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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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None of That Should Have Worked

None of that should have worked.

Presented to you is a short sentence in which “that” is carrying a heavy load, referring to two games played over more than nine hours, the first of them featuring an emphatically run-suppressing wind, and the Mets spending both games not so much stumbling as failing to deliver a knockout blow. And meanwhile the Cubs … well, let’s proceed delicately for now out of respect for a fellow fanbase’s bruised feelings.

The Mets should have lost the first game. Let’s start there.

In the bottom of the 10th, Nelson Velazquez was the Chicago ghost runner, substituting for Frank Schwindel. Velazquez promptly stole third against Adam Ottavino. Observing from first base was J.D. Davis, not anyone’s first choice to play that position (or honestly any position). Davis had entered the game in favor of Dom Smith, who’d rolled an ankle as the Mets’ ghost runner. (Seriously? Seriously.)

So there we were: The Cubs were 90 feet from victory with nobody out, Ottavino working a second inning and a Plan C or Plan D first baseman in the fray.

Ottavino started off Patrick Wisdom with a 2-0 count (ominous music intensifies) but struck him out on an evil slider just off the plate. He then fanned P.J. Higgins (seriously, who are these Cubs?) on three pitches that never prompted a bat to leave a shoulder. That brought speedy, capable rookie Christopher Morel to the plate. Ottavino left an 0-1 slider in the middle of the plate and Morel spanked it to the left of Eduardo Escobar at third.

Escobar speared it, but did so while stumbling in the dirt (oh my), scrambling on all fours for a moment (oh no) before finding his feet and firing the ball in the direction of Davis (oh God). The ball hit the dirt a few feet in front of Davis (oh Jeez) for a classic in-between hop. Davis lunged for it, glove coming up, and fell over like one of those parking-lot inflatables being removed from service. Fell over with the ball in his glove and Morel still short of first on his belly.


The Mets had survived, and then cashed a semi-deserved run behind a Francisco Lindor single and a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly, though they short-circuited their own inning when Lindor was thrown out trying to steal third with one out. With minimal margin for error, the Mets turned things over to Edwin Diaz just as your recapper and family drove deeper into a Maine peninsula where cell coverage is somewhere between spotty and a dream of the future.

We heard slices of events every 45 seconds or so, but they were the exact slices we would have picked: new hitter and ghost runner still on second, strikeout, grounder up the middle (another tough chance, as replay showed later), game over.

The Mets had no business winning that game, but they somehow did. Which was pretty much the capsule description of the nightcap, too — another extra-inning contest in which everything teetered on the avalanche point of going wrong but somehow didn’t.

In that one, Max Scherzer was more doughty trench fighter than vanquisher of foes, striking out 11 but allowing eight hits, with former National Yan Gomes leading the Chicago charge. The Mets fought back behind Escobar, whose numbers against Cubs starter Drew Smyly look like a misprint, but couldn’t break through against him or a resilient Chicago pen.

At least until the 10th, when they scored two runs on what Friend of Faith and Fear Dan Lewis accurately described as “the stupidest inning I’ve seen in my life”: infield single, stolen base, intentional walk, RBI HBP, GIDP, walk, run on ball heaved into center field, groundout.

(Minor observation before the sands of time obscure all: Mark Canha‘s GIDP was a case of a hitter doing exactly what he should do and being punished for it. Mychal Givens had just let the Mets score by ticking a ball off an elbow that Alonso had conspicuously refused to move aside, and was understandably agitated. Canha zeroed in on his first pitch and spanked it up the middle — right to Givens. It’s an unfair game.)

The Mets led by two runs, and during the bottom of the 10th the SNY cameras gave us a montage of Cubs fans watching a downtrodden tire fire of a team that was about to lose its ninth in a row, with what’s suddenly too much season still ahead of it — a striking succession of miniature pietas framed amid the suddenly gloomy confines of Wrigley Field.

But this day of unlikely baseball had a couple of twists left. The Mets were basically out of relievers, and so left Yoan Lopez — literally the 27th man courtesy of doubleheader rules — out there for a second inning of work, with no one behind him. Lopez struck out Velazquez, but severed his own net by allowing an RBI single to the pesky Morel, who then advanced to third on a single by Seiya Suzuki, leaving the Cubs 90 feet away from tying the game with the Mets essentially waving a bullpen white flag.

When Lopez’s next pitch was wide, Showalter opted to intentionally walk Nico Hoerner to have bring up Schwindel. Schwindel broke through last year as a 29-year-old, but as is so often the case, his post-breakthrough campaign has seen him look more like the journeyman he’s been than the late-to-ignite star he briefly seemed like he might be.

Nonetheless, Schwindel battled a tiring Lopez hard, refusing to chase bait sliders and smacking the close ones foul, until Lopez’s eighth pitch was — shades of Ottavino in Game 1 — one in the middle of the plate that he could handle. As in Game 1, this potentially fatal pitch went to Escobar — though this time it was to his right, a moderately tricky hop between him and the bag.

Escobar may not be a defensive wizard on Luis Guillorme‘s level (who is?), but his instincts are unerringly sound. He was already orienting his body towards third as his foot came down on third, and Schwindel is a lot slower than Morel. He was out by a good 15 feet as the ball thudded into Alonso’s glove, giving the Mets a doubleheader sweep and leaving Cubs fans wondering how two games that had been right there in their team’s grasp turned to dust just hours apart.

Bad seasons are like that — heck, we know all about them. And on the flip side of that cruel equation, seasons to remember have their own hallmarks — such as games you’re clearly destined to lose somehow winding up in your column.

Sometimes it even happens twice on the same day.

7 comments to None of That Should Have Worked

  • Tristram Shandy

    Reliving both games through your narration is far less stressful and nearly as enjoyable as folloing them live. A real pleasure.

  • Greg Mitchell

    Great re-cap and great wins (especially if you only watched last three innings plus overtime). But Buck’s bullpen use at trying times still baffles me over and over. No, the Mets were not, as you say, out of bullpen arms. They still had mediocre but healthy and rested Rodriquez (somehow seen as good enough to stick around all year) and Hunter (vet trusted in big spot just a few days ago)–plus Smith, who barely got warm in his inning of work in opener.

    Yesterday Buck’s explanation for using Lopez–who arrived with a 5.24 ERA at Syracuse–two innings, and barely getting away with it, without anyone even warming, was “we have another game tomorrow.” So Buck rules seem to be–even with four off days coming up, plus decades of past MLB history to the contrary –that 1) you can’t pitch both ends of a DH even if you’ve had easy inning in first game and have 4 off days coming up (see: Smith) and 2) you really shouldn’t pitch two days in a row (see: Ottavino, Lugo, Smith, Diaz) even with 4 off days coming up, and hence need to “save” two relievers for today. All this follows his pattern for year.

    So, yes, he got away with it, as he often does, thanks to Escobar grabbing that smash, but jeez, what were your thoughts with tired,failing in Triple A, Lopez on mound in final inning with bases jammed?

    • Tim D.

      It seems that Buck is saving bullets for later in the season, when he may well push these relievers harder if needed.

  • CharlieH

    Revenge for 2008: Murphy on third, nobody out.

  • Left Coast Jerry

    I am of the opinion that if Morel had sprinted through the base in game 1 instead of stupidly sliding into first, he would have beaten the throw despite the amazing pickup by Davis. I also agree with Greg Mitchell that Buck had better options in the 10th inning of game 2 than leaving Lopez out there. That said, the Cubs are a bad team, and bad teams find a way to lose.

  • Seth

    Still wondering what will happen when the luck runs out completely.

    And I’m frankly a bit fed up with the Cubs’ fan montages. Thanks folks, we get it. Cubs. Fans. Wrigley. Enough.

    • Eric

      The luck ran out in today’s loss. With yesterday’s 2 lucky wins still fresh in mind, there’s some comfort in suffering 1 frustrating loss as a karma trade-off for 2 lucky wins.