I missed most of today’s game on the sidelines of a 10-5 little league loss. As we left the field, the game called on account of impending darkness, I turned on the radio.
“In this mishegas game…” Howie Rose was saying, as I turned it on. I knew right there that I’d missed one hell of a contest.
I’d missed Jacob deGrom pinch-hitting, Bartolo Colón singling, and Juan Lagares diving (and, it turned out, injuring). I’d missed Jim Henderson winning, Hansel Robles failing, and Kevin Plawecki, to quote Walt Clyde Frazier, stumbling and bumbling.
I’d missed Michael Conforto breaking out of his dreadful skid, nominally if not completely impressively. He singled home a run on a seeing-eye grounder through the shift, and also drove one home on a fly out to medium-deep center. Is it the .365 that he batted in April? No, but perhaps one good thing will lead to another, and he’ll get going that way again.
I’d missed Matt Reynolds, inserted as a pinch-hitter for an injured Lagares, singling home the go-ahead run in the eighth, moments after Gary Cohen proclaimed that he was “looking for his signature moment.” He found it. An RBI from Reynolds, not meant to play, and two from Conforto, inserted for Cespedes, who was scratched minutes before gametime. One from Loney, salvaged from the scrap heap to replace Lucas Duda, and two insurance runs from Alejandro De Aza, who you have to think wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity if two of our outfielders hadn’t gone down with injuries.
It was, no doubt about it, our B-squad. But we made it work.
I’d missed Bartolo Colón going five innings and allowing only one earned run, lowering his E.R.A. to 3.27. Bartolo didn’t get the win, but he did get a hit, which, to the fans who stood to applaud him, seemed worth just about as much as if he had.
I’d missed shut-down work from Blevins, Henderson, and, of course, Reed. Reed’s E.R.A. is 1.75. He has not allowed a run in, well, some inordinate amount of innings. His fastball, as it blazes to the plate straight and true as a bullet from a gun, can’t help but fill me with confidence.
A setup man? On top of all these other characters, we’ve got a brilliant setup man? How did we ever lose?
The one thing I hadn’t missed was the ninth.
We turned it on as we left the field, Howie Rose on the radio, silence filling the car as we listened. And Familia, as he’s seemed unable to shake doing, gave up a leadoff hit.
We perked up mentally when Loney picked a grounder at first, although we went down somewhat when he couldn’t get the out at second.
When Familia got the second out, we were on the edges of our seats. And when he ran the count to 2-2 on Christian Yelich, we were ready to celebrate.
And then Yelich singled up the middle. And immediately, A) De Aza’s 2 RBI double became much more important, and B) our mood soured by a whole lot.
But he’s Jeurys Familia, off as he’s looked this year, and it wasn’t yet time for panic. Three pitches later, the last of them a nasty slider that you can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t throw more often, Marcell Ozuna was gone, the game was won, and the series was in our pockets.
So far, since the news that we were a flawed team, and that we should expect the Nationals’ lead to grow, we’ve won two games, while they’ve lost that same number. Tomorrow, we’ve got Matt Harvey, resurgent after seven scoreless innings, looking to continue his newfound mastery of his pitches.
They’ve got Jose Fernandez. And if a lineup that includes Aaron Laffey and Anthony Recker can take care of Fernandez, this lineup shouldn’t have any trouble at all.