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Blues for the Uncommon Man

One of these days Matt Harvey will have his revenge on the Miami Marlins, and it will be glorious.

One of these days his teammates will stop eyeing him with quiet awe and score runs for him, and that will be even better.

Until then, we’re left with days like today [1], games in which the Mets do nothing with the bats and leave Harvey with zero margin for error, so that one blemish of an inning beats him. We’re left watching them do nothing to counter the ranks of Marlins anonymous (Tom Koehler), notorious (Logan Morrison), rapidly becoming notorious (Donovan Solano) and vicious (Jeffrey Loria).

The Mets had their chances, true, but were undone by nice plays on the other side of the ball (great catch by Jake Marisnick), bad luck (Omar Quintanilla ripping a liner right at Morrison) and by the fact that Ike Davis and Harvey himself kept coming up with two out and baserunners in dire need of driving in.

Ike looks better; I’ll grant him that much. In the first inning he battled Koehler rather nicely, fouling off a succession of pitches that in the spring would have made short work of him, with the butt flying out and the arms windmilling and finally the Ike Face of dismay and surprise, even though nobody else was surprised. That didn’t happen, and hasn’t routinely happened in a while — Ike’s being more selective and making more contact. But, well, he still struck out.

As for Harvey, well, I thought on top of everything else he was another Mike Hampton with a bat in his hands, and he’s not. In fact, he’s pretty terrible. Something for our phenom to work on.

Anyway, the sixth inning was the one to watch, with Harvey dueling Giancarlo Stanton through a thoroughly entertaining sequence of inside fastballs and outside sliders, culminating in a slider on the corner that Stanton lingered briefly to consider before walking away, beaten and anoyed. That was the second out, and it suree looked like Harvey would leave Marlins stranded at first and third. But no, Morrison pulled one wide of Justin Turner (marking the first earned run surrendered by Harvey since the All-Star Break), Harvey hit Ed Lucas, and Solano battled through a lengthy AB before delivering the fatal two-run blow.

Yeah, it was fatal. The second the ball touched down you could hear the air hissing out of the Met balloon and knew they weren’t going to do anything, which they didn’t.

Watching the Marlins high-fiving, I flashed back to something I started thinking about during the Nats series. Baseball, famously, has no clock — you have to give the other guy 27 outs, and if you’ve only collected 26 nothing has been decided no matter what the score, the situation or the hour. It’s marvelous, and one of the reasons baseball’s the best damn game of them all.

But in another sense, baseball most definitely has a clock. The Mets are playing a lot better than they have been, and the teams above them in the NL East aren’t particularly impressive. Still, they’re 3-5 in their last two intradivision series, which is bad not just because of too few Ws and too many Ls, but also because it means they’re running out of time. The clock — the one that supposedly doesn’t exist — is ticking ominously. Fewer games left means the chance of winning shrinks to unlikely, and then to miraculous, and then to impossible. The Mets were already facing that first label, are rapidly approaching the second, and are almost certainly destined for the third. We already knew that (or at least strongly suspected it), and it’s the way the vast majority of seasons end, but it’s still disappointing to be reminded.