The struggling Mets likely would have signed up for an even split this week against the crosstown Yankees, but they ended up taking all four games.
Dillon Gee struck out a career-high 12 over 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball tonight in a 3-1 victory over the Yankees. After taking both games at Citi Field on Monday and Tuesday, they also swept the two-game set at Yankee Stadium. While the format changed this year, this is the first time in the 17-year history of interleague play that the Mets have recorded a season sweep of the Yankees.
Gee was the big story of the night. Amid rumors that he could be bullpen-bound when top prospect Zack Wheeler is called up from the minors, he delivered his best start of the season, giving up just four hits and no walks. His only mistake was a solo homer by Robinson Cano in the third inning. He retired the final 15 batters he faced before manager Terry Collins brought the hook in the bottom of the eighth inning. Gee had struck out five batters in a row at that point and was only at 88 pitches, so many questioned the decision, but Scott Rice entered to retire the only two batters he faced and Bobby Parnell had a perfect ninth to lock down his ninth save of the season.
As for the offense, Marlon Byrd put the Mets ahead early with a two-run homer off Vidal Nuno in the top of the second inning. He has now homered in back-to-back games. John Buck later added an insurance run with a well-placed infield single along the third base line in the eighth inning. The Mets outscored the Yankees 16-7 over the course of the four games this week.
The Mets will take a season-high five-game winning streak into Miami this weekend while the Yankees will bring a season-high five game losing streak into a series against the first-place Red Sox. What the Yankees have done over the first two months of the season has been pretty impressive given the number of injuries they have had to put up with, but they are getting Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis back at exactly the right time.
The Miami Marlins, despite not having technically fired Dan Jennings, are actively interviewing for a new manager. Their latest target is a familiar name: Larry Bowa.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on the coaching staff shakeup with the Phillies and, in the course of it, notes that the Marlins have asked and have been granted permission to interview Bowa, who is currently the Phillies’ bench coach. He has been offered a contract for 2016 by the Phillies, but he has never made a secret of his desire to manage again and has interviewed a few times over the years. Bowa, of course, managed the Padres in 1987 and 1988 and managed the Phillies from 2001 into the 2004 season.
As recently as a year ago it seemed unlikely that Bowa would get another look for a top job anyplace, what with baseball’s seeming eschewing of the crusty and feisty old managerial types in favor of young, inexperienced managers who had just recently retired from playing. But given how poorly that’s gone for most clubs — the Marlins included with Mike Redmond — this could be a winter in which we see a bunch of those old salty types returning.
There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.
But screw him. Seriously.
I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?
This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.
My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.
So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.