Over the course of a 162 game season, there are bound to be ups and downs. Some nights will be good, and some nights will be bad. For the Mets, 2010 was truly that roller coaster. At the end of April the Mets had a 9-1 home stand that had fans being reminded of the glorious year of 2006. However, as the season progressed mediocrity became their greatest enemy as fans waited on the edge of their seats for another major run that would never come to fruition. A four game deficit to the Braves at the all-star break slowly continued to grow in the weeks following as the Flushing Faithful grasped onto whatever slim playoff hopes the hapless Amazin's still had. In the end though, the inevitable occurred, and 2010 is history. As Oliver Perez walked off the mound in the 14th inning after walking in a run to deal the Mets their final loss of the season, it had sunk in. 2010 was over.
You may not remember this game, it really was early in the season. However, if you were to ask any Met player, they'd be sure to tell you that they should have had this one. Playing the Padres, who were playing great baseball at the time, the Mets were leading 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth on the back of a great pitching performance by Johan Santana. With a runner on second and two outs, K-Rod was one strike away from ending the night against the pesky David Eckstein. The second baseman poked a ground ball up the middle to score the tying run and the game would go to extra innings, before Adrian Gonzalez would clobber an opposite field Grand Slam against Raul Valdes, who had allowed eight runs that series without recording an out. The Mets went on to allow 12 grand slams this season, while hitting none.
After losing 3/4 to start the second half against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets needed to go into Arizona had have a good series to get back on track after scoring just eight runs in four games against San Fran. Instead, they were swept by the doormat of the NL West. All three games were deflating. The first one they lost 13-2, in a game they never had a chance. The second one, their ninth inning rally fell short as they weren't able to comeback in a 3-2 defeat, and in the third, they played 14 innings, and were barely able to scrape out a hit against the worst bullpen in the Major Leagues. They lost that one 4-3. The negative momentum carried over to the next series where they lost 3/4 to the Dodgers.
Going into the bottom of the eighth inning against the worst team in the NL East with a 5-2 lead, the Mets probably felt pretty comfortable with their lead. They had gotten to phenom Steven Stasburg earlier in the day, and had a two run lead going into the ninth inning before K-Rod collapsed and allowed three runs in a third of an inning. It was right around this time that the Mets one game deficit in the East began its inflation to four games.
Mike Pelfrey hadn't allowed a run in 27 innings, and the Mets had won 10/11 to gain first place in the division by 1.5 games. Everything was coming up blue and orange. Well at least until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Phillies put up six runs on Pelfrey and the Mets were shut down by Roy Halladay. They went on to lose the next night and Philadelphia regained first place, the Mets would never have that position again the rest of the season.
The Mets pitching had been stellar all night, leading 2-1 in the eighth inning, all they needed were four more outs to call it a night. Hisanori Takahashi had loaded the bases, and instead of letting him get out of the jam, Manuel brought in Manny Acosta who proceeded to allow a Grand Slam to Melvin Mora. The Mets were still in the hunt for a playoff spot, just seven games out. After the game, Francisco Rodriguez was arrested, suspended, and injured following a fight with his step-father. He was frustrated for not being put in the game for a five out save. He suffered a season-ending injury in the altercation.
In a game that may have summed up the entire Mets second half, the reality of a lost season really started settling in after a loss to the worst team in baseball. The Mets managed just a single run, and allowed two solo homers, and lost despite an amazing performance from ace Johan Santana. The Mets had won 3 of their last 4 and were trying to make one last push at the postseason. This loss was one of the nails on the coffin.
Trying to take their first road series of the year against a National League team, the Mets had a tough task against Roy Halladay. They took a quick 2-0 lead, but that was lost when they went down 6-2. They chipped back into it and made it 6-5 and had the tying run in scoring position twice, but those attempts to comeback were futile, as they finished 2-4 in what may have been the biggest road trip of the year.
Although this win was the best played game by the Mets on their season killing 2-9 road trip in July, they may have lost the biggest piece of their team in the process. Jason Bay made an outstanding catch going against the wall, and despite not hitting his head, he rocked his brain enough to get a concussion that wasn't noticed for about a week. He was shut down and did not return for the rest of the season. Jeff Francoeur was later traded, and the Mets were left to plug up holes in the outfield with players like Lucas Duda, Chris Carter, and others. The big bat of Jason Bay was a huge loss despite the fact that he had been struggling in the first half of the year.
The Mets were just 6.5 games out and had just come off a win against Adam Wainwright, they were looking to get on a roll. After falling back 6-0 in the first inning, they somehow came back and made it 7-7, and had a chance in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it 8-7 when Castillo had a three ball count. However he would ground out, and the game would eventually go 13 innings before Albert Pujols singled home the game winning run.
Although it was a foregone conclusion well before this game, it is always sad to be eliminated. The taste of October baseball is officially impossible, and the season becomes about playing out the remaining games and getting in some of the younger players. The game itself was somewhat sad as the Mets kept it close until a tie breaking three run homer made it 5-2.