That was a brutal way to lose a baseball game. I’m referring to tonight against Cody Ross and the Marlins, though I could be referring to Wednesday afternoon against the Nationals, Monday night against the Nationals, Sunday afternoon against the Giants, last Wednesday against the Reds or last Monday against the Reds.
But then brutal is what happens at Soilmaster Stadium, that dispiriting, poorly lighted, oddly colored den of horrors.
Technically, Soilmaster has a new name: Sun Life Stadium. At least I think that’s what it’s called now. Honestly, I don’t particularly care — I had trouble remembering the Marlins’ park wasn’t actually called Soilmaster Stadium, and that’s just a joke Greg and I came up with at some point in 5+ years of chronicling mostly aggravating things that have happened to the Mets when they visit.
Shooting holes in our own feet is so well-established a tradition when playing the Marlins at Soilmaster Stadium that I can’t even work up more than grudging admiration for the old-fashioned showdown between gunslingers Johan Santana and Josh Johnson. Santana was armed with his indomitable will and more importantly his changeup, while Johnson had that cannonball fastball and perfect location. After he blew away Jason Bay in the sixth, I couldn’t even manage to be aggravated: Bay, no slouch at hitting a baseball, hadn’t had a chance.
OK, so maybe I did admire it some. But then both aces were in the discard pile, leaving various mid-range clubs and diamonds to fumble along in their wake. You knew, somehow, that the first team to make a mistake would wind up sitting glumly in the clubhouse. Given the Marlins’ seeming lack of interest in catching balls, you might have thought the Mets had the advantage — and perhaps tricked yourself into a sense of optimism when Luis Castillo wound up at second with nobody out in the ninth. But if so, you’d probably pushed all the awful things that have happened to the Mets here out of memory.
Last time it was stupid for Jose Reyes to bunt, and he screwed it up. Tonight the bunt was harder to argue with, and Jose screwed up, after which Bay grounded out and David Wright … wait, a minute, you WILL NEVER GUESS … struck out. And soon enough there stood Fernando Nieve, on the way to being one-armed by July, with the porcine Cody Ross on third, his fellow Met killer Ronny Paulino on first, and one out. Would the fatal blow be a bloop hit? A de facto single over an already-departing outfielder after walking the bases loaded? A misplay? A ball lost in the lights? A balk?
Perhaps it would be a ball buried a little too solidly in the dirt to Dan Uggla, one you thought Rod Barajas maybe should’ve got, until you remembered he’s playing with a busted finger and was our offense for the night and forgave him. Wild pitch. Game over.
You probably didn’t guess it would be that, but you knew it would be something. It always is at Soilmaster Stadium.
Next Tuesday, May 18, 7 p.m.: AMAZIN’ TUESDAY makes its Grand Central Terminal debut at the Two Boots in the Lower Dining Concourse. Read about our Mets reading series here.