Much remains to be discovered about these Mets. With the season still in its infancy, very little about what transpires in the early going will offer meaningful hints about the measure of this team, good or bad. Only time will provide a definitive read.
But as the first glances of the complete picture begin to materialize, even a cursory look at the roster underscores one reasonable assumption about these Mets. If they are to exceed expectations, they can't afford to miss opportunities, as they did in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Padres.
In his return to a big-league mound after a blood clot prematurely ended his season last July, Dillon Gee allowed one run in 61/3 innings, though he said afterward that he never felt sharp.
"I put it behind me a long time ago," Gee said after the Mets' first loss of the season. "But it definitely feels nice to get out there and get back in the regular season and get back on the mound in a big-league game. It's a turning point, and hopefully I can keep building from there."
Gee, 26, hadn't pitched since July 7 against the Cubs. After the start, he complained of numbness in his fingers. A few days later, he wound up in intensive care after doctors discovered a blood clot in an artery in his right shoulder. Within a week of pitching in a big-league game, Gee found himself on a surgeon's table to repair a damaged artery, which sidelined him for the rest of the season.
In his return, Gee pitched well enough for a victory, but a lack of help saddled him with a loss.
The three through six hitters in the lineup went 0-for-13 with 11 of the Mets' 14 strikeouts and a double play. John Buck provided the Mets' only run in the ninth with a leadoff homer against closer Huston Street.
"We weren't just giving away at-bats," Buck said. "We worked him, we got into their bullpen. We kind of got all the way through their bullpen."
But the Mets squandered their share of opportunities, leaving manager Terry Collins to acknowledge after the game that he was displeased with some of his team's at-bats.
In two convincing wins to begin the season, the Mets hit .526 (10-for-19) with runners in scoring position, helping them outscore the Padres 19-6.
But yesterday, when the Mets felt the heat of a close game for the first time this year, they fell short of answering the call.
Summoned into a one-run game, reliever Jeurys Familia pulled a fastball past Buck in the eighth inning for a wild pitch that gave the Padres a critical insurance run. In going for the three-game sweep, the Mets went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
The Mets put two runners on in the second, sixth and seventh innings, but nothing came of the threats.
"We got a little anxious in a couple of at-bats," Davis said. "Instead of staying back on a couple of pitches, we tried to hit that three-run homer."
It's a mistake that any team can't afford to make, especially these Mets.