If there is such a thing as a productive loss, the New York Mets may have had one Friday in Miami.
After trailing 3-0, coming back against a division rival on the road, scoring five runs in two innings to take a 5-3 lead, the Mets bullpen couldn’t finish the job. Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak pitched the eighth inning, allowing one run. Frank Francisco came in to record the final three outs, but instead, recorded one out, surrendered two runs and the game.
The loss hurt.
This is the world the Mets have been living in; falling behind early, fighting back, getting the big hit late, clinging to the lead and battling tooth and nail to the last pitch. When you’re on the winning side of that equation, the highs are incredibly high. But, as the Mets experienced Friday, when you’re on the short end, losing is excruciating. The cut feels deeper; the pain more intense.
The come-from-behind effort followed by a late inning meltdown snapped the Mets five-game winning streak. It also comes after back-to-back-to-back come-from-behind road wins in Philadelphia. The Mets floated into Miami on a new high. Winning in come-from-behind fashion on a regular basis – something the Mets have done 11 of their 18 wins in 2012 – builds character and confidence. For a young Mets roster it has been a bonding experience.
The Mets, 18-14, have rallied around each other, unlike many recent Mets clubhouses. There is a sense of accountability and pride that permeates the team. On the outside the Mets are labeled overachievers. Within the ranks, the Mets know what they are capable of, defying the odds.
Will Friday’s stinging loss be a tipping point for the 2012 Mets? Will the Mets get off the mat Saturday afternoon and throw a devastating counter at the Marlins? Will they feel cheated? Will they feel embarrassed, take it as a personal afront? Or, will Friday’s sucker punch loss steal the Mets confidence, sending them into a spiral?
Friday’s loss could, in hindsight, produce bear fruit for the Mets. Losing 12-1 is not like a 6-5 — after coming back from a 3-0 deficit, taking a 5-3 lead, losing the lead and the game. No, games like Friday’s shape teams, for better or worse. Mets manager Terry Collins hopes the former will happen, where a seemingly innocuous mid-May game becomes a tipping point.
This afternoon is an ordinary early summer Saturday afternoon baseball game for the Mets — with an extraordinary opportunity to show their mettle.