Perhaps I’d forgotten how baseball seasons work since the last one concluded and the current one commenced, but I would have sworn through the first twenty games of 2013 that each and every one of the Mets’ first ten wins was brilliantly uplifting while each and every one of the Mets’ first ten losses was totally miserable. For a sport where you’re not supposed to get too high or too low, viewing the daily results this way can be hazardous to your mental health, particularly when you root for a team whose best hope (generously apportioned) is breaking even.
All the wins thus far have indicated that the Mets can be truly exciting or at least highly competitive. The five Harvey starts and the Harveysteria they stirred speak for themselves (with Jordany’s McReynolds-style ending Wednesday night adding its own piece of flair to the proceedings). Opening Day was a run-fueled festival. So was the first night in Minnesota. And how about that walkoff comeback when we were throwing Aaron Laffey at his diametric talent-opposite Jose Fernandez? Or those John Buck specials when we couldn’t believe this guy was this guy?
On the other hand, how did the Mets not sweep the Marlins and the Padres? What the hell happened in Philly when Harvey wasn’t eclipsing Halladay? What about that frozen disaster of a week at Coors Field? How could they let that game get away against the Nationals last Saturday? And, oy, the bookends of the Dodger series!
Finally, Friday night we got what I’d almost call a reassuring loss. Mind you, there was nothing reassuring about being blanked by Kyle Kendrick, 4-0. The Mets have, save for two of their last fifty frames, forgotten how to score more than one run in a given inning. Not many Met runners have crossed Citi Field’s plate, period, since Adam LaRoche told them what they could do with their five-spot seven days ago. They patiently worked all those plate appearances off Gio Gonzalez in the fourth and then they dutifully took a nap that continued mostly without interruption. In the succeeding aforementioned fifty innings, they’ve scored a total of fourteen runs. Four came on that marvelous Valdespin grand slam, which means mostly they haven’t scored at all.
So how exactly is losing 4-0 reassuring? It’s not. The Mets generated not a shred of offense against somebody who’s supposed to be Philadelphia’s fourth starter, while Dillon Gee has developed a serious allergy to Ryan Howard (where’s Pedro Feliciano when you need him?). Friday’s duel became a dud the sixth-inning instant Mr. Subway practically reached the 7 tracks. As was the case last Sunday, Gee functioned effectively for a while, but then he needed to be gone. By the time he was — like Howard’s long-distance voyager — outta here, it was too late.
The reassurance, then? It’s that these sorts of games happen. You’re not used to complete game shutouts that are signed, sealed and subpoenaed in 2:35 these days (and that was with the lengthy timeout devoted to Brian O’Nora’s pinch between his cheek and gum reportedly taking an unfortunate detour down his throat), but they happen. That’s the reassurance. There are slumps and there are shutouts and there’s no avoiding them. There was, when you get right down to it, nothing about this game that could be helped. Terry Collins rearranged his tepid hitters and they went frigid. Kendrick may have been too good this particular evening regardless. You could be disgusted — as no doubt anyone who encountered O’Nora in his moment of distress must have been — and you could be frustrated, but you couldn’t let it get the best of you.
Friday wasn’t Thursday, when Jeremy Hefner pitched his heart out to no avail (while thousands of nearby residents rooted for opposing pitcher Hyun-jin Riu because being from Korea perennially tops living in Flushing). It wasn’t Tuesday, when you worried about Jonathon Niese’s knee and then sat and sat and sat through the mournful bullpen parade that followed. It wasn’t like so many games this young year that have, per Gladys Knight & The Pips’ great hit from the Claudine soundtrack, gone on and on. It was just one of those dim losses you’re going to encounter across the Big 162. You know the drill: a third you’re gonna win, a third you’re gonna lose, a third will tell your tale.
This one told you to get over it right away and get on with it the next afternoon.