In tribute to the top story of the day, here is a list of Top Ten Likely Story Lines at Mets Games:
10) Pitcher does well, wins
9) Pitcher throws superbly, gets a no-decision
8) Matt Harvey Day
7) Pitcher has a mediocre outing, loses because batting is worse
6) Pitcher throws decently, but is sabotaged by poor fielding
5) Pitcher gets on base by an error, gets pooped running the bases
4) Pitcher, exhausted, gets torched in a 9-0 loss
3) Pitcher loses walk-less innings streak, having surpassed team record set by Bret Saberhagen (who had better control of his fastball than of a water pistol filled with bleach)
2) Pitcher leaves Mets fans desperately cheering for replays of Rangers goals on the big screen
1) Pitching is no match for the all-around resourcefulness of the Cardinals, who tend to play all facets of the game and have the best record in the major leagues
Do you catch a general theme here? We all knew that the Mets were going to be pitching oriented, which is fine, as long as the pitching is good. But when it is not, you get a mess like Wednesday night's second consecutive blowout, in which Bartolo Colon starred in numbers 5 through 1 above.
The bottom line is that when the Mets play, there is hardly any occasion to notice anyone but the guy on the mound. That is their biggest problem. They just can't keep going like this, two dimensions short. And before you even think about saying "1969," consider that Cleon Jones hit .340 that year. Six of the Mets' eight position players last night began the game hitting below .250.
It is not time to despair or panic. It is time to admit the Mets are not as balanced and resilient as the Cardinals are. The latter club just keeps rolling, no matter what. No excuses over having lost their ace, Adam Wainwright, to an injury. No long rebuilding project after having lost one of the great hitters of this generation, Albert Pujols, to free agency.
"The way they run things over here is great. It's kind of a family-first environment, guys looking after guys. No selfishness," centerfielder Randal Grichuk said. "Everybody is here to win, I think they put 'self' stats and other stuff aside. That has been shown over years and years of the Cardinals organization. They can win and win."
Grichuk, a 23-year-old form- er first-round Angels draft pick, is Exhibit A of the Cardinals Way this week as he rebounded from one of the all-time baseball nightmares.
He struck out five times in the Mets' Harvey-started win Monday, but was not benched Tuesday. Mike Matheny merely went up to him before that game and said, "All good? All good? Make someone pay tonight." Then the manager raised him six places in the batting order, from eighth to second.
Grichuk responded with three extra-base hits in that game -- something never done before by a major leaguer after a five-whiff game.
"It was probably my worst night, followed by my best night," said the outfielder who added a double and a triple Wednesday night and made a diving catch that held Colon at third in the third inning, when the game was still scoreless.
Matheny said it was not hard to keep believing. "You have talented kids, they need to see you're going to have bad nights and that doesn't mean we lose hope or lose faith in you. We're going to throw you right back in there and give you an opportunity to shine," he said. "We're guilty of perpetual optimism around here, but I do believe that instills faith in these guys. Faith turns into confidence. Confidence turns into future success."
The Mets do have reasons to be optimistic, too. Before Colon's blip Wednesday night, they had a team earned run average of 3.08, which was second best in the majors.
Right behind the Cardinals.