It’s dangerous to saddle wins or losses with caveats. Wins are good, losses are bad. You depart from this simple equation at your peril.
The Mets put themselves in an eight-run hole tonight against the A’s, as Zack Wheeler had no feel whatsoever for his curveball and iffy location with everything. (He also claimed the A’s had his signs.) Brandon Moss hit a ball into the Pepsi Porch that wound up bouncing up to the plaza above it, which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen at Citi Field before and don’t particularly want to see again. Then Yoenis Cespedes whacked a three-run double and Wheeler was done as soon as his spot in the lineup came around. The Mets didn’t do much against reclamation project Brad Mills until it was too late, and that was all she wrote.
Except I detected silver linings — or at least aluminum alibis — in a hopeful number of places.
- If you’ve been paying attention, you know Wheeler’s a young pitcher who’s still learning his craft. He’s going to have nights when he throttles opposing hitters and nights when his mechanics are a mess of popping springs and grinding gears. When it’s the latter, a team as smart, aggressive and good as the A’s will do cruel things to him. Nothing to see here but the learning process.
- The Mets lost, but they hit in a fashion we aren’t used to, particularly not at Citi Field. Lucas Duda clubbed a home run. The beleaguered Chris Young hit his third in two days. Ruben Tejada — who hasn’t been bad at all for a month now — collected a pair of hits. Eric Campbell had two, which probably means his exile to the bench is nigh. (Though with Wilmer Flores sent down to make room for Juan Lagares, Campbell’s our only backup shortstop. Yipes.) Oh, and Curtis Granderson had three, which would have been extraordinary a couple of weeks back but now, happily, is not.
- Met relievers acquitted themselves rather well. Dana Eveland did his bullpen mates a service by soaking up three innings. Gonzalez Germen worked out his issues over two innings of so-so work (hey, that’s what blowouts are for), and Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia were solid for an inning each. Familia’s frame was particularly fun, highlighted by his successful duel with Cespedes, which he won by moving 97 MPH sinkers in and out and mixing them with the occasional slider. There’s talent there to be harnessed.
- The A’s are the best team in baseball, but tonight they were also pretty lucky defensively. Josh Reddick made a circus catch at the perimeter of the stands and survived a misadventure in right. Dan Otero‘s deflection turned a Daniel Murphy single into a double play. Moss corralled a popup that had disaster written all over it. Add an inch here or subtract one there and the Mets could easily have had four or five additional baserunners, and then who knows.
This isn’t to say the Mets are suddenly good; they still have a bevy of problems. But they’ve been playing without the little black cloud of doom that accompanied them earlier in the season. That makes them a heck of a lot easier to watch, and to root for. Even after a loss, that seems worth noting.