Friday night. July 31, 2015.
Following up on my post from the other day, There is so crying in baseball: This one made me cry.
In case you might not have been keeping up, or if for some inexcusable reason you don’t follow the Mets, the baseball news going into Friday afternoon as the trade deadline neared wasn't just what hitter the Mets would get or not get or how miserable was Thursday night's nearly washed away in the flood loss to the Padres. It still included Wilmer Flores' tears.
Wednesday night Flores wasn't traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Thing was, nobody told him. Instead, somebody told him he was traded. During the game. Flores loves being a Met. He's been with the organization since he was sixteen. The news surprised him and broke his heart. He got as he said "emotional." People watching said he was doing what there's supposed to be none of in baseball, crying. On the field. I wasn't watching, I was listening, as usual. Pop Mannion, who was watching, told me later it didn't look to him like Flores was actually crying but he was clearly upset and there were tears in his eyes. I guess it depends on your definition of crying, then.
Whatever you call it, the wonder was that his manager Terry Collins didn't see it and send someone out to check if he was ok. But the real baseball question was if Flores had been traded why did Collins leave him in the game? Which raised another question. Had the Mets GM forgot to tell Collins?
Nope. Turns out the trade fell through. Flores' tears were for naught. Except that they made him beloved among Mets fans. They loved him for how much he loved being a Met.
But then, people asked, how much longer that would be. Was he still on the block? The Mets couldn't be giving up on making some trade for the big bat they desperately need for the playoff drive. He wasn't in the lineup Thursday night and that made me suspect another trade involving him was nearly a done deal.
The Mets made a trade. An excellent one. An even better one than the one they tried to make with Milwaukee. They picked up Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit in exchange for some minor leaguers. The trade deadline passed with the Mets making no further moves and that left Flores a Met going into the big series against the division-leading Washington Nationals, with the chances being he'd remain a Met the rest of the season.
Way Mets fans were feeling about him, they'd have liked to see him signed for the next twenty years so he could play out his career in orange and blue.
Way fans are feeling about him right now, they'd like to see him signed till he’s a hundred and ten.
So, tonight: Matt Harvey's pitching, doing his usual Matt Harvey job of pitching a great game after a series of Mets losses, taking a perfect game into the sixth inning. And the Mets are doing their usual job when Harvey's on the mound of not scoring any runs.
Or almost no runs.
Bottom the first, Flores comes up to bat.
Fans had already given him a standing ovation. In the top of the inning, when, playing second base, he dove for a ball hit far to his left and took what looked like a sure hit away from the Nats' Yunel Escobar. So here he is in the batter's box, with a runner, Juan Uribe, in scoring position on second, and the fans are on their feet for him again, and...whack.
Sharp single to left right through the Nats' shortstop's glove.
Old man Uribe kicks it into gear and motors home. Mets up one-zip. And that may be enough, Harvey being Harvey, and all. And it almost is. Like I said, he's perfect through six.
But Collins leaves him in one inning too long. Harvey struggles to start the eighth. Two outs, two strikes, and Escobar, knowing better this time than to tempt the baseball gods, smacks a grounder through the infield but well away from Flores, and in comes the tying run.
Harvey's gone. But reliever Tyler Clippard does his job and the game stays tied.
It stays tied through the bottom of the inning, as the Nats' reliever does his job.
And through the ninth. And the tenth. And the eleventh. And going into the bottom of the twelfth.
You can guess who leads off the inning
You can guess what happens, because there are baseball gods who make these things happen.
(I'm sorry, I tried, but to watch what happened, you'll have to click on the photo, because MLB.com won't let me embed the video.)
Photo by Howard Simmons of the New York Daily News. Courtesy of NYDN.
Updated Sunday morning: I'm glad the Mets got Cespedes. I'm glad they didn't trade Flores. But the best move they made this past week was getting Lucas Duda for Lucas Duda.
Duda, who’d forgotten how to hit for a while, has suddenly remembered. He’s had nine hits in his last seven games. Eight of the nine were home runs. The ninth was a measly double. A game-winning measly double.
At Newsday, this morning:
Lucas Duda homers twice as Mets beat Nats, 3-2, and move within one game of first place
Duda drove in three runs with two home runs and his go-ahead double, which came after Nationals manager Matt Williams inexplicably intentionally walked Cespedes to pitch to Duda. He has eight home runs in his last seven games and 20 for the season. His last eight hits before the double were home runs.
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