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As the Mets try to figure out how their new pieces fit and what it all means for their eventual World Series chances, they should try to remember that going down 8-0 in the second inning is not conducive to winning.

Taijuan Walker couldn’t get out of the second inning in the Mets’ 9-6 loss to the Braves on Friday night.

His eight earned runs stick out like a sore thumb, but failing to get a single whiff on his four-seam fastball or splitter (his two most-used pitches of the season) is really what did him in. When Walker was pulled with nobody out and runners on the corners in the top of the second inning, he sauntered off the mound knowing he had just turned in his worst performance as a Met. The 33-pitch first inning will likely spin around in his brain like clothes in a washing machine. At least he can say he didn’t walk anybody.

The eight earned runs were the most Walker had allowed since April 10, 2015, when he was still a Seattle Mariner. Atlanta batters reached base in all kinds of ways, combining singles, doubles, home runs and even a hit-by-pitch to hang the crooked numbers. Eddie Rosario hit a two-run homer in the first to put his team up by four, then Michael Harris II creamed a solo shot to lead off the second. The Braves followed that up with three straight singles, and when Trevor Williams couldn’t strand any of his inherited runners, the Mets faced an extreme uphill battle before many fans had even gotten through the vicious stadium traffic.

In a heartening display of resiliency and morale, neither the Mets nor their devotees showed any quit. The 8-0 eyesore on the Citi Field scoreboard quickly went away when Brandon Nimmo laced an RBI single in the bottom of the second. Unfortunately, Luis Guillorme was thrown out at home trying to give the Mets a second run, killing a potential fire-starting rally.

Later on in the fifth inning, the crowd fully embraced the possibility of an improbable win. Sensing that their team has played well all year and had plenty of time to mount a comeback — or maybe it was just Friday night overconfidence — the Flushing faithful nearly willed it into existence. The Mets finally got to Atlanta starter Ian Anderson, sending him packing on Jeff McNeil’s run-scoring single. The Braves then brought in a lefty, which meant Darin Ruf could finally get a chance to hit, and he stroked a two-run double in his first plate appearance as a Met.

The pinch-hit fortune continued when Eduardo Escobar batted for Guillorme and grounded one into left field, allowing Ruf to score his first run as a Met. Before they could get the tying run to the plate, though, Tomas Nido flew out to right to squash the rally. Losing this game was definitely not the hitters’ fault. The Mets finished with 12 hits and worked five walks, providing the type of crowded base paths that typically lead to better things. But again, falling behind by eight in the game’s first half hour put them in a nearly impossible situation.

Friday night was the first time since June 28 that the Mets allowed nine runs in a game. The fact that Atlanta’s run total only got to nine is because of the Amazin’s bullpen. Asked to get 24 outs in relief of Walker, Trevor Williams, Joely Rodriguez, Mychal Givens and Tommy Hunter did so while only allowing one run. Hunter, logging his second inning of work, gave up a gopher ball to Atlanta catcher William Contreras at the very end.

The slight silver lining is, with a doubleheader coming on Saturday, Buck Showalter did not have to use any of his high-leverage relievers. Edwin Diaz, Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo and Trevor May are all fresh for the upcoming double dip. Playing two games in the same day will also let the team showcase its newly-acquired depth, with the platoon partners probably splitting the starter’s duties.

Sometimes a wakeup call is needed. Even though the Mets can feel okay about the non-Walker performances on Friday, and the fact that they never rolled over and died, a loss to a division rival that feels out of hand in the second inning is both slightly demoralizing and uncharacteristic of this team.

If they get an outing characteristic of Max Scherzer on Saturday, this will all be swiftly forgotten.


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DC insider: Deleted Jan. 6 texts are ‘very clearly a conspiracy’

While President Barack Obama gave the executive order for the operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan on May 11, 2011, it was under President Joe Biden’s watch that another top al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 31, 2022. Afghanistan is now under the control of the far-right Taliban, but al-Zawahiri’s death sends out a message that even in a Taliban-controlled country, a leader al-Qaeda terrorist can’t hide from U.S. forces.

Leon Panetta, who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and later, secretary of defense under Obama, discussed al-Zawahiri’s death during an August 3 appearance on MSNBC — whose Andrea Mitchell noted now how “astonishing” it was that “as far as we know, they were no civilian deaths” even though the operation was carried out in the middle of Downtown Kabul. And Mitchell also brought up the January 6 committee’s investigation and the disappearance of Secret Service texts.

Panetta, now 84, said of al-Zawahiri’s death, “I pay tremendous tribute to our intelligence forces, our military forces that were involved, the CIA…. There’s a tremendous amount of planning involved in those kind of attacks. The ability to do constantly reconnaissance, to gather intelligence, to know that you have the right target, to be able to hit that target without any kind of collateral damage, I think, is a tribute to their capabilities. And in the end, I do think it completes a very important mission that we began on 9/11, which was to make sure we would go after those who were involved in the attack on 9/11…. It really does send a message that you don’t attack the United States and get away with it.”

READ MORE: Secret Service scrambling to explain deleted Jan. 6 texts to 'skeptical' House committee members: report

Panetta, who also served as White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton, noted that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were the “key planners” of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — and now, both of them have been killed by U.S. forces.

Mitchell asked Panetta, however, if he was worried that terrorists — after learning that al-Zawahiri was in Kabul at the time of his death — might consider Afghanistan a “safe haven” because the Taliban “have clearly not lived up to their agreement not to harbor terrorists after the U.S. withdrawal.”

Panetta told Mitchell, “The Taliban is now in charge of Afghanistan; there’s no question that they’re providing a safe haven for terrorists…. The fact that al-Zawahiri, one of the top leaders of al-Qaeda, could simply walk into Kabul, get an apartment in the middle of the capitol, not have anybody raise any questions sends a real signal that the Taliban is going to continue to provide a safe haven for terrorism.”

The former CIA director went on to say that terrorism has “metastasized in many ways.”

READ MORE: 'Coverup of treason': Trump-appointed IG, facing investigation, was aware of missing Secret Service and DHS texts far earlier

Panetta told Mitchell, “It’s ISIS, it’s Boko Haram, it’s al-Shabab in North Africa, and it continues to be al-Qaeda. So, we are facing, and continue to face, a real threat of a terrorist attack either on the United States or elsewhere. That’s one of the major flashpoints that we have to control.”

Mitchell brought up another form of violent extremism: White nationalist violence in the United States, asking Panetta to weigh on the disappearance of U.S. Secret Service texts from January 6, 2021. And he responded, “Andrea, this is another major concern: that, obviously, officials out of the Trump Administration were taking steps to make sure that potential evidence involved in January 6 would not be there. I really do think that the Justice Department has to investigate the loss of this kind of critical evidence…. This was a deliberate effort to make sure that very important evidence regarding what the players were doing at the Pentagon, at the Secret Service and elsewhere were saying and doing on January 6 — all of which is very relevant to the investigation into what happened.”

When Mitchell asked Panetta, “You’re saying this is a cover-up?” he responded, “I don’t think there’s any question that when you go from agency to agency and find out that key messages have been deleted, something’s going on here that resembles very clearly a conspiracy.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

Jan. 6-related Texts Wiped 'From Agency To Agency' Looks Like 'Conspiracy': Panetta

READ MORE: Republicans largely ignore Biden killing of top terrorist — as some even use it to attack the president

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