Somehow, the calendar insisted at game’s end it was still only May the 3rd, though it often feels like the Mets’ season has already lasted several-and-a-half months. Somehow, the Mets have only played 29 games, when it often seems like they’ve played twice as many, and they are five games north of .500, when it’s hard to remember the last time they had a winning streak.
Somehow, the standings confirm the Mets are only a game-and-a-half behind Atlanta in the NL East, when it certainly feels like they’ve already been lapped by the Baby Braves, who walked into Citi Field and pummeled the Mets senseless this week, outscoring them 21-2 and outplaying them in every way possible.
“Things have not gone well lately,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after this latest unsightly slog, this 11-0 whitewash, was over Thursday afternoon in front of 26,882 customers who could most kindly be described as “dissatisfied.”
Things, in truth, have been set ablaze during a dumpster fire of a fortnight that has seen the Mets’ 11-1 start crumble to a 17-12 present, lowlighted by these three games against the Braves, who showed off their shiny new toys (Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr.) and a three-headed pitching scourge of Michael Soroka, Sean Newcombe and Julian Teheran that hearkened to the MadduxGlavineSmoltz beast that used to feast upon Mets bats in the old days.
“That’s part of the long season,” Callaway said. “You’ll have ups and downs. Eventually we’ll come out of it. We’re still playing the game the right way. We’re just not on the winning side. Keep doing that, and we’ll be OK.”
It is a faith that Callaway, as the manager, has to own, but it is one that is hard for just about anyone else to visualize right now. That’s how bad the Mets looked these past three days, and that’s how hopeless they were against Teheran on Thursday, unable to muster a hit through 6²/₃ innings, this after Jason Vargas allowed three first-inning runs (and still saw his ERA drop by more than a full run by the time the inning was done).
This is what happens when every phase of your operation breaks down: Even a day that actually begins positively — Jacob deGrom’s elbow MRI coming back clean, against the instincts, impulses and assumptions of every Mets fan extant — ends in a mud puddle.
The starting pitching is a mess. Twice in this series the Mets were down 3-0 before ever taking a turn at bat, and that’s unhelpful because the offense is in an even worse place. Michael Conforto is channeling 2016 instead of 2017, a bad thing because he wound up in Vegas in ’16. A team that hadn’t been shut out through its first 27 games is now working on an 18-inning scoreless streak and looks every bit as feeble as that number suggests.
And the bullpen — remember months (um, weeks) ago when that was the team’s strength? Wednesday night, it was Robert Gsellman, splendid all year, who was strafed by the Braves. Thursday afternoon, it was Matt Harvey and the latest chapter of his dash for a DFA, failing to throw many strikes and watching the ones he did throw get treated like batting-practice meatballs.
“I’m still trying to figure this out,” Harvey said.
He can join a crowded clubhouse of teammates in the same predicament right now. Look, it was clear the Mets weren’t as good as their 11-1 start. What you have to hope if you are a Met or a Mets manager or a Mets fan is that they aren’t as bad as the 6-11 that has followed.
Although there’s little compelling evidence to argue otherwise right now.
“There’s nothing we can do about that right now,” said Asdrubel Cabrera, who received the home team’s loudest plaudits when he broke up Teheran’s no-no in the seventh inning with a double. “We have to forget about this series.”
That is really the only remedy that makes sense, actually. The way things are with the Mets right now, selective amnesia really isn’t such a terrible thing.
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