If you turned on today’s game after the third inning, and didn’t bother to check the score, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was a tight game in the making. The Giants’ bullpen was shutting our once vaunted offense down, and Steven Matz and a combination of relievers was doing the same to San Francisco.
“Damn,” you may have thought, “where’s our offense gone?”
But you would have been vindicated when we pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh, after allowing a run on a homer from Angel Pagan. The game would still have been tied, but at least you would have seen some scoring.
Then, perhaps, you would have looked at the scoreboard, and noticed what had happened.
Because if you’d turned the game on in the third inning, here’s what you would have seen:
Walk, walk, double, single, walk, double, double, walk, (strikeout), single, single, single, grand slam.
That’s where our offense had gone: we’d left it all in the third inning.
Did we know we were watching history unfold? We may have had an inkling, but really, it happened too quickly to be aware of. Cespedes came to bat with the potential eleventh run, the historic run, if you will, on first. Before we could even think of the fact that an extra base hit could match the Mets highest-scoring inning of all time, Cespedes did one better.
Twelve runs in an inning. Unmatched since 1962, and not often matched in the history of baseball altogether. Unmatched by the bashing lineup of 2006, the threatening lineup of 1986, or even the deep, versatile lineup of 2000. Unmatched by any Mets lineup ever.
Does it mean anything? Very little, besides the fact that tonight, we became, by watching, part of Mets history.
What could possibly mean more?
And what could mean more, by the way, than the contents of the 12 run inning itself? Six RBIs for Cespedes, another Mets single-inning record. Two more absolute ropes off the bat of Conforto — and another in the eighth that could have gone for a hit as well. A deep double for Neil Walker. Cabrera continuing to hit. Duda getting on base. Wright singling, then hitting the ball hard again later in the game, and also walking twice.
Every win seems sweeter than the last, and yet each win is completely different than the last. Maybe what makes things that way is simply the fact that each win is one win more than the last. And the seventh win is greater than the sixth, as the sixth was greater than the fifth, and as the eighth will be greater than the seventh.
Even with the twelve runs in the third, we wouldn’t have gotten to the seventh — win, that is, although I suppose the same applies to the inning — without the six scoreless innings delivered by Steven Matz, who, since allowing seven runs in his first start, has an E.R.A. below 1.00. His E.R.A. is down from 37.20 to 3.86 — not bad for four starts — and his record is up to 3-1 — not bad for April. Where do we find these pitchers? It doesn’t even seem normal.
Gary told Matz’s origin story on the broadcast today, when the game got too dull to fill all the time SNY had. He was a first baseman, who became a pitcher seemingly by accident, looking to get noticed by D3 and D2 scouts. They clocked him in the high eighties. A few weeks later, at a national showcase, he was clocked in the low nineties.
And based on where he is right now, he’s been improving since then.
Sure he’s been through Tommy John surgery. Sure he spent six years in the minors after being drafted. None of that changes the fact that he’s now the second or third or fourth ace in a rotation chock full of ‘em, and since his first start, has pitched more than commensurate to the role.
This isn’t generation K. It’s much better.
I mean, look at it — Harvey’s back looking strong, Matz went today and went about as well as can be, deGrom goes tomorrow, and looks to be dealing as well, and then it’s Thor.
At this point, should twelve-run wins really surprise us?
Sure, our opponent was a Giants team that’s playing like they don’t know it’s an even year, with a pitcher on the mound whose former Cy Young stuff seems to have deserted him. But that’s the point. This was a team that we absolutely should have beaten — a team that we should have destroyed, knocked down, and left in the dust. We’re so far ahead of this team that we’ve almost lapped around behind them.
So what did we do? We went out and beat them by twelve runs.
Doing what we’re supposed to do — it’s a luxury we haven’t often had, and it’s precisely what makes me like the prospects of this season so much. Right now, none of our pitchers have their absolute best stuff — but eventually they will. Maybe, I’ll posit the possibility, right when the offense cools down, and we start winning games 3-1 instead of 13-1. Doing, in short, exactly what we’re supposed to do.
We’ve got deGrom tomorrow; he was our ace in 2014 and 2015. We’ve got Thor Sunday; our ace — or at least, perhaps the best among many — this season, so far. Then Harvey on Monday, our ace in 2013. Not to mention Colón, an ace in various uniforms since 1993.
Gary touched on it during the broadcast — “They just don’t let up,” he said, referring to our pitching. It’s true; we don’t. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner; we’ve got four of him.
Who’s got the advantage there? Coming off a 13-1 win, it shouldn’t be all that hard to tell.