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Who Are You and What Have You Done With the Mets?

A couple of times in my life, I’ve witnessed someone forget to engage the parking brake while on a slight incline. (OK, once I was that person.) The car doesn’t move all that swiftly at first on its journey to where it’s not supposed to be, but its momentum builds steadily and pretty soon the slow-motion disaster has become inevitable, downgrading your status from potential hero to cringing bystander.

Saturday night’s Mets game was like that: the hitters stopped hitting and the nightly game of bullpen roulette ended like you feared it would. So Sunday night’s game in this same park against these same Pirates wearing these same odd green uniforms probably didn’t strike any of us as an ideal way to spend a holiday evening.

Between family commitments and a certain learned wariness, I got there a bit late, arriving to find Matt Harvey [1] on the wrong side of a 1-0 deficit in the fourth. Not too bad, but this bunch has taught me a few things, such as the fourth inning coming before our starter tires and the hellmouth of the bullpen door yawns open to unleash its ghastly denizens upon the overconfident and inattentive.

But this night, decidedly un-Metsian things were to transpire.

Like Asdrubal Cabrera [2] whacking a two-out double to turn that 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, followed by a parade of innings featuring MORE RUNS. Three more in the fifth! One more in the sixth … that came after the Mets seemed bound and determined to short-circuit a scoring chance! One in the seventh thanks to a line-drive homer from Lucas Duda! [3]

And that wasn’t all. In the fourth, Harvey was looking at second and third with one out — the kind of situation that has undone our defrocked superhero too often this year. This time, Harvey struck out Francisco Cervelli [4] and Jordy Mercer [5] with mid-90s fastballs to escape harm. An inning later, a two-out rally brought Gregory Polanco [6] to the plate with a chance to cut Pittsburgh’s deficit to one. Harvey dropped a back-foot slider on the Pirates’ best player to hold the line. He only went six innings, but they were six effective innings in which he pitched with the closest thing we’ve seen to his old arsenal and, perhaps as importantly, looked like he trusted those pitches.

But could the Mets get nine outs before giving up six runs, exhausting the entire bullpen, or both? Never say never, at least not with this basket of destroyables.

But Paul Sewald [7] — who’s steadily risen up the admittedly thin ranks from Oh Yeah That Guy to Just Possibly Not So Bad to Seems Pretty Reliable — turned in two decent innings, at which point Terry Collins [8] turned to Neil Ramirez [9].

Ramirez hasn’t exactly buried us in evidence that he can get major-league hitters out. But a five-run lead in the ninth? This is your Montero Moment, Neil!

So Ramirez walked Mercer, struck out Saturday Night Massacre-er [10] John Jaso [11], then walked Jose Osuna [12]. That sent Jerry Blevins [13] to the bullpen mound and hearts into the more-familiar lodgings of our throats. But Ramirez then retired not just the next hitter but the one after that. Yes, that really was Neil Ramirez [9] leaving the mound to high-fives and attaboys, instead of departing because a frowning manager had decided it would be better for him to stop practicing his trade.

All these things happened. They happened in the same game. They led to a Mets win [14]. I’m not sure exactly how that occurred, but replicating it 65 to 70 more times this year would be just fine with me.