Last night’s loss was about as bad of a loss as any Mets fan could have imagined. The Mets had a 6-1 lead with their ace on the mound, and he was dealing. The Mets had been rolling coming into this game, and compared to a lot of their victories this year, this one felt like it was going to be easy.
But that’s baseball. And these are the Mets. And things are never easy.
The bullpen came in and failed to do their job. A bullpen which had been virtually untouchable coming into last night’s game had an implosion of epic proportions, losing a game which Jacob deGrom had wrapped up and tied neatly with a bow. It was agonizing to watch. It was even more agonizing that it came against the Washington Nationals, still favored by most to win the division, despite the Mets’ hot start—a team that has historically owned the Mets and seems to have handed us more painful losses than I can count over their short franchise history.
What if Mickey Callaway had let deGrom face Kendrick? What if he had brought in Familia instead of Ramos? What if Anthony Swarzak could have been available to pitch last night, rather than still sidelined on the disabled list? What if just one of the grounders in that fateful inning that went for a hit found a Mets’ fielder instead of a hole? What if Asdrubal Cabrera did not misguidedly try to take third base in the top of the ninth inning?
These are all questions Mets fans were asking themselves last night and any number of those things going differently may have meant a happier recap. But even if Mickey Callaway had pushed all the right buttons or our relievers had all been sharp, we still would have had a game like this. Maybe not last night, but eventually. Because every team has games like this. Even good teams have games like this. Playoff teams and World Series Champions have games like this.
And as things stand today, on April 17th, the Mets are a good team. Last night’s game does not change that. There are many things that could change that, to be sure, but one game over the course of a 162 game season is not one of them. For many, it certainly felt season-altering. These types of losses always do. But a season is defined by a collection of many moments, most of which are identified only with hindsight. This game is only season-altering if the Mets allow it to be. It is only season-altering if Mickey Callaway and the Mets do not learn from the mistakes they made. It is only season-altering if the Mets cannot pick themselves up and dust themselves off. And in this young season, this team has already shown that they are capable of coming back from defeat. Let’s see how they handle the first real test of that ability.
Last night was the worst I’ve felt after a game since the Wild Card game in 2016. I went to bed angry. But I woke up in the morning and the Mets were still 12-3, five games up on the Nationals, and ranked third in MLB.com’s power rankings this week. And unlike on October 5, 2016, the Mets get to head to the park today and try again. There are two more games left in this series and many more games left in the season. The Mets have virtually a 50/50 shot of winning tonight. Let’s get to work. Ya gotta believe.