They were cool.
SB Nation GameThreads
* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* True Blue LA GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilmer Flores, +22.0% WPA; Noah Syndergaard, +19.8% WPA; Hansel Robles, +18.0% WPA
Big losers: Juan Lagares, -9.7% WPA; Daniel Murphy, -9.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda's leadoff double in the ninth, +17.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Adrian Gonzalez' home run in the second, -11.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +55.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: -5.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Kevin Plawecki!