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The One Where Stuff Happened

The Mets don’t lead the league in much, but they’re at least a wild-card contender in keeping us guessing, having concluded their road trip with a Rorschach record of 5-5.

That’s five to go in the They Rebounded From Getting Blitzed and Got Themselves Together on the Road So There’s Hope column (you may label this one differently, of course), and five to go in the They Got the Stuffing Beat Out of Them and Didn’t Even Look Like a Big-League Team column. Which adds up to a collective shrug and a quick turnaround to Citi Field, where the Phillies await.

Before leaving Miami at an absurdly late hour, the Mets had one final game to play against the Marlins. It was an odd one — a stop-start affair that felt like three different games grafted together. First came the laugher, with Jay Bruce [1] and T.J. Rivera [2] beating up on Jose Urena [3]. Then came a long, draggy stretch in which everything took forever. And finally we got a spasm of worry, as the Marlins staged a two-out rally that would ultimately just be a bunch of noise.

All of that is storytelling, of course — the construction of a narrative around individual pitches and plays. This is how we get ourselves in trouble as amateur baseball analysts, ferreting out imaginary patterns and attributing random events to grit, heart, morality and fate. Still, it’s irresistible — we’re wired for storytelling and use it for everything from describing a mundane day of work/school to secondhand accounts of athletic contests. And since we’re so wired, most baseball games sort themselves easily and readily into premade narrative buckets.

That sounds like a post to be considered with greater leisure during the offseason, but you know what I mean: there’s the Laugher, the Coach Not Taking Us to Tastee-Freez After This Mess, the One Where You Were Out of It After One Pitch, the Thrilling Comeback, the Fizzled Comeback, the Horrible Tortoise-and-the-Hare Loss, the Heart Ripped Out Day of Infamy, the Moral Victory But Still a Loss, the Philosophical Conundrum of Tying It in the Ninth Just to Lose in 12, the All-Time Classic, the One You Knew You Were Going to Lose One Way or Another Eventually, and so on. Last night’s wasn’t any of those — it feinted in various directions but never really settled on any of them.

Sometimes a baseball game’s just a  baseball game, I suppose.

Like any baseball game — or at least any win — it had its pleasures. There was watching Seth Lugo [4] as the antithesis of Rafael Montero [5], pitching efficiently and aggressively to Giancarlo Stanton [6] & Co. and being rewarded for it, as the reconstituted Mets infield turned two more double plays on the night. There was the instinctively terrific defense of JT Riddle [7], a young shortstop who looks like he’ll be the next Marlin to make us grind our teeth in helpless agony. There was the big triple by the generically handsome Matt Reynolds [8] — described perfectly by one Twitter wag [9] as looking “like one of the teammates with no lines in a baseball movie” — that would push the Marlins back to a more comfortable distance.

Not a particularly memorable baseball game, but one that was just fine [10] for a warm June night. And perhaps that’s its own narrative bucket.