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Monday Night’s Alright (For Not Fighting)

I guess it’s just something about San Diego.

Tonight’s Mets game wasn’t that much less stressful than Sunday’s — in fact, it followed the same approximate blueprint — but whereas yesterday I was finger-crossing and pleading while urging Antonio Bastardo [1] on from a continent away, tonight I was sprawled on my couch, occasionally losing track of the count even in tight moments.

Sure, on Sunday Bastardo had a much grimmer fix to escape and a smaller margin for error. But the Dodgers were still right there a swing away from ruining Monday evening, and Bastardo’s command of the strike zone was less than it had been. It’s got to be the venue: as long as it’s not the playoffs, Dodger Stadium feels more like a novelty or a vacation than one of the cauldrons of sportswriting cliche. Maybe it’s the catatonic locals, or the somehow soothing light blue and cream color scheme, or knowing Vin Scully’s on hand ladling out delightfully warm and sweet word caramel. Or maybe it’s that though there are bumps in the night in L.A., in Petco you go to sleep under the bed with an ax, because monsters own the house.

This one looked like a laugher early, with long-ago prodigal son Scott Kazmir [2] struggling to find his change-up and searching for support from the home-plate ump and his defenders. Curtis Granderson [3] whacked Kazmir’s first pitch over the wall and Steven Matz [4] was on the mound for the good guys, which usually guarantees the scoring will come early and often.

Tonight that was only half-true; Kazmir found himself and the Mets started losing track of baseball necessities, with a particularly doofy moment for Yoenis Cespedes [5] taking a run off the board. But Matz was in command on the mound and at the plate, continuing the recent run of pitcher heroics with an RBI double. A day after becoming a Met favorite, Bastardo faltered, though he got a shove off the ledge from a rare error by Juan Lagares [6]. No matter; this time it was Jim Henderson [7] as rescuer and Bastardo as rescuee; Big Canadian Jim fanned Yasiel Puig [8] and got Trayce Thompson [9] to pop up.

As for the confrontation with Chase Utley [10], well, it came too late in the evening for me to work up more than a vaguely pinched glower. (Though it was entertaining watching Hansel Robles [11] — denied hostile action either via managerial orders or a glance at the scoreboard — clearly hoping for a reason to take offense at something Utley had done.) Look, Utley’s team lost in October and he now has a Thou Shalt Not rule that will bear his name years after he’s retired; if Jacob deGrom [12] wants to bruise him with a fastball on Tuesday that’s fine, but it’s also fine if JdG sees 0-for-4 as vengeance enough.

Utley and the other Dodgers lost, the Nats won but were forbidden by math from intruding on first place (thanks math!), and the Mets kept rolling [13] after the sleepwalking start to their trip. Maybe it was the wee hours talking, but that struck me as more than enough for the night.