Plucky Plawecki shows moxie as Nats vivisect Mets
Embarrassment, History, and Heart on display in D.C.
Never mind the 23–5 box score.
Never mind Anthony Rendon going 6 for 6 with 3HRs & 10RBIs.
Never mind The Nationals plating a historic 23 runs. Or that Noah Syndergaard, the Thor of Queens, left early with an injury. Or that the Mets were just one game away from a sweep, on the road, against the division leaders.
Because while you certainly could have strapped capes to any one of the Nationals players as they rounded the diamond twenty three times today — not every superhero wears a cape.
The true superhero performance of today’s game belongs to Mets position player, Kevin Plawecki. Currently working out of the bullpen as a catcher, Plawecki hasn’t played much over the past two years since. He boasts a modest career .211 average, with 4 HRs & only 33 RBIs since entering the majors in 2015. He’s not normally someone to write home about but on Sunday afternoon Plawecki gave everyone, everywhere, a bit of dinner conversation.
Down 19-5 (yes, you read that correctly) going into the top bottom half of the 7th inning, Mets manager Terry Collins found himself calling to the bullpen for the fourth time of the afternoon. Who would answer the call? Blevins? Robles? Edgin? Gilmartin, Salas, & Smoker were already spent in an effort to stop the bleeding after Syndergaard left after only an inning and a third with an injury. Who was left in the depleted bullpen that could get the team through the next two innings and let them limp out of town? Looking to save his bullpen from an inning of work in a lost game, Collins picked up the phone and rang the most unlikely of superheros, and Kevin Plawecki, who normally sits behind the plate suddenly found himself staring towards it from 60'6" away.
Plawecki took the mound like a grim replacement captain of the doomed Titanic. Looking to just offload as many passengers from a sinking ship, his greatest hope was to just get a few good tosses over the plate and hope they were hit into the gloves of his teammates. And for the entirety of the 7th inning he did exactly that. Plawecki got the Nationals Bautista, Turner, and Werth all to fly out, albeit deep, in the 7th. While not throwing heat necessarily, he was was getting strikes over the plate and left the 7th no worse for the wear.
Unfortunately that’s where Plawecki’s luck seemed to run out.
He struck out during his only plate appearance in the top of the 8th inning. And then was unceremoniously trotted back out to the mound by Terry Collins to handle the bottom of the 8th. Much like a lamb being led to the alter for slaughter, the Mets backup catcher dutifully climbed the hill for a second inning a work and was suddenly staring down the heart of the Nationals order.
Bryce Harper immediately took him deep to start the 8th.
Zimmerman followed with a single to left. A pinch-hitting Lind followed by crushing a two-run shot.
And then Anthony Rendon stepped to the plate for the sixth time. Rendon, already batting 1.000 for the day with 9RBIs and 2HRs, tapped the plate twice and sent a ball rocketing towards the Potomac River.
To their credit, none of the Nationals celebrated as they rounded the bases this inning. Plawecki was able to retire the rest the side and his gang initiation style beating was mercifully over.
There’s no question that today’s game between the Nationals and the Mets is one for the record books. Since their inception as an organization in Montreal, then the Expos, now the Nationals, had never scored more than 21 runs in a game. That game also came early in the season, an April game in 1996 against Colorado. For the Mets this marks only their second highest losing deficit; their largest coming against the Phillies in 1985.
Yet, in the face of an embarrassing performance and a game currently so entrenched in exit velocity, pitch counts, HR distance, analytics; in short, a game so entrenched in numbers — it was beautiful to see some good old fashioned heroism. Make no mistake. Plawecki platooning two innings for the beleaguered bullpen is heroic. No matter what the box score says.
The first inning that Plawecki pitched was enough to make him a team player for the day. His manager called. He answered. Job done. To have the fortitude to then go back out to the mound, get smacked around, and finish the job without showing a shred of frustration? That’s a show of character rarely on display in this day and age.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t give credit where credit is due. Rendon was clearly the MVP of this shellacking. But Plawecki should at least be treated to a steak dinner by every single member of the bullpen for a month.