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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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Scant Ups, Myriad Downs

Taijuan Walker was magnificent until the seventh inning. That was a monumental up. Michael Conforto cracked a go-ahead homer in the fourth. That was an invigorating up. Aaron Loup, Miguel Castro and Seth Lugo were each mighty effective, and those were unqualified ups, until we learned Lugo being up and pitching in the top of the ninth of a tie game that stayed tied in the bottom of the ninth meant that he’d sat down in between, which I wouldn’t have guessed was necessarily a problem.

But it was. Too many “up-downs” means a pitcher who you’d think can give you a second inning can’t…apparently. It wasn’t so much the up-down of Saturday night that precluded Seth’s pitching the tenth. It was that he’d had two up-downs on Thursday, according to his manager.


Lugo sat for good after his one inning. Luis Rojas via Dave Jauss went to Yennsy Diaz to start the tenth of a 1-1 must-win game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, with a runner automatically on second because that’s how Rob Manfred likes it. This Diaz hasn’t pitched enough in tight situations to make us nervous. This Diaz not having pitched all that much in tight situations is what made us nervous. No offense, Yennsy, but we know Seth Lugo. He’s not infallible, but we carry forth images of Six-Out Seth Lugo having gotten us through second innings with aplomb. We only knew in the tenth that Diaz wasn’t Lugo, and that it wouldn’t take much to score the Manfred on second.

It didn’t. Cody Bellinger lined a ball down the right field line, scoring the unearned runner and pushing the Dodgers ahead, 2-1. That — in which “that” also encompasses Walker Buehler’s own seven sterling innings and Will Smith’s second heartbreak home run in as many nights — was pretty much that. Conforto’s long shot, a solo blast six innings earlier, hadn’t come close to being matched in any way, shape or form by any other Met batter. There had been briefly been something of a scoring threat in the bottom of the seventh (J.D. Davis singled off Buehler’s leg, Jonathan Villar walked) but it imploded (Tomás Nido was encouraged to attempt bunting without an ounce of acumen for the skill in question). The Mets’ only runner in the tenth was their Manfred. He never moved.

So despite Walker taking a no-hit bid into the seventh until Smith ruined it, and despite Conforto’s bat continuing its long-awaited journey back toward the land of the living, the Mets had nothing but another one-run, extra-inning loss to show for their ten innings of work against the Dodgers. Both nights’ postgame pressers included questions regarding how good it must’ve felt for the Mets to go “toe-to-toe” or some such digital equation with the world champs. I do believe a team that has spent many more days in first place in 2021 than its opponent (some of them as recently as barely more than a week ago) doesn’t require a pat on the head for losing by a run. At the moment, the Dodgers have a substantially better record than the Mets, but they’re both in the same league. One is closer to making the playoffs is all. The one that isn’t, you’d infer, might want to pull out additional stops to make strides toward securing a postseason berth. Like sanctioning Seth Lugo’s second up of the evening so he could pitch the tenth. Or, for that matter, using Aaron Loup instead of Jeurys Familia the night before in that toe-to-toe one-run, extra-inning loss.

I don’t question the Mets’ fight. Rojas has enough fight in him to bark about balls and strikes and occasionally get himself ejected. I do question the limited use of best-bet relief pitchers in mustish-win games (and what are all those gambling ads for if not to encourage the making of best bets?). True, there is always another game on the schedule to consider when it comes to bullpen usage, and Fleetwood Mac wasn’t kidding about not stopping thinking about tomorrow, but to make those remaining games count like hell, ya kinda gotta win the games you can in the present. Ya kinda gotta send your best bet our for a second inning if he’s conceivably available. If Lugo told Jauss and Jeremy Hefner, “can’t do it,” well, that’s one thing. If Lugo said, “I’m fine,” take that for what it’s worth and get him up on his feet and back to the mound.

“Up-down” may be a legitimate concern in the way pitching is managed today, but we need all the ups we can get at this juncture of the schedule. Downs we’ve got down pat.

9 comments to Scant Ups, Myriad Downs

  • Seth

    The Dodgers aren’t world champs, sorry. You can’t be a real world champion on a 60-game season. They are asterisks in an otherwise aborted season.

  • eric1973

    Especially when the dumbest guy on the planet is your manager!

  • Eric

    Performance staff outranks all and overrides all other considerations. Maybe there are a lot more dugout steps to climb than they look like on TV, and the up-downs those steps are exhausting Mets batters just going to the on-deck circle as well as the pitchers.

    Yet another frustrating loss of an unexpectedly well-pitched game wasted by bad offense.

    The Mets play game 117 tonight, meaning of course, there are 46 games left. Given that Rojas skippered a last-place team last year over 60 games, I assume he has the experience to understand it’s getting late.

  • Eric

    The starting pitcher the Mets were counting on to stabilize the rotation even before deGrom was lost has a 10.32 ERA in 11.1 innings over 4 starts.

  • Steve

    This game may have gone south in the last of the 7th. Mets had runners on 1st and 2nd, none out, tie game, and Nido at bat. He is asked to bunt (I doubt he’d have bunted on his own.) Result: 2 foul bunts and, followed by a swinging strike three. The Mets did not score, and lost in extra innings.

    Unfortunately, bunting is a lost art, and some players are not equipped to lay down a successful sacrifice. To me (as a purist, who started following the game in the early ’70s), it’s unfathomable. Why aren’t all players, from pitchers, to singles hitters, and yes, to power hitters, taught this FUNDAMENTAL skill?

    • Guy Kipp

      Because analytics.

      The Ivy League mathematicians who have never played the game but who know it far better than those who have, have told us the bunt is a metric sin, just like letting starting pitchers face a batter three times in the same game.

  • Steve

    …and closers pitching more than one inning…