Juan, we’re just as surprised as you are that you ended up on 2nd base. Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
If you see Juan Nicasio today, pat him on the back. He singlehandedly won yesterday’s game. Yeah, the final score was 7-4. But Nicasio didn’t surrender any of those runs; in fact, he held the Mets to a 3-hit shutout over his 7 innings pitched. And he drove in 3 runs himself, which turned out to be the difference in the game. He deserves that pat on the back.
Things did not start off well, with a Juan Lagares lead-off double to deep left center. It looked like maybe Nicasio was going to be fighting his command issues again. He did get himself into some deep counts, and his ball-strike ratio (39:56) was not great. But from the 3rd through the 6th innings he had no baserunners besides a patient Eric Young Jr, who drew a walk on 5 pitches. Other than a few loud outs, the Mets went quietly.
Nicasio at the plate was a sight to behold. In the 2nd inning, he came up to bat with 2 outs and runners on the corners. The Rockies were winning 1-0 thanks to a Carlos Gonzalez solo shot. On a 1-1 count, Nicasio roped a Bartolo Colon fastball into the right field corner. Both runners scored, but first base coach Eric Young wisely held Nicasio to a single. No sense sending another pitcher to the DL thanks to a base running snafu. Charlie Blackmon came to the plate and a passed ball allowed Nicasio to advance to 2nd. “Advance” is a term I use loosely; he certainly reached the base, but looked pretty confused in the doing. It was comical. And just part of what happens when you’re watching the Mets. Travis d’Arnaud‘s throw the 2nd skipped into center, and any other runner would have gone to 3rd, but Nicasio just stood there. That’s okay. He had done his part already. And later, he hit a sac fly that scored Wilin Rosario. A one-man wrecking crew, as they say.
Other contributors included Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Corey Dickerson, who each drove in a run. Arenado, now on a 21-game hitting streak, also made a spectacular defensive play, but you already knew that, because he does that every day. Troy Tulowitzki was deft in the field as well, laying out to snag a line drive and then doubling the runner of 2nd. No one in the starting lineup went hitless except Rosario, who was back after a few days off nursing a hand injury. He didn’t look especially uncomfortable at the plate, but he may need some time to get back into the groove. Cargo was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the 4th, by all accounts because of a jammed finger. I wondered if his knee was bothering him again, because he came up a little short trying to field Lagares’s double, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Brandon Barnes made some decent catches in right once Cargo went out, so no real harm done to this game anyway.
The person who failed and failed and failed some more was Chad Bettis, who I have to think was only called up because there is not one extra reliever in Colorado Springs. He has been ten kinds of bad this season, and yesterday he faced a Mets lineup that had been completely nonfunctional, and he surrendered 4 runs on 4 hits in 2 innings. It made Nicasio’s performance shine all the brighter, but it also made me more sure than ever that Bettis does not belong with the big league club. I’ve never really seen anything from him that makes me think he does. I know there are those who still believe in him, and I would rather those people turn out to be right, but I’m just entirely underwhelmed. I hope we don’t see him again except under the most dire circumstances.
Be of good cheer Rockies fans! The unreliable Nicasio was triumphant last night, and so was our team. We can be happy with that.