Bartolo Colon was not scheduled to start Tuesday night at Citi Field and Noah Syndergaard was moved back a day to conclude a two game series Wednesday afternoon against the world champion Kansas City Royals. Whether the decision was to offer another day of rest for Syndergaard, or move him to get a crack at the Washington Nationals next week is subject to who has the explanation.
Manager Terry Collins did not mind starting Colon. He has been reliable and next to Syndergaard, the 43-year old Dominican righthander has been more consistent than Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, two of the high profiled pitchers in the Mets rotation.
However, Collins and the Mets did not expect Colon to leave the game after Witt Merrifield, leading off the game for the Royals hit a line drive that caught Colon’s pitching hand and caused swelling. From there, it was a well earned Mets 2-1 win that snapped a three-game losing streak.
So, this was not about vindication and beating the Royals who won their world championship on November 1st at Citi Field. It was a moral win for Colon, who was evaluated with a contusion to the right thumb and could miss his next start.
It concluded with a needed win by the Mets, one that can hopefully springboard them with the return of catcher Travis d’Arnaud form the disabled list. And it was the bullpen that worked 8.2 innings and allowed one run earned on seven hits.
It was about Hansel Robles and a career high 3.2 innings, allowing one run earned on five hits in earning his first win. He struck out six and walked one. It was about Erik Goeddel with two scoreless innings and one hit. It was about Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed with two more scoreless innings of relief, and Jeurys Familia who converted his 23rd save of the season and remained perfect with those opportunities.
“Those are the kind of games that I really believe you should grow from, Mets manager Terry Collins said. “To hang on in that situation, that was a great outing by every guy out of the pen.”
This was a Mets team that needed a lift after getting swept by the lowly Atlanta Braves. They did not score runs or get many hits over the weekend before the day off Monday. Collins was looking at some type of shakeups, and there are all types of reports that an old friend, Jose Reyes has an imminent return coming to Citi Field.
But, for now, Collins has to depend on what he has. Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes hit home run balls, bringing the Mets total to 92 through 69 games. And it was that bullpen that had this team raving and ranting with confidence as Colon nursed his wound.
“That’s a tremendous job they did tonight, especially for Robles,” Colon said through a translator. “I know he was definitely caught off guard with having to run out there, kind of at the spur of the moment but it’s great to see them have those kind of opportunities and shine like that.”
“I was a little tired but not too exhausted,” Robles also said through an interpreter. He is one of three Dominican pitchers out of the pen that also include Antonio Bastardo and of course Familia.
Said Familia about Robles, “It’s good for him , good for us. He’s got pretty good stuff. With his stuff he can pitch in any situation with a fastball, slider. For us this is pretty important this win. We lost three games in a row. Today is something good for us because we know we can play better.”
Familia has been there coming in some tough situations. Early in his career when he was first called up by the Mets, it was a starting role before becoming one of the elite closers in the game. Perhaps Robles is still finding himself and a win that was earned will give him and this team more confidence.
“You definitely know, want to make sure we secure that one because we earned it,” Blevins said. “That would have been a heartbreaker to lose.” The bullpen coming into the season has been one of the major positive points for the Mets and after this night how can they not be more assured that they can do the job?
Said Goeddel: “You’re prepared to go out there and keep pitching and get some outs. The whole bullpen going out there doing their job, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Cabrera said, he has seen a lot of things in the game over the years. The unexpected is one of them, and on this night when Bartolo Colon was not supposed to pitch, he leaves a game after facing one Kansas City Royal. Yes, the Mets stepped up and got that earned win.
The bullpen did their job. And if a team needed a boost like they did, a win like this one was the way to do it.