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Head of the Class

All the Mets wanted from Logan Verrett [1] was two things. The first was for him to not be Matt Harvey [2] for a day. The second was for him to do more or less what Jon Niese [3] did on Saturday — keep the pain to a moderate level and let the bats do their work.

I’m the first to answer the bell when Niese needs denigrating, but that’s not what’s happening here — Niese did just fine pitching without oxygen with Coors Field’s famed humidor apparently on the appliance DL.

Verrett, though, is a veteran of pitching under ludicrous conditions and exceeded expectations by a fair margin. He looked shaky in the first inning, as Charlie Blackmon [4] and DJ LeMahieu [5] singled, but then got himself out of trouble, racing to the first-base bag and putting himself in perfect position for a 3-6-1 double play. Nolan Arenado [6] ripped a ball up the middle, but shortstop Wilmer Flores [7] — more about shortstops in a bit — smothered it and fired to first.

Given a reprieve, Verrett settled in, mixing a diving slider with a sinking change and using his fastball to make both look better. David Hale [8], meanwhile, was striking guys out left and right. Unfortunately, his most frequent victim was his own catcher, Dustin Garneau [9]. (Whose name keeps tripping me up — it sounds like some weird mash-up of Justin Turner [10] and Travis d’Arnaud [11].) It’s possible I’ve seen teams score two runs on consecutive wild pitches before, but if so I’ve blocked it out for the good of baseball.

The Rockies had looked wretched all weekend, but Sunday they commenced to play particularly stupid. If it wasn’t Carlos Gonzalez [12] air-mailing throws, it was Blackmon making terrible baserunning decisions. It was all to our benefit, but it was still discouraging to watch baseball played in such a chronically lunkheaded fashion.

For all that, though, it wasn’t half as depressing as the sight of Jose Reyes [13] falling vaguely near balls or running at three-quarters speed to first.

The Sky Fell the Night Jose Went to Miami narrative has annoyed me for years, because it’s a product of fans being determined to ignore both reality and good sense. The Mets were never going to pay Jose anywhere close to the absurd amount of money Jeffrey Loria gave him in bad faith, and that contract was pretty much a guaranteed stinker [14] for a player so dependent on speed. If this weekend doesn’t make the Jose fantasists cut it out already, I give up: We just saw firsthand how age has eroded Reyes from a great player to a merely good one who’s hugely overpaid, and we also just saw him going about his duties in a way that would have had Gil Hodges [15] walking slowly out to his position.

Reyes is obviously miserable as a Rockie and told the Denver Post [16] at this stage in his career he just wants to win. I sympathize and hopes he gets that chance one day. But he’s running out of days, and no team watching Reyes play this weekend would conclude he’s an ingredient in a winning recipe. That’s nobody’s fault but Jose’s.

More impressive was a player in his final years, one whom I’m happy to have on our side. In the ninth, Hansel Robles [17] came on for Verrett and promptly walked LeMahieu. That brought Juan Uribe [18] to the mound for a conversation. It was short and pointed: The veteran third baseman spoke, his jaw bulging, and the wet-behind-the-ears pitcher listened and held very still.

Robles, chastened, got down to business. He fanned CarGo, got Arenado on a tough chance that became an out because of Uribe’s soft hands and calm demeanor, and then fanned Ben Paulsen [19] for the victory [20].

Another win, another day off the schedule, six or seven innings Harvey can pitch later, Verrett showing he deserves a chance to play substitute again and/or help the relief corps, and a first-place club doing what first-place clubs need to do to play in October.

It’s only a day, but each game is only a day. And this day was everything the Mets could have wanted and much more.