After taking several readings on the Mets this homestand, it has become apparent that, while they may remain fairly sound psychologically and spiritually, this is no time to come to conclusions about their physical fitness in the NL East race.
On another chilly night in Queens, with rain showers thrown in, another sparse crowd was subjected to a 10-inning, 7-6 come-from-ahead Mets loss to the Miami Marlins. And more theater of the uncertain.
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia's leadoff home run in the 10th against Kyle Farnsworth, the sixth Mets pitcher, was the difference.
"Supposed to be a fastball away," said Farnsworth (0-1, 2.38 ERA). "It came to the middle. If I'm going to get beat, I'm going to get beat with my best pitch. He's trying to hit the ball out of the park and I'm trying to be aggressive. That's one of those cases of professional hardball."
Up 5-1 after five innings -- appearing to legitimize consecutive days of late-inning defensive gems, sturdy pitching and timely hitting -- the Mets didn't get off the field in the unsightly sixth until they were down 6-5.
After being in full control for five innings, having allowed one run and four hits, starter Jenrry Mejia unraveled in the sixth.
"Ball was starting to get left up," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said, "and the Marlins started putting good swings on it. They did what they needed to do."
A leadoff double by Marcell Ozuna. A robust home run by Giancarlo Stanton. A single by Casey McGehee. A walk to Saltalamacchia. After Garrett Jones lined out to Lucas Duda, whose scrambling dive to the bag didn't quite beat Saltalamacchia for a double play, Derek Dietrich hit into a force play, but Adeiny Hechavarria delivered an RBI single to center.
It suddenly was 5-4, Mets. And curtains for Mejia, who also was responsible for two more runs when pinch hitter Reed Johnson dropped a two-run double into the rightfield corner against reliever Carlos Torres.
That the Mets could revive themselves in the bottom of the sixth for the tying run was in line with their recent persistence. D'Arnaud walked and went to second on a passed ball by Saltalamacchia. When shortstop Hechavarria threw Omar Quintanilla's infield single over first baseman Jones' head, d'Arnaud scored.
But the unpleasant reality was how the Mets wound up losing after leading 3-0 in the first and 5-1 after five.
Eric Young Jr.'s leadoff single had stretched his league-leading streak of reaching base to 20 consecutive games. He stole second, cruised to third on Saltalamacchia's throwing error and scored on David Wright's long sacrifice fly to right-center.
Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to eight games with a looping single and jogged home when 40-year-old Bobby Abreu, in only his second start as a Met, clobbered a two-run home run into the rightfield seats.
It was Abreu's first major-league homer since Sept. 28, 2012, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent all of last year out of baseball in his native Venezuela, working out to prepare for winter ball and one more shot at the big leagues.
Duda's two-run single in the third looked like insurance until the big Miami rally. But proven again: Nothing is ever assured with this team.