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Mistrust Never Sleeps

Tuesday night’s Mets triumph in Philadelphia may have been the least convincing 8-4 victory in the history of 8-4 victories, but the key words here are “triumph” and “victory,” both of which the Mets achieved [1]. The win column greets them with no hesitation.

Fortunately, the Style Council is not authorized to award points within the National League East standings even if our never changing mood [2] insists something feels off despite results being right on. If you don’t like the Mets’ methods in achieving their means, take it up with the East German judge.

This game still gets scored a win, albeit on an admittedly askew line of 8 runs, 5 hits and 2 errors. Significantly, two of the hits were two-run homers, one in the fourth from the extra-rested Dom Smith [3], one in the ninth from Comeback Player of the Week Pete Alonso [4]. The two errors were largely inconsequential, no matter that consistent defensive crispness thus far eludes a team that was impelled to while away three unscheduled off days and went a week playing nobody other than each other. But that comes under the heading of style points and, again, those don’t count.

The sixteen times four Mets stood by in the seventh inning while Vince Velasquez threw them balls certainly didn’t hurt the cause. A bases-loaded walk produced one run. A double-steal that unfolded in slow motion produced another (with Kevin Pillar [5] pilfering home plate, the first time a Met has swiped that particular base in seven years). A good old-fashioned sacrifice fly extended the Mets’ lead further between home runs. If you were waiting for the club and its 1-for-6 with RISP to binge on every opportunity in sight, you were still waiting even as the Mets’ advantage stretched in the seventh to 6-1. Yet if you’re the type to embrace streaming offense with good cheer, this was a night for you.

It was also a night for Long Island’s Own Marcus Stroman [6], returned from his 2020 opt-out and presumably ready to earn something more than a qualifying offer next offseason. LIOMS courted touches of trouble here and there in the time-honored role of Season’s Second Starter [7] but ultimately steamed through six innings (85 pitches) about as effectively as Jacob deGrom had the night before. Of course Stroman isn’t deGrom, which means it wasn’t a slap in the face of competitive valor when Marcus exited after six. Not being deGrom also means a starting pitcher might have a decision to show for a fine evening’s work of three hits, two walks and one run allowed.

Even when the bullpen gets involved.

The bullpen always gets involved. When the bullpen gets involved, we get a little unhinged. Maybe more than a little. The bullpen is why 8-4 wasn’t fully convincing. Mind you, none among Miguel Castro [8] in the seventh (3 hits, 1 run); Trevor May [9] in the eighth (2 hits, no runs) and Jeurys Familia [10] in the ninth (2 hits, 1 walk, 2 runs if only 1 earned) actually let the game slip into genuine danger. Perceptual danger, perhaps, which is enough agita for us at present. You can’t blame our collective psyche for sensing trauma when there’s barely trouble.

Castro was a well being gone to two straight games — was it one game too many?

Rover T. Yam (my anagram of choice for Trevor May) helped blow the game the night before, and he’s back for more?

Holy crap, is that Aaron Loup warming up, too? Are we really gonna ride this “get back on the horse” aphorism directly off a cliff?

Jeurys Familia? He’s still here?

High anxiety would have its moments. It had to. We were 0-1. We were getting Edwin Diaz up and down and up, just daring him to enter the action and make us forget all the springtime propaganda about how he’s really found himself. We were…

We were comfortably ahead. And we stayed comfortably ahead. Nevertheless, we required in advance a shred of evidence that we could remain comfortably ahead — or at least ahead; and we couldn’t have it until we had it; and by then, we weren’t dead certain we actually did. You mean the game is over? You mean the game went unblown?

Mock all you want the 0-162 doomsayers. Bullpen jitters (and everything else we get nervous over) are a chronic condition around here. Steve Cohen can secure for us the world’s grandest shortstop, but even Daddy Metbucks can’t cure us so quickly of our dime-store late-inning heebie-jeebies. Once bitten, forever shy. So let those who complain like the world has ended after exactly one aggravating loss have their hour of angst. Consider it akin to a side effect you might detect after taking the COVID vaccine. Experts say you should let the fever run its course, then you’ll be fine.

And as we saw Tuesday night, getting a couple of two-run shots has the power to immunize you against the worst that you fear, which in our case was plunging into an 0-2 hole with 160 to play.