It has been generally assumed, after all of their depletions and dejections this year, the Mets have a very small margin for error. As it turns out, it is bigger than they thought. They withstood a huge gaffe in the middle of a long night and won another game.
That’s right, “another.” It was hard to feel it amid the late cold mist, but the Mets actually are somewhat hot now. They have won four of five, which is not a ton, but it is enough to bolster their hope. Their season has not popped out of their grasp, the way that seemingly harmless popup bounced away from Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh inning.
“We’re starting to get our guy back where they belong,” Terry Collins said nearly eight hours before the Mets finally finished a 5-4, 12-inning triumph over the Brewers Tuesday night. He was talking specifically about the starting pitching, but he might as well have been talking about everyone’s mental state.
Games like the past few have given the Mets reason to believe they have a lot of season left in them. If they can pull out a game like this one, who knows what they can pull off?
Jay Bruce lined a single up the middle in the 12th, sending T.J. Rivera home with the winning run and offering a huge sigh of relief to Cabrera, who made a Luis Castillo-type error. It was the type of play that usually dooms a poor team, gives it one more reason to think the sky is going to fall at any moment.
“I”m laughing now because we won,” Cabrera said. When he was asked how the error happened, he said, “I just missed it.”
Mets fans do not need to be reminded about Castillo, who settled under a routine pop with two outs in the ninth of a game against the Yankees on June 12, 2009. Fans never will forget the bizarre scene of Castillo muffing it, of two Yankees crossing the plate to turn an apparent one-run defeat into a one-run victory. At the time, Derek Jeter said, “You can see that play 1,000 more times and it probably won’t happen again.”
Except we all saw it again Tuesday night. There were two out with the bases loaded in the seventh when Jerry Blevins apparently got out of the jam by inducing a pop up from Jett Bandy. Castillo staggered a bit and flubbed it, allowing the third and fourth runs to score.
The Mets did almost nothing at the plate in the following five innings, but their bullpen was up to the moment and their hitters had enough energy left to squeak in a run against Wily Peralta.
This is just the sort of thing Collins spoke of before the game, when he was asked about Yoenis Cespedes, who was supposed to be back by now but was instead making little steps by hitting in a cage in Florida.
“I learned a long time ago you can’t worry about stuff out of your control. And I can’t control the healing process of any player,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon. “If I use all my energies to concern myself about the guys who aren’t here, the guys who are here are going to see that. So, I focus more on getting these guys ready, making sure they understand, hey look, just because Yoenis isn’t here, doesn’t mean we can’t win.”
Not only can they win, they can savor things that they did right. They could applaud the solid start by Tyler Pill, an unknown quantity called up from Las Vegas who exceeded all expectations with 5 1⁄3 good innings. They could be heartened by Lucas Duda hitting his third home run in the past four days, his fourth in the past eight days. They could tip their caps to winning pitcher Josh Smoker and other beleaguered relievers.
They could even laugh. Cabrera saw Bruce walking across the clubhouse and interrupted his own interview to wave and yell, “Thank you, J.B.!”