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Going Numb

Matt Harvey wasn’t great, but he battled, to use a term from a similarly downtrodden era. The Mets’ bats were better than they’ve been, not that that’s saying much — they actually took an early lead, then came back against the Reds to tie the score. Daniel Murphy is back to demonstrating that none of this is his fault, while Rick Ankiel is welcome to keep proving me wrong [1] for as long as he can. As for Lucas Duda, his BABFS — that’s a sabermetrics term meaning “Batting Average on Balls Freaking Smoked” — remains an unlikely .000 in May, which one hopes is unsustainable. Minus several superb plays by Cincinnati fielders, in fact, this might be a happy recap [2] with a side of shrugging about a little tarnish on the Harvey halo.

Even Ike Davis didn’t look too bad — at least not with a bat in his hand. Ike drew a pair of walks and hit a ball to deep center field that might have gone out in August. Which would count as progress of a mildly pathetic sort, except it was overshadowed by what Ike did in the field with one out and two on in a tie game in the ninth.

Brandon Phillips and his enormous smile were at the plate. Shin-Soo Choo was at third. (By the way, we all know Soo will suck if he’s a Met next year, so don’t be too disappointed in December when the Wilpons force Sandy out in front of the cameras with a new story and timetable.) Joey Votto was at first. On an 0-1 count, Phillips hit a little bounder right down the first-base line. As the ball came towards him, Davis decided three things: 1) he didn’t have time to get Choo at the plate; 2) if he stepped on first, the force on Votto would be removed and Choo would score before a double play could be completed; and 3) the ball seemed destined to spin foul, leaving Phillips looking up at Bobby Parnell from an 0-2 hole.

So Ike let it go, Phil Cuzzi called it fair (correctly, I thought), Ike looked like an idiot and the Mets were on their way to another loss [3].

Ron Darling was indignant, as was Bobby Ojeda, though that’s Bobby O’s default condition. I wish I could have heard Keith Hernandez’s take. Probably Keith would have sighed and lamented the extinction of manliness — in his day first basemen caught balls in their teeth, shot umpires just to watch them die, etc. But possibly he would have sympathized with Ike’s dilemma [4], acknowledged the split-second he had to make a decision, and shrugged that sometimes you guess wrong.

Like everything else in this wrecked season, it doesn’t matter. Ike was on the field and so one way or another disaster found him. Simple as that.

Ike has been pretty even-keeled, all things considered. But while that’s admirable, I suspect he’s simply gone numb. He’s lost at the plate, he’s lost in the field, he’s probably lost picking out shirts and socks. The games rain down on his head in a drumbeat of futility, and he vaguely remembers that this used to be fun, and knows he┬áneeds help but has no idea what form that help should take. So he goes about what he’s doing waiting for something to change, but with no idea what that change will be or when it will happen.

In that regard, at least, I think we all know how he feels.

* * *

I’m off to Orlando until Sunday, so Greg will bear witness to this weekend’s curb-stomping by the Braves. But let me leave you with something Mets-related that doesn’t make you want to lie down in the road.

harv-sny [5]During the broadcast, SNY put up this interesting graphic about the most consecutive starts allowing 3 runs or less. (I filched it from Michael Baron [6]‘s Twitter feed.) I noticed that Doc’s streak of 24 was in the same year that his streak of 17 began, and wondered how many starts separated the two.

The answer: one.

Gooden gave up four runs [7] (three earned) on Opening Day of 1985, then reeled off those 24 straight superb starts. On August 15 he gave up five runs in five innings against the Phillies. (He still won.) The next start [8] in which he gave up more than three runs was May 22, 1986.

So over a stretch of 42 starts, Dwight Gooden gave up more than three runs exactly once.

Wow. Just … wow. Matt Harvey is a wonderful pitcher, and it’s been enormous fun watching Doc become Harvey’s Twitter cheering section [9]. But what Doc did a generation go was otherworldly.