Mets’ resilience is about to be tested again against Marlins

You wonder at what point the embankment will break. The Mets have avoided calamities all year, even when the casualty list looked like a triage unit, even as the starting rotation began to resemble an MAS * H ​​unit. They have avoided catastrophe, always understanding that the best patch, the best ointment, the best aspirin pill, is winning.

It is late June and the Mets have withstood every monsoon.

Can they still? Was this two-defeat stop in Houston – first win of the year, fourth loss in series, all against various Western Division teams – was it simply the product of running into a team that has known nothing but winning for eight years?

Or is there something else lurking? All the teams have swerved, even the good ones. The Holy Mets of 86 had two consecutive victories of four defeats; the Mets of ’22 have not yet lost three in a row. However, the difficulty level continues to increase.

Carlos Carrasco left Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat in the third inning with back stiffness after being beaten early. This currently leaves four starting pitchers unwell, although Max Scherzer may be within days of returning. Jeff McNeil missed both games in Houston and Eduardo Escobar injured his leg at the end of Wednesday’s game. A nick here. A nick there. It usually adds up. It’s not just for the Mets yet.

Mets
Carlos Carrasco comes out of the Mets’ defeat against the Astros on Wednesday.
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Will he do it now?

“We’ll take a day,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said, referring to the off-day Thursday that will precede a three-game run in Miami with the Marlins.

Not for the first time, the great advantage the Mets have realized in the first two months of the program is really their best ally, even if the Braves have scratched it. It allowed them to ward off the hassles of injuries, and the way they played to build and maintain that first cushion spot did the rest.

But how long can they sustain it?

This trip to Houston promised to be an intriguing match, a couple of first place clubs who were both playing well and doing many of the same things well: defense, solid hits, resilient opening pitch. But the Astros beat the Mets on Tuesday, 8-2, and chased Carrasco with four runs from the first inning and another in the third before Cookie retired for the day.

The Mets added some intrigue to the sixth afternoon, scratching for two runs and loading the bases, and for a minute it really felt like they’d be able to use their most reliable antidote of the season to date: winning, which helps make all other ailments and concerns are tolerable.

But Escobar jumped out, which stopped the demonstration, and Dom Smith – just restored from his Triple A stint in Syracuse – struck to kill him. Even the presence of an old rival – Hector Neris – and an old friend – Rafael Montero – outside the Houston bullpen couldn’t move the needle. And 35,415 Astros fans left Minute Maid Park happy with it all.

The Mets?

It doesn’t get any easier. On Friday in Miami they will face Sandy Alcantara for the second time in six days, and all Alcantara has done is carve out a spot among the top for NL Cy Young. And it always seems like the Fishes save their more sinister tricks for when the Mets visit what is now known as LoanDepot Park, which sits on the footprint of the old Orange Bowl.

Mets
Francisco Lindor sits on the bench during the Mets’ defeat to the Astros on Wednesday.
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So far, whenever the season has hinted at defeating the Mets, they have quickly found their feet. They survived the bookends absences of Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. They survived the gauntlet of 11 days and 10 games in the west. They did this by never getting too far ahead of themselves and refusing to succumb to panic, which is a reason to believe they may not introduce Scherzer on Sunday, even though he’s likely to join them in Miami.

“Max knows we want him to launch the rest of the season for us,” Showalter said, suggesting a caution that would be entirely prudent. For Scherzer’s recovery yes; but also to remind the Mets that the embankment is strong enough to withstand some rain. And maybe even a thunderstorm or two.

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