The little black cloud narrative of Mets fandom has been overdone in recent years — our team was one good swing away from the World Series in 2006 and played highly meaningful games on the last day of the season in 2007 and 2008, which the good people of Pittsburgh and Kansas City would take in a heartbeat. But games like tonight, sheesh. They’re inarguably bag-on-the-head stuff, and there have been far too many of them recently.
At ESPN New York, Adam Rubin passes along Elias’s grim note that the Mets have had the lead in the seventh or eighth inning in their last six home losses, setting a major-league record. It’s kind of a dopey record, one of those “sixth-place hitters on a daytime Tuesday” notes that rock-ribbed traditionalist fans used to mock before the advent of sabermetrics. What jumped out at me was that the Mets hadn’t scored more than three runs in any of those games when the roof began to sag: They’d scored three runs twice, two runs twice and one run twice. If you get to the seventh or eighth scoring that few runs, you’re going to lose your share, with when the other team scores their expected allotment more the stuff of detail than of tragedy. This is what happens when Ike Davis’s permitted activity is fishing and David Wright’s is lying in an MRI machine — injuries that have now followed the usual depressing Met trajectory from apparently minor to indefinite.
Tonight it was hard to point fingers at those we’d prefer to scapegoat, though it is true that Jason Bay did his usual nothing and Willie Harris struck out pathetically to end the game. (My question: Why was Harris pinch-hitting for Ruben Tejada, whom Terry Collins just praised for his discipline and improvement as a hitter?) This time, the key failures came from the players we’ve come to trust. Jason Isringhausen, one of the best stories of this weird season, walked a guy in a key spot. Jose Reyes, having perhaps his best season, let the grounder that would have ended the eighth roll under his glove to tie the game. And Francisco Rodriguez, a model citizen so far and pretty effective on the mound, was anything but in the ninth, giving up a homer to Eric Hinske and a two-run double to Freddie Freeman to cement the loss.
Painful, but of course it had to come with embarrassing ironies.
Reyes gagged up the difference-maker while being cheered on by passionate rooters who responded to the call to make this Don’t Trade Reyes Night. Bag.
K-Rod got credit for finishing a game even though what he did was more like killing one, moving him a step closer to his toxic $17.5 million option. Head.
Oh, and as an additional kick in the nuts, Sandy Alderson had to deliver the news that Wright will be inactive — as in doin’ nothin’, not as in not here — for another three weeks. Sandy cracked that David’s first game back might coincide with Johan Santana’s first start, which is the kind of line that’s better left to sarcastic/suicidal bloggers than it is coming from the general manager.
Yes, Jonathon Niese was wonderful — Niese continues to evolve into a complete pitcher, one you can imagine slotting in as a capable No. 2 starter if he keeps it up. But he’s not going to get far if his teammates continue to score a run every three innings.
None of us are.