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Just a Loss

An occasional debate in these parts and elsewhere is whether there’s such a thing as a good loss. Does it make a difference if your team lost but put the fear of the baseball gods in the opposition? Lost but learned something about themselves? (Other than, presumably, that they lost.) Lost but exhausted the other guys so it might matter later? Lost but showed a certain quantum of fight, grit, vim, moxie or [insert name of unquantifiable and possibly imaginary substance here]?

I’ve never really made up my mind about that one — my opinion seems to be more an indicator of my mood on a given day than anything else. But I do know this much: there are galling, hideous, stick-in-your-craw losses that make you want to go scream in a dark room, and there are losses that are just the price of doing baseball business. After a solid week or so of the former, it was a mild relief to spend Sunday watching the Mets deal with the latter.

Let’s be clear: Sunday’s game against the Angels wasn’t exactly one for the ages. With the Mets somehow poised to sweep the Angels, Tommy Milone [1] went out to the mound holding the broom wrong way up. Single, double, intentional walk, unintentional walk, grand slam, yikes: if you showed up a little late to the proceedings, well, it was already 5-0 without a lone out on the board.

It didn’t get much better after that: sent back out for the second to take his apparently predestined beating, Milone gave up consecutive home runs to Mike Trout [2] and Jefry Marte [3]. Once upon a time the latter was a Mets farmhand, sent west in exchange for the very briefly memorable Collin Cowgill [4]. Trout, sad to say, has never been a Met anything, unless “object of admiration” counts.

Milone departed down 8-0; an inning later Trout made it 9-0 with a double off Rafael Montero [5], the modern Mets man’s Mike Maddux [6]. At which point the Mets began, at first fitfully and then more compellingly, to fight back. Matt Reynolds [7] homered to smear a little lipstick on this pig; Curtis Granderson [8] added some more color; and then Jay Bruce [9]‘s three-run shot made the pig look … well naw but you totally hesitated for a moment there, we all saw it.

At our house, we were engaged in the all-day cleaning that follows our annual Derby Day/Preakness party, and Joshua noted the score and started to extrapolate from 9-5 to something pretty amazing. Which I acknowledged amiably, but added a caution: the Angels were loose in the back end of the Mets’ bullpen, and the odds suggested that would stop going as well for us as it had.

Enter Hansel Robles [10] … and scene.

The Mets lost [11], but it was just a loss — there was nothing heart-wrenching or astonishing about it. Milone showed he isn’t a long-term or even medium-term answer in the rotation, but we knew that. Robles showed that something has gone horribly wrong for him that needs fixing, but we knew that. The Mets scrapped and fought valiantly but futilely, which happens.

After all the recent drama, just a loss isn’t the worst thing to witness on a sunny Sunday.