Statistically, it didn’t matter that the Yankees came to Citi Field from the Bronx to complete their Subway Series sweep. It mattered that they came from near the top of their division. The Mets versus any serious contender this year has been almost uniformly bad news.
Talk about hewing to your weight class. The lightweight 2017 Mets have proven incapable of punching up. With the Yankees having garnered the 7-5 decision  on Thursday night — largely attributable to Steven Matz pitching three-and-a-third like he had to bolt for the 9:19 at Woodside; and despite Curtis Granderson doing his best to give us a potential parting gift — the Mets finished 0-4 versus NY (A). The intracity record is redolent of the 2003 version of this nonsense, the year the Mets went 0-6. The highlight of that Subway Series was a similar furious comeback to nowhere. On Saturday night, June 28, in a makeup game that constituted the back half of a day-night two-stadium doubleheader nobody ever mentions, T#m Gl@v!ne was Matz, Dan Wheeler was Chasen Bradford and the Mets fell behind, 9-0. Yankee legend Brandon Claussen played the role of Luis Severino that night, except Brandon Claussen didn’t put me in mind of Rob Schneider’s catchphrase glory .
“Hey, Luis Severino! The Severino! Severino Sunset Strip! Doc Severino-sen! Making copies! And holding the Mets mostly scoreless!”
In 2017, Luis practically replicated Brandon from fourteen years before. Present-day Yankee starter line: 6.1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER. Way back when Yankee starter line: 6.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER. In both cases, the Yankee starter was favored with a mammoth lead. Claussen’s chums weaved him a 9-0 cushion, even fluffier than Severino’s 7-0 advantage. It made no nevermind that a Met run or two began to trickle in a generation or so apart. Yet somehow, in each instance, all manner of Met began to break loose. In 2003, Claussen left his post with a 9-2 lead and saw it nearly disappear. Raul Gonzalez struck the mightiest of blows, a three-run, eighth-inning double off Mariano Rivera that pulled the Mets to within one at 9-8.
Nine-eight! The Mets had nearly climbed out of a nine-run hole! Wow! Why is this game so obscure? Because the key word here is “nearly”. The Mets’ dramatic comeback ran out of drama. Rivera settled down, the Mets stopped scoring, and it became a 9-8 loss, essentially like the other five losses in that season’s Subway Series mess.
This time around, Severino was nearly undermined by a reliever not nearly as famous as Rivera, fella mopping up named Bryan Mitchell. Up 7-1 in the bottom of the ninth versus Mitchell, catcher-infielder Travis d’Arnaud led off with a double, frequent flyer Matt Reynolds singled, intensely concentrating Brandon Nimmo pinch-walked, and Granderson — who the day prior was recorded by the Mets’ social media staff sharing ice cream and gratitude  with various Citi Field staffers because he’s just that wonderful a human being — bestowed upon us one more lovely image. He took Mitchell well over the right field wall for a four-run four-bagger. Granderson’s grand slam brought the Mets, who you could have been forgiven for forgetting were even taking part in this game, to within 7-5. It was shades of Raul Gonzalez in the best possible context.
Unfortunately, Mitchell wasn’t permitted to hang around. Dellin Betances came on, retired the next three Mets and preserved bleeping Yankee hegemony for the night, the week and the year. Curtis’s valiant swing produced the second Met grand slam of 2017 produced in service to a loss. Jay Bruce did something similar in hopeless circumstances in Atlanta in early May. It made for a nice noise, but changed nothing. Jay Bruce isn’t even a Met anymore. The trade winds might take Curtis from us, too. Essentially, then, we got eight runs on two swings and keep winding up with nothing. And as in 2003, the Mets couldn’t beat the Yankees once.
And as in 2017, the Mets on Thursday night couldn’t do a thing against a legitimate contender.
Let’s consider the contemporary Mets in terms of their opposition. When they’ve played what we shall call, for our purposes, indisputably lousy teams — the Phillies, the Giants, the Padres and the A’s — they’re very good: 19-10, for a winning percentage of .655. When they’ve played, for lack of a deeper descriptor, so-so competition — the Pirates, the Marlins and the Braves — they are deeply and decidedly so-so: 16-15, .516.
And when they’ve played actual contenders, whether the elite teams who have division titles already socked away, a claim on playoff positioning currently, or a legitimate chance to make it to the postseason — a universe that encompasses the Nationals, the Cubs, the Brewers, the Cardinals, the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks, the Rockies, the Angels, the Mariners, the Rangers and, distressingly, the Yankees — they are barely on the same planet. The Mets are 18-41 in these situations, for a winning percentage of .305.
Clearly the Mets need to schedule more games against the lousy and the so-so and avoid everybody else at all costs.
If you’re planning on following the Mets over the next 43 games, and you are looking for clues as to how bad it will be and whether you have anything to look forward to except perhaps running into Matz on the LIRR (where he will presumably be beginning his apprenticeship as one of those conductors you can convince “nah, you already got me,” and thus save a fare), be delighted that the Mets have yet to play the Cincinnati Reds this year. The Cincinnati Reds are definitely one of the indisputably lousy teams in Major League Baseball. So are we, but they a bit more so to date. We have seven games with Cincy. That projects as feasting time. Normally I’d say you never know how any given set of baseball games will turn out, but the Mets are so utterly predictable this season, I’m comfortable tentatively concluding that the Mets’ seven games versus the Reds, along with the six that remain against repeatedly overmatched Philly, will be a veritable godsend. Let’s apply the .655 winning percentage to those thirteen and pencil in a 9-4 slate.
We’re done with the Pirates, but there’s plenty of Marlins and Braves left. There’s always plenty of Marlins and Braves left. The Mets play the Marlins and Braves twenty times each every March to prepare them to play the Marlins and Braves a hundred times every season. Thanks to an April rainout, we are blessed with thirteen that remain in this category. A baker’s dozen Marlin and Brave games, apportioned at a winning percentage of .516…that seems like a recipe for 7-6.
Great, we’ve already figured out that from our current mark of 53-66 we will improve to 69-76. Not the kind of record we dreamt of in spring, but gosh, considering how bad we’ve been so much of this year, that implies a significant improvement. Very nicely done, Mets. Now all you have to do is go home and heal, and when all your pitchers besides Matz are healthy, we can look forward to great things in 2018.
Wait a sec. I seem to have forgotten we have a total of seventeen games to be played versus actual contenders: three apiece with the Cubs and the Astros, four with the Diamondbacks and, oh goody, seven with the Nationals. Seventeen games against a class of opponent against whom we lose almost seven of ten at a time multiplies out to five more wins and twelve more losses for us. Add that to the rest of what we’ve calculated, and we’re looking at a final record of 74-88.
Y’know what? That’s not as bad as I thought it was gonna be. Based on the last four nights, I assumed we’d go 0-43 the rest of the way. Of course the games will have to be played. That’s where assumptions run into problems. I wouldn’t necessarily assume the 21-22 projected above is a lock, but seven against the Reds is seven against the Reds, and from that I take advance solace. Then again, somewhere in Cincinnati, some version of me is taking similar solace that at least they have seven games left against the indisputably lousy Mets.