On a night when I felt like Gary Cohen sounded and the Diamondbacks played, the Mets overcame the most miserable Monday malady imaginable: the loss of two outfielders, one of whom is very good and the other of whom presumably sooner or later will be.
They persevered to a 7-3 victory, thanks to Zack Wheeler holding it together for six-and-a-third (losing his grip only when I stupidly thought to myself, “He’s gonna get through seven easy…”); Carlos Torres clearly begging Terry Collins to overuse him (it’s April, he can handle it); and Lucas Duda producing the way we wish to believe he could if he was just left alone to hit and not think. It helped that Arizona’s currently playing with its diamonds up its backs, but it takes two to tango. The Mets are entitled to top a lesser-performing opponent. It’s just that it’s been a while since we’ve definitively encountered one.
Gary’s voice, nursed through nine by hot tea and Keith Hernandez’s surprise appearance in the booth to pick up the promotional slack, announced a satisfying result. He said he felt fine except for trouble from a throat that works more innings than Torres and Scott Rice combined. Me, I felt (feel) buggy all over but couldn’t (can’t) tell you what was (is) wrong with me — none of which has shown up in the box score, best as I can tell — but I was happy to make it awake to the last out and then immediately fall into my own postgame show of the subconscious. Usually I hang on every dispatch from the manager’s office, but I figured I’d wake up this morning and find out if, like Old Glory, the franchise was still there.
It is, but it has an outfield problem, and not the outfield problem that was taking shape before Monday’s game. That was when Terry was declaring that two Young men would be sharing time with Juan Lagares as soon as Chris came back. It wasn’t a surprising decree, just a silly one, given that Juan Lagares has been the Mets’ best outfielder, while their best-compensated outfielder, Curtis Granderson, hadn’t really done anything in his admittedly brief National League tenure to earn unquestioned playing time in the land of the shoehorned.
How ever would the Mets figure out the best solution to this ordeal of having too many at least partly deserving starting outfield candidates but only the regulation number of starting outfield slots?
Well, go worry about what you’ll do if you hit the Mega Millions instead, because the Great Met Outfield Glut of 2014 conveniently depleted itself in Phoenix. There was Granderson running into the part of the wall that can hurt a fella in three places — wrist, rib cage, knee — and there was Lagares furtively grabbing at a hamstring, and there went two of our three pre-Chris Young starting outfielders, and out to left for a return engagement nobody booked went smokin’ Lucas Duda, toting his ashtray of a glove, the kind of curio you really don’t expect to put out for company these days.
Granderson probably gets a breather to wonder why he’s not hitting whatsoever and how it is when he finally knocks in a run (going the other way against a shift) he has to leave the game. Lagares seems destined for the DL, which is wise with a hamstring and sad when he was generating the most fun a Mets fan could see this side of a Matt Harvey rehab update. EYJ, whose speed has convinced nobody he’s much of a leadoff or any other spot hitter, maintains his role for now. Meanwhile, the other Young will soon get a chance to restart his season and reignite his career without being seen as the goon who snatched playing time from Our Beloved Juan.
Also, Kirk Nieuwenhuis probably gets called up in the short term. Two years ago around now we were Nieuwenhuead over Nieuwenhueels for this otherwise forgotten sixth or seventh outfielder, which makes for a healthy reminder that nobody’s forever a savior or eternally a lummox in these situations. Duda went 4-for-5 last night and erred not at all between his stints at first and in left. Expectations that the distant precincts of Chase Field would open up and swallow him whole proved unwarranted.
Yet again, Chuck Berry provides the most accurate forecast in town when it comes to baseball: It goes to show you never can tell.