Rick Ankiel’s first home run as a New York Met tied the game at 2-2 in the top of seventh inning. He brought smiles to a lifeless dugout on May 15 and silenced the St. Louis Cardinals crowd for a moment. And then the Mets bullpen threw the game away in the bottom of the inning. Literally.
The Mets proceeded to lose 4-2, the team’s sixth straight loss and drop to 14-23 for the season. They currently have the most consecutive losses in baseball. Their starters get lit up early in the game; the offense is frozen; the bullpen is a joke; the defense commits crucial errors. Sometimes all of those follies converge into one game and even the most diehard of fans cannot watch.
They lost in a few routs over the past week, but the offense had a chance to win on May 15. Shaun Marcum, who had not pitched beyond the fifth inning in any of his previous starts, delivered 6 2/3 quality innings of three-run ball.
But the Mets gave up two unearned runs on sloppy defense. David Wright dropped the ball when attempting to tag out Cardinals centerfielder Jon Jay between second and third base and Daniel Murphy botched a routine double play. Wright’s error unnecessarily drove up Marcum’s pitch count on a night when he was locked in.
The most demoralizing moment of the game, however, came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Reliever Scott Rice threw the ball in the dirt with runners on first and third base. Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalzo scored and the Mets were retired in order in the eighth and ninth innings.
The Cardinals took advantage of every opportunity they had to score, whether on defensive blunders by the Mets or getting a hit with runners in scoring position. The Mets falter when it matters most. David Wright had a runner on third base in the sixth inning with Murphy on third base and one out. A ground ball, sacrifice fly or hit all would have scored a run, but he struck out. Ike Davis then grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
Captain Wright had a chance to right the ship last night but not only failed to come through in the clutch but also gifted the Cardinals a run. He is the golden boy of the team and can do no wrong in most people’s eyes, but he should not be exempt from criticism. All eyes are on Wright during a miserable offensive stretch in which his team struggles to reach base under any circumstance.
Lucas Duda and Davis are both in brutal slumps, Murphy caught lightning in a bottle in St. Louis but needs to raise his average much higher and Ruben Tejada looks confused during every at-bat. All of these players have shown promise, but they would all be back in the minor leagues on most other teams.
Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and Wright are the future, but most of the infield, the entire outfield, the back-end of the rotation and whole bullpen staff are in shambles.
The team is already decaying in May, but the silver lining is just a sliver.