How We Got Our Groove Back

Do you remember — it seems like eons ago, but, in fact, it was a day or two — when all seemed lost?  When it seemed that our luck would never return?  When we were sure that the experiment had failed, and that we’d never be good again?

Can’t you see how foolish we were?

In Bartolo Colón’s return to Cleveland — or one of many, anyway, as it seems implausible that he’s never been back to Cleveland since he left it — was billed as the main attraction of the night.  Throughout the game, we were treated to throwback footage — Bartolo throwing 95, Bartolo weighing 185, Bartolo doing backflips, etc.  It all seemed designed to highlight what a young ball of energy he’d been back then, and what a miserable tub of soft-throwing lard he’s turned into.

And, because baseball knows right from wrong, he proceeded to get the win.  Try to screw with Bartolo; you’ll get what’s coming.

Colón also, with the win, matched Pedro Martinez’ 219, tied for second on the all time list of Dominican-born pitchers.  It’s only fitting that these two unique bodies and minds have this moment together, isn’t it?  Pedro, who danced in the sprinkler, matched by Bartolo, who flipped the ball behind his back.  Pedro, who you could tell was always enjoying himself even when he was too banged up to play like it, joined by Bartolo, who was never quite as good as Pedro but has defied age to match him.  Somehow, you get the feeling that Pedro, should Bartolo overtake him, will be too happy celebrating on Colón’s behalf to mind the loss of his own spot, and Bartolo, I think, would do the same.

That’s when having charismatic vets like Pedro and Colón comes in handy: when you want a break from the nitty gritty daily grind of serious, hard-fought baseball, and a day of pure fun.  For that, it doesn’t get better than Bartolo Colón.

While he was entertaining, meanwhile, it should not escape notice that he’s been pretty good so far.  He’s been pretty good forever, of course, but he hasn’t lost anything.  Bartolo continues defying age, and making fans everywhere happy as he does so.

Behind Colón, of course, was a defense, and the other side of that admittedly unremarkable defense was an offense that finally got going.

We’ve got too many good hitters to keep hitting like this, we said.

We’ll get going one of these days, we said.

Give it some time and we’ll hit, we said.

You’re welcome.

Four home runs.  Three hits for Cespedes.  Walker breaks out of a slump, and De Aza records his first hit as a Met.  It was the kind of game you always seem to get at least one of in the course of busting a slump; an offensive hoedown, an exercise in putting men on base, and then — at least in our case, today — leaving them in scoring position.

But it didn’t matter: we had the runs we needed.

Of course, it had to get dicey near the end, because part of Mets fandom is needless nail-biting and heart-pounding anxiety.  Robles, Reed, Familia.  It should have been seamless.  It wasn’t.

It almost was, in fact.  Robles did his job.  Reed did the first part of his.  In the ninth, Carlos Santana, not to be confused with the still-touring guitarist whom Gary seemed hell-bent on promoting, made up for his shot foul in the first inning with a shot solidly fair in the last.  Reed was out; Familia, for the fourth straight game, was in.

He was coming off a bout with the flu.  Wednesday, he’d gotten a five-out save pitching in his third consecutive game, the first Met to do so since Turk Wendell.  We knew there would be some trouble — and now we had a conveniently non-rested reliever to instigate it.

On twitter, worry was rife.  Familia wasn’t throwing as hard as he should — forget the four consecutive appearances, his career must be done.  Familia had lost his control.  Familia would choke like Armando Benitez.  Really, that velocity was worrying.

And when everyone looked up, Familia had allowed two hits and a walk, and now people were really worried.  But in the time it took to compose 140 characters worth of artfully worried yet comedically disengaged sentiment, Familia had recorded the third out, and the game was in the books.

That’s two wins in a row, and tomorrow we’ve got Harvey, who’s due for a big start, and Sunday we’ve got Matz, about whom the same can be said.  The panic has passed — among everyone who watched today’s game, I think it’s fair to say that our offense is humming along smoothly, especially considering we had two runners thrown out at the plate and still managed six runs.  We’ll hit.  And, based on all evidence available, we’ll be fine in the arms department as well.

Logan Verrett and Bartolo Colón — the two starters no one would ever have imagined, on Opening Day, that we’d utilize to pull ourselves out of a miniature losing streak and back onto the right track.  Well, now it’s done, and we’ve got the heart of our rotation and the momentum befitting such fine young pitching.

And our offense has already turned its luck around — now, it’s the pitching staff’s turn.  And with the caliber of young pitching that we’ve got ready to deploy, that turnaround, one way or another, should be damned fun to watch.


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