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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Quality Stops

The 25-minute sogginess delay at the outset. The third starting catcher in three starts. The unfamiliar opponent from the uninvited league. The ballpark and broadcast advertisements for a namesake casino that misidentifies his number. The odds that it had to happen eventually. The species of which every member is human.

Jacob deGrom did not throw a quality start on Tuesday night versus the Minnesota Twins at clammy Citi Field. He did not pitch six innings or more. He did not limit opposing batters to three runs or less. The outs he generated were loud and infrequent. The hits he surrendered were louder and continual. There was nothing to deGrom’s four-inning, six-run, eight-hit, three-homer performance to suggest he is the best pitcher in professional baseball, let alone the pitcher who shares statistical space with Bob Gibson.

For that, we’ll have to rely on the previous 26 starts when No. 48 was the personification of beautiful music and the comprehension that one ugly outing is a blip, not a trend. They don’t take action on sports, but even if they did, I doubt the savviest oddsmakers at Jake’s 58 — which refers to an exit on the LIE, not our ace’s ERA — would bet on this kind of night befalling deGrom again soon, never mind often.

Sadly, Tuesday’s long shot wager that somebody would sooner or later stick it to deGrom paid off. That’ll happen when inverses are wild. Balls that normally confound did not move until whacked hard and far. Presumed put away pitches were never unpacked. The magic of Miami morphed into miasma versus Minnesota. Travis d’Arnaud, catching anybody for the first time in a year, was on the receiving end instead of everybody else. DeGrom persevered triumphantly with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day. He elevated Tomás Nido to such an extent that the relative neophyte last week referred to catching his teammate as an honor. We know the rapport Jacob built with Devin Mesoraco en route to the 2018 Cy Young.

D’Arnaud isn’t any of those backstops, but it’s not like he and Jake have never formed a functioning battery before (59 times before Tuesday). With Travis at last uninjured and Ramos requiring as many Buffalo breaks as can be rustled up, it’s not unreasonable to see Td’A penciled into the 2 position on our scorecards. If any pitcher figured to ease a long-absent catcher back into a big league groove, His Smoothness Himself was an optimal option. So let’s not hang this non-quality start on the catcher (except maybe the Twins’ catcher, Mitch Garver, who blasted two of those home runs off Jake). D’Arnaud will be there for deGrom again and deGrom will be there for all of us.

When Jake left shockingly early, the Mets trailed, 6-1. When everybody filed out, the Mets had lost, 14-8, and Stephen Colbert was winding down his monologue. That and the ten baseballs Citi Field couldn’t contain should tell you deGrom wasn’t the only pitcher on either side several exits east of effective. Twin bats were smoking, sure (they ordered six of those taters), but their arms were in ashes. Minny starter Kyle Gibson couldn’t make it through five. Six relievers followed him, none exactly saving the bullpen unless you count Chase De Jong, who came on in the ninth to protect a 14-4 lead and expended 46 pitches in the service of the final three outs, the third of which wasn’t obtained until six Mets reached base and four those crossed home plate. Lest we feel high and mighty about our late-night momentum, the Twins had only (only?) 10 runs total entering the top of the ninth. Then along came Jason Vargas to get some work in, presumably because Kevin Plawecki and Jose Reyes are no longer on the roster. Vargas was VERY VARGAS, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman nearly as much.

The Mets have been outscored 26-17 in their past two games. It doesn’t speak well for those who teed up the 26, but the 17 part implies certain inherent charms. I mean, runs…right? Who doesn’t like those? We simply request a more equitable allotment.

Six of the eight the Mets managed from perpetually behind Tuesday night were driven in by players whose names end in an “o,” which seems apropos given that their collective impact on the Mets’ fortunes in the game added up to 0. Yet solace is to be had in Amed Rosario stroking three hits; Brandon Nimmo lifting himself off the dinger schneid; Michael Conforto going deep day after day; and, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Swoboda, Pete Alonso writing a new foreword to the Met record book. The first baseman whose service time clock ticks on sans regret hit two more home runs Tuesday to bring his season and lifetime total to five. No Met rookie before Pete had hit five home runs in his first ten career games. No rookie of any kind had accumulated eleven extra-base knocks in his first ten career games. Pete has. If his unprecedented power display doesn’t fully make up for the first Met losing streak of 2019, it sure as hell makes you look forward to the Mets’ next chance to break it.

8 comments to Quality Stops

  • CharlieH

    Love me some Pete Alonso, but I also have a strong suspicion that — were I alive and cognizant for such things — I would have loved me some Marvelous Marv, too: that was a very nice Throneberrian moment for Pete in the eighth…

  • NostraDennis

    I don’t like that this team gets behind by six or eight runs.

    I do like that they don’t play like they’re behind by six or eight runa late in the game, when they could just as easily fold up their tents and accept a drubbing.

    One day soon they will be down six runs late in the game and score seven. I can feel it.

  • eric1973

    Had to happen sooner or later, so let’s at least be glad it happened outside our division. He’ll be back!

    As Vargas was VERY VARGAS, let’s get a hold of Keuchel’s number and close this deal. Just a guess on how to spell it, but no need to waste any research energy until he’s walking through our clubhouse.

    Sorry to digress, but Leroy Stanton died a few weeks ago in a car crash in South Carolina. He just missed out on the miracle in ’69, and will forever be remembered as the second man in the Nolan Ryan trade that got us Fregosi.

    Rest in peace, sir.

  • Gil

    The ball is way too juiced. I like watching baseball games, not homerun derby. I think its a real problem in the game. There were glorified check swings that were going out. In April. In a heavy wet fog. Wait till its 85 degrees with a warm wind blowing out. There might be bunt homeruns this year. Cockamaney.

  • Dave

    The young first baseman formerly known as Peter appears to be a very good baseball player.

  • open the gates

    It might sound trite, but the only other Met rookies I can remember arriving in the majors as…loudly…as young Mr. Alonso were gentlemen named Strawberry and Wright and Jefferies. (Also a guy named Vail, but we’ll keep him parenthetized, for safety purposes.)

  • Did anyone else notice the irony of deGrom’s phenomenal streak being interrupted by a team starting a Gibson? He was trying to surpass Bob Gibson in this game, but he couldn’t outdo Kyle Gibson on this night. Kinda weird stuff…

    Greg, love your alliteration on the letter ‘m’!

  • […] wasn’t Tuesday, the previous deGrom start that lacked quality. He didn’t get jumped on but he was clearly groping for his groove. For five innings it was out […]