They say Christmas comes but once a year. But we know better. We here in Flushing get to watch Matt Harvey, and every start has been dubbed "Matt Harvey Day". It's a little dangerous, considering that Harvey can't very well go eight innings and give up one run every game.He can't be dominant every night, and we learned that in his latest start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. But if this is Matt Harvey when he isn't dominant, I'll take it every time.
In this age of pitch counts and arm protection, all you really want out of your starting pitcher is to give your 25 man roster a chance to win. It's clear that Matt Harvey does that every time he steps on the mound. This could only mean that you can have 30 Christmases a year. There can even be Christmas when Harvey gives up a two run HR to Matt Kemp, a smudge on the ledger for which there can be no shame in. But there was a question as to whether there were going to be presents under the Harvey tree this time around. Four main factors ensured that there would be. There are, in chronological order (sort of):
The Bullpen was Halfway Decent:
When Matt Harvey has a quality start by the standards of mere mortals, and not a quality start in his own eyes, other people have to pick up for him, plain and simple. And the deservedly maligned bullpen got the job done, as LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Rice, Scott Atchison, and Bobby Parnell gave up two walks in four innings. That's it. The other good part is that the guys who Terry Collins didn't want to use, Brandon Lyon and Jeurys Familia, didn't have to come in ... even in a ten inning game.
Terry Collins is not Jerry Manuel:
One out, second and third in the sixth, Justin Turner comes up to pinch hit for Matt Harvey. Don Mattingly sends out Ronald Bellisario to come in for the lefty, J.P. Howell. The booth wonders aloud whether Collins would counter with a lefthanded batter. My immediate thought: burning a pinch hitter for lefty-righty matchups in a game where you know you're going to have to use everybody except the other starters is asinine. How do I know?
That's how. And whether it worked or not it was stupid. Whatever is in Snoop's handbook should be burned during a ritual which in some way includes the blood of Jeff Kent. Justin Turner closed the deficit to one run with a sacrifice fly. And as you'll see later, both lefthanded batters would be needed, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that Snoop would have lost this game.
David Wright is a Beast:
Mike Baxter, one of the left-handed batters that Snoop would have totally wasted for a lefty-righty matchup in the sixth inning, came up in the ninth and hit a sinking liner that Carl Crawford turned into a flashback that some would call Post Traumatic Red Sox Disorder. Then, after Jerry Hairston Jr. made an incredible play on Daniel Murphy's foul pop for the second out, David Wright strode to the plate as the Mets' final hope. You might have seen on Wednesday I implored you to vote Kirk Nieuwenhuis into this season's All-Star Game. If you join me, I hope that you would also include David Wright on your ballot. Because if he does not start the Mid-Summer Classic in his own city, that's totally our fault as fans for not righting a wrong that was committed last year. Wright wasted no time, said screw this, and lined the first pitch into right center to tie the game.
The Dodgers Lack In Common Sense:
So the tenth inning comes, and the Mets load the bases on a single, a walk, a sac bunt, and an intentional walk. Up comes Jordany Valdespin, who had pinch hit for Juan Lagares earlier, but wouldn't have been able to do so if Snoop Manuel had used him in the sixth. Mattingly employs five infielders and two outfielders. It rarely works, but it's like pulling the goalie in hockey with under a minute left. At that point, there's nothing to lose. And in much the same way that the team pulling their goalie might have their extra skater contribute to the tying goal, the team that employs five infielders might get a ground ball and get a home to first double play.
But there's no way in hell you're going to get a ground ball when you throw a fastball high and inside, which is what Josh Wall did. Why would you pitch for a flyball when you only have two outfielders? It's like waking up, checking the weather, seeing it's 80 degrees, and leaving the house in snow shoes. It's moronic. And JV1 took advantage of it by smacking one out for the first walk-off grand slam since 1991, in a game I am pretty sure I attended. (Though Robin Ventura might disagree.)
I wouldn't have thought about it with anybody else, but this was Jordany Valdespin. And the above moment was the one that I seriously thought that he was going to go into a cartwheel before being mobbed at home plate. What disappointed me was that Jordany didn't find a way to take a selfie while he was rounding the bases. (Would that have been a "Slamagram"?) I wish he would have done the cartwheel, just because he would have sent all of earth into a frenzy, and somebody's head would have exploded. As it was, Jordany's head almost exploded when John Buck assumed pie duties and almost put Valdespin in the disabled list.
No word on Valdespin going on the DL because of a broken face, or Buck going on the DL with a broken finger. But the odds of that goes up with every walk off grand slam.