Ryota Igarashi is a hell of a nice guy: It was his birthday, but he gave Corey Hart a gift — a splitter that hung in the middle of the plate, and which the equally generous Hart promptly regifted, delivering it to the Brewer relievers in the distant bullpen as a game-winner.
Ah well, 35 goose eggs ain’t bad. But 36 would have seemed a lot nicer — particularly if the Mets had managed a bit more on the other side of the ledger.
Yes, the duel between Johan Santana and Yovani Gallardo was pretty great: Both pitchers were able to thread needles, and had the hitters and Ron Darling guessing all night. As the Mets’ scoreless streak kept rolling along, 1969 was a recurring topic of conversation for Gary and Ron (probably best that Keith wasn’t present to comment on the high-kicking Brewer cheerleaders), and this game seemed borrowed from that long-ago year, with two starters zipping through the opposition and looking singularly disinclined to leave the moundwork to someone else.
In fact, 41 years ago tonight Clay Kirby put up nine scoreless innings for the Padres, only to see Jerry Koosman put up 10 in a 1-0 Mets win. Though given the final score, perhaps it’s more fitting to link to this heartbreaker from later in that Magic Summer, one that saw Gary Gentry edged by Ron Reed. I’ll grudgingly tip my cap to the fact that Gallardo got the kind of just reward stalwart starters often deserve and rarely receive: Typically the victory comes with the starter sitting in the dugout looking exhausted with an arm wrapped while some dingbat reliever stumbles into a W.
The wonderful duel at least dulled the pain of that third inning: Bases loaded, nobody out, and the resurrected Jose Reyes at the plate. Bang! One hop to second, Rod Barajas an easy out at home, then Alex Cora grounding into a double play. Or the pain of the ninth, which saw Angel Pagan justifiably furious at being called out on a pitch that crossed the plate at mid-shin. Or the pain of the eighth, with Santana nearly hitting one out (the man was everywhere) but being left on second by Reyes. Or the pain of going from figuring the Mets would find a way to win to feeling a tickle of dread that they wouldn’t. Or the pain of 58,000 more fricking Derek Jeter’s Got An EDGE! commercials. Or if you want literal pain, there was Jason Bay tracking George Kottaras’ drive to left against the backdrop of Kottaras’ own face, as if Bay were going to run into his mouth, and then smacking the plexiglass so hard that the LEDs blinked behind his back. Bay — who’s been nothing short of excellent in left field despite all our doubts — looked more than a little dazed, and who could blame him?
Then there’s the headache of fretting about the Mets’ vanishing act once they put on road grays. The old saw is if you play winning ball at home and .500 on the road you’ll go to the playoffs, but that bit of wisdom comes with a corollary that rarely needs uttering: If you somehow play .285 ball on the road, even a .679 winning percentage at home won’t get you far enough.
Chalk it up, for now, as one more mystery about a thoroughly mystifying baseball team.