Assessing 2009: September and October
This is a continuation of my series, Assessing 2009. Click for previous articles on the Francisco Rodriguez signing, a recap of the offseason and Spring Training, April and May, June through the All-Star Break, and July and August.
September wasn’t as bad as August in terms of entertainment. Any expectations of reasonably-close-to-major-league-level play from the Mets were gone…so with no expectations, one could actually watch games and be entertained by some wins, especially considering we would be seeing candidates for the 2010 support cast, which clearly needs to be shored up.
The Mets started the month by dropping a series in Colorado. However, this series featured the return of David Wright (Somewhat of a relief, since we’ve all seen what concussions can do to a player
The disappointments continued as the Mets lost nine of their next ten, including being shutdown in one of the most memorable efforts of Pedro Martinez’s already esteemed career, and seeing Bobby Parnell suffer his final failure of 2009 as a starter. But that one win was a great game, and in a vacuum, one of the best the Mets played all year-a 10-9 defeat of the Phils that featured 5 hits to start the game (including a Beltran bomb), Mike Pelfrey turning a 4-0 lead into an 8-4 deficit, but a nice comeback by the Mets in the final few innings, on the strength of two late 2-run bombs by David Wright, one giving the Mets the lead in the final inning. It was closed out courtesy of K-Rod, who, by the way, didn’t give up a run to the Phillies all year.
The Mets trumped the Nationals in two of three before being swept by the Braves, then beating the Marlins in two of three (including a nice comeback win in the ninth off Leo Nunez, and a complete-game shutout by Pat Misch of the anniversary of Johan’s memorable shutout on the penultimate day of 2008). But the Mets hit a new low when they were swept by the lowly Nationals, a sweep that was ended on the SECOND walk-off grand slam yielded by Frankie Rodriguez on the year. The end was near as September came to a close.
If someone who missed the whole 2009 season started by looking at the Mets’ October results, they might have assumed the Amazin’s had a good year. However, in the words of Gary Cohen, “At the end of a lost season, a happy bedtime story,” is what this series was. The Mets swept the Astros, allowing just two runs as they closed Citi Field’s inaugural season. John Maine finished up his troubled 2009 campaign with seven solid against the ‘Stros, Pat Misch continued to assert himself as a potential fifth starter, as did Nelson Figueroa, who shut out the Astros to end the year.
There’s great irony in what happened on the final day of the season, in the two complete-game shutouts the Mets got this year…in everything. Nothing seemed to go off without a hitch. It’s one of the most anomalous baseball seasons some people may say they ever witnessed, in which over half of the team’s roster spent time injured, several other players on the rosters were, to a given extent, disappointments, and where the Mets found new ways to lose on a weekly basis.
How did this team manage to lose games? Walk-off walks. Balks. Walk-off errors. Missing bases. Committing countless errors. Running themselves out of inning, after inning, after inning. Stranding countless runners on base. Managing to be one of the worst offensive teams despite the highest batting average in the Senior Circuit. Wild pitches. TWO walk-off grand slams. Thank God it’s over. Maybe we won’t be tortured like this next year…one can only hope.