Welcome to the 14th installment of our umpteen-part series, Better Know A Walkoff. Today: the 14th walkoff loss the Mets have suffered at the hands of the Florida/Miami Marlins since the founding of Faith and Fear in Flushing in 2005.
The fightin’ 14th!
Here comes Josh Willingham to pinch-hit. Wagner rears back and fires and…oops.
[W]atching Willie mismanage his bullpen Thursday night has put me on the other side of Randolph ridge. Strapped as he was for closers, how he could squander Feliciano on a single batter and then haul out Sosa after Sosa had been heroic for two innings the night before defied belief. When he was lucky enough to escape with only a tie, how he could expect Sosa to defy his own tired right arm and track record — Randolph had a front row seat for Brenly and Kim and the ’01 World Series — is unfathomable. It would strain credulity in May. To pull this move/nonmove on September 20 when it’s a 7-6 final in Washington and it’s no longer 7-4 in Miami…infuckingcredible.
Or April 1, 2008?
Matt Wise may or may not throw more meatballs to indifferently skilled hitters. Ryan Church may or may not give away more at-bats by pressing against relievers who’d shown themselves constitutionally unable to start every hitter with anything other than a 3-0 count.
Or August 30, 2008?
Forfeit? Not even try? Wouldn’t not showing up at the ballpark and automatically losing 9-0 be more embarrassing than letting a three-run lead slip away and going down 4-3 in the ninth?
Or April 10, 2009?
A two-out bunt, a bloop and a sharp single that went against the defense for starters; an infield single, walk and another sharp single for enders. Utterly and hideously familiar.
Or May 13, 2010?
That was a brutal way to lose a baseball game. I’m referring to tonight against Cody Ross and the Marlins…[b]ut then brutal is what happens at Soilmaster Stadium, that dispiriting, poorly lighted oddly colored den of horrors.
Or June 29, 2010?
Uggla’s ball eludes Reyes. Jesus Feliciano, in for a not completely well Pagan by the ninth, rushes it, picks it up and fires it to the plate. Cantu rounds third not looking a whole lot faster than Barajas, but he doesn’t have to be particularly speedy. Feliciano gives it one of those throws that leaves a player’s body on the ground, which is admirable but is usually futile. It wasn’t one Feliciano’s fault that for the first time in 2010 the other Feliciano gave up a ninth-inning run. It’s not either Feliciano’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s that Expo residue combined with those loathsome Marlins.
Or May 11, 2012?
Does it sound familiar that the Mets clawed back in thrilling fashion, only to spit the bit defensively and be undone by a Marlins rally? I don’t want to go back and look at how many times this has happened before, because it will just make me mad. But if memory serves I remember about 53,299 games at Soilmaster that ended with the Mets undone by little bloops, or infield hits, or HBPs, or any other variety of wretchedness that in retrospect seemed inevitable.
Or May 13, 2012?
The bottom of the ninth was a slow-motion train wreck, ended definitively and by then somewhat mercifully by something very loud and very fast.
Or October 2, 2012?
The Mets got the score to 3-3. They couldn’t do more than that, however, and eventually the Marlins — via a nostalgic Jose Reyes triple, a mystifying Jordany Valdespin vapor lock and a redemptive single from golden sombreroan Donovan Solano — skewered Collin McHugh in the eleventh and that was that for Game 161.
Or April 29, 2013?
As it gets later, a war of attrition sets in, even if both sides in this particular fifteen-inning theater of the dispiriting ran short on supplies, rations and vital ammunition fairly early. When the innings pile up, it’s not a matter of who’s better. It’s about who finds a way to win. Or in the case of the Mets versus Marlins, a way to lose. And the Mets somehow found it against an opponent whose stated business plan is to shed itself of assets. They only have one left of any note and he went out with an injury in the tenth. Bereft of Giancarlo Stanton for the final five innings, Miami brought to bear only the curse of Greg Dobbs and…I know, that’s usually enough, but c’mon — they’re the Marlins. Though I imagine wherever a hardy band of Marlin faithful gather, the thought process across the many hours this game took was likely “c’mon — they’re the Mets.”
Or April 30, 2013?
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.
Or May 5, 2014?
The bat lands in the hands of Casey McGehee, who makes optimal use of the superfluous letters in his last name. McGehee was the Marlin who hung the ‘E’ on Quintanilla in the eighth. Now, in the ninth, he banks an ‘H’ off Germen’s leg and into right field. (To be fair, it was ticketed for center if Gonzalez hadn’t put a limb in its path.) Yelich comes around to score and the Marlins hug and frolic and shower and change into collared shirts and receive VIP treatment at Marlins Park’s glamorous Clevelander night club where they dance the night away in triumph.
So you know how it works, in general.
On Wednesday, May 7, it worked like this: Zack Wheeler pitched very well, particularly in his final inning of action, the sixth. If the Mets had been ahead or had come back to win it, we’d look back on how Wheeler squirmed out of two jams — first and second via an around-the-horn DP and first and third on a grounder to first — and earned another stripe on his way to his next pay grade. Except it was 0-0 through six, since Tom Koehler was in total command of Mets hitters. Or Mets hitters had long before surrendered to Tom Koehler. Good pitching stops good hitting, and the Marlins came into this series packing good pitching. What it did to non-existent hitting was unspeakable.
Jeurys Familia was perfect in the seventh and Carlos Torres was the same in the eighth, but once Steve Cishek picked up for Koehler in the ninth and retired the top of the Met order (as if it matters where any of the ohfer gang hits), it was obvious times thirteen what was going to happen in the Marlins’ last at-bat.
Make it obvious times fourteen.
Did Torres have to give up a leadoff single to Giancarlo Stanton? I mean was it preordained? It was certainly precedented. The walk that followed to Casey McGehee…the fly to right that moved Stanton to third…the folly of Farnsworth…the deep enough ball Juan Lagares caught from Marcel Ozuna in right-center, the one that arrived near home and made it deceptively close because Stanton came down with a case of the Murphy-Pagans and tagged up indiscriminately…the corralling of the throw Anthony Recker attempted as Stanton slid…the ball trickling away as Stanton was correctly ruled safe…did all of that have to unfold? Did the Marlins have to walkoff all over the Mets yet again?
Apparently. Can’t say we haven’t come to expect it.
The Mets, who were briefly touted as one of the zippy surprises of 2014, are back under .500 after this 2-6 journey into West Oblivion and South Futility. The Marlins are now the darlin’s of the smart set. It’s a long season, so who knows what fortunes await either of them? The real (or “true”) Mets probably weren’t the 0-3 freeze kings who exhibited horrible stage fright when the curtain was lifted on the new year, yet they sure as shootin’ weren’t the 15-8 revivalists the “See?” Brigade — “See? See? They’re better than you thought!” — wished to puff up. They’re not necessarily the team that loses six of seven at a clip, either. Also, David Wright has a real good shot of increasing his season’s home run total from one to more than one, though it occurs to me that if Bobby Parnell hadn’t blown that save on Opening Day, the Captain’s lone longball wouldn’t have been launched in the tenth inning and David wouldn’t have any yet.
They couldn’t pitch in Denver. They couldn’t hit in Miami. Throw it all into a blender, designate a deserving scapegoat or two for assignment and you wind up pouring yourself a tall glass of mediocrity, which is more or less the best you could hope for in the short term. We probably figured that out in March, which doesn’t signal the end of the world, only a continuation of what was coming all along. There’ll likely be quite a bit of blending the worst we anticipated with a few not so unpleasant surprises.
Even mediocre products have their charms, but good luck putting that in a letter and getting someone to cognizantly sign his name to it.
I took part in a little Mets fan group therapy Wednesday night on the Rising Apple podcast. Listen here and heal thyself.