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Fume After Watching

If there was a way to lose Wednesday night, the Mets were going to find it.

The bullpen was terrible. The bullpen was terribly managed. The hitters turned a gimme into a gag me. Just a complete and utter disaster.

Insult to injury: said meltdown came against the Padres, who sure don’t look like a team capable of winning 35% of their games. The Padres have turned in two days’ worth of horrific at-bats, bad baserunning, lousy pitching, klutzy defense, lazy play and inept tactics and will somehow still play a rubber game tomorrow. Tonight they balked twice, their supposed star player admired a long drive instead of running hard, they had some lousy luck and they still beat the Mets. It would be funny if it hadn’t been so disgusting to watch.

As for the Mets, well …

You know what? I’m going to need a moment.

[steps away from computer]

[walks around in circles muttering]

[rage-tweets for a few minutes]

[more pacing and muttering]

OK, I’m back. Let’s just say that … nope, not there yet.

[repeat most of the above]

Sigh. Buckle up y’all. This is going to hurt.

Terry Collins [1]‘ bullpen is a band of arsonists, and all too often it doesn’t much matter whom you turn to. Fernando Salas [2] got two outs without incident before disintegrating in a flurry of hits and walks. Neil Ramirez [3], already cut loose by the Giants and Blue Jays, threw two pitches, the second of which came within an inch of being a grand slam. Those misadventures turned what had been a 5-1 Met lead into a tie game. After a brief spell of competence, enter Josh Smoker [4] — the same Josh Smoker who was recently sent down because he was incapable of getting major-league hitters out but then recalled because Hansel Robles [5] was sent down for being incapable of getting major-league hitters out. Smoker went 3-1 on Hunter Renfroe [6] before throwing a pitch that landed in Portugal, and would prove the game-winner [7] for our West Coast guests.

Some of that was poor execution, which obviously gets pinned on the players. But some of it was poor planning, which ought to be in the flaming bags left on the doorsteps of the manager and the general manager.

Let’s ring Sandy’s bell first … y’all ready to run and film the hijinks from a safe distance? Smoker is a disaster right now, who replaced the guy who was a disaster before. Ramirez has thrown 36 pitches in a Met uniform and yielded two walks and three singles — if he’s the answer, the question is some kind of cruel joke. Collins, sensibly, doesn’t trust Rafael Montero [8] any farther than he can throw him, which raises the question of why Montero is still on the roster. Even if you’re a master chef, good luck serving chicken salad when the second word of that dish seems to have been cruelly misspelled and the health department just came out of the kitchen frowning.

And yet, not for the first time in 2017, Terry proved he’s more graveyard-shift hash slinger than culinary maestro when given bullpen ingredients. On Tuesday the Mets took a six-run lead into the sixth inning after a day off. If any situation actually made you say “Rafael Montero ought to pitch here,” it was that one — but instead Terry used Smoker (who, wait for it … gave up a leadoff home run), Paul Sewald [9], Jerry Blevins [10] and Salas in numbing succession. That led to him declaring Sewald and Blevins unavailable tonight, which is how he wound up using the soft white underbelly of the pen in a much tighter contest. Except he also pulled Robert Gsellman [11] with just 84 pitches under his belt instead of letting him begin the seventh, in a season that’s seen Met starters tax the bullpen night after night.

Some nights the Mets can hit themselves out of their own way, and it looked like they might do so again tonight: they loaded the bases off Brad Hand [12] with nobody out in the ninth. Almost anything would have tied the game — I’ll spare you a solid paragraph of outcomes that would have delivered that result — except for Curtis Granderson [13] waving helplessly at a slider, which was of course what he did. Rene Rivera [14] then struck out too, and I should have turned the TV off right then, instead of watching Juan Lagares [15] fly meekly to right field.

Is there such a thing as exponential ineptitude? Because I can’t think of what else to call this game. As rough approximation, I’ll settle for saying it’s another jaw-droppingly awful, self-inflicted loss in a season that’s been thick with them.

Ballgame tomorrow. Tune in if you dare.

Word of warning: Management is in no mood for poor behavior. That shadow looming overhead is the ban hammer.