Why was I going to the movies two nights in a row? What message did I take from, one night after the other, watching two different sets of superheroes battle to save and/or destroy the world? And most importantly, why was I doing this while the Mets were playing?
It’s a tough question. I could take the easy way out, and say that I had to do it because of some longstanding obligation that I just couldn’t avoid, and while I would have liked nothing better than to watch the Mets without so much as a peep of interruption, I had promised to do something else. But that wouldn’t be true. I was at the movies, willingly, while the Mets were playing, two days in a row, just for fun.
(Note: I’m not absolutely certain that my sudden absence has led to our two consecutive wins, but if you look at it, it’s pretty obvious.)
So first, I missed a bullish effort by Thor, culminating in a Flores go-ahead single and a nail-biting Familia save. There was no way, I thought, that tonight would be quite as good.
And honestly, I’m still not quite sure that it was. Both were wins. Both were great, in the way that wins are, and both had features about them that you don’t want to miss.
Tonight, first and foremost, it was Bartolo. Well, to get technical about it, first and foremost came Granderson, and that wasn’t something I wanted to miss either, but in terms of viewing priorities, there’s very little ahead of a sterling start from Bartolo Colón.
The movie ended, and shortly thereafter, Bartolo’s E.R.A. reached its place, after his seven innings, one (debatably) earned run, of 3.08. “Not bad for a fifth starter,” Gary Cohen would say on SNY later — I got home in time for the eighth and ninth — and it’s true, although it makes an important omission: not bad, I would say, for a fifth starter who’s 43 years old and weighs more than most of us care to know.
I saw that when the movie — Captain America, my second time to see it, and well worth all five hours — ended. I also saw that Curtis Granderson had homered leading off the game, and that Cespedes, seemingly making his way out of a monstrous slump, had driven home another run with a single.
I caught only snippets of the game after that, after I split from my friends and began the long walk home. But even the little bit that I managed to see was enough.
Through the window of a burger joint, I saw Neil Walker take a liner off his chest, and his throw home come up just short. I still thought we had it.
Through the window of a pizza place on the next block, I saw Plawecki throw out Hernan Perez at second to end the threat. We would hand it off to Reed and then Familia, starting, at least, with the lead.
I got home and turned on the TV just as James Loney — “Jaaaaaaaaaames Loney!,” I said to myself, because he’s really grown on me — was singling to lead off the eighth. Really, isn’t James Loney just the consumate professional? Good bat, good glove, no drama, all play? Why didn’t anyone else give this guy a chance?
Had this been 2013, and our team bad, I’d probably be in the middle of a thousand-word essay on James Loney right now. But it’s now, and they’re not, and after Loney singled, Cabrera and Flores kept the train moving with a walk and an infield hit. You can’t write essays about all of these guys — eventually you’ve just got to accept that they’re all damn good ballplayers.
And then — Plawecki! Plawecki, again! After fouling off two fastballs down the middle, and inducing an identical number of facepalms from me, and many others, I’m sure, Plawecki finally found the outfield and knocked home a pair. Nothing impressive; a little grounder between two infielders. But it got the job done. And one at-bat at a time, that’s all you’ve got to do.
It was Reed for the eighth, and even when he allowed a run I wasn’t all too worried, because Addison Reed might give up a run, but he’s certainly not going to give up three. Addison Reed is rock solid; it’s obvious, end of conversation, move it along.
And then in the ninth — what a great inning! My favorite kind of inning! A real Metsian inning!
Or maybe I’m just happy that we won. But it was a fun inning to watch anyway.
Lagares leads off with a hustle double. After an ugly Cespedes strikeout, Matt Reynolds — Matt Reynolds! — singles him home, on a ball that, on a worse-luck day, probably somehow turns into one of seven double plays grounded into. Now we’re up 5-2. Even Familia can handle this.
But then Familia fell behind 2-0 to his first hitter. And like a Mets fan, I saw a walk, then another, the tying run at the plate, the ball landing deep in the right field corner, the tying run now in scoring position…before I knew it, we’d lost, in my head.
Then Familia struck out Lucroy. Then Chris Carter. Nieuwenhuis — the former Met, of course, whose name I can still spell by heart — hit one into the shortstop hole. After all the plays Cabrera has made, this one was almost casual.
Easy backhand. Easy throw. Ballgame.
We’d gotten our second win in two days and advanced a game on the Nationals. And I’d only seen two innings of it.
It didn’t matter. I was happy enough for a full game, and then some.