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Today Was Not a Good Day

Shot [1]. Chaser [2].

If I were a kind recapper, this paragraph wouldn’t exist. All you need to know is right up there, and why do you want to get riled up all over again? Go outside. Pet your dog. Call your mom. Do something else. Do anything else.

All right. The rest of you weird masochists can keep reading and absorb the earthshaking analysis that no one connected to the New York Mets had a good Sunday.

Even those whose statistics say they didn’t do anything terrible had a lousy day — that’s what happens when you drop both ends of a doubleheader, the first game in jaw-droppingly excruciating fashion, the second more mildly but still pathetically. Those blue and orange uniforms had some extra stink on them by the time the Mets got on the bus taking them the hell away from Yankee Stadium, or trudged through the streets of the Bronx ashamed of themselves, or whatever it is they had to do to go home and play the Marlins again (oh boy) tomorrow.

Rick Porcello [3], unexpectedly, was not one of the Mets who had a day to be embarrassed about, unless you count the company he kept, in which case yes, he probably should rethink his life choices. Porcello wasn’t great, exactly — the Yankees missed some pitches you’d expect them to barrel — but there are more mistakes than you might guess in nearly every start a pitcher makes. Once upon a time this blog post was going to be a deep dive into how Porcello is trying to return to the sinkerballer he was before growing deeply confused about his strengths, and ponder whether his 2016 Cy Young award caused everyone to overlook the fact that he wasn’t very good in Boston otherwise. I’ll save that one for a future post, should I or anyone else still care; for now, suffice it to say that Porcello actually showed signs of improvement. The Mets could sorely use that, given that this is an organization suddenly lamenting that the immortal Walker Lockett [4] had to be DFA’ed.

But the seventh, oh boy the seventh. It started with an error by Andres Gimenez [5], whose bat has cooled but whose fielding skills seemed impervious to slumping. Not a good start, but Jared Hughes [6] got the next two hitters and all seemed well — the Mets were up 7-2 and their winning probability was a cool 99.8 percent.

Unfortunately, there are no awards for getting the first 26 outs — oops, make that 20 outs — and all hell was about to break loose. A walk and a hit batsman brought up Luke Voit [7], who checked his swing but hit a little bleeder straight to where the second baseman is normally stationed, except Robinson Cano [8] was covering the bag. The ball trickled through and was scooped up by Michael Conforto [9], who noticed Thairo Estrada [10] chugging rather nonchalantly towards third, and not sliding. Conforto fired the ball to Gimenez with Estrada — the final out — still a couple of steps from the bag.

Gimenez didn’t field it. He most definitely did not have a good day.

The Mets brought in Edwin Diaz [11], whose first pitch was wild and brought in a run. Diaz squared off against Aaron Hicks [12], worked a 2-2 count and threw a bait slider. It was not just low but in the dirt, which seemed to rattle Diaz. Much as he did on the season’s second day, against Marcell Ozuna [13], Diaz retreated to the fastball, which had too much plate — and just as Ozuna did, Hicks hit it over the fence for a game-tying, possibly season-destroying home run. In a development that surprised absolutely no one, Diaz then blew the game the next inning, as Gio Urshela [14]‘s single fell in front of Conforto, whose throw home was a bit too far up the third-base line for Wilson Ramos [15] — who’s increasingly a statue on plays at home as it is — to turn into a putout on Mike Tauchman [16]. Disaster complete. Diaz didn’t have a good day, but is anyone shocked?

Between games — because this was definitely a day you wanted to play two — Luis Rojas [17] was asked why he went to the heavily used Hughes with the Mets up five, instead of opting for Drew Smith [18], who’d been recalled from Brooklyn to give the Mets another bullpen arm. Rojas said Smith had just been recalled and hadn’t been in games for a while, while a tired sinkerballer can be a good thing. I’ll skip ahead and note that Smith was called upon in the nightcap with the game tied and gave up a grand slam to Gary Sanchez [19], whose season has been so miserable the Mendoza line looks like the peak of Everest. Nope, Luis Rojas didn’t have a good day either.

(You know who did have a good day? Deivi Garcia [20], the young, Stroman-statured Yankee rookie who made his big-league debut in Game 2. He was very impressive, combining a solid arsenal with admirable poise. He didn’t get the win, thanks to a Voit misplay that let the Mets tie the game, but he certainly deserved it. I may instinctively snarl at the mere sight of a Yankee uniform, but my love of this game is big enough to appreciate what must have been a thrilling day for a pitcher whom I suspect has more thrilling days to come.)

The crowning joke of all of this is this is a year where a .500 record probably gets you a National League playoff spot — the Mets would have qualified for one if the season had ended Saturday morning, which given everything that’s happened this year isn’t the kind of meaningless statement it usually is. Even amid the rubble of Sunday, it’s not impossible to imagine them scratching and clawing their way into the postseason despite habitually aiming at the gun at their own feet. And if they do manage that, they’ll be in short-series, small-sample-size territory, where anyone can be king.

It’s not impossible. And if it happens, I will cheer and run around and say silly things and look back on it from some happily mundane maskless future and smile. But it seems far more likely that the Mets will have more days like Sunday, days in which the machine jams and smoke starts pouring out of the vents and BOOM! you wind up staring saucer-eyed at the world out of a faceful of soot, like Wile E. Coyote after his latest misadventure. The Mets have already had too many facefuls of soot during this strange little season. It seems wildly optimistic to think they won’t have more.