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Trap Game

I suppose I should have seen it coming — a beat-up team coming home (or at least to its hometown) after a bonkers throwdown [1] in Philadelphia that had to have left everyone involved down to their last dregs of adrenaline. The Mets didn’t look like they had anything in the tank Monday night against the Yankees, and the Yankees — despite multiple soap operas’ worth of recent troubles — looked like their scouting report had said as much. Domingo German [2] and his relief corps were relentless in attacking the strike zone, turning the Mets’ vaunted patience against them and keeping them off-balance from first pitch until final out.

The offense managed a single good moment: Daniel Vogelbach [3]‘s swat into the bleachers just after Yanks’ second baseman Oswaldo Cabrera [4] pulled a Castillo, bumping into his own right fielder and giving the Mets a free runner that Vogelbach was quick to cash. But even that’s reaching for a comparison. Luis Castillo [5]‘s infamous muff [6] ended a ballgame [7], turning a nail-biter of a win into a dagger-in-the-heart loss, a moment I stew about on some sleepless nights. Cabrera’s misplay? It just let the Mets smear some lipstick on a pig.

Max Scherzer [8] also ran into the kind of game that had started to feel inevitable: He hasn’t looked quite his indomitable self the last three starts, with his location just a touch off and everything else oh so slightly miscalibrated as a result. He kept the Mets in the game, of course — Scherzer’s off-nights are evenings plenty of pitchers would kill for — but lost a heavyweight rematch against Aaron Judge [9] and was tormented by Andrew Benintendi, the former Red Sock who joins a long list of guys who will always look out of uniform in pinstripes.

Scherzer entered the night with a career record of 199-99, a number that makes my OCD spike just looking at it. The wrong number turned over, as it did for the Mets [10]. It happens — exhaustion doesn’t care if it’s your crosstown rivals on the other side of a bleary-eyed bus ride — and frankly it’s a testament to this year’s club that we’re all a bit surprised that it did. The 2022 Mets have pulled so many long-eared creatures out of so many pieces of headgear that a double-take seems warranted on nights when a hat turns out just to be a hat.

(From the Paranoia Department: I was convinced this was all my fault, so I ran the numbers from each of your chroniclers’ last 10 recaps. Turns out I’m 6-4, which isn’t as bad as I’d guessed. But Mr. Prince? The man’s 9-1!)