NEW YORK — In the top of the fourth inning of the Mets’ Sunday afternoon 6-2 loss to the Phillies — not to be confused with their Saturday 6-2 loss to the Phillies, or their Friday 6-5 loss to the Phillies — Luis Guillorme slashed a Zack Wheeler fastball the other way with the bases loaded. J.D. Davis scored. Robinson Cano scored. Wilson Ramos took off, in a manner of speaking, for third.
Guillorme’s hit ricocheted off the left field stands to Jay Bruce. Bruce threw to third. Ramos was out by more than a Roman Quinn. He tried to slide, but ended up doing something that looked more like a flailing sideways tumble. He was out anyway.
I remember reading, a few years ago, about how bad a baserunner David Ortiz was. Ortiz, I read, scored from second on a single only once out of 40 opportunities, or some obscene number like that. Ortiz couldn’t run to save his life. Watching him tag from third and try to score on a fly ball to the warning track felt like watching an elephant race a Maserati.
Now Wilson Ramos is making Mets fans long for David Ortiz on the basepaths, which might be the most impressive thing Ramos has done as a Met. For all Ortiz’s slowness of foot, he would have struggled to do what Ramos did today.
Ramos, in case it’s unclear, stood on first. The bases were loaded with two outs, so Ramos probably could have taken a 20-foot lead if he’d wanted to. He could have taken a nice, luxurious secondary, and he certainly should have been running on contact. And then Guillorme drove a ball down the left field line — and Ramos was out at third by 10 feet, an elephant beaten by a Maserati.
Not scoring from second on a single is one thing. Imagine not going first to third — on a ball that should be a double.
The rest of the Mets’ roster isn’t as slow as Ramos — no one really is, potentially including Newman from Seinfeld — but they’re hardly faring better. With the loss, the Mets are 9-14. But the standings matter less than the fact that the Mets can’t seem to stop failing. Mets games are nothing more than episodes of “Wipeout,” and Mets fans are the contestants, unable to enjoy themselves because they know the next obstacle will knock them off their feet any minute. Take the lead in the sixth inning? Rick Porcello can’t get away with this for much longer — be ready! Runner just took an extra base? Look out — he’s going to try to take another, and he’s not going to make it!
This will continue tomorrow, when the Mets play the Marlins in Miami. With Robert Gsellman on the mound, Wilson Ramos behind the plate, Robinson Cano in the lineup or (worse yet) the field, the entire trusty Mets’ bullpen available in relief…there are a million ways to blow a game, and the Mets have shown that they know how to find them.
On the other hand, baseball is a funny game, and the opposite is always a possibility. The Mets will hit a hot streak eventually, and there’s no reason the Miami Marlins can’t be the catalyst. Maybe it will take a Luis Rojas speech, or Brodie Van Wagenen throwing another chair. A few wins in Miami, and the sweep in Philadelphia will be a faint memory. “Remember that time Ramos got thrown out at third on a double?” someone will ask, and I’ll respond “not really…but it sounds like the kind of thing he’d do.”
Maybe Robert Gsellman finds his form in Miami tomorrow night, puts together a solid start, and carries the Mets to a win. Maybe David Peterson continues his strong rookie showing Tuesday with another win, giving (knock on wood) deGrom the ball Wednesday with a chance to win a third straight game and pull the Mets back into the playoff hunt. In a 60 game season that’s already 23 games old, a three game winning streak can work wonders.
After being swept by the Phillies, the Mets don’t have much. We have no starting pitching to speak of, a bullpen that can’t hold itself together, and defense that can’t seem to make the plays it needs to. We’ve got one catcher who can barely move and another one who’s never hit before, a first baseman who can’t find his power, a left fielder with a bruised knee, and a third baseman without a real position. With the loss, we’re last in the N.L. East, an elephant in a division of Maserati’s.
What we have, though, and what we will always have unless we give it away, is hope. Ya gotta believe. When an elephant races a Maserati, that’s pretty much all you can do.