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A Real Sense of Purpose Now

If R.A. Dickey had counted on the Met offense to act as his Sherpas when he set out to climb Kilimanjaro, he’d still be at base camp.

Tuesday night’s foiled attempt at scaling Win No. 19 goes down instead as Loss No. 5 for Dickey, which isn’t out of line with the reality of the game he threw. He pitched well enough to win until Tyler Moore associate-produced the pinch-homer that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit, at which point it could be said he pitched well enough to need a little help. Dickey was not his sharpest self for segments of seven innings, but he bore down when he could’ve cracked up, and he definitely could’ve been bailed out by a few more supportive swings of Met bats.

Fat chance. It was all the Mets could do to muster two runs (in one inning, no less!), then leave their knuckleballer twisting in the National wind. And that’s no sea breeze. The Nats are a frighteningly good team. R.A. called their lineup highly “functional” and the margin for error against them “minute,” both accurate assessments. Also, I think it’s safe to project that the bloggers of 2030 or thereabouts will spend some September weekend debating whether the Mets should really be presenting a crappy interpretive painting of Citi Field to Bryce Harper considering how he’s been killing us since 2012. No, a win versus these Nationals is not as automatically attainable as a win against these Mets. Yet for the second night in a row, Washington’s starter struggled enough so our fellas could be in position to kick the Nats’ door down.

But the Mets only tap lightly twice [1].

Jordan Zimmermann lasted five innings and permitted nine baserunners. Though one imagined Justin Turner was arranging his whipped cream pies to celebrate the Mets breaking their month-old one-run-or-less skid in the fifth (I truly hate this club’s “let’s pat each other on the head for doing anything well” culture), the two runs knitted together by Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright were all they had to show from six hits and three walks . And of course the bottom of the seventh, the Mets’ last chance to give their starter a boost, was like something out of The Sopranos — a big no-show job, that is; there was certainly no National pitching whacked.

The Mets don’t exist to serve R.A. Dickey’s quest for 19 or more wins [2], let alone his Cy Young candidacy, but geez, what else is there to strive toward with four handfuls of games left? The night had extra bite to it. Every face R.A. made had purpose. Every runner the Mets left stranded had sting. Every chance the Mets let blow by had consequences, even if it was for just one man out of however many guys are on the roster currently. When Moore’s home run took off for distant precincts, I actually heard myself caterwaul as I might have in other, more pressing Septembers. For a couple of hours I forgot the Mets had nothing to play for, perhaps because for a couple of hours the Mets had something to play for.