The question was posed by a classmate in AP History in twelfth grade: how did the United States did lose China? Our teacher, an affable sort named Mr. Friend, answered that the United States did not lose China, for China was never the United States’s to begin with. I’ve tried to remember that Friendly analysis whenever I can’t believe how the Mets have blown a game they had in hand.
I tell myself the game wasn’t really theirs to lose, that the game needed to go nine or more innings to determine a winner, that it doesn’t matter in what sequence the runs are scored, just how they are apportioned at game’s end. I don’t actually believe that, but I tell it to myself in the hope it will make me feel better.
The Mets had Sunday’s game at Milwaukee in their hip or back pocket, wherever a team carries victories in the making. They were up 7-1 at one point, which is indicative of a sure-ish thing. The Mets recently came back from trailing 7-1 to the Marlins to win 8-7 , but a) we recognized that as something that doesn’t happen very often and b) it was us coming from behind, so it was supposed to happen, dig?
Blowing a 7-1 lead to lose 11-9 ? That should never happen, except it does happen and it did happen and if you were committing your time and mind to Sunday’s game, you weren’t terribly surprised it happened. Even with a 7-1 lead in the middle of the sixth…even with an 8-3 lead in the middle of the seventh…even with an ace Mets starter pitching in a fashion resembling that of an ace Mets starter…you didn’t think the Mets would find a way to lose, but when they did, you probably weren’t moaning in the “why…why…WHY?!?!?” desperation you still instinctively associate with the darkest of Benitez, Looper or Wagner innings.
You knew why this loss happened. The Mets went from winning 7-1 to losing 11-9 because Armando Benitez , Braden Looper  and Billy Wagner  at their shakiest would be an upgrade over everybody in the current Met bullpen; because a fashion resembling that of an ace Mets starter barely gets you into the seventh these days; because the Mets play dumb (Neil Walker  not steaming home for a run that might have come in handy was a prime example), play short (the fascination with flogging Asdrubal Cabrera ’s aching thumb is mystifying), just miss (Juan Lagares  almost made a great catch during one of the meltdown innings, which is to say Jesus Aguilar  doubled off the wall) and ran into a Brew Crew that pounds baseballs and loves life.
Let’s not sell Milwaukee short. They’re too big for that. They are the Morristown Frackers  from Brockmire elevated into the National League, they wear enough body armor to have been engineered by Krieger the creepy scientist from Archer and they just produced — regardless of how their season turns out — about 40% of their 2017 highlight video. The Brewers were on a Magic Is Back June 1980 cloud all weekend. They made Mother’s Day pink the roughest, toughest color in the Pantone universe and I’d sooner give the green light to the Sausage Race Chorizo than René Rivera  (René will be called out attempting to steal second in the fourth yesterday as soon as he gets anywhere near it).
So all hail the Milwaukee Brewers. Jonathan Villar  is even better in actuality than he is in VR. Eric Thames  does more than dredge Thames on 9  promotional spots from my television-watching subconscious. Should my Piazza book come out in soft cover, I will consider reidentifying Mike as the third-greatest hitting catcher ever, for Manny Piña  and Jett Bandy  both proved themselves the quintessential catchers, sluggers, icons and stars. The Brewers swung bad-ass brooms and finished the weekend with the sweep they deserved.
The Mets, too, got what was coming to them. They are suddenly light on star power and sooner or later that will definitively dim your chances. Jacob deGrom  pitched pretty well and hit very well, but getting knocked out in the seventh — a leadoff single after 107 pitches is a decent sign that enough is enough in the modern era — wasn’t sufficient for a team that had put eight runs on the board to that point. Without Jeurys Familia  (and with no starter ever lasting long enough to give the entire relief corps a meaningful breather), the whole gang gets bumped up a notch. Terry Collins used Jerry Blevins , Fernando Salas , Josh Edgin  and Addison Reed . They’ve each had their moments this season, but few of them lately and none of them Sunday. Salas threw 38 pitches, which should put him on the shelf until Wednesday…or have him up in the fourth inning tonight. On the telecast, Gary Cohen said Collins would ask Reed to get five outs. He got two. The final three proved unnecessary. The Brewers don’t do bottoms of the ninth when the Mets are in town.
The 7-1 and 8-3 leads were not held. The three-quarters of a Michael Conforto  cycle (everything but the single) did not add up. You could have laughed off the lousy baserunning from Walker and Rivera had their five RBIs been recorded in service to a win. All that offense didn’t do anybody who didn’t have those fellows in their fantasy lineups any good. The reality is they and their teammates were on the wrong end of a three-game sweep, are stuck in a four-game losing streak and stare up at .500 as they enter the Arizona desert. The games that are lost are lost. All hope is not because the season continues, but you just got a solid outing from deGrom and an explosive afternoon from the bats and no win to show for it. Too bad the Mets couldn’t hold on to what wasn’t yet theirs.
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