In a game that you lead 7-5 in the eighth but lose 8-7 in the ninth, you've got to have quite the silver-lining detector to come away from it feeling anything but utterly defeated. And yet…
• Yes, that was a horrible way to surrender a night that had been taken back so emphatically, from down 4-0 right away to up 7-5 at long last. But we came back! When do the 2008 Mets come back from three runs down to win? According to Elias, as noted during the Snighcast, never, making us the only team in the Majors not to engineer anything close to a long-range comeback this season. As clunky as our rallies tend to be, it was good to see a couple executed.
• Yes, Pedro Martinez was conked on the head for a how-do-ya-do in the first with four runs, but after the rain delay, it was like one of those old 7-Up commercials in which the showers poured down on him and gave him back a portion of his mojo. Pedro went out afterwards (itself a small victory) and turned the Cardinal offense, save for the mystifying Rick Ankiel — he has more home runs than David Wright? — into Uncola. Granted, swooner that I am on his behalf, it doesn't take much for me to see light at the end of the Pedro Martinez tunnel, but the determination he expressed after the game (“if I was to quit right now, I'd be a coward”) left me with more confidence than his dreadful lines of late should allow. It's not much to hang one's Pedro hat on when the hat carries a size 7.39 ERA, but it beat last Friday's pitch-tipping festival and the Rocky Mountain meltdown the Saturday before that. I find it all vaguely reminiscent of the way Al Leiter stunk up joint after joint in the first half of 2003 before recovering and returning to routinely brilliant form (albeit for a team going absolutely nowhere) in the second half. Pedro hasn't done the hard part yet, but he can't be nearly as bad as he's shown. He just can't.
• Yes, Pedro Feliciano couldn't have had worse timing in the eighth with that first-pitch gopher to Chris Duncan. But Feliciano (and Heilman) wouldn't have been on in the eighth had Duaner Sanchez been available, and Duaner Sanchez would have been available had Yadier Molina not zetzed him on the knee the night before. Maybe there is something to this “roles” talk about the bullpen, which frankly I don't understand. You can't pitch when you're told to pitch? Facing a batter in the eighth is so different from doing so in the seventh? And wouldn't the world be a better place without Yadier Molina?
• Yes, Carlos Muniz (or Muñiz, which is how his uniform has it even though the ñ is never pronounced…like I should take my cues from the back of a Met uniform) gave up the gamewinner to Troy Glaus, but a) you knew Muñiz/Muniz would be Zephyrbound anyway and b) you know that every left-for-dead power hitter the Cardinals have picked up since Cesar Cedeño (as opposed to Cedeno) has done something like this to the Mets. Cripes, Will Clark, ten minutes from retired, hit a home run off Bobby Jones in the 2000 playoffs. Glaus had never done a thing to the Mets before last night. He was due from a cosmic sense.
• Yes, Carlos Beltran is not getting it done, which is why it's wonderful that Jerry Manuel is probably going to give him the finale of this series off. Look what an off-day did for David Wright. For the first time all season, the rested Wright — average up 22 points in the eight games since getting a blow — appears unstoppable at the plate. Is it a stretch to believe one off-day for one player means another off-day for another player will clear out the other player's cobwebs? Is it a stretch to believe the Mets, who haven't been over .500 in almost a month, are in a pennant race because they're only 4-1/2 back?
• Yes, the Phillies won again, allowing them to creep incrementally further ahead, but look whom they've been beating the last two nights: the Braves! Atlanta losing a) keeps us in third place and b) can't help but make a Mets fan smile. We need the Phillies to lose but we want the Braves to lose. You choose need over want in September. Before the Fourth of July, I'll go with what I want.
• Yes, the rain pushed the game into Mountain Time, but instead of intently watching Beer Money (and I'd need a court order to make me do so), I flipped around and found ESPN Classic running You Can't Blame, its series that delves into well-chronicled sports missteps and pretends to take a fresh look at them. I say “pretends” because there's nothing there you couldn't infer yourself if you gave the matter any thought. The YCB I stumbled upon was Bobby Cox, as in, “You can't blame Bobby Cox for steering the Braves into so many playoff losses over the years.” Whether you can or not, an entire half-hour devoted to the sourpuss Braves shrugging off October defeat after October defeat (even the ones at the hands of the one franchise more insidious than their own) was like sitting in a covered section of Mezzanine during a downpour. When the sun shines, we'll shine together; until then, you can stand under my umbrella of Chippenfreude.
• Yes, the Mets lost in painful fashion, replete with the punch-to-the-gut misery that comes from staring at the other team (the whole team) lovin', touchin', squeezin' at home plate at your expense. But y'know what? That was the first time this season, even taking into account the slew of debacles that defined April, May and June, that I really and truly felt awful that the Mets had lost. Not annoyed, not frustrated, not offended, but absolutely awful. There was no meta to this, no running commentary in my head that I'd rather we win but the loss serves some kind of purpose in delineating the depths to which this organization has fallen and thereby we can use this as an opportunity to take a cold, hard look at what needs to be done to clean up this mess. Fudge no, I was just 100% sorry that we'd lost, like a fan is supposed to feel. Even though I can't unquestioningly take seriously as a contender a team that leans on the valiant Damion Easley as its second-base salvation, I was even — Brave-bashing and all — actually concerned we'd lost ground to the first-place Phils. It took me 84 games, but I think I've found my groove again. Me and Pedro, we'll figure this out in the second half.
A very sweet story from Jim Baumbach in Newsday about a very sweet man, the late Jimmy Plummer.