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Early and Often and Then Oftener

What was going through Darin Ruf [1]‘s mind as he lay on or perhaps in the netting in San Francisco while the ball he’d been pursuing bounced around somewhere nearby in an entire-world sense but entirely too far away in a make-a-baseball-play sense while a less-than-ideal quantity of Mets hustled around the bases?

Perhaps he was thinking that it might be a long night.

Or maybe he wasn’t thinking anything like that. Yes, two Mets scored on the play, but only two because the ball that had so rudely eluded Ruf did him a slight favor and hopped into the stands. There were two outs, it was only 2-2 and David Peterson [2] hadn’t looked invulnerable out there, surrendering a home run to Brandon Crawford [3]. And the Mets hadn’t so much pounded Alex Cobb [4] as they had pecked at him with infield hits and little dunkers. And hey, slapstick is an occupational hazard when you’re a first baseman pressed into service in left field because a whole roster worth of outfielders are on the IL.

Maybe Darin Ruf is an optimist. I don’t know the man.

If he is, well, that was about to be tested. The next guy up for the Mets was Pete Alonso [5], and Cobb’s first pitch to him was a 12-3 curveball.

I know what you’re thinking. Jace, c’mon man. I know it’s late and West Coast recaps are tough, but for God’s sake you’re thinking of a “12-6 curveball.”

You’re right! That is what I was thinking of and presumably what Cobb had in mind too. But it wasn’t what he threw. The ball hung about midway down the center of that imaginary clock face, and at about 3 p.m. it encountered Alonso’s bat and then was last seen becoming a souvenir 391 feet away. It was 5-2 Mets, and that turn of events would make even an optimistic out-of-position first baseman feel a little down.

It was 5-2 and it would get worse, as Peterson settled in and the Giants’ bullpen surrendered some more infield hits and some of the outfield variety and two that went over the fence, with one hit by Jeff McNeil [6] threatening to land in Alameda. Eventually they had outfielder Luis Gonzalez [7] out there on the mound, and he put up a better line than Mauricio Llovera [8], who got whacked around enough to deserve at least two Ls.

Not a bad birthday for Buck Showalter [9]. Not a bad start to the series in San Francisco. But when you win by 10 [10], there’s not much bad to be found anywhere.