Friday, August 17, 2012

Game #118: Mets 8, Reds 4

Let's face it: the Reds are one of the best teams in baseball this year. Escaping their park with one win is doing alright. To have your rookie pitcher dominate them for almost 8 full innings is pretty Amazin'.

Matt Harvey pitched the best game of his young career and picked up a couple RBIs as the Mets withstood a Reds rally and took the series finale 8-4.

The Good Stuff:
  • Matt Harvey was even better than his debut in Arizona, tossing 7 2/3 innings of 1-run, 4-hit ball. 63 of his 89 pitches went for strikes and accounted for 8 Ks, and his only walk of the game came against his final batter in the rain. He was also perfect through 4 innings and got more than halfway (4 2/3) to a no-hitter before Cincinnati got an infield hit off him.
  • After going 21 innings without an RBI, Ike Davis broke New York's drought in a big way to lead off the 4th, crushing his 21st home run deep to right center to make it 1-0. In the 9th, Ike had himself another extra-base hit, driving in David Wright on a double to left-center.
  • Later in the 4th, Jason Bay picked up a 2-out infield hit(!) and went to second on a throwing error. Reds starter Homer Bailey elected to walk 8-man Kelly Shoppach (making his Mets debut behind the plate) to get to the pitcher. They may have had some information about his fastballs, but what the Reds' scouting report didn't tell them is that Matt Harvey's got a hot bat. Harvey helped his own cause by blasting a 2-run double to the wall in left center to cap a 3-run 4th.
  • Jason Bay opened up another 3-run flood with a solo home run with one out in the 6th. Shoppach reached on an error and was bunted over to second by Harvey (he can bunt too!). Ruben Tejada then did what Ruben Tejada does best: 2-out RBI hitting, lacing a double to left. He came in soon after on Mike Baxter's single.
The Bad Stuff:
  • As it turns out, the Mets would need just about every one of those 8 runs at the end. When Frank Francisco entered the game in the 9th, his team was up 8-1. A home run, double, walk, strikeout, flyout, single, and double later, Francisco was removed and his team held an 8-4 lead. Francisco himself was now the owner of a 6.25 ERA. I know he's gotten the job done more times than not as closer, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Luckily Jon Rauch was there to bail him out with a simple 3-pitch strikeout to end the game.
Final Analysis:
Now that was a whole lot more fun to be at than last night was. What started off on a cool pregame note (got a ball autographed by Terry Collins of all people) turned into a wonderful game for me and the other Mets fans in the stands. For the shortest of times I thought I'd see history with Matt Harvey on the mound. Simply put, the kid was a mighty riverboat on the Ohio tonight. His line may say 2-3, but he's had four solid starts in five appearances and has proven he belongs in the bigs right now. He's going to be something special.

Great to see the bats finally get going too. I was joking with a Mets fan from North Carolina who was hoping Jason Bay would have a career game against Bailey: "Yeah, two hits!" What do you know? He did! Not two hits in a week, not two hits in a month, two hits in a game! Aside from Harvey, he and Ike were the stories at the plate tonight. Just a fine game all-around by people we expect them from (save the bullpen, but we all knew what was coming).

The Mets escape Great American Ballpark unswept, but the buzzsaw keeps on coming: tomorrow's the start of a weekend series against the best team in baseball: the Washington Nationals (ever think you'd see that phrase?). Then, mercifully, a homestand against two of the cellar dwellers in the NL: Colorado and Houston. Maybe then we can get back to .500.


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