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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

It’s a bad day at the ballpark when grounds crew is the star

Team probably wishes field hadn’t been playable after weak lineup of reserves is stuck in mud against Jays.

Pinch-hitter Jay Bruce of the Mets strikes out

Pinch-hitter Jay Bruce of the Mets strikes out in the eighth inning against the Blue Jays at Citi Field on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The good vibes from Tuesday night’s 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays lasted less than 12 hours for the Mets.

Wednesday began with Yoenis Cespedes finally going on the disabled list. It ended with a waterlogged 12-1 loss to Toronto at gloomy Citi Field.

You know it’s not a good day for the home team when the grounds crew members are the only stars.

At 11:05 a.m., the Mets announced that the hobbled Cespedes needs to rest the suspected quad injury that an MRI showed was actually a strained right hip flexor.

You want to get on the Mets for waiting this long to DL Cespedes? It’s fair to do so. But he is sooooo important to the lineup that you should understand why the Mets were reluctant to go without their leading home run and RBI man, even after it was obvious he was playing on a really bad wheel.

Four minutes earlier, at 11:01, the Mets had released their lineup against lefthander J.A. Happ. Maybe that was the moment when the good vibes ceased. Or maybe manager Mickey Callaway thought (hoped?) the game was going to be rained out.

No Cespedes. No Todd Frazier (also on the DL). No Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo or Adrian Gonzalez (resting vs. the lefty). No Devin Mesoraco (day game after night game). No Jose Reyes (doesn’t appear able to hit much anymore).

Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto were the 3-4 hitters. Nos. 5-7 were (avert your eyes) Phillip Evans, Luis Guillorme and Jose Lobaton. This was a big-league game, right?

The result was predictable. Happ shut out the Mets on two hits over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. Happ had two hits himself.

With off days this past Monday and again Thursday, Callaway could have used Bruce, who was on paternity leave over the weekend, or Mesoraco, who has shown a lively bat since joining the Mets in the Matt Harvey trade. On Tuesday, Mesoraco went 2-for-2 with a home run and three walks and scored four runs.

Ah, Tuesday. It seems so long ago.

That rain-delayed game didn’t end until almost 11:40 p.m., but the Mets enjoyed a happy recap after a rare laugher.

“That’s what we can do to teams when we click,” Nimmo said. “Then you get a day like today.”

Wednesday was played in constant rain and/or drizzle. Zack Wheeler gave up a first-inning solo homer to Justin Smoak, but was otherwise dominant through three innings, striking out six, including the side in the third.

It was 1-0 in the bottom of the third when Wheeler led off in heavy rain and lost control of his bat during a swing-and-miss. The bat ended up near the first-base coaching box. Wheeler eventually struck out.

After one more pitch, the umpires called for the grounds crew to put down bag after bag . . . after bag . . . after bag . . . of drying agent on the mound, home-plate area and infield. The Blue Jays left the field during the 18-minute delay, which was not an official delay because the tarp never came out.

Not official, but very real to Wheeler, who had to sit for nearly a half-hour.

“To me, it seemed like the little trying-to-fix-the-field rain [delay] kind of affected our guy and it didn’t theirs,” Callaway said. “He just wasn’t the same guy.”

Wheeler walked Josh Donaldson to open the fourth and one batter later allowed a two-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez.

Wheeler walked Happ to open the fifth. Ruh-roh. The next four Blue Jays reached, two on loud doubles, and Wheeler’s day was done. The Mets trailed 6-0. The rest of the game was just waiting for the clock to run out.

It finally did. The Mets went into their latest off day looking for answers, and also needing to order some new bags of drying agent.

Man, did they use a lot — including an incomprehensible fix-the-infield delay with two outs in the bottom of the ninth after Nimmo homered for the Mets’ run. At least it was one more star turn for the grounds crew, who were just about the only Mets employees who earned their pay on Wednesday.

New York Sports