The 2018 Mets season took place in miniature in the northern suburbs of Atlanta on Tuesday. It takes place in miniature most days wherever the Mets happen to be.
Somebody was injured.
Then it rained.
Things started well anyway.
Somebody else was injured.
Things looked like they might be OK.
A lack of depth began to tell.
Things took a turn for the worse, but maybe they’d hold.
The manager couldn’t quite make the right move.
Things went completely to hell .
That’s really all you need to know, but for the detail junkies among us…
Noah Syndergaard  was announced midday as going on the disabled list from out of the blue with a strained ligament in his right index finger (allegedly not that serious; we’ll see). Thor’s DL assignment meant the roster was down to 25 from the 26 who were on hand for the day-night doubleheader Monday. Gerson Bautista  was the extra man for that hyperextended occasion. He’d gone unused and was ticketed to return to Las Vegas. Instead the Mets kept him around and optioned P.J. Conlon, whose status as the luckiest of rabbit’s feet (two ragged starts, two wins in spite of him) didn’t hide the fact that he wasn’t going to be of any aid Tuesday. With the roster thus down to 24, the Mets didn’t make any further moves because their Triple-A team is a continent away and they basically have no helpful, healthy arms ready to go from anywhere.
Undermanned for Tuesday and underwhelming for the very immediate future — Jason Vargas is slated to go on short rest Wednesday and Seth Lugo, last seen blowing a win for Jacob deGrom Monday, is supposed to rejoin the rotation Thursday — the Mets went to work after waiting out a 41-minute weather delay at the most ironically named ballpark in major league history. Brandon Nimmo, apparent grandson of Ron Hunt, got himself hit with a pitch, stole second, stole third and came home on Jose Bautista’s double.
Jose Bautista is on the Mets, if you haven’t been paying uninterrupted attention. I pay lots of attention and I keep forgetting.
While Anibal Sanchez’s return from six weeks out (other teams have injuries?) proceeded bumpily, Steven Matz  couldn’t have been much sharper. Finally, some consistency from the Long Island lefty. No Brave runs in the first. No Brave runs in the second. Sanchez proved delightfully easy pickin’s in the third, as Nimmo singled and Asdrubal Cabrera homered. The Mets’ 3-0 lead was handled with care by Matz in the bottom of the inning. In the fourth, Adrian Gonzalez homered to lead off, putting the New Yorkers up, 4-0. Sanchez was clearly wobbling. Why, even Matz doubled.
What is it they say about all good DHless deeds? Matz discomfited his left middle finger on one of his swings before the double. It began to throb. He couldn’t pitch and departed the game.
Mickey Callaway went to his perpetually depleted bullpen, searching for a magic formula that would make a four-run lead stand up across six innings. Paul Sewald was his first choice to come in cold. Paul pitched like it, giving up two runs in the fourth. Cabrera did him a solid with a leadoff homer off Braves reliever Matt Wisler in the fifth, however, and Sewald gave Callaway a perfect second inning. The Mets were ahead, 5-2. Then 6-2, once Nimmo doubled in Amed Rosario Speedwagon from first base in the top of the sixth. It was a four-run lead again and only four defensive innings remained. Heck, Sewald, 0-9 lifetime, might even wrangle his first MLB win via scorer’s discretion.
Talk about getting ahead of oneself.
Jerry Blevins, who used to have a role when he pitched, came on in the bottom of the sixth. He retired the Braves without giving up a run. In the bottom of the seventh, though, Nick Markakis doubled in Freddie Freeman, which seems to happen every twenty minutes in Mets-Braves games, to make it 6-3. Jacob Rhame replaced Blevins with two out and ferried the Mets to the eighth.
Wisler was still pitching for home team. He had settled in, while the Mets’ bats fit a nap into their busy schedule. Seven up, seven down since Nimmo’s RBI double in the sixth. The score stayed 6-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth.
It emerged 6-6 going to the top of the ninth. Rhame was methodically then ostentatiously ambushed, the last of the onslaught executed in broad SunTrust nightlight by Ender Inciarte, a killer of all things Met since the otherwise successful 2016 Wild Card hunt, which seems so long ago now. Rhame stayed in there getting whacked around presumably because Callaway had nobody else. Lugo, remember, had been rebranded a starter for Thursday. Robles pitched three the night before. Familia pitched two. Gsellman first wasn’t, then was available. He was gonna be the closer, because when you have a 6-3 lead, you have to have a closer in mind.
The Mets didn’t need have a lead by the ninth. They did have a semblance of a rally going when, with Dan Winkler on for Matt Wisler, Rosario singled to lead off and Nimmo helpfully got himself plunked again. Cabrera, he of the two home runs earlier, was up with two on and nobody out. Could it get any better for the Mets?
Of course not. This is the 2018 Mets in microcosm. We know it might appear hopeful at the beginning, but it doesn’t get any better as it goes on. Asdrubal (who for some reason attempted a bunt) struck out. Luis Guillorme pinch-hit into a fielder’s choice, removing Nimmo from the basepaths. With Amed on third and Luis on first, Michael Conforto struck out.
Remember Bautista? Not Jose the outfielder/third baseman, but Gerson the rookie reliever? The guy who was in Atlanta only because an additional body was permitted Monday and the Mets didn’t have enough bodies by Tuesday? Foreshadowing! With one out, young Gerson gave up a bullet of a home run to Johan Camargo. The Mets lost, 7-6. The result was miserable, the process was terrible, the rotation was asunder, the bullpen in more tatters than usual and a half-dozen runs proved inadequate.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the big picture and most of the small ones on a practically daily basis.