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Somewhere between Chicago and Los Angeles, most of the Mets' bats lost the magic that helped them put up 17 runs against the Cubs on Wednesday.
There weren't runners clogging the bases as they piled up hit after hit, Don Mattingly didn't look like he was considering which Dodgers position player would come in to mop up this mess and Daniel Murphy had gone back to being a 98-pound weakling after Wednesday's Charles Atlas performance.
The only bat that wasn't affected by the changes in latitude belonged to David Wright.
Wright doubled home a run in the first and hit a solo homer in the fourth, picking up his team when they were still looking jet-lagged in the early innings of the game. While you'd obviously like to see a more balanced offensive attack, Wright's role as the team's star means that he's the guy who has to pick them up when everyone else is lost at the plate.
Those two runs from Wright should really have been enough to win the game for the Mets. The Dodgers were coming off a three-game sweep in which they scored a combined total of zero runs and their lineup resembles something the Mets used to run out on the field during the darkest days of the Jerry Manuel era.
It wasn't enough, however, because Chris Young faltered during the fourth inning and allowed the Dodgers to tie the score with three straight hits. By that point, though, a couple of other Mets had shaken off the doldrums that accompanied them to California and Andres Torres doubled home a run in the fifth to give the Mets a 3-2 lead that they'd hold the rest of the way.
Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell got the final eight outs to preserve Young's victory, with Parnell adding a kind of late bookend to Wright's work in the early part of the game. Parnell got three easy outs in the ninth inning by dialing his fastball up into the triple digits, the kind of confident outing that the Mets have long wanted to see from Parnell in the closer role.
The issue with Parnell isn't ability, because we know he's got that. The issue is whether or not he has the consistency that allows him to make use of that ability on a regular basis.
If he can, things open up for the Mets because it gives them a real weapon in the late innings and it means Frank Francisco can be shopped to needier teams who are fond of poultry slams.
Just as the Mets' optimal lineup needs Murphy and Ike Davis to fulfill their potential, the Mets bullpen needs Parnell to be the man if it is going to turn around the dreadful performance of the first half of the season.
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