It had been since 2004 that we had seen Hiram Bithorn Stadium, when the late, great Montreal Expos — we miss Youppi — played 22 games there as one of the endless hurdles Major League Baseball was constantly throwing at them. Watching the Mets lose to the Marlins there last night was like running into an old camp friend you remembered fondly … until you actually got to talking to him for awhile.
There were claims that Hiram Bithorn wasn’t such a homer happy place anymore, but you could have fooled us: It seemed like every elevated ball to the outfield flew over the fence. And oh, that turf! The turf had been compared to Tropicana Field’s turf, but for once, we’re going to defend the Rays’ stadium; this one almost looked like a gopher was gonna pop out. Considering the Mets’ issues of the last couple of years, the team should feel fortunate if it makes it through the next two days without someone’s kneecap exploding. The inspired crowd, clearly cheering for the Mets, wasn’t enough to sell us on these San Juan games: That is not a Major League Baseball stadium.
The main culprit in the loss last night was R.A. Dickey, who earns his first loss but really had just one bad inning. Jason Bay hit two homers — though we’re not sure either of them would have been out at Citi Field — but the bullpen (Fernando Nieve and Ryota Igarashi) appear to be chucking the ball up there and then hiding behind the mound. It was an ugly game.
Uglier, though, might be the injury to Jenrry Mejia, the team’s top pitching prospect, the one they’ve been dicking around with all season. As it happens, after the Mets sent him back to Binghamton to work on being a starter — which is what he’d been the whole time until this odd bullpen-in-the-majors experiment — he complains of shoulder trouble and is now sitting out indefinitely with a “posterior cuff strain.” The Mets, predictably, say their jerking around had nothing to do with his injury. Whatever did cause it, it’s a problem: Not only was Mejia a top prospect, he was a top trading chip for Cliff Lee, a guy everyone wants and a guy the Mariners aren’t exactly going to jump to trade for a confused pitcher with a bum wing. To get Lee, the Mets will have to come up with something/someone else. What that could be … well, your guess is as good as ours, and the Mets’.