MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves

Game recap September 10: As it turns out, the Mets can’t win them all

In summary:

There are losses, heartbreaking losses that make you reconsider your fandom, make you wish you’d never stumbled across this stupid game in the first place. Then there are losses that probably wouldn’t have been losses if your team pinch ran for Wilmer Flores or didn’t trust Erik Goeddel in season-changing situations. Last night was decidedly the latter of the two. Mets lose 4-3.

The good:

Bartolo Colon didn’t look good, but he was good enough, going six innings and giving up three runs on four hits — two home runs — and a walk after having his start moved up a day. It was the Bartolo Colon Experience, and he left with the game tied 3-3 in the capable hands of his bullpen…right?

The bad:

Normally, Wilmer Flores being brutally destroyed by A.J. Pierzynski, who may or may not be retiring, would be categorized as “ugly,” but that section was a little full last night. So instead, he gets shuffled to the “bad” portion of the evening after inexplicably (we’ll get to that later) being left in to run for himself with two outs in the top of the eighth. Flores was predictably thrown out at home trying to score from second, but the main issue comes in his head-first slide across the plate, because all 250 pounds of Pierzynski were, you know, standing there. Flores went into Pierzynski’s leg and an hour later ended up in an X-ray machine with what he described as worse pain in his neck than he’d ever felt before. Scans came back negative, but the lefty-masher is probably out of commission for a few days.

The ugly:

We’ll start with the bullpen, because that’s the easier one here. After Colon left the game, Fernando Salas and Addison Reed each threw a scoreless inning, bringing the Mets to the ninth inning still tied 3-3. Still with me? Terry Collins then burns Hansel Robles on one batter and brings in Jerry Blevins to face the next two. Two more outs. Still 3-3, end of the ninth. On to free baseball. Erik Goeddel, who went into Saturday night having given up at least one run in his last four major league appearances and sporting a shiny 4.55 ERA, came in to start the bottom of the 10th inning. Dansby Swanson leads off with a single to right field. Not a great start. But Collins leaves him in and Goeddel proceeds to airmail a pitch to the backstop. Swanson advances to second. Getting worse. Then Pierzynski singles and there are runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the 10th.

At this point, you’re thinking, hmmm, maybe Goeddel doesn’t have it tonight and someone else should be on the mound. Literally anybody else. Instead, Collins allows him to face Tyler Flowers and, against all odds, Goeddel gets the strikeout.

Now there’s one out and runners on the corners. In comes Josh Smoker. Ty Kelly also enters the game as the fifth infielder as the Mets cling to their last shred of hope for a double play. They don’t get that, but they do get a pop up to shallow left field off the bat of Ender Inciarte that doesn’t advance either runner. Two outs.

Then Ty Kelly, utility infielder, goes out to center field while Brandon Nimmo, Actual Center Fielder, remains firmly planted on the bench. So of course, just like the baseball gods wrote it up, Adonis Garcia lines a base hit up the middle and the Braves walk off on a 4-3 victory.

Now, you’d think the story would end here as the Mets fell back out of the Wild Card spot and sulked back to their Atlanta hotel, wouldn’t you? But alas.

There’s a lot to take in here, folks. First, this is literally Collins’ job; a major league manager shouldn’t get “distracted” by one aspect of his job and ignore others. Second, pinch-running for Flores isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea. Let’s face it: Wilmer Flores is really, really slow. Any chance you get to pinch run for Flores, you should take it, especially when he represents the go-ahead run late in a game in the middle of a playoff run. Third, there are a lot of people in that dugout right now. Most of them are players, but there are also a few coaches scattered around there whose job it is to make sure Collins doesn’t…get distracted. How did nobody, you know, remind him? “Hey, Terry, Flores might not be able to beat Bartolo Colon from second to home. Want to throw Nimmo out there? Or Alejandro De Aza? Or Matt Reynolds? Or Michael Conforto? Or your BFF Eric Campbell? Listen, man, you have 37 players here. Surely someone has to be faster than Flores.”

But none of this happened and instead Flores was thrown out at home and Goeddel couldn’t locate a strike and the Giants and the Cardinals won and the Mets are a half-game out of the Wild Card and we continue to inch ever closer to the heat death of the universe and I welcome it with open arms.

Photo credit: Shanna Lockwood – USA Today Sports

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