The blog for Mets fans
who like to read


Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at (Sorry, but we have no interest in ads, sponsored content or guest posts.)

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

The Night Is Long and Full of Grumbles

Well, at least the pig exited covered with lipstick.

The Mets fell behind 4-0 against a scintillating Yu Darvish on a night when Taijuan Walker didn’t have his best stuff, kept getting into trouble of his own making, and had very little in terms of bullpen and bench behind him – a situation that led to some conservative calls in the dugout by Luis Rojas. And yet they came within a couple of whispers – a great play without a disastrous reversal, a runner’s mad dash getting just a little madder, a sharp hit not hitting the mound – of erasing the deficit and maybe stealing a game from Fernando Tatis Jr.  and his supporting cast.

The result was a Rorschach game: Maybe this long journey into Friday morning left you impressed with the pluck and spunk on display in a losing cause; maybe it left you annoyed with Rojas, fate or both; maybe you can’t make up your mind between the two. All valid – the older I get, the less interested I am in telling other people what to feel, and that forbearance goes double for anyone who slogs all the way through a West Coast night game. If you survived you get to pen your own memoir of the journey.

But we can all agree that Tatis is an electric presence, which baseball sorely needs, and that the Padres are a lot of fun, the kind of relentlessly uptempo outfit whose first impression creates lifelong fans. Retiring Tatis on a foul pop in the first felt like getting away with something, and the rest of the game seemed to revolve around him. Meanwhile, the Padres’ grabby, semi-reckless energy was on display from the very first inning: Manny Machado made a tricky play at third to throw out James McCann as if expanding the diamond by 10% was no big deal, and Jurickson Profar arrived at second faster and harder than one would expect on a sure fielder’s choice. Not to mention the crowd’s delight at Darvish’s unlikely hitting heroics – he’s their Al Leiter.

Darvish is one of those pitchers who seems like he should never lose. He’s got an arsenal with the depth of Bret Saberhagen’s and the ability to throw between 67 and 97 with pitches that comes from the same angle and follow the same apparent path before deviating from it too late for hitters to react. Now throw in that strange hesitation in his windup: He pauses with his knee on the way up, then raises it slowly and a little creakily, like an old winch that needs to be babied, and then he’s through his motion and the ball is on you faster than you think.

It was Tatis, of course, who drew first blood for the Padres, but it came with a painful asterisk: In the third, with Machado on first, Tatis hit a high arcing drive to dead center. Mason Williams went up for the ball, which thudded into his glove but also drove it backwards, so that the ball flopped out and went over the fence. Williams was left with his hands on his head in horror, the author of a great catch that somehow became a disaster. (Still, the mischance felt overdue – and the Padres’ post-homer “swag chain” is all kinds of awesome.)

In the fifth, with the Mets down 3-0, Williams got their first hit and the tying run came to the plate with two out. It was Walker, who’d thrown 81 pitches … but Rojas let him hit, mindful of how taxed the bullpen was because of David Peterson’s Wednesday woes and of his short bench. Walker grounded out, which was unfortunate; worse, he then yielded a fourth run (albeit unearned) on a Tatis dash for home on a wild pitch, and departed after five.

I’m not a Rojas detractor – he’s almost preternaturally even-keeled, which I suspect players appreciate even more than they did a generation ago, and his team seems to like him and play hard for him. And he has a far better gauge of his clubhouse’s injuries and levels of exhaustion than any of us do. That said, I would have called for a pinch-hitter in hopes of getting back in the game and worried about tomorrow tomorrow; from the state of Mets Twitter, plenty of my fellow partisans agreed. Rojas might counter that he’ll almost certainly need bullpen length with Joey Lucchesi on the mound tonight and such a move would have been missing the forest for the trees, but I don’t think I agree. This felt like letting a healthy tree get sawed down right in front of you because you were looking way off into that forest — I’ve seen too many seasons come down to a game or two and a regretful look back at the calendar at losses you can’t ever get back.

Still, the Mets hadn’t surrendered. In the sixth, they cut the deficit in half on a two-run homer by McCann that drove in Francisco Lindor, yet another pairing of two high-priced acquisitions a lot of fans would have gladly consigned to a yard sale a week or so ago. For the 400th or so time, don’t make big, confident conclusions in May.

Darvish departed in favor of Tim Hill, a Laredo thrower who confronts batters with impossible arm angles and a following cross-body kick. He walked Billy McKinney and got Brandon Drury to hit a grounder to second, which Tatis dropped in his haste to turn a double play.

Up came Pete Alonso to pinch-hit – the guy many Mets fans had wanted an inning before, now front and center in a perfect spot. Alonso always looks sad at the plate: closing his eyes, looking skyward, and trying to get his breath. I’m sure he’s just visualizing a good outcome, but it looks like he’s in agony – which he really was in after hitting into the DP Tatis had just missed out on.

The Mets got closer in the eighth, when McKinney slammed a ball off the top of the right-field wall to bring in Lindor, with only Machado’s playing deep in the shift beyond second preventing an inside-the-park homer for the tie. (When a team has two right fielders at the optimum moment, maybe it isn’t your night.) In the ninth, Mark Melancon yielded a leadoff single to Tomas Nido and walked Jose Peraza. That’s the one situation where a bunt’s defensible, but Travis Blankenhorn was told to swing away. He put together a very patient at-bat (his second in a row) but hit a grounder to third, which Machado only converted into a lone out. Up stepped Kevin Pillar, who spanked a ball up the middle – one that struck the mound and wound up right where Ha-Seong Kim had shifted.

Ballgame. Exit the pig, covered with blue and orange lipstick and protesting the indignity of such treatment. And exit a ballgame that the Mets had clearly lost and yet then somehow almost won. Might have won, except for the ball assisted over the fence and the second shot at an enemy double play and the backup by a third baseman in right-center and the ball that spent all its energy hitting the mound. Which is to say, the one they didn’t win.

9 comments to The Night Is Long and Full of Grumbles

  • Seth

    Ouch, a lot of stuff happened but I felt like that Pete at-bat was the ballgame. And he didn’t even stay in the game, to add insult to injury.

  • eric1973

    Didn’t see Rojas’ presser after the game, but I bet he said he took Alonso out of the game, because after ‘many conversations’ before the game, that was the plan going in.

    And heaven forbid he ever makes a gut decision and deviates from ‘the process.’

    Alonso’s turn came up later in the game, and at that point we had nothing.

  • JM

    With this team, the difference between wins and losses seems razor thin. When they’re winning, usually against second-division teams, the breaks go their way. When they have to play up in competition (now 2-11 against teams over .500), they, for some reason, get unlucky. Besides the almost HR that McKinney hit, they also had two balls just go foul (Dom hit one, Peraza, I think, hit the other). I wonder if it has to do with relative lack of experience for some guys, as even the bench mob have historically been relegated to supporting roles.

  • dmg

    Glad not to be alone on the “don’t have Walker hit here” limb.
    Part of managing is knowing the important points of a game. This one was obvious, and trading for an extra inning of an already tired Walker pitching was not going to end well no matter what. As it happened, that extra inning delivered the one run the Mets could not catch up to.

  • Dave

    We’re into June, and it seems pretty obvious to me that the injuries and the either pitchers who can’t go deep or the managers who don’t trust them to go deep isn’t going to change. MLB should issue an executive order that the rosters are expanded to 30 players. Every game has a winning team and a losing team, but I feel like there are lots of games lost simply because the manager doesn’t have enough pitchers or bench to play a competitive 9-inning game.

  • open the gates

    Eh. To me, this was just one of those games. You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some. The Pods were in better shape to win, thanks to the Mets short bench and Peterson’s collapse the day before. Fernando’s kid is a pretty ok player. Rojas’ decisions were equally arguable on either side. To me, it’s a tip your hat and move on night. (And I did listen to the whole game from the East Coast, so I am certainly entitled to my opinion, thank you.)
    The one inarguably good thing for me was that I finally got around to downloading an Audacy app, so I can take Howie and Wayne wherever my phone goes. That’s pretty decent lipstick. (Yeah, I know Howie was off last night. Like I said, just one of those games…)

  • Daniel Hall

    Do I put down an assist for Williams in the scorecard, or is it…?

    Also, Mets are getting swept this weekend, and next weekend, too. That 2-10 record against above-.500 teams entering the set was gloomy, but it’s not gonna get better from here……

  • […] The Night Is Long and Full of Grumbles »    […]