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They’re Dropping Like Mets

Matt Harvey [1] wasn’t supposed to pitch Friday night, but went seven. Zack Wheeler [2] is rarely supposed to hit, but he doubled as a pinch-hitter for Harvey. Robert Gsellman [3] neither hit nor pitch, yet he was bunted to second and took third on a groundout. Michael Conforto [4], despite presumed holes in his game, hit a home run the other way and made a running catch just shy of the left field sidewall. Curtis Granderson [5], mired in his traditional April morass, singled a run home in the fourth, clouted two runs home in the sixth and later slid just shy of the right field sidewall to catch a fly ball in the sitting position. That play was in the tenth, by the end of which Jerry Blevins [6], Addison Reed [7] and Josh Smoker [8] had combined for three shutout innings.

The Mets held their own with what comparatively little they had for as long as they could, past the regulation boundaries of a normal game, whatever a normal game is anymore. Eventually, though, the Mets — whoever the Mets are anymore — succumbed to their current state of affairs and lost to the Nationals, 4-3, in eleven.

Daniel Murphy [9] (.323/.362/.523) didn’t have quite a game for a change, but Bryce Harper [10] (.407/.521/.864) surely did [11]. Bryce tagged Harvey for a two-run homer in the “surprise — you’re starting!” first and evaded a tag from “surprise — you’re here at all!” third baseman T.J. Rivera [12] in the eleventh to set up what would become the winning run. Matt also gave up a solo shot to Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton [13], who crossed home plate and then texted Wilson Ramos [14] to let him know Nat catchers can still homer at will against Mets pitching.

Except for the two long balls, Matt, sans best stuff, kept Washington in gridlock. The Mets were a match for Tanner Roark [15], who gave up three runs in the other direction. The Nat bullpen, unfortunately, wasn’t so easily tapped, not even the enduring left arm of social pariah Oliver Perez [16]. It indeed took until the eleventh for everything to certifiably fall apart. Smoker’s best efforts from the tenth fogged over in the eleventh. He gave up a leadoff double to freaking Harper, stood on the mound while a signal was relayed indicating an intentional walk of Murphy and exited in favor of closer from happier times Jeurys Familia [17].

Familia tried shaking off his considerable rust Thursday night versus the Phillies, yet it clung stubbornly to his heretofore inactive right arm over thirty low-leverage pitches. Asked to rescue a game rather than save it during Friday’s eleventh, Jeurys wasn’t really Jeu-ready. He threw a pitch wild enough that allowed Harper to race to third from second. Kevin Plawecki [18] (another very recent promotion) took just long enough to find the handle before winging the ball to third just late enough so that Rivera couldn’t eliminate Harper. Replay review showed Bryce was barely but definitively safe. Murph, who courteously didn’t instigate a double play when he could have earlier — how do you suppose pinch-runner Gsellman moved up to third? — didn’t take second when he clearly could have. Daniel is still being Daniel, generously attempting to aid two teams at once.

The Mets could use two teams. Their first team continues to crowd Ray Ramirez’s spooky lair [19] and their second team inevitably finds its hands full. In this case, first and third with nobody out overwhelmed Familia. Two walks followed his wild pitch, which meant he loaded the bases and then opted for the unorthodox strategy of placing the go-ahead run on home. Then he fanned the next two batters, closing the barn door good and tight once the horse was securely outside of it.

No runs off Shawn Kelley [20] in the bottom of the eleventh, as the Mets went down for their sixth defeat in seven games [21]. Also, for those keeping score of those of whom you can’t necessarily expect to keep score of at present, no Lucas Duda [22] (DL), no Wilmer Flores [23] (DL), not much Asdrubal Cabrera [24] or Travis d’Arnaud [25] (able to pinch-hit as long as they don’t use their bodies), no Yoenis Cespedes [26] (at least not last night) and no deGrom. A stiff neck bumped our thus far most effective ace Friday. If it’s still stiff Saturday, Sean Gilmartin [27] is your starting pitcher for Matt Harvey Garden Gnome Day, when the first 15,000 and everybody else will wonder what the hell is going to go wrong next.

Things could get dicey in years that turned out swell. Read about those trials, tribulations and triumphs in Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star [28], my new book about Mets clubs that were alternately awful and awesome until they were ultimately Amazin’.