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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.

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Fearful Symmetry

Let’s get this part out of the way: I was in the front of the Promenade a fair distance down the first-base line. So I can’t tell you jack about Max Scherzer‘s stuff or location or exactly what happened to various Met defenders or anything else that relies on the nuance of an up-close view. Being in the park isn’t about any of those things unless you’re in the really fancy seats; rather, it’s about what you can’t recreate in your living room, namely becoming a small part of a shared experience.

And hey, that part was fun, even as everything else proved frustrating. The high-water mark, of course and alas, came when Francisco Lindor drove a Seranthony Dominguez sinker to deep center with no one out in the ninth and Starling Marte on second. The ball was going to be gone for a walkoff homer, or off the wall for a walkoff single, or at least it was going to be a long fly that would move Marte to third and allow the Mets to win the game on a walkoff a batter later, and Citi Field was one gigantic jet-engine roar which you knew was only prelude to the bigger roar to come.

Well, except it never did.

Lindor’s drive was a long fly. Marte did indeed move to third. And so the ninth inning came down to Dominguez against Daniel Vogelbach, who hit the requisite fly ball to left, where someone named Matt Vierling was waiting. It wasn’t as deep as you’d like, but it would take a perfect throw to get Marte, whom Joey Cora properly sent homeward. Vierling’s throw came in hard and slightly up the first-base line, where J.T. Realmuto snapped it out of the air before flinging himself at Marte, catching him across the chest a moment before his hand slapped the plate. The Mets wouldn’t win in a walkoff, Vogelbach’s rocket ride as Citi Field cult hero wouldn’t reach new heights, and the Mets and Phillies would play on into extra innings.

Honestly, it was kind of a miracle that things got that far. Scherzer looked out of sorts in the early going, battling himself and a run of buzzard’s luck that saw plays not quite made, ducksnorts and parachutes drop onto the outfield grass, and two Met infielders exit — Eduardo Escobar with what’s billed as a side injury and Jeff McNeil with a lacerated finger suffered in an odd collision with Rhys Hoskins. But then other Mets looked out of sorts too — besides the defense being ever so slightly miscalibrated, the hitters did next to nothing against Ranger Suarez, who hung around far later than most enemy starters these days. The Phillies, meanwhile, were playing crisp defense, perhaps mindful of all the bulletin-board material Keith Hernandez recently gave them.

One team played crisp and clean and the other one looked a bit ragged, but that still meant a 1-1 tie going to the 10th.

And then, ah, the bedrock unfairness of baseball. Mychal Givens made a nifty play on a little tapper, then got a flyout and a strikeout — a blameless performance for which he was rewarded with a loss. That flyout unfolded almost as a mirror image of the play on Marte: Alec Bohm hit a fly to Marte, a bit deeper than Vogelbach’s, which Marte fired in to Tomas Nido on one hop, in plenty of time to get Bryson Stott at the plate — except that hop was a short hop, and the ball ticked off the tip of Nido’s mitt and bounded away. Could Nido have fielded it? Yes. Was it a tricky hop requiring a do-or-die snag? Also yes. Did the Mets make those kind of plays on Friday night? Not often enough.

The ball bounded away, allowing Stott to score and the Phillies to turn the ball over to David Robertson, so recently coveted as one of our bullpen additions. (That was perhaps a little extra cruel.) Robertson got Tyler Naquin looking at a cutter on the edge of the strike zone, elicting a big collective oof! from the crowd, and then coaxed a grounder from Luis Guillorme, and so the Phillies had won — a win they thoroughly earned, but one that will leave a mark anyway.

6 comments to Fearful Symmetry

  • Curt Emanuel

    For fans of whichever team lost this was going to be a would-coulda-shoulda game. You’ve outlined our reasons. Phillies fans would have looked at the number of baserunners and hits vs Max with little to show for it.

    Though the biggest woulda-coulda-shoulda may be the guy who closed the game for them.

    I apologize if this shows up twice, thought I submitted it already, I must’ve messed something up.

    • Eric

      Him and/or the high-leverage bullpen addition on the other division rival.

      Givens isn’t a closer like Robertson and Iglesias, yet it appears he’ll be filling a high-leverage role for the Mets.

      Can’t fault Givens for the run he gave up to lose the game, though. He did his job. The pitching overall did its job last night.

      The Phillies winning run scored on a defensive miscue on a play in the 10th that was the same difficulty as the play the Phillies made in the 9th to prevent the Mets winning run. The Mets also had several opportunities to tack on runs, including man on 3rd less than 2 outs, but RISP LOB.

      The Mets should have won the game, but they didn’t deserve to win it. The Phillies did, so Scherzer (and Diaz and Givens) got deGromed.

  • Eric

    For the Phillies, and to a lesser extent the Braves, this stretch of games is their best shot at the division and realistically their last shot if they fail. Plus the 3rd wildcard race is close.

    The Phillies made a statement by playing playoff-worthy quality baseball to beat the Mets ace while the Mets fell short. It was a reminder that the Mets aces make the team formidable, not invincible.

    The Mets have a cushion they earned, but the cushion is not so great yet that they can coast to the division title — not if the Phillies and Braves seize the opportunity of this stretch.

  • Bob

    Reading Box scores, summary in LA Times this AM, they quote
    Keith Hernandez on Filthies defense.

    On All in The Family, Archie often told Edith to “stifle yourself”..
    Perhaps our Mets beloved announcer can take that advice…

    Let’s Go Mets!

    • Eric

      To be fair to Hernandez, the Phillies that beat the Mets last night were different than the team we saw in April and May. The spring-time Phillies weren’t a playoff-quality team. The team that beat the Mets last night is a contender. I guess he doesn’t pay attention to how other teams are doing and improving.

      • Bob

        I agree!
        When I checked team Fielding Stats this AM-there it was–Mets just a tad worse than the Filthies on defense.
        But we have better hitting & pitching!
        Let’s Go Mets!