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Edwin, Jeurys and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I put off writing the recap of Friday night’s Mets baseball — the completion of Thursday’s suspended game [1] and Friday’s regularly scheduled contest with the Cardinals — in hopes that a night’s sleep would take the sting out of it.

Oh ha ha ha ha ha.

Nope, in the clear light of morning it hurts just as much, if not more. This was a ruinous day of baseball, one that began with the possibility of the Mets finally cresting .500, which Mickey Callaway [2] seems to think will unlock qualities as yet unseen in them, but ended with all of us wondering if mediocrity is even attainable this season.

More on that in a minute, but first, the gory details. The day began with the Mets doing nothing in the first-to-arrive bottom of the ninth, like a meal eaten backwards — think of it as pine-tar upside-down cake. They then sent Edwin Diaz [3] out for the 10th in hopes that a night’s sleep would have revitalized his arsenal and erased his bad luck. Neither hope was fulfilled — Diaz got unlucky on a Yairo Munoz [4] leadoff single, then left a four-seam fastball up to Paul DeJong [5], who doesn’t need help brutalizing anyone in a Met uniform. The Mets had lost [6], and 40-odd minutes later they went back out for the nightcap.

Which followed the same heart-yanked-out-and-displayed-to-you narrative as its predecessor. Steven Matz [7] threw one bad pitch, but the Mets erased a three-run deficit on Matz’s solo homer, a Pete Alonso [8] fielder’s choice and a two-run single by Wilson Ramos [9]. With the seventh inning in the books, the Mets had a one-run lead.

There’s a difference of opinion in official Met circles about whether Seth Lugo [10] can appear on consecutive days. We’ll leave that to stew about some other day; the relevant point is he didn’t enter the game, Jeurys Familia [11] did, and a couple of minutes after that the game was tied and a couple of minutes after that the game was lost [12]. Familia has a 6.91 ERA, a three-year contract, and a lot that needs fixing.

So what’s broken with Familia? Hell if I know. Hell if I know what’s wrong with Diaz. My suspicion is that a lot of these Met maladies have to do with sliders refusing to slide in 2019 — the homers stuck on Familia’s ledger by DeJong (inevitably) and Dexter Fowler [13] came on sliders, and you could ask Jacob deGrom [14], Noah Syndergaard [15] and Zack Wheeler [16] about the state of their sliders and get some interesting answers. But what’s happening with the ball and whether or not it was deliberate isn’t going to help the 2019 Mets, or our sanity.

For now, we’re left with the unpleasant reminder that nothing is more painful than a bad bullpen. There are lots of ways to be a lousy team, but that one’s the worst, because it corrodes the joy of baseball. If your team grabs a lead, you feel like you’re being set up for a joke. Instead of trading high-fives, you hunker down and wait for the gut punch. You’re Charlie Brown [17] with the football, Sisyphus with the boulder, or one of too many Met relievers with the ball and the responsibility.

Which brings us back to the question of .500. Putting aside how laudable a goal it is — Tom Seaver [18] had something pointed to say about that once upon a time — when the Mets finish up with the Cardinals they will play their next 19 games against the Braves, Cubs, Phillies and Yankees, bringing them to the All-Star break.

Those four clubs have a collective winning percentage of .572. You never know in baseball, but those 19 games may provide a decisive verdict about who, exactly, the 2019 Mets are and what’s possible for them.

Come get us, Brodie Van Wagenen crowed in the winter. Now it’s summer, the team he constructed is a mess, and four pretty good baseball clubs are about to answer his invitation.