Game 7: Delirium or Denouement

Game 7: Delirium or Denouement

The following is an email I just received from my buddy Chris.  He's a Mets fan.  I'm posting it here, with his permission, because I thought some of you would enjoy it.  (I'm pulling for the Mets)

October 16th, 2003

October 20th, 2004

 

Those two dates represent that last two times that a game 7 of an LCS was played in the city, state, and
county of New York. The
first was a great victory for the New York Yankees who reveled late
into the night thanks to the crack of Aaron Boone's bat and the
stubbornness of one slight Dominican hurler (not to mention the
ineffectualness of one hill-billy manager).
The second was the death knell of an era and the last
gasp of a suffocating curse—invincibility had been shattered and a
region learned who their daddy was, and his name was Big Papi.

 

October 27th, 1986

October 19th, 2006

 

The New York Mets have played only one previous Game 7 at Shea Stadium. It's
destined to be a footnote to the irrepressible memory of Game 6, of
Mookie, of Buckner, of the Kid not wanting to make the final out in the
World Series.

 

In 1986 the Metropolitans came back from Boston trailing 2 games to 3 in the best of 7 series. The Red Sox had their ace, a young Roger Clemens (about to win the AL Cy Young Award), on the mound for Game 6. It seemed all set for them on that night. The champagne was on ice and every bar from Brookline to Quincy was packed and ready to celebrate.

 

Mookie slaps the ball down the first base line, it gets by Buckner and the Mets forced a Game 7.

 

The Mets never made it to Game 7 in 1999. With
one out in the last of the eleventh inning of Game 6, Kenny Rogers
walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded and the Braves won the game
and sent us home.
Those 1999 Mets looked like a team of destiny, from
Leiter's two-hit shutout against the Reds to secure the Wild Card,
Robin Ventura's walk-off grand slam single, and Todd Pratt's late
inning heroics off the bench.
However, the Gambler let us down.  It
would seem only fitting that in the Baseball Gods (who I can only
imagine to be Peter Gammons, Vin Scully, Hank Greenberg, and the Head
of Ted Williams) allowed Kenny Rogers to rewrite his life story that
they would lavish the same favor upon the team he so recently derailed.
It would only seem fair. Right? 

 

So,
here we are twenty years after the last Game 7 at Shea and Mookie's son
plays for the Cardinals (it hurt to see Mookie seemingly half-asleep in
the stands in St. Louis wearing a garish, red cosby-sweater). In 2006 the Metropolitans came back from St. Louis trailing 2 games to 3 in the best of 7 series.
The Cardinals had their ace, a young Chris Carpenter (who had won the
NL Cy Young Award the previous year), on the mound for Game 6. It seemed all set for them on that night. The champagne was on ice and every bar from one side of that Arch to the other was packed and ready to celebrate.

 

The rookie from Virginia named Maine out-pitches the ace and the Mets forced a Game 7. 

 

October 27th, 1986

October 19th, 2006

 

Twenty years down the road how will tonight be remembered?
Delirium or denouement? Will I drink champagne on the seven train? Or will I be crying on the Grand Central Parkway? Will
I make plans to drive to Detroit this weekend or will I be fielding
taunting phone calls from my friends who support other teams.

 

The answers to these questions will largely be decided by Oliver Perez. Yes,
the fate of the team that steam-rolled through the National League in
2006 rests largely on the left arm of the person who holds the
distinction of having the worst regular season ERA (6.85) of any
pitcher to start a playoff game in the history of baseball.

 

Reporter
: Willy, who will be your starter for Game 7? And why?

 

Willy
: Oliver Perez will start, because I like him.

 

Is there any reason for the faithful to believe Willy? Well, yes. Yes, there is. In
2004 Perez ranked fourth in strikeouts and led all major league
pitchers with a strikeout/per 9.0 innings ratio of 11.0 (239 K's in
196.0ip). He held opposing hitters to a .202 batting
average—the second-best mark in the league behind Arizona's Randy
Johnson (.197)—and just a .187 average in 16 home starts. His 2.21
ERA at home was the best among all National League pitchers.

 

Perez shut out the Braves a few weeks ago and has a more strikeouts than he has innings pitched over his young career.
A shutout is a likely as a Trax-out (see Game 3). Randolph
and Rick Peterson know this and I would imagine that Darren "the other"
Oliver is ready to enter this game before Reyes takes a swing if needs
be.
All hands in the bullpen are on deck. It feels like Glavine really wants into this game too. He doesn't want his unraveling in Game 5 to be the last time he pitches in 2006.
In any case, there are too many good arms out there for this loss to get hung on the pitchers. It comes down to the bats and the gloves, to fast moving cleats and being clutch.

 

Will Shawn Green play a fly-out into a triple? Can David Wright hit a bases clearing double? Will he do it going the opposite way? Will the Carloses dominate like they have shown themselves capable?
 

 

Or
will this game come down to the Ghost of Blown Saves Past versus the
Ghost of Blown Saves Present as Braden and Billy duke it out in the
late innings?
If we miss out on the World Series because Wagner hearts his slider so much then he will be no better than Armando Benitez. In fact, he may be worse.
Benitez, at least, stuck with his fast-ball even when it was arrow-straight and getting pounded into gaps, left and right. Meanwhile,
Wagner is throwing off-speed stuff to an injured Scott Rolen who hasn't
hit a high fastball since Duaner Sanchez was still on that scoreless
innings streak.

 

No matter what happens tonight, these Mets are great. They are young, experienced, exciting and proud.
They are New York's team. And New Jersey's too.

 

I'll be there in the mezzanine, screaming until I can't scream anymore.

 

Let's go Mets!

Best of MLB: Mets win in 10th on Yoenis Cespedes' walk-off HR

Best of MLB: Mets win in 10th on Yoenis Cespedes' walk-off HR

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes homered with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the New York Mets a 2-1 victory over the Miami Marlins in the first game of a pivotal series between National League playoff contenders Monday night.

Jose Reyes dashed home to score the tying run in the eighth on a dangerous collision at the plate, and the Mets pulled even with Miami for second place in the NL East. With its seventh victory in nine games, New York remained 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league's second wild card.

It was an exhilarating win for the Mets, who appeared to be at a major disadvantage on the mound in the opener of a four-game set. New York was shut out for six innings by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, but Mets starter Rafael Montero also put up zeros in his first major league start since April 2015 (see full recap).

Martinez's 13 K's, throwing error give Cards win
MILWAUKEE -- Stephen Piscotty scored on a throwing error in the ninth inning after Carlos Martinez struck out a career-high 13, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 on Monday night.

With two on and nobody out in the ninth, Yadier Molina dropped down a bunt. Reliever Tyler Thornburg (5-5) threw to third base for a force out, but Jonathan Villar's throw to first was wild, allowing Piscotty to score.

After Martinez held Milwaukee to one run over six innings, the Brewers scored four runs in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead. St. Louis tied it in the eighth on a two-run homer by Randal Grichuk off Corey Knebel.

Seung Hwan Oh pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save. Miguel Socolovich (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up his first win.

Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong each hit solo home runs for the Cardinals (see full recap).

Royals keep rolling, take down Yankees
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dillon Gee kept the Royals' momentum going with six sharp innings, Alcides Escobar hit a three-run homer and Kansas City beat the New York Yankees 8-5 on Monday night to open their three-game set.

Gee (6-7) allowed only four hits and a run in the latest impressive start by the Royals' staff, helping the reigning World Series champions win for the 18th time in 22 games.

Lorenzo Cain, Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon drove in runs off Michael Pineda (6-11) during a five-hit salvo in the first inning. Pineda then retired 15 straight before getting into a two-on, no-outs jam in the seventh that led to Escobar's homer off reliever Blake Parker.

Starlin Castro drove in two runs for the Yankees, the second in a four-run eighth inning that forced Kansas City manager Ned Yost to summon fill-in closer Kelvin Herrera (see full recap).

Jake Thompson tweaks delivery, offers ray of light on a dark night for Phillies

Jake Thompson tweaks delivery, offers ray of light on a dark night for Phillies

BOX SCORE

On the surface, this was not a very positive night at the ballpark for the Phillies. They had just four hits and lost, 4-0, to the Washington Nationals in front of the smallest crowd of the season – 16,056, announced – at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
 
But lest we forget, this is a rebuilding season and in a rebuilding season the final score isn’t always paramount. So on an otherwise dark Monday night there was a ray of light for the Phillies.
 
Jake Thompson had the kind of start those who traded for him a year ago and those who watched him pitch this season in Triple A said he was capable of having.
 
“It was great to see,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “That’s just what he needed. He needed a real positive outing. I think this will do wonders for him down the road.”
 
Thompson held the NL East-leading Nationals to two runs over seven innings, his longest of five outings in the majors.
 
“He looked like the pitcher that was advertised,” Mackanin said.
 
Thompson’s first four outings in the majors were poor. He was tagged for 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He walked 13 and struck out 13. Those results were starkly different than his last 11 starts in Triple A. He went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
After watching Thompson for four starts, pitching coach Bob McClure decided to suggest some delivery changes to the 22-year-old right-hander.
 
Players are often receptive to making adjustments when they are struggling. Thompson incorporated the changes McClure suggested and found success Monday night.
 
“We just tried to simplify his delivery so he could make better quality pitches,” McClure said.
 
In his old delivery, Thompson started off facing home plate. He pulled his arms over his head, turned and lifted his front leg before delivering the ball. McClure eliminated many of the moving parts. No more lifting the arms above the head. No more body turn. Thompson started his delivery with his body already turned, like a modified stretch. He simply lifted his leg, let his body go down the slope and fired. The new delivery slowed everything down for him. He looked poised, especially after the first couple of innings, and started attacking hitters with first-pitch strikes like a confident pitcher does.
 
Considering he only worked on the new delivery in two short bullpen sessions Saturday and Sunday in New York, Thompson was a pretty quick study.
 
“It was huge,” he said of the new delivery. “Just on the physical side of things, I’m in a better position to make pitches. I took away some moving parts to make it easier on myself.”
 
Thompson allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out three. All three strikeouts came in his final inning of work. He struck out leadoff man Trea Turner with two men on base with a slider to end the inning.
 
That’s another adjustment McClure made. He had Thompson stop throwing his curveball and focus on his fastball, slider, cutter and changeup.
 
Both of the runs that Thompson allowed came in the first inning on a solo homer by Jayson Werth and an RBI single by Anthony Rendon. After that, Thompson recorded six straight shutout innings. His teammates didn’t support him offensively. Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings. He is 3-0 and has allowed just two runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Phils this season.
 
Thompson needed a start like this for a couple of reasons. First, if he had been pounded again, Phillies officials might have had to consider taking him out of the rotation just so his confidence didn’t get ruined.
 
And second, with Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin out with injuries, the team needed to know something was going right for one of the young pitchers being groomed for the future. Vince Velasquez, another young arm, had three poor outings before pitching well in New York on Sunday.
 
“This will help his confidence a lot,” McClure said.
 
McClure then offered a little glimpse into Thompson’s competitive character.
 
“He seemed pissed that he wasn't pitching well,” McClure said. “But he wasn't deflated. We felt like we should keep starting him because he didn't seem beaten. He seems like a tough kid mentally. We felt like once he started making better quality pitches, he'd get better results.”
 
It happened Monday, a ray of light on an otherwise dark night.

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

Instant Replay: Nationals 4, Phillies 0

BOX SCORE

The Phillies were beaten, 4-0, by the Washington Nationals on Monday night, but wins and losses don’t matter as much as development in a rebuilding season, so there was a bright spot: Rookie right-hander Jake Thompson finally broke through with a good start in holding the Nats to two runs over seven innings.
 
The Phillies’ offense was not good. It produced just four hits on the night.
 
Washington got all the offense it needed when Jayson Werth, the second batter of the game, homered off Thompson in the first inning.

The Nats lead the NL East at 76-55. The Phils are 60-71.
 
The crowd of 16,056 was the smallest of the season at Citizens Bank Park.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson had struggled in four starts — 9.78 ERA — since arriving from Triple A and there were questions whether he’d even make this start. But he put together a nice outing. After giving up two runs in the first inning, he pitched six straight scoreless innings, finishing his outing with three strikeouts, the last of which came on his 111th pitch when he froze Trea Turner with a breaking ball with two men on base. Thompson allowed seven hits — four in the first three innings — and walked one.
 
Washington right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings to improve to 14-7. He held the Phils to four hits and a walk and struck out five.

Roark is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA (two earned runs in 28 innings) in four starts against the Phillies this season. The Nats are 15-4 in his last 19 starts.

Bullpen report
Frank Herrmann gave up two runs in the ninth.
 
At the plate
Odubel Herrera had two of the Phillies’ four hits.
 
Werth’s homer in the top of the first was his 19th. Anthony Rendon drove in a run with a two-out single in that inning. Clint Robinson and Turner had RBI singles in the ninth to push the Nats’ lead to 4-0.
 
ICYMI
Herrera is staying in center field for the remainder of the season, Pete Mackanin said (see story).
 
Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (9-12, 3.87) pitches against Washington right-hander Max Scherzer (14-7, 2.92).