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Lost Angeles

In case you didn’t stay up Thursday night, the Mets stayed down again in Los Angeles. They lost all four games they played there this week. They lost in such numbing fashion that when they appeared on the verge of losing in a fairly professional manner, it felt like victory. Then the professionalism seeped away in the seventh when, after Steven Matz [1] had given them six fairly solid innings in service to a 3-3 tie, two of the better-reputationed members of the Mets bullpen turned the whole thing to mush.

Paul Sewald [2] gave up the fifteenth Dodger home run of the series (a Brooklyn/L.A. record) on his first pitch, one whacked 433 feet to right by Joc Pederson [3], putting the home team ahead to stay. Logan Forsythe [4] followed with a sharp single to center. Chris Taylor [5] walked. Sewald in my mind had morphed into Dale Murray [6], the master of disaster from the 1979 Mets pen. I suppose Sewald could have been any dispenser of hits and walks you have blowing up an ERA in the recesses of your subconscious, but to me he was Murray. Maybe it was the oft-repeated cue that the Mets were on their way to being swept four by the Dodgers for the first time since 1979. Maybe it was that Dale Murray was terrible [7] and so, at least on Thursday, was Paul Sewald.

With Justin Turner [8] coming to bat, you braced for the worst. I did, I know, and I’d assume any Mets fan awake would. Turner’s slugging percentage against the Mets since joining the Dodgers is astronomical. Neil deGrasse Tyson is in awe of it. Somehow, Turner did not put the game away, as Sewald flied him to left instead of the moon. Exit Paul, enter Jerry. Jerry Blevins [9] has been the Mets’ most consistent reliever all year. He was consistently used for two-and-a-half months. deployed practically every day. Lately he hasn’t been in evidence. Blevins is usually reserved for tight spots. The Mets had been loose in their losing all week until Thursday.

The assignment for Blevins was Cody Bellinger [10], the first baseman who isn’t on the All-Star ballot but should probably start, based on the numbers he’s generated all season against everybody, not just all week against the Mets. I was tempted to write in Bellinger when I decided to cast a token vote, but I don’t have nearly that much integrity to go out of my way to boost the electoral chances of somebody growing greater at my team’s expense. (I did, however, have enough integrity to resist clicking on behalf of almost every Met listed; I’m loyal, but I’m not undiscerning.) With anybody but Blevins in there, you’d assume it was about to be 7-3. I think Bellinger assumed it was about to be 7-3 — or should have been about to be 7-3 — when he made contact with Blevins’s second pitch, an offering that hung delectably in his happy zone. Bellinger just missed sending in into orbit and he knew it, spiking his bat in disgust that he let Blevins off the hook with a mere fly to right.

That meant two were still on, but two were out, and now all Jerry had to do was take care of Kiké Hernandez [11]. Except Jerry walked Kiké to load the bases. Unfortunate, but probably no harm, no foul, because Dave Roberts [12] opted to not pinch-hit for his next batter, reliever Pedro Baez [13]. What’s the worst a reliever who’d batted one time previously in a four-year career could do against an accomplished veteran like Blevins?

From a Met perspective, standing and taking four pitches, every last one of them balls. Jerry Blevins walked Pedro Baez [13] to force in the fifth Los Angeles run. Then Blevins walked the next batter, Austin Barnes [14], not a relief pitcher, to make it 6-3. It was the ninth walk Mets pitchers allowed, eight of them unintentional. For those who are fans of silver linings, a couple of strikes were involved in walk to Barnes.

Blevins gave way to Salas, who was tasked with facing aesthetic villain Yasiel Puig [15]. I assumed the worst, but no, postmodern Fernandomania prevailed at Dodger Stadium, and the Mets stayed just close enough to allow you to hallucinate they could come back. I must’ve been getting very sleepy, because I thought I saw the Mets load the bases in the eighth for Michael Conforto [16]. I know I was awake, however, because I definitely did see Conforto foul out on the very first pitch he saw. By then, Kenley Jansen [17] was in the game, reminding me that when Terry Collins managed the NL All-Stars last summer, he eschewed the chance to use his own man, Jeurys Familia [18], in favor of Jansen, which meant the only National League team that didn’t have a player participate in the All-Star Game was the team whose manager was running the show.

Collins won’t be managing the All-Stars this July and under no fathomable circumstances will he be managing the All-Stars next July. What he’ll be doing by April of 2018, let alone early October of 2017, is a matter ripe for speculation. As this game ground on toward its inevitable 6-3 final [19], I thought back to another West Coast swing, from 1983. George Bamberger [20] was the Mets’ manager when it began. He wasn’t when it ended. Bambi wanted out and resigned while in Los Angeles, explaining, “I probably suffered enough [21].” George quit when the Mets were 16-30. Since the last time Terry Collins had the chance to use Jeurys Familia in a game that counted, the Mets are 15-25. He gives no impression that he’d ever quit, but I wouldn’t rule out suffering getting the best of him.

“That’s one thing we have never done here in years,” Collins said after the Mets’ fourth consecutive loss to the same opponent, “We don’t walk guys and we don’t give up a lot of home runs. And right now, we’re doing both.” That’s as close to a cry for help as Terry will emit. The rest of us are letting out yawns. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we can only stay up for so much of this.