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The Baseball Gods Say ‘No’

Some things you have might have missed in Sunday’s oft-snoozy, quietly weird, ultimately dispiriting loss to the Phillies:

  1. Rafael Montero [1] wasn’t that bad. Yes, the wheels fell off in the second inning for Montero, who has a history of winding up standing forlornly by the side of the road waiting for a wrecker. But Montero was undone primarily by his defense — not in an obvious, what-the-hell-was-that way but in a quieter, that-play-would-have-been-nice-t0-see-made way. For example, you can’t get on Brandon Nimmo [2] for not running down Maikel Franco [3]‘s double that brought in the first two Phillie runs — the ball was off the wall in left-center, and Nimmo belongs in a corner outfield spot. Still, the ball was in the air for a long time, long enough for a better defender to reach. The third run came in on a ball essentially through Asdrubal Cabrera [4] — forgivable since the infield was playing in, but still a play not made. And the fourth run came in on a farcical two-base wild pitch that Rene Rivera [5] simply couldn’t find, a catcher’s nightmare that was a dream come true for surprisingly speedy fellow backstop Andrew Knapp [6]. It sounds like damning with faint praise, but that inning aside Montero was pretty good — aggressive and efficient where he’s often failed to be either.
  2. It’s piling on, but the other three runs were also the product of poor defense: Chasen Bradford went to sleep and failed to cover first on an infield roller and Jose Reyes [7] looked immobile on a ball up the middle. Blecchs all around.
  3. Meanwhile — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — youngster Nick Pivetta [8] rebounded from a terrible start to stymie the Mets, riding a mid-90s fastball and mixing in a sharp slider to keep them off-balance except for a line-drive homer from T.J. Rivera [9]. But he tired in the seventh, walking Jay Bruce [10] to lead off the inning and facing Lucas Duda [11]. The Phils’ bullpen wasn’t ready, and if ever you had a good feeling about being down three runs with one hit on your ledger, it was now. Duda popped a ball up to short center that had trouble written all over it — and, indeed, it popped out of Aaron Altherr [12]‘s glove. Except it then hit Altherr in the shoulder, rolled obligingly down his arm and plopped into his glove behind his back for a crusher of a double play. Sometimes the baseball gods aren’t subtle in signaling that it’s not going to be your day.
  4. Another oddity: the Mets and Phils inflicted a double challenge on their fans. The Phils challenged an apparent 6-4-3 double play, contending that Franco was safe at first. The Mets waited around for the umps to agree, then argued that Nick Williams had roll-blocked Cabrera on the pivot, which should restore the double play. They didn’t win either challenge. Oh the majesty of replay!

You can’t win ’em all, as a philosopher once said. Sometimes that conclusion emerges from an agonizing reversal, a horrific mischance or something unforeseen. And other times everything warns you that’s what the verdict will be [13].