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Catch as Catch Can’t

Did ya see how the bottom of the eighth between the Mets and Marlins ended on Saturday? Dom Smith [1] made a hellacious dive with two out to corral a grounder from Miguel Rojas, rolled over on his rear end and rid himself of the ball before retrieving his bearings, guiding it to Miguel Castro [2] at first base for the third out of the inning and preserving a tense 1-1 tie in Miami.

It was the best play you were gonna see all day…until one Met defensive out later.

Did ya see how the bottom of the ninth between the Mets and Marlins began on Saturday? Jesus Aguilar lined a ball into the gap between center and right. It would take two kinds of Tommie Agee efforts to reel it in: the kind where Agee dove to rob Paul Blair and the kind where Agee hung on in his webbing to rob Elrod Hendricks. Those were two of the most stupendous catches in World Series history. Amid stakes admittedly a few hundred notches lower, Johneshwy Fargas [3] incorporated the most breathtaking aspects of each to nab from Aguilar a leadoff double and, as Smith did minutes earlier, keep the score knotted at one. Running and diving and gaining proximity to the ball would have been impressive as hell. The ball ticking off the top of Johneshwy’s glove would have been reluctantly understandable. But, nope, Fargas was gonna have his scoop and lick it, too. As so-called ice cream cone catches go, this one melted in your mouth and made your eyes water with joy.

What was it late-’70s mid-tempo duo England Dan and Sean Reid-Foley [4] said in their final hit of the decade? Ah yes, “(G)love is the Answer [5].” What’s that? Sorry, that was John Ford Coley sharing billing on Billboard with England Dan, later known simply as Dan Seals, who went on to enjoy a successful country music career, highlighted by the crossover hit “Bop [6]”.

Bop. Hit. Neither came up much for the Mets on Saturday. Smith generated an RBI single to drive home bruised pinch-hitter Jose Peraza [7] in the top of the eighth, just when you thought the visitors were afraid to track mud all over home plate, but that was about it for Mets doing anything noteworthy with their bats. To be fair, little bopping or hitting or scoring was happening for the Marlins, either, not with defense like that delivered by Dom and Johneshwy and not with pitching like that delivered by almost every Met arm, particularly st/opener Joey Lucchesi [8].

If Lucchesi can throw a churve [9], I can call him a st/opener. Luis Rojas and whoever confers with Luis Rojas to make organizational decisions opted to treat Lucchesi as neither a traditional starter nor a contemporary opener, so let’s say a new category was invented, one in which the pitcher who begins the game throws lights out for four innings — too long to be an opener — yet is removed sans injury because somehow asking a well-rested fella who’s shutting down the opposition on no runs, one hit, no walks and eight K’s to hang around for more than four innings or 43 pitches doesn’t jibe with whatever the plan of the day was.

So goodbye Joey, after the best start (or st/open) of your life, hello Sean, who on most occasions we’d really love to see tonight. The reliable Reid-Foley gave up just one run, and even that was nearly prevented by tremendous defense. Cameron Maybin [10] unleashed a sensational throw from left and Tomás Nido [11] attempted to lay down a timely tag on sliding Brian Anderson in the seventh, but the ball refused to nestle in Nido’s mitt. Only so many Met fielders can cue up for ice cream.

That sac fly from Corey Dickerson and the aforementioned Dom Smith ribbie were the extent of the collective scoring for eight-and-a-half innings and then some. Fargas’s catch, made in support of Drew Smith [12], seemed to augur we’d get to extra innings, unearned runners on second and another chance at the havoc that won us Friday night’s game [13]. Except Drew drew only one more out of the Marlin lineup. Anderson got annoying again with two out by singling through the right side and Garrett Cooper bopped like a bastard, launching the two-run homer that ended the late-afternoon affair in the Marlins’ favor, 3-1 [14].

Should you see Smith’s fling from the dirt and Fargas’s streak through center within a highlight montage at any point in the future, forget the greater context of the Met loss. They were game-winning plays. They just weren’t enough by themselves to win a game.