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Glass Case of Emotion

Can the Mets win by seven and have that feel like an afterthought?

It turns out they can — if the takeaway from the game isn’t a blast of a homer by Pete Alonso [1] or a hustling triple by happily hale and hearty Brandon Nimmo [2] or a host of hitting to break the second half of the evening’s entertainment wide open.

Nope, the lasting image will be from the sixth, when Max Scherzer [3] threw a slider to Albert Pujols [4] and immediately signaled to the dugout that his night was finished — a very un-Scherzer thing to do, one that left a fanbase’s season flashing before its eyes.

It’s an annoying tic of being a Mets fan that we immediately assume not just the worst but the apocalyptic — we are the franchise of the Miracle Mets, the ball off the wall, Ya Gotta Believe and the unlikely series of events that culminated with a little roller behind the bag that got through Buckner, so there’s been some good fortune along the way. And yet it’s what we do, a habit that for most of us long ago went from superstitious to reflexive. About two hours before Scherzer’s unexpected walk, I was at a work function and conversation came around to how the Mets looked awfully sound. I agreed they did, but couldn’t resist remarking that as a Met fan, when things are going well I look over my shoulder like, ‘Oh God what’s that?’ ”

Which became the question of the minute, hour and possibly campaign not so long after that — what had happened to Scherzer? My kid, at the game with a friend, texted me immediately for updates I didn’t have. Like everybody else, I turned frantically to Twitter’s army of lip readers. Was Jeremy Hefner [5] saying it was bad? Did Scherzer say he felt something pop? I watched that last slider like it was the Zapruder film, and thought I’d spotted Scherzer pulling his elbow into his side, trying to protect that critical little stretch of ligament from something that can’t be guarded against.

The culprit, according to Scherzer, wasn’t his precious UCL but his left side, which went from tight to problematic on that one pitch to Pujols, after which Max opted for caution and departure, never mind the optics or the glass case of emotion [6] in which the viewing audience was trapped until the postgame show.

So now Scherzer will probably head for the confines of an MRI tube, and we’ll wait for updates. Which might well be bad: oblique injuries and other maladies can linger, cause a pitcher to unwittingly change his delivery, or otherwise be the first stone in an avalanche. But the side isn’t the arm. It isn’t the arm, and so we wait, and try to remind ourselves that even the Mets get a good outcome [7] every now and again.