- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Parts Fulfilling, Sum Inadequate

Pete Alonso [1]’s team record-setting 42nd home run.
Wilson Ramos [2]’s 20th consecutive game with a base hit.
Chris Mazza [3]’s stirrups and how he gets them.

Weave those three uplifting elements into a broader story about a hypothetical magnificent Mets win achieved amid a sizzling Mets playoff chase and you’ve got some late-August iconography for the ages. Isolate them from the actual dispiriting Mets loss in which they we witnessed them, and what you’re left with are three uplifting elements in search of a better mood.

Lest we be overtaken by sullenness, how about a huzzah for Pete? Forty-two huzzahs, to be exact. Fifty-eight seasons of Mets baseball, and we saw something Tuesday night that never crossed our path during the first fifty-seven. Like just about all of Pete’s previous 41 home runs, No. 42, when struck in the fourth inning, was enormous in form and impact. It shot out to right-center like a comet; it crashed into a barrier a couple of planets from home plate; it shoved a couple of fellas of genuine Met renown [4] a respectful notch downward in our statistical annals; and it pushed the Mets ahead of the Cubs, 1-0.

The tingle associated with Alonso surpassing Todd Hundley’s 1996 and Carlos Beltran’s 2006 totals was tangible but, in the scheme of 2019 things, inevitably transient. Marcus Stroman [5], who pitches brilliantly within innings without pitching many brilliant innings, gave back the lead in the fifth via a double to Victor Caratini — a ball Juan Lagares might have nabbed in midair but center fielder du jour Michael Conforto [6] couldn’t quite track down — and an immediately subsequent two-run home run to Addison Russell. As if to emphasize this was no lone blemish, Stroman allowed another pair of runs the same way in the sixth: a double to Kris Bryant, then a homer to Javy Baez. Marcus has been far more invigorating presence than Jason Vargas ever was, yet barely a whit more effective.

Yu Darvish, meanwhile, went largely unbothered by the Alonso-free portion of the Met lineup the rest of the evening. There was a Conforto leadoff triple in the second that echoed one Daniel Murphy walloped versus the Cubs in during September 2008’s doomed pennant quest in that Murphy never advanced from third, either. There was Ramos producing a pair of singles, chugging along with the longest in-season hitting streak by a Met since Moises Alou dedicated practically his last breaths to warding off the Collapse of 2007 and hit in 30 in a row. But nobody drove in Ramos either time he reached base. For SNY viewers, there was a delightful tidbit reported by Steve Gelbs regarding Mazza’s handsome orange-and-blue striped socks and stirrups, which the journeyman ordered off Amazon because, as a journeyman, he doesn’t believe he can count on any given team’s clubhouse man to provide him just the look he likes.

Whether Mazza (2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) pitching in the eighth inning of a mustish-win game that was still close was a look we cottoned to was another matter. The Mets entered Tuesday night two games behind the Cubs for the Second Wild Card lead. The opportunity to make up serious ground was at hand. Maybe it didn’t matter that Mickey Callaway opted for the …and the rest section of Gilligan’s Bullpen, given that Darvish was mostly impervious to Met attack. Still, it was kind of a weird spot for Mazza’s admirably outfitted ankles [7] to make an appearance

Because these Mets are these Mets, they exhibited a modicum of fight in the ninth inning. J.D. Davis homered off Brandon Kintzler, and you got your hopes up for a half-a-sec, but by then, there were two out and the Mets were down by three and never mind [8]. Cubs 5 Mets 2; margin 3 GB. Alonso’s record, Ramos’s streak, Mazza’s socks and the small favors inherent in losses by the Phillies and Brewers would have to do for feelgood filler in a series opener that, if not a punch to the gut, served as an elbow to the ribs.

Enough with the painful Met-aphors. Enough with the painful Met losses. Win on Wednesday.