MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Mets

Game recap May 23: Even Matt Harvey can’t blow this

Mets 9, Padres 3

Coming into Tuesday night’s contest, the Mets were a healthy 7.5 games behind the Nationals, and 2-8 over their last ten games. It’s the kind of free fall that means nothing is on the line night to night, and yet the gap isn’t so insurmountable that a late-season surge is out of the question — a effervescent balance between hope and despair that is undoubtedly every Met fan’s fetish. Maybe this is the night Matt Harvey pitches a no-hitter. Maybe this is the night the Mets cough up another 23 runs. It’s a roller coaster! Mets fever — catch it!

As noted in these parts before this series began, these are must-win games against a no-name roster whose ownership decided to pocket Bud Selig’s hard-won revenue sharing funds rather than spend them on, you know, fielding a competitive team. Back in my halcyon youth, I remember Selig’s Brewers coming to play the Yankees (once upon a time, kids, the Brewers were an American League team!); a gritty,, post-Paul Molitor team, whose home run leader was John Jaha. As Bob Sheppard read through Milwaukee’s lineup, a neighboring fan filling out his scorecard finally looked up and shouted in frustration, “Who the hell are these guys?”

With a few notable exceptions (Wil Myers! So that’s where you went, Erick Aybar!) that’s San Diego now. If you’re a Padres fan, it’s because you’re in a military family, or you really don’t care about winning baseball because for God’s sake, you’re in San Diego and life is beautiful.

Michael Conforto added to his burgeoning legend, with two home runs and four runs batted in. Other bright spots included a seven-run first as the Mets batted around, including Lucas Duda, who went two for three with a couple runs batted in — encouragingly, both hits went to the opposite field. San Diego starter and recapper’s nightmare Jhoulys Chacin lasted two thirds of an inning, so that’s the last we need mention him.

The rest of the game was a question of “will Matt Harvey manage to not cough up more than six runs?” He gave up two runs in the second, escaped trouble in the third, and in the fourth, Harvey gave up a two-out walk to Austin Hedges, who was promptly nailed by a scorching line drive off Erick Aybar’s bat to end the inning. (That’s who the Padres are now — they’re more Mets than the Mets.)

I know a guy from San Diego; he’s a really talented actor who’s come here to make his creative fortune. I understand the ambition, but I always ask him — don’t you miss that weather? Oh, does it seem I’ve drifted from the point? That’s what this game was like. You started thinking about chilling out in the sun and oh look, Harvey’s walked two more batters. He had Ron Darling in the booth waxing philosophical about crises of confidence on the mound. Maybe it’s because I’m getting real close to 40 and it’s my birthday soon, but I can’t stop thinking about how we’re watching a 24-year-old man-child who’s always been really good at something not be good at it anymore in the most public of settings imaginable. The former stud lasted five innings and 103 pitches. After the seven-run first, it was the kind of game Mets fans prayed stayed boring; anything else meant another meltdown.

As they noted in the booth, it’s really good to be Michael Conforto right now. How unimaginable it must be to sit at the nexus of talent and opportunity on this stage. After his second home run, SNY’s cameras captured Conforto sitting next to Harvey on the bench; let’s hope he’s paying attention to his teammate whose star has waned, and noting how quickly it can all fall apart.

Apropos of nothing, doesn’t Ryan Schimpf look like legendary character actor Geoffrey Lewis?

The Mets and Padres face each other again Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. Jarred Cosart (0-1) will face Robert Gsellman (2-3).

Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports

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1 comment on “Game recap May 23: Even Matt Harvey can’t blow this”

Not mentioned in the article, but Collins brought in Jerry Blevins in the top of the eighth when the Mets were up six runs. Is there no stopping the misuse of bullpen arms?

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