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Second Verse, Same as the First

My absence [1] from Citi Field has ended. Thirteen months after I was last there, I returned with Emily and Joshua for a game under sparkling skies. We had tacos. We caught up with friends. We ate ice cream (with blue and orange Mets sprinkles). We eyed the new scoreboard and declared it a nice addition, though not one that cried out for multiple press releases. We complained about “Piano Man.” (Sorry, blog partner.) We navigated the new longer lines and seemingly randomly placed metal detectors. (A tip: Use the bullpen gate.) And we cheered for the Mets.

It was a wonderful day … except for whatever those guys in orange and blue down there on the field were doing.

We’re into the second month of the season, which isn’t too early for a scouting report on the 2015 Mets: They’ve got very good pitching, iffy hitting and wretched defense.

Dillon Gee [2] was very good, and the relief corps was terrific, particularly turbaned Alex Torres [3], who came in with the bases loaded and nobody out and struck out the side.

The hitting, ugh. The Mets put two men on to begin the first and squandered the chance. Then, down 1-0 in the eighth, they were a Lucas Duda [4] fly ball from tying it. Duda fanned on a diving slider that was low and outside. Michael Cuddyer [5] then struck out on a check swing at a slider that hit the ground. Kevin Plawecki [6]‘s double was the lone extra-base hit.

Yet once again, it was the defense that proved the Mets’ undoing by giving the Nationals extra outs. This time the culprit was Ruben Tejada [7], who botched a transfer on a double-play feed from Dilson Herrera [8]. That led to a Ryan Zimmerman [9] broken-bat parachute that plopped onto the outfield grass behind Duda, and the only run Washington would need.

In other words, it was pretty much a Xerox of Saturday’s game [10], and about as much fun.

Oh, Ruben Tejada. He made a terrific snag of a ball to his right on Saturday night, but the routine plays have eluded him. Which sounds like I’m describing Wilmer Flores [11], currently waiting out a head-clearing three-day vacation from shortstop. Except Flores can hit, to the extent that any Met can hit right now. Your answer to “Who the heck can keep us from losing games at shortstop?” appears to be someone not currently on the big-league roster.

That question is taking on increasing urgency. The Mets can’t outhit their own mistakes while missing David Wright [12] and Travis d’Arnaud [13], absences that have left Duda basically naked in an underwhelming lineup. (I have faith that Cuddyer will hit — he’s done so his whole career — but really wish he’d start proving me right.)

Until Wright and d’Arnaud return, expect more games like today’s — games that will come down to which team converts outs more reliably.

Judging from the last week or so, that’s not a reason for optimism.