Perhaps prosperity really is just around the corner for the Mets, as they so fervently hope. In the meantime, they seem destined to be toyed with by some dastardly GPS system, sending them down the wrong streets.
Again Monday night, just when things were looking rosier than usual, trouble leaped from a blind spot. What began with what manager Terry Collins called "about as dominating the start of a game as I've ever seen'' by 26-year-old rookie Jacob deGrom contorted into a 6-5 Miami victory.
After strolling around the clubhouse wearing a T-shirt with a giant "K'' before the game, deGrom took the strikeout theme to extremes. He fanned the first eight hitters he faced, surpassing the Mets record to start a game -- six by Pete Falcone against the Phillies on May 1, 1980 -- and tied the modern-day record by the Astros' Jim Deshaies against the Dodgers on Sept. 23, 1986.
Deshaies, a Cubs broadcaster, noted the occasion on Twitter: "Congratulations to Jacob deGrom for tying one of the most hallowed records in all of sport."
"I felt really good,'' deGrom said. "Once I get two strikes on a guy, whether it's 0-2 or 1-2, yeah, I'm trying to strike him out. I knew I had struck everybody out up to that point. But there in the seventh, I didn't execute a couple of pitches.''
That's when Miami -- after enduring deGrom's career-high 13 strikeouts and managing only three hits and a walk -- suddenly produced three consecutive hits and a sacrifice fly to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
That ended deGrom's streak of 28 innings without allowing an earned run. Though the game U-turned to a brief 5-3 Mets lead (on three unearned runs), it just as quickly lurched back to a 6-5 Miami edge against Jeurys Familia.
That leaves the 72-79 Mets with their only option being optimism for 2015, when deGrom's surprising emergence might somehow be duplicated.
The next deGrom could be, say, 23-year-old Steven Matz, the former Ward Melville High School star whose work for Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton this season earned him the Mets' minor-league Pitcher of the Year award.
Why not Matz?
"Yeah,'' he said. "Especially since I'm pretty good friends with [deGrom]. I mean, it would be awesome if I could do the same thing. I got to know him when we were both rehabbing from Tommy John [surgery] together [in 2010].''
General manager Sandy Alderson declared Matz "definitely in the mix'' to be among the organization's top eight or nine starting pitchers during 2015 spring training. That could position Matz to begin the year in Triple-A, as deGrom did, coiled to strike for a place on the parent team's roster.
To hear that, "I would say I'm pretty encouraged,'' Matz said. "I mean, that's pretty awesome, to be in the mix.''
Alderson witnessed Matz's final game at Binghamton, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of the final game of the Eastern League's championship series. Alderson noted that "you don't see a lefthander hitting 93, 94 [mph] consistently with the assortment of pitches that he has. He is very definitely on the short list.''
When young prospects such as Matz "walk into spring training,'' Collins said, "anybody can make the club.''
Spring is just around the corner.