Game recap July 20: Camp Day

Mets 3, Cardinals 2- FINAL

An inexplicable, if now-characteristic, defensive lapse cost the Cardinals the game in the bottom of the ninth as the Mets won their final game of the series with the Cardinals in walk-off fashion after Jose Reyes—who was arrested in 2015 after allegedly grabbing his wife, Katherine Ramirez, by the throat and shoving her into a sliding-glass door while on vacation (criminal charges were dropped, but Reyes served a 52-game suspension before returning to a hero’s welcome in Flushing)—dribbled a single up the first base line, scoring Yoenis Cespedes from third. Mobbed by his teammates at first base and feted by a thin crowd composed overwhelmingly of children, as it was a 12.10 p.m. first pitch “Camp Day,” Reyes’ status as hero of the day was confirmed.

Almost three thousand miles to the West, Orenthal James Simpson—who, according to police records, beat then-wife, Nicole, so badly on New Year’s Day, 1989, that she required treatment at a hospital (Simpson would subsequently be sentenced to 120 hours of community service)—was granted parole by the state of Nevada after serving nine years of a nine- to 33-year sentence for stealing inanimate objects. (Simpson was acquitted in 1994 after standing trial for killing two human beings, including his then-ex-wife, Nicole Brown. Statistical analysis has shown that 75 percent of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave their abusers.)

Before dinnertime, it had already been a real banner day for professional athletes accused of beating women while escaping the full consequences of their actions; it is also known as “Thursday.”

Early on in the SNY broadcast, Ron Darling dismissed the rougher edges of the broadcast while commenting, “it’s Camp Day”; a sentiment, frankly, that could encompass this entire series with the Cardinals. While the two sides traded victories, the losing team has been out of the game early (the run differential for the first three games of the series was 6.5), and neither team seems to be playing for this season. For much of the week, it’s felt like the games don’t count.

And yet they do.

Noted by Gary Cohen, players like Astrubal Cabrera (and, sob, Lucas Duda) are playing up their trade value, so it was still heartening to see Michael Conforto (who is not, Mets fans pray, trade bait this month BUT YOU NEVER KNOW) reach base four times with two walks, a single, and a double. Of note was a particularly canny first-inning walk that brought Cespedes to the plate with two outs (it was less heartening to watch Cespedes continually flail in Conforto’s wake, but it’s all about the moral victories now). Lucas Duda led off the second with a solo home run, his 17th of the season.

Seth Lugo held the Cardinals hitless through the first four innings, but St. Louis third baseman Greg Garcia broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in top of the fifth. While solid through five innings, Lugo lost the ability to notch a win in the sixth, falling behind the first two batters, walking Matt Carpenter on four straight pitches. Tommy Pham tied the game with an RBI double on the next one, but the tie was preserved with two great picks of low throws from T.J. Rivera at third base by Duda . Lugo got through two-thirds of the seventh before the Cardinals put two on with two out, and Terry Collins had to turn to the Mets’ hall of horrors, aka its bullpen. Erik Goeddel induced Jedd Gyorko, pinch hitting for Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, to pop out to Rene Rivera, who made a nifty catch against the screen behind home plate to preserve Lugo’s gutsy No Decision.

Goeddel reverted to the painful mean in the very next inning, surrendering a one-out solo home run to Tommy Pham in the top of the eighth, but Wilmer Flores answered in the bottom of the frame with a game-tying pinch hit home run off left-handed reliever Brett Cecil, his third career pinch-hit home run and first since June 24th. Producing as many runs in one at-bat as Jose Reyes—whose wife suffered thigh, neck, and wrist injuries as a direct result of his alleged actions—did in four.

Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth. Former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal took the mound in the bottom of the inning, and walked Conforto to lead things off. Cespedes erased the Mets’ center fielder with a fielder’s choice groundout to third. Duda popped out to right, but T.J. Rivera poked a two-out single that pushed Cespedes, the winning run, to third. Reyes, who, according to a 2015 police report, grabbed his wife off a bed, shoved her, then gripped her by the throat and pushed her into a glass door, pulled a sharp ground ball down the first base line where Matt Carpenter fielded it but turned to discover that Rosenthal had broken late to cover the bag. Carpenter barked angrily at his closer as he lost the foot race, hopping over a sliding Reyes, father of four (three of whom were borne by the woman he allegedly assaulted), reaching base safely while his teammates poured out of the dugout to congratulate their game-winning shortstop.

Today the Mets take on the Oakland Athletics, a.k.a. the Ghost of Christmas Future; this week A’s general manager Billy Beane publicly admitted the team is in a 20-year-long rebuilding phase. Someday soon the most diehard of their fans, and perhaps even the Mets themselves, will admit the same.

[New York State resources for victims of domestic violence can be found at this link:]

Photo credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports

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