Just Not 'Wright': Mets' Playoff Hopes Flatline

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Just Not 'Wright': Mets' Playoff Hopes Flatline

9/25/08

Flip the switch, pull the curtain down and tear it up already.

Shea Stadium was given an early farewell last night, thanks in part to yet another devastating loss by the New York Mets.

In falling 9-6 to the Chicago Cubs, this loss hurt as much if not more than any other this season.

And for all the blame the bullpen has (rightfully) earned this season, last night's loss primarily gets credited to the offense, who failed miserably late in the game.

In the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, the Mets had runners on third base with nobody out, yet combined, they were able to muster only a bases loaded walk in the 8th, which at the time tied the game at 6-6.

There were two very questionable decisions made by the manager and one of his coaches, which were not sending Jose Reyes- the franchise's all time stolen base king in the 7th inning which in turn led to Daniel Murphy lining out into a double place. His rocket line drive landed harmlessly in the glove of first basemen Derek Lee, who stepped on first to retire both Murphy and Reyes.

In the 8th inning, following a Carlos Delgado lead off double, Carlos Beltran ripped a single to center, which could have potentially scored Delgado.  Unfortunately, third basemen Luis Aguayo held Delgado at third without hesitation, preventing the tying run from even attempting to score.  While Delgado would eventually score following a bases loaded walk, Jose Reyes couldn't produce any bases loaded magic two nights in a row, grounding out weakly to second to end the threat.

And then came the ninth inning, where it's safe to say the hope of the Mets making the playoffs came to a near dead end.

Murphy lead off, and laced a ball into right-center field, hustling his way all the way to third for a triple.  Nobody out, runner on third, and up came the face of the franchise, the captain in waiting, the guy Mets fans wanted at the plate: David Wright.

Lou Piniella decided to allow his reliever, Bob Howry, to pitch to Wright instead of walking him and Delgado, in attempt to set up a potential double play with forces at any base.

Despite the fanfare surrounding him and the MVP talk which once again picked up some steam during the last week, Wright has been anything but valuable this season with runners in scoring position, hitting an inexcusable .242 in those situations, worked the count to 3-0, before fouling off a couple of very hittable pitches, only to chase a fastball well out of the strikezone, stranding Murphy at third.  Piniella decided to have his reliever walk both of the Carlos' to load the bases, and Howry proceeded to get Ryan Church to ground out to second, forcing Murphy at home, while Ramon Castro struck out.

If all of the air wasn't sucked out of Shea following the Mets' inability to score more than one run during those final three innings, it certainly was a half inning later, when with two outs and nobody on, Luis Ayala , in his second inning of work, allowed a single to Ryan Theriot, who after stealing second, scored on a bloop single to right by Lee.  The final knockout punch was delivered by Aramis Rameriz, who crushed a home run off Ayala with a runner on, punctuating what would turn out to be a very forgettable night at Shea for New York.

The loss was crippling, not only becasue it was once again of the self-inflicted variety, but because with the Phillies getting mauled at home by the Braves, the Mets could have tied up Philadelphia in the loss column, while also maintaining their one game edge in the Wild Card- something of course they were unable to- as the Brewers took care of the Pirates in Milwaukee.

This loss certainly tops them all, and despite how bad the bullpen has been, and even despite Oliver Perez coughing up the 5-1 lead his team gave him, the Mets were gift wrapped an opportunity to put themselves in prime position to erase the nightmares of last season, needed nothing more than a fly ball from their third basemen.

For what it's worth, and its hardly consolation after a loss last night, Carlos Delgado all but put penciled his name in next seasons opening day line-up after coming up huge once again last night.  With the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the third, Delgado took advantage of a distracted Carlos Zambrano, who seemed to allow Reyes' antics running down the third base line get into his head, as he served up a grand slam to the Mets first basemen.

Delgado also doubled to lead off the 8th, and eventually would score on that bases load walk, and did all he could to help get his team past the demons of last season's collapse which seem to taking in Shea's final days along with the fans.

Johan Santana can't pitch every night, but it seems like down the stretch unless he's on the mound, the Mets find ways to lose these pivotal late season games.  Jerry Manuel seems hesitant to pitch his ace on short rest this weekend, although the situation may force his hand if come Saturday the Mets find themselves in an elimination game.

It just doesn't get much worse than it was last night at Shea Stadium, which will now likely host it's finall games Sunday, following another brutal loss which took the Mets' playoff destinty officially out of their own hands, and puts their postseason hopes very much up in the air.  And ironically, had David Wright done just that with a fly ball, we would likely be having a very conversation this morning.

But he didn't, and the team took one step closer to missing out on playoff baseball for the second time in as many years, doing so in an eerily similar fashion, while taking all of the life out of ballpark dying to breathe some October air one more time.

Sadly, it appears those hopes, along with the team, are already flat lining.

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