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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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Attention: The 7 Train is Running on the 4 Track

The lazy interpretation of a Mets win over the Yankees is that the Mets looked like the Yankees and vice-versa, ha-ha; you can almost hear it coming out of the generic local anchor throwing it to sports. Excuse me while I step outside and punch that narrative in the face.

Yet now that I’ve gone there, Tuesday night’s game felt actually did kind of feel like that in form, never mind function. Everything that went particularly right for the Mets is what usually goes wrong in these Subway Series games. Can’t you picture…

• The Mets scoring two in the second inning, getting our hopes up that we’re gonna blow this thing open early;

• The Yankees’ starter settling in after that shaky second, not surrendering anything else and lasting into the seventh;

• A Met leading off the top of an inning landing a sure triple beyond the reach of the Yankee center fielder, but the Yankee right fielder — who you keep hearing isn’t really a right fielder at all but he sure can hit — scurrying into the picture from out of nowhere to cut the carom off and keeping the Met from advancing beyond second…and that same leadoff Met baserunner ending the inning stranded on third;

• A Yankee who is quietly having a very fine offensive year abruptly breaking up the Met starter’s shutout with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the same inning that the Met’s prospective triple was reduced to a double;

• The Yankee bullpen springing into action, with their just-activated veteran lefty specialist getting two key outs and their most dependable reliever — who you keep hearing has grown eminently hittable — putting up a crucial zero;

• A Yankee ground ball becoming a Met error to begin the eighth and that Yankee baserunner scoring all the way from first when the next Yankee hitter — the guy who homered his last time up — booms a double that has the Met center fielder — the guy whose sure triple was limited to a double — diving futilely in pursuit, suddenly dissolving the longstanding Met lead into a tie, with the Yankees are threatening to burst in front;

• The Mets opting, with one out, for an intentional walk to put two on ahead of the next Yankee hitter, their slowest baserunner, but instead of the slow Yankee grounding into a double play, he lines a ball hard into left to load the bases;

• The next Yankee batter, whose stellar credentials have been buried in a slump (including two inning-ending DP grounders in this game), shaking off whatever’s ailing him and lines a two-run double to left to bring in two Yankee runs and give them a 4-2 lead;

• The Yankee closer opening the door to a potential ninth-inning Met comeback with a little careless fielding;

• The Met who reaches first inexplicably taking off for second down two with two out and almost getting himself thrown out to end the game with the potential tying run at the plate;

• Replay review showing he is safe, but what a reckless chance for the Mets runner to take;

• And the Met batter, who you’re sure you remember coming through in the past, keeping you believing something good will happen as he works the count to three-and-two, fouling off pitch after pitch;

• Finally, his last foul landing in the Yankee catcher’s mitt…and then popping out of it into his bare hand…then out of his bare hand and into his mitt…while it rains?

What a rotten way to end another miserable Subway Series game.

EXCEPT IT WAS THE OPPOSITE OF THAT! All the Yankee stuff was Met stuff and all the Met stuff was Yankee stuff! Maybe Chipper Jones was right — maybe that stuff is interchangeable!

Just to be clear…

It was Zack Wheeler, not James Paxton, who bent early but didn’t break thereafter.

It was Jeff McNeil (he of the world-leading .351 average), not Aaron Judge, making the heady play from right to help out Michael Conforto, and Aaron Hicks rather than, say, Amed Rosario being held to a double when you were sure he was destined for a triple.

It was J.D. Davis putting the Mets on the board with a homer, not Gio Urshela doing the same for the Yankees.

It was Met relievers Justin Wilson — remember him? — and Seth Lugo — remember him? — who held the fort tightly, no matter that Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton are generally the local relievers credited as impeccable cogs in a smoothly operating shutdown machine.

And the bottom of the eighth featured Pete Alonso reaching on an E-5; Alonso hustling home on Davis’s second huge extra-base hit of the evening; Wilson Ramos crossing up a sound GIDP strategy with a hard-hit single; and Conforto busting out at last with that game-changing double. It was also DJ Lamahieu committing the E-5; Hicks diving to no avail as J.D.’s double flew past him; Ottavino failing to lasso our Buffalo; and Britton succumbing to Conforto, Conforto’s uncharacteristic 1-for-24 slump notwithstanding.

Oh, and Gardner, as opposed to a neophyte like Dominic Smith, was the left fielder who couldn’t hope to track down Conforto’s two-run double, which made Michael’s tiebreaker all the more cathartic. Gardner has been tracking down everything every Met has hit for a decade.

Gardner also couldn’t benefit from Didi Gregorius taking second on Ramos’s non-defensive indifference two outs after Gregorius reached first when Edwin Diaz didn’t properly cover first to start the top of the ninth. The Mets tried challenging via video replay, but Gregorius was safe and, with Gardner up, it didn’t necessarily feel like the Mets’ lead was. The presence of Diaz in ninth innings hasn’t exactly paralleled that of Aroldis Chapman, and the rain that began to fall could have been taken for an omen.

Finally, Ramos, the catcher Noah Syndergaard has let it be known he prefers not to throw to, because it’s what all the big-time Mets pitchers are avoiding…did Ramos really not hold on to a foul tip strike three twice?

Really. But he held it a third time for the third out and the Mets held on, 4-2, and held off the Yankees the way the Yankees too often hold on and hold off the Mets. That’s when the Yankees aren’t simply homering every three swings and beating the Mets by a lot. That happens too often, too.

But not Tuesday night. The Yankees didn’t homer at all (snapping a 31-game streak that spanned an ocean), the Yankees didn’t score after the second inning (which I wasn’t sure was legal) and the Mets wore the smiles of winners when it was over. Ramos smiled despite losing the grip on the baseball twice and the confidence of a second frontline starter. Diaz, whom I’ve mostly seen dourly explain what went wrong through an interpreter, was grinning at the juggling act his batterymate perfected. He even re-enacted it. Why shouldn’t Sugar smile sweetly? He’d pitched in his second game in a row and recorded his second save in two games. Diaz did that on Opening Day and in Game Two, and hadn’t done it since.

The Mets know the feeling. They hadn’t won two games in a row since before that very recent seven-game nosedive we were certain would never end. Yet it has. We beat the first-place Braves and the first-place Yankees in successive contests at Citi Field. We last pulled that particular trick in 2013. If you need a refresher from six years ago, first Ike Davis — no relation to J.D. — sprung briefly to life on a Sunday night to wake the Mets from a five-game coma versus Atlanta, then a team effort that featured Jon Niese (7 IP, 1 ER), David Wright (HR) and Daniel Murphy (go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth) overcame a Gardner triple to take the first of what became a four-game Subway Series sweep.

The Mets do occasionally win these matchups. They are occasionally immune to the dark arts of Brett Gardner. It only seems like only the opposite happens.

8 comments to Attention: The 7 Train is Running on the 4 Track

  • eric1973

    The old saying is that sometimes you see something in bsseball you have never seen before. Well, that last pitch qualifies, as I have never seen a catcher bat a ball back and forth on a strikeout, let alone on the final out of a game.

    Let’s hope Kranepool’s speech was inspirational and spurs this team on to another miracle. A winning streak has to begin with one, and then two, so tonite’s game is crucial.

    And PS: Noah ought to keep his big mouth shut, because he has been a major disappointment, and that stuff must be kept in-house.

  • Jacobs27

    Awesome to see this feeling broken down and put into words, thanks, Greg! Sometimes the would-be lazy narrative is spot on in spite of itself.

    Re: Ramos and Syndergaard. Agree that Syndergaard ought to keep such things from reporters, but it’s Callaway who is quoted, not him. To his credit, Ramos says all the right things.

    To Ramos’ discredit, though, I gotta say I understand where Syndergaard is coming from. The Post article quotes Callaway as saying Nido “receives the ball down better”. I’m no expert, that has seemed starkly clear to me recently. It’s not just Ramos’ porous blocking of balls in the dirt, it’s basic framing of the pitch at the bottom of the strike zone that Ramos seems to struggle with. In Syndergaard’s start against the Cardinals on June 15th, I remember at least a half dozen instances of pitches that were in the strike zone according to pitch-cast, but weren’t called in part because Ramos did not frame them at all. A good example, if you have to look, is Thor’s 1-2 curveball to Wacha leading off the 3rd inning. It doesn’t look like a strike because Ramos catches it with his glove turned and moving down, but it is. And even if it weren’t, a catcher ought to be able to catch it so it looks as much like one as possible. For whatever reason, Ramos doesn’t always seem to do that. I could see that being frustrating as a pitcher.

    • Jacobs27

      On the other hand, Ramos looked pretty good receiving Vargas yesterday, and he’s not exactly a high ball pitcher. So go figure.

  • Bob

    Casey would say–Why it’s just AMAZING!
    Mets beat skanks–rejoice!(at least for 1 day)
    Let’s Go Mets!

    Met fan since Polo Grounds–1963.

  • LeClerc

    Great way for Conforto to break out of a slump. More timely hitting from J.D.

    Nine innings of first rate pitching – bullpen putting up zeroes !

    Suggestion for Mickey & Noah re Ramos/Nido: Shut up.

  • Jacobs27

    Speaking of the 7 train, the Faith and Fear logo is made to look like the subway station signs. How did I never notice this before?? It’s such a great touch.

  • Henry J Lenz

    A nice review of a bizarro upside down ball game. A couple of thoughts. We were due for some good days now that the june gloom is over. Still think we’ll be sellers later this month. While I liked BVW lived up to his promise to sit with fans, there is some serious trolling on twitter against the 7 line’s treating him nicely. Would like reporters to dig a little and find out if he was asked any roster questions out there. And did anyone watch the end of last nite’s Dodger game? Elias reported no game ever ended before via a walkoff, with 5 straight 2 out walks.