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Perfection’s Discontents

The 2015 Mets have settled on an interesting formula for trying to win ballgames:

1) Ask your young starting pitcher to be perfect.
2) Hope to score a run, or maybe two if feeling saucy.
3) Pray nothing goes wrong defensively.

It worked last night, as Noah Syndergaard [1] pitched one of the best games of his downy career. But it didn’t work tonight, and it won’t work most nights.

You could squint a bit and find positives in tonight’s game. Matt Harvey [2] reported for duty to find his fastball AWOL — he couldn’t control the pitch all night and wound up walking five and running his pitch count to 100 over five innings. Not a line to text Mom about, but Harvey did a pretty nice job improvising, a lesson every young pitcher has to learn sooner or later. He reprioritized, showed the Dodgers a mix of offspeed stuff, and departing having allowed only three runs.

Three runs, alas, is more than what the Mets’ offense can match most nights. The team fought back with a flurry of offense in the eighth and ninth, drawing to within 4-3, but Curtis Granderson [3] struck out against J.P. Howell [4] to end it.

(Sign of age: I briefly confused J.P. Howell with Jay Howell [5] before realizing the Mets’ tangle with that Howell came a shocking 27 years ago. Christ I’m old.)

As usual with a Mets loss, that one-run deficit at the end left us examining plays not made — tonight, the grumbling was over the ball hit by Alberto Callaspo [6] with one out in the 7th and runners on the corners.

Alex Torres [7] tried to spear the ball as it bounced by him, then Ruben Tejada [8] and Wilmer Flores [9] got in each other’s airspace near second. The ball ticked off the end of Flores’s glove and wound up as a run-scoring infield hit.

It wasn’t a grotesque flub or ruled an error — in fact, whether gloved by Torres or Flores, it would have been a mildly nice play that brought an appreciative fist pump. But it was a play not made, and enough to beat the Mets [10].

Most nights, something like that is.