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Another Dark Night

So what kind of loss would you prefer? One where the Mets look flat and inoffensive and collect no hits at all, or one where the Mets collect lots of hits, but can’t pitch, field or run the bases so it doesn’t matter [1]?

What’s that? You’d like neither? Sorry, not on the menu.

Unlike on Chris Heston [2]‘s big night [3], the Mets hit and hit from the get-go — Curtis Granderson [4] started off the game by tripling into the gap. Oh wait, Granderson thought the ball had been caught, so it was a double. Except it was a single. That’s how it’s going these days: The Mets hit but still screw up somehow.

Granderson recovered from his self-colonoscopy but wound up getting thrown out at home from me to you, to use a baseball saying I’ve always loved without really understanding it — even Tim Teufel [5] had a crappy night. Wilmer Flores [6] seemed to save the day by driving in two runs, but that only got the Mets even — because Matt Harvey [7] had given up a two-run homer to Joe Panik [8] in the top of the first.

On an 0-2 fastball, no less.

It was just the beginning of Harvey’s troubles. The Mets grabbed a 4-2 lead, but Harvey unraveled in the sixth: Panik singled, Angel Pagan [9] singled, Buster Posey [10] doubled into the corner (on another 0-2 pitch), Brandon Belt [11] homered, Brandon Crawford [12] doubled but was thrown out at third, and after an out Justin Maxwell [13] homered.

Harvey’s record over his last four starts: 1-3, 7.20 ERA and eight homers surrendered. In 2013 he gave up seven homers all season.

So what’s wrong? After Harvey’s unceremonious departure, there were as many theories as there were Twitter accounts and SNY microphones. Maybe it’s a hangover from Tommy John [14] surgery: Adam Wainwright [15]‘s ERA was nearly 4.00 in his first post-TJ campaign, after all. Maybe it’s not having a feel for the killer slider that complements the fastball. Maybe it’s not pitching inside enough — Giants hitters were leaning out for pitches like they were at the buffet. Maybe it’s just the usual learning curve of a sophomore season.

Most likely it’s a little bit of everything above. Harvey, to his credit, was his toughest critic after the game, talking about being “all over the place” in a “pretty poor performance” and stubbornly returning, mantra-like, to insisting that figuring out will begin tomorrow.

Which would be great, but the Mets have more to fix. Their baserunning was abysmal, their infield and outfield play was poor, and they’re playing with no real bench until they sort out some mysterious transaction that seems to involve Kevin Plawecki [16], Dilson Herrera [17], Bobby Parnell [18] and possibly others from a list that could include Dillon Gee [19], Aramis Ramirez [20], Ryan Braun [21] and Ted Williams [22]‘s frozen head.

Let’s hope that restructuring begins tomorrow too. It was good to have Travis d’Arnaud [23] back, but Eric Campbell [24] has to be moved off third base sooner rather than later — the highlight of SNY’s telecast was Ron Darling [25] dispassionately noting that Campbell doesn’t have a lot of range or confidence at third, so he compensates for that by playing back and not coming in on balls, which leaves him a second or two slow trying to turn double plays. Last night’s game was all the evidence one needs to see why that’s not a good idea.

Once whatever mysterious transacting has been completed, Herrera should take over at second, with Ruben Tejada [26] moving to third until he’s, in turn, supplanted by Daniel Murphy [27]. That ought to stabilize things a bit, without disrupting Wilmer Flores’s development as a shortstop. (Which you’re welcome to say is also a bad idea.) But it also involves waiting — and then, once the waiting’s over, hoping for an outcome that’s dependent on a best-case scenario, such as a 21-year-old being ready for a regular big-league job. In the meantime, the Mets are playing short in any number of ways. Which has only been happening since the first day we heard the name “Bernie Madoff.”

It’s getting old, to say the least. And it’s too much for any baseball superhero to fix.