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Not Emotionally Tall Enough for This Attraction

That’s what I was thinking in the 10th inning, with the Mets trying everything in their bag of tricks to keep the Braves from winning the game and kicking them — let’s hope temporarily — out of the second wild-card spot. I’m not sure I’m emotionally tall enough to ride this attraction.

In the early going, Saturday night’s game looked like it would be another blissful stop on the Mets’ suddenly magical journey. In the first, with one out and a runner on first, the Braves pulled off the remarkable feat of inducing three consecutive double-play balls and converting them into two enemy runs. They made errors, they didn’t challenge when they had a case, they did everything but dip the game in gilt and hand it over.

Unfortunately, they weren’t feeling so generous after that. Former Met farmhand John Gant [1] pitched well despite being treated shabbily by his teammates, and Bartolo Colon [2] was imperturbable as always but not untouchable.

Still, all seemed well: in the fifth, with the score tied at 2-2, Yoenis Cespedes [3] connected. At the moment of contact I wasn’t sure the ball was out, but my opinion was less important than Cespy’s. He went into a classic slugger’s Cadillac trot as the ball sailed into the night, promising happy endings and a Sunday bounce in our stride.

But then it always feels that way during a walk-on-water winning streak, up to the moment everything changes.

Matt Kemp [4] retied the game with a bolt into the stands that Cespedes barely bothered looking at, and then it was a battle of the bullpens, with first blink determining the winner.

Not to kick the hornets’ nest, but Terry Collins [5] detractors have what strikes me as evidence for the prosecution: with two outs in the eighth and a bench population to rival that of a small village, Terry left the go-ahead run dependent on the less-than-winged heels of Wilmer Flores [6]. Terry’s decision to pinch-hit T.J. Rivera [7] for Friday night hero Kelly Johnson [8] came up aces, as the minor-league batting champ stroked a single, but Wilmer was rounding third like a mammoth in a tar pit and A.J. Pierzynski [9] was waiting at home with the ball and uh-oh. The list of Mets who would have been safe … well, let’s just say it’s long. Wilmer was not safe, not in the sense of scoring a run and not in the sense of avoiding bouncing his head off Pierzynski’s leg. Tie game, still.

The game ground on. Hansel Robles [10] found his way past Kemp; Jerry Blevins [11] was blameless; on the other hand, the Cardinals had won and the Giants were winning. In the tenth, Erik Goeddel [12] came in and I felt something I hadn’t experienced in a week or so: doubt.

It’s probably unfair to observe that Goeddel looks a bit like Aaron Heilman [13]. It may also be untrue, and I’m just projecting. Goeddel gave up a sharp single to Dansby Swanson [14], a Brave I’d hoped wouldn’t start breaking our hearts until 2017, followed that with a hit-the-Bull-level wild pitch, then surrendered a single to Pierzynski, who threw up his arms in celebration.

The veteran was the one who was overeager; Swanson’s just a kid but he obeyed his third-base coach and didn’t test Cespedes’s arm. Goeddel, to his mild credit, fanned Tyler Flowers [15], then departed in favor of Josh Smoker [16], who pitched with Ty Kelly [17] summoned from the outfield to play whatever the position of awkward extra guy is called. (How about Awkward Extra Guy?)

Ender Inciarte [18] has an ill-omened name, as my blog partner noted on Twitter. Ender’s also got game. This is where I got to worrying not just about the Mets, but also about myself and my ability to endure more thrills and chills.

But Smoker coaxed a pop-up from Ender and my goodness, it looked like the Mets were going to get out of it. Hooray the Mets! We’re resilient, courageous, indefatigable, unstoppable, unbeatable! Perhaps Jay Bruce [19] would be the hero — he’s got to be one of these days, right? Or maybe James Loney [20] would prove a trifle faster than the departed, hopefully not concussed Wilmer. Or who knows, Rivera or Kelly might…

Except Adonis Garcia [21] — whom you may remember from this melancholy affair [22] — rapped a single through the suddenly (and perfectly sensibly) less-crowded infield, and that was that [23]. It was cruel, in a way that Inciarte beating out a ground ball or hitting a sac fly or dropping a ball over the infield frankly wouldn’t have been. But then you had to figure Turner Field had one more set of ghostly chains to rattle before its unlamented end. Let’s just hope it’s the not-so-old rattletrap’s last thing that goes bump in our night.

And if you don’t believe in ghosts, well, baseball’s cruel whatever the venue. If you didn’t know that before, you know it now. Like all of us, you’ll forget it during the next charmed-life winning streak. That’s OK — you’ll be reminded.