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Taking It Day to Day

Hello from Long Beach Island, which has been our summer getaway every year but one since 2003. We booked this trip back in the spring, reasoning that this part of the Jersey Shore is normally pretty socially distanced anyway and the restaurant scene has never been the draw for us, so perhaps it wouldn’t be too different come August? And then we crossed our fingers as New York, New Jersey and New England struggled to get their footing against the coronavirus and figure out how to let people get at least some part of their lives back.

It’s odd down here — no surprise, since it’s odd everywhere. But on our first day it was a relief to find things mostly normal, or at least normal enough — as adaptations to a pandemic go, replacing ice cream cones with curbside pickup of pints and toppings seems pretty minor. And it was a relief to turn on the MLB app and then SNY and find the Mets taking on the Marlins when and where one expected them too.

There was an odd undercurrent to that bit of familiarity too, of course. These Mets aren’t a presence familiar from 100-odd spring and summer games, but a club we’re just getting to know. They’re playing in front of cardboard cutouts, cheered on by canned noise. And the anonymous improv Marlins are a handful, despite their lack of big-league experience or impressive CVs.

Actually that last part isn’t new at all. Put a couple of dozen ballplayers in Marlins uniforms and odds are they’ll bedevil anyone wearing the uniform of the New York Mets. That’s proved stubbornly true for nearly 30 years.

Let the record show that these Mets finally stopped these Marlins. Credit to the three-headed beast of Pete Alonso [1], Michael Conforto [2] and J.D. Davis [3], all of whom smacked home runs for the good guys. I’m not going to consult Elias, but I’m willing to bet the Mets’ winning percentage is high when those three guys go deep. An excellent plan!

David Peterson [4] wasn’t as good as he was in his first two starts — he inexplicably lost the strike zone a couple of times — but he was good enough, battling through trouble and showing once again that he’s a pitcher, not just a thrower. Peterson thinks out there, adjusts to what is and isn’t working, and doesn’t lose his cool — a lesson still ahead of plenty of good pitchers during their rookie year.

Peterson was helped by Miami’s Jonathan Villar [5], who had two inexplicably dumb at-bats when the Marlins needed smart ones. In the fifth, Peterson surrendered a leadoff homer to Logan Forsythe [6] to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-2, walked Monte Harrison [7] on four pitches, and went 3-0 on Villar. Villar, inexplicably, swung at the next pitch and flied out to center, allowing Peterson to exhale and regain his footing.

In the sixth, Villar somehow did that again. Jeurys Familia [8] was horrible and Drew Smith [9] was unlucky, allowing the Marlins to draw within 5-4. Up came Villar with Marlins on first and second and two outs. Smith started him off 3-0 and then threw him a cutter at the knees — maybe ball four, though who really knows, because the strike zone was a ludicrous undulating amoeba all night, which I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be. Villar swung and missed. Smith changed his eyeline with a fastball up and in, which he also swung at and missed. Then he went back to the cutter in the same spot. Swing and a miss, strike three. I’m glad the Mets won [10], but it’s galling to see players who ought to know better play baseball terribly, even when it helps out cause.

As for the rest, well, it’s bullpen roulette these days. You heard about Familia and Smith; Robert Gsellman [11] returned from a long run of triceps trouble and looked good, and Seth Lugo [12] and Justin Wilson [13] finished up mostly blamelessly. It’s reliever roulette these days — the other day it was Lugo who blew up while we were looking for signs of a resurgence from Familia. Today Familia couldn’t get out of his own way and his teammates picked him up. And tomorrow?

But if this surreal year has taught us anything, it’s not to get too obsessed with tomorrow. The Mets played a ballgame, they won it, and a first day of vacation that might never have come actually felt relatively normal. The Mets will take ’em one day at a time. So will we.