A night after losing one of the most horrible baseball games I’ve ever seen in head-shaking, gag-inducing fashion, the Mets took on the Marlins and played eight and a half innings of baseball that was punchless but didn’t make you want to pour lye in your eyes, which is to say it was an improvement. Jeremy Hefner was superb, in fact, outdueling fellow traveler in misfortune Kevin Slowey, and when he went out for the ninth inning it looked like Hefner was going to not only save the beleaguered bullpen but also earn himself a thoroughly deserved and quite heartening complete-game shut-out. Which would have been nice — Hefner’s one of those players you want to root for.
Ah, but this is the Mets we’re talking about. Hefner was doomed. We all knew it — we just didn’t know how he was doomed.
Chris Coghlan collected a leadoff single, then moved to second when Anthony Recker — beginning an astonishingly poor inning behind the plate — let a ball zip over his glove.
Juan Pierre, who is useless except at torturing the Mets, laid down a bunt, with Recker’s throw to third high and late. Coghlan — who, after all, is only a Marlin — overslid the bag and David Wright alertly kept the tag on his leg. But Tim McClelland — one of Major League Baseball’s many habitually incompetent, utterly unaccountable umpires — was poorly positioned and called Coghlan safe.
With runners on first and third and nobody out, Hefner was excused from further torture, sitting morosely in the dugout while Brandon Lyon came on. I like to imagine that right now Hefner and Slowey are sitting side by side in some soothingly dim and quiet Miami hotel bar, not saying anything and not having to. Lyon — who, after all, is only a Met reliever — immediately allowed a single to Donovan Solano, tying the game at 1-1 and moving Pierre to third.
The Mets then intentionally walked Placido Polanco, a straightforward transaction that Recker managed not to fuck up, and pitched to Greg Dobbs, which any reader of this or a dozen other blogs could have told you wasn’t going to work. Would Dobbs work a 94-pitch walk? Club a grand slam that would collapse the Red Grooms sculpture on top of Lucas Duda? Stand aside as Recker somehow strangled himself with his own catcher’s equipment, requiring rescue while Pierre almost apologetically stole home?
It was nothing so dramatic — Lyon’s first pitch was more than an inch from Recker’s glove, which tonight meant it was too far for him to corral. Ballgame.
Right now the Mets appear on course for a 10-152 season, and I don’t know what to say, except that rooting for this misbegotten outfit is as futile and soul-killing and occasionally darkly funny as rooting for Wile E. Coyote. They play a day game tomorrow, which ordinarily would be comforting — get right back on the horse and all that stupid bullshit — but tonight it seems cruel.
What will happen when Dillon Gee takes the hill against Wade LeBlanc? Hell if I know. Hell if I want to know. Perhaps Dobbs will hit six grand slams. Perhaps the Marlins will beat Bobby Parnell on an inside-the-park home run when Lucas Duda and Jordany Valdespin collide and knock each other unconscious, pinning Marlon Byrd beneath them. Perhaps LeBlanc will throw a 27-pitch perfect game. Perhaps Wright will wake up in an icy tub in the trainer’s room and discover Jeffrey Loria has drugged him and sold his kidneys. Perhaps the Mets will have been contracted by special order of the commissioner’s office, with Matt Harvey and Wright receiving therapy for PTSD before being reassigned to actual big-league teams.
You know what? It will probably be even worse.