Last night’s 5-4 defeat was a disturbing affair for any fan of the Mets. Closer Jeurys Familia had his consecutive saves streak snapped in the most haunting of possible ways. Staked with a 4-3 lead in the ninth, Familia gave up the game-tying hit to none other than Yadier Molina, and went on to give up the go-ahead run as well when he left a 97 MPH sinker up in the zone that Kolten Wong smacked for a run-scoring double.
Last night, the dreams of Mets fans were likely visited by swirling visions of Molina, gritty at-bats by a team from Missouri (uniforms flash-changing between red and blue like a 1980s Sportsflics card), Adam Wainwright, Eric Hosmer's head superimposed on Wong's body as he cheered himself after a safe headfirst slide, and of course, Armando Benitez. Some may have dreamt of this series as it could have been—perhaps even a Mets sweep, if their sleep-drowsed minds eliminated a couple key plays here and there that exposed the faults of this team and ended up costing them the series instead—somewhat reminiscent of the last series the Mets played last year.
Yet if, as a stat-based community, we can agree that a "save" is an arbitrary and not particularly helpful statistic, we can also say it is in our best interests to say aloud, "I ain’t afraid of no ghosts," preferably with some level of panache.
One person who apparently isn't afraid of ghosts and clearly embodies panache is Yoenis Cespedes. He turned in a dramatic at-bat in the seventh that started with his team down 3-1 despite having 10 hits, lasted nine tense pitches, and ended when he crushed a Wainwright full-count curveball off the facing of the second deck for a go-ahead home run. The fact this heroism was wasted in defeat and that the Mets now have two teams above them in the Wild Card standings is lamentable; but with 62 games left maybe the lesson is that we should all 'Be Like Yo'.
Starter Logan Verrett showed the requisite mettle last night with his position in the rotation (and possibly the roster) hanging in the balance, as he rebounded from an ugly three-run third to finish seven innings without allowing anything more. Neil Walker took a step toward putting a horrific slump behind him by getting on base four times and securing the Mets' other hit with runners in scoring position. Travis d'Arnaud, beset by a litany of injury setbacks, trade rumors, and lineup cards casting him as the eighth hitter, now seems to be rounding into form as he got two well-struck opposite-field hits and threw out a base-stealer. Even the much-maligned Alejandro De Aza is showing signs of life, last night with a clutch pinch-hit single during the seventh-inning rally.
Next it will be Familia who will have a chance to rise from the ashes. The last time Familia "officially" blew a save in the regular season was almost a year ago, and that was the absurdist July 30 loss to the Padres between torrential showers and a day after the collapse of the Carlos Gomez trade. So it's fair to say we've all experienced worse. Despite some issues with control and playing with fire a bit too often, Familia has been very good for quite a while now, and probably isn't going to turn into a pumpkin just yet.
The Mets' schedule is about to get easier while the Cardinals face off with the Marlins this weekend; both of those teams will play the Cubs shortly thereafter, and then Miami will play the Giants; the Nats get San Francisco twice in the coming weeks and the Dodgers are without Clayton Kershaw for the foreseeable future.
So since Peter Venkman or Kristen Wiig will not be walking through that door at the trade deadline, what is certain is that the Mets and their fans will have their intestinal fortitude challenged yet further in the upcoming stretch run. And the forecast calls for the heat to be on all summer long.
SB Nation GameThreads
* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Viva El Bridos GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Yoenis Cespedes, +50.4% WPA; Neil Walker, +21.2% WPA; Travis d'Arnaud, +13.7% WPA
Big losers: Jeurys Familia, -68.7% WPA; Asdrubal Cabrera, -21.5% WPA; Curtis Granderson, -19.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Cespedes hits a mammoth go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh, +48.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Yadier Molina hits an RBI double to tie the game in the ninth, -40.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -70.2% WPA
Total batter WPA: +20.2% WPA
GWRBI!: Kolten Wong