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Hello Again, Little Black Cloud

Welp, the little black cloud is back.

This was a 2014 Mets game concocted from all-too-familiar ingredients: The recipe calls for mostly good starting pitching, a pretty good bullpen, no offense, some fundamentally dumb baseball, a dash of tragedy and a pinch of farce. Stir for nearly four hours and you get an aggravating, annoying loss [1].

I said a dash of tragedy, but for all I know it could be a bucket: David Wright [2] was scratched from the lineup with a sore shoulder, which he’s apparently been dealing with for a couple of weeks. He’s headed to New York for an MRI; I’m going to tentatively assume all will be fixable with a cortisone shot and a couple of days off, largely because Wright’s been hitting well recently. On the other hand, David’s a Met, so it’s entirely impossible the team doctors will strap him to a gurney and accidentally push it into an elevator shaft.

Without Wright, one was struck by just how threadbare and miserable this lineup is. The hitters did next to nothing, and further reduced that miserable output by a) hitting the ball to Andrew McCutchen [3]; and b) making dumb mistakes. The first is going to happen; the second shouldn’t happen but all too frequently does with this bunch. There was Chris Young [4] getting picked off first, Daniel Murphy [5] taking the bat out of Lucas Duda [6]‘s hands with one of his chronic “WHEE I’M AN INVISIBLE NINJA!” delusions and Jacob deGrom [7] short-circuiting an inning with a terrible bunt.

On the mound deGrom acquitted himself pretty well, as did Josh Edgin [8] and Jeurys Familia [9] and Jenrry Mejia [10] (more on him in a bit). But deGrom failed to cover first on a ball that Duda knocked into foul territory. That gave the Pirates an extra out, and Jordy Mercer [11] took advantage with a two-run single that tied the game and turned it into a bullpen battle.

A bullpen battle that the umpires crashed, but don’t be fooled: The real villain was Ruben Tejada [12]. In the 10th, Tejada thought he’d tagged Josh Harrison [13] trying to steal second. Unlike last week, Tejada signaled aggressively that the Mets should challenge the call. Progress! Unfortunately, Tejada was wrong and Harrison was safe. Beat head against wall! Harrison then got too frisky on a grounder to Mejia and was caught in a rundown between second and third. Runners aren’t allowed to depart from the basepaths by more than three feet, but Harrison’s journey to third resembled something out of the Family Circus crossed with the Israelites in the desert. The umpires, in their modernist wisdom, ignored niceties such as Harrison having taken a detour onto the infield grass and ruled him safe. It was a ludicrously bad call even by 2014 standards, but the Mets were accessories to the crime: The rundown was a disaster, a  1-6-5-6 farce that ended with Chris Young [4] waiting for a throw at third that never came because Tejada decided Harrison was out of the baseline and waited for the umps to call him out. Ruben was correct, but that’s not the way you do things, and it’s high time someone told him that.

That bit of wacky hijinks left Mejia facing second and third and none out, but he went to work, fanning Travis Snider [14] and Neil Walker [15] and getting Russell Martin [16] to fly to right. It was impressive and heartening and inspiring … and mattered not at all about 10 minutes later, when Vic Black [17] allowed a walk and a walk-off double to Harrison.

Harrison was out of the baseline again while getting dogpiled by his happy teammates, but the umps didn’t call that one either, and so it goes.