Maeda Looked Mighty Thor

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It had been slightly less than a month since we’d lost a series.  It had been slightly less than a year since Noah Syndergaard had homered.  And before this year, it had been quite a long time since we’d had a player so captivating, so charismatic yet so innately talented, that his appearances on both sides of the ball were must-see TV.

Two of those have changed, and thanks to those changes, the third remains intact.  It’s still been a long while since we lost a series.

Noah Syndergaard hadn’t been at his absolute best in his previous few outings, and I’d been hoping for a return there.  So, when Corey Seager homered to tie the game in the third, then Yasmani Grandal hit one of his own to give the Dodgers the lead in the fourth, I wasn’t happy about it.

After the fourth?  Twelve batters faced, one hit, four scoreless innings.

The Dodgers had, of course, scored some runs of their own.  So we must have had some runs to counter them, mustn’t we?  Our offense must have been ticking!  Our lineup finally started working like it was supposed to!

Well, not exactly, but that didn’t make things any less fun to watch.  When Thor hit his first blast in the top of the third, it was nothing more or less than a stunning display of raw power.  It was a fastball over the outer half, and Thor blasted it through the proverbially home-run-crushing Dodger Stadium air and into the right field seats.  Stat-cast had its exit velocity a few ticks above 100.

We were down the next time he came to the plate, the seven and eight hitters having — completely improbably, in this hastily assembled mop-up day lineup — reached base to start the inning.  Thor versus Kenta Maeda.  Young versus youngish.  Superstar versus all-star.  Free agent signee extraordinaire versus homegrown, trade-swiped stud.

Sure, his talents lie chiefly on the mound.  That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to win this battle as well.

Sure enough, it was deep and it wasn’t coming back.  Straightaway center, perhaps a shade to the left side, the same place he reached, mind-blowingly, with his memorable Citi Field homer.

At that point, I swear, I thought he was going to hit three.  Hell, i thought maybe he’d hit four.  Thor looked invincible.  Put simply, against Kenta Maeda, he wasn’t going to make an out.

He didn’t, in fact, make an out against Maeda, although he didn’t hit his third and fourth home runs of the night either.  But his night was secure all the same.  Eight innings pitched, two runs allowed, a ninth that he should have pitched even though he didn’t.  Two home runs, four RBIs, both tying Mets records for pitchers.  Another brilliant argument against the National League ever co-opting the Designated Hitter.

How can you not love him, at this point?  He’s a soft-spoken behemoth, a laughing Norse God, a master on the mound and a purveyor of Big Sexy t-shirts.  He’s the kind of guy I want to know — the kind of Met who, as we speak, is receiving loads upon loads of fan mail, from fans eight to eighty, wondering, quite simply, how the hell he does it all.

But Norse Gods do not answer letters.

Honestly, though, what more can you ask?  Another series won (or, at least, not lost), another demonstration that our pitching is not to be toyed with.  All that could have gone better, I suppose, would have been Syndergaard pitching the ninth, although we’ve learned, subsequently, that he was apparently removed after eight out of precaution for a recently-examined elbow that, somehow, no one knew about.  It’s a scenario that reeks of LOL-Mets levels of incompetence — Terry Collins somehow claimed to have been unaware that Syndergaard had recently been to the Hospital for Special Surgery for an elbow examination — but honestly, having watched Thor hit 100 MPH on the gun in the eighth inning, I’m not sure how worried I can possibly be.

Back in the wins column, after a loss.  Still in first place, ahead of the all-out Nationals.  Headed to Coors Field, where we should demolish, after we take on Kershaw, who frankly doesn’t scare me anymore, with Bartolo, who should strike fear into his opponents.

As we’ve continually demonstrated over the last few weeks, there’s absolutely nothing we can’t do.  Defense up the middle.  Pitchers hitting.  Strong arms in the outfield.  Throwing out baserunners.  Being in every damn game right up until the end.  We can do it.  We are doing it.  We’ll keep doing it.

Tomorrow night, it’s Bartolo, who frankly has demonstrated that on the right days, he can go toe to toe with anyone in the game.  After that, it’s back through the turn again.

What a group of guys we’ve got, filling the ninth spot in the batting order!  And hell, they can pitch a little too!

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