Glavine denied No. 300 as Mets fall in 13
Bullpen unable to preserve benchmark win for left-hander
MILWAUKEE -- The Mets outfielders assembled in center field in the seventh inning Tuesday night as Willie Randolph, Ramon Castro and Tom Glavine conferred on the mound. One conversation led to Glavine's removal, the other to an exchange of ideas. "It's like a playoff game," Moises Alou said to Shawn Green before correcting himself.
"It was more like a no-hitter," Alou decided.
As Glavine himself would say hours later, "In playoff games, you care about one thing only -- winning." But in the game the Mets played -- and eventually lost -- Tuesday, the objective was different.
"Yeah, you wanted to win," Green said. "But you didn't want the slightest thing to go wrong, like a no-hitter. ... You wanted Tom to get it."
Ultimately, everything went wrong for the Mets: Glavine didn't win, and they lost. Not that their 4-2, 13-inning loss to the Brewers felt like anything other than a double defeat.
"Actually, I think it feels worse," Paul Lo Duca said.
The Mets had sought perfection because in a city that loves bowling as much as it loves brauts, Glavine would have had his 300 game. Instead, he and they endured a double dose of disappointment. Glavine, the golfer, gets a mulligan. The Mets don't.
While Glavine was left to make arrangements to have his 30 family members and friends in Chicago for his next start, Sunday night at Wrigley Field, the Mets were left to ponder their first final-pitch loss of the season, as unsettling a defeat as they have experienced since last fall.
Hours after the Mets' front office was unable to acquire the relief pitching it wanted, their short-handed bullpen squandered a lead in the eighth inning and denied Glavine the historic victory he had been in position to earn. And five innings later, the Brewers scored against Aaron Sele, the Mets' fifth reliever, and thoroughly ruined what had been an evening of anticipation and promise for the visiting team.
The first-place team with the best home record in the National League prevailed over the first-place team with the best road record in the league in a game that required 14 pitchers, 22 position players, four hours, 20 minutes and two sausage races to complete. A two-run home run by Geoff Jenkins produced the Mets' fourth loss in 10 extra-inning games and their 12th loss in 35 series-opening games, enabling the Brewers to retain their lead in the National League Central.
Little of that seemed to matter afterwards in the Mets clubhouse.
"I know he's disappointed," Lo Duca said. "But we might feel worse because we let him down. When you want something so much for one of your teammates and you don't get it, you're twice as disappointed."
Glavine seemed quite close to accomplishing his personal objective. He was removed in the seventh with a man on first base, needing nine outs to become the 23rd pitcher in the long history of the game to win 300 games, and the fourth to gain the victory in his first start after 299. Five Mets relievers achieved 18 more outs, but more were needed.
|"I know he's disappointed. But we might feel worse because we let him down. When you want something so much for one of your teammates and you don't get it, you're twice as disappointed."|
|-- Paul Lo Duca|
In his third inning, Sele allowed a leadoff double by Tony Graffanino and the third final-pitch home run of Jenkins' career. Sele's record is now 3-1, while the bullpen's is 15-9.
The Mets may have lost the game at that point, but by then, there had been so many instances when they could have won it. They had two hits with runners in scoring position -- only one produced a run -- and left 12 runners on base. Their leadoff batters reached base four times after they had scored twice n the sixth.
"We should have won that game," Billy Wagner said through gritted teeth.
"I'm disappointed for us and for me," Glavine said. "And I know they're disappointed, too. I know how much they wanted this for me."
He had given a classic, if abbreviated performance, surrendering one run and two hits -- one to his final batter with none out in the seventh -- and walking five, two of them deliberately, if not intentionally. He threw 95 pitches, 48 -- more than half -- for balls. But that was more a function of the strike zone of plate umpire Chad Fairchild than it was of Glavine's command.
As Glavine said: "I didn't give in to the hitter or the strike zone." His chance to win was eliminated with one out in the eighth. Aaron Heilman had allowed a leadoff bloop single by J.J. Hardy and then retired Ryan Braun. Pedro Feliciano hit Prince Fielder, the only batter he faced. Guillermo Mota then surrendered a run-scoring double by Bill Hall, his first batter.
Glavine's work was supported by two pretty defensive plays by new second baseman Luis Castillo, a brilliant diving catch on the right-field foul line by Shawn Green, albeit on a foul ball, and a 3-6-3 double play the Mets turned on Tony Graffanino, Heilman's first batter.
"Just like a no-hitter," Green said. "Between pitches, you usually go over what you're going to do if the ball is hit to you. Tonight, I'd go over it three times.
Alas, the game's final swing produced a ball hit to no Met.
The Mets had afforded Glavine a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning against Jeff Suppan, their NLCS nemesis of last fall. A leadoff double by Jose Reyes, Castillo's sacrifice fly and a single by David Wright produced the first run. A single by Carlos Delgado and a sacrifice fly by Alou produced the other.
The Mets had fallen behind in the fourth inning when Fielder drove in Hardy from third base with an infield out that followed the Brewers' first hit, a double by Braun. With Braun on third base, Glavine retired Hall, pitched around Kevin Mench and retired Damian Miller.
"We were looking good then," said Lo Duca, who was unnerved by his status as a forced spectator. "It wasn't too bad because it looked good early. We were so focused. we were playing good ball, making plays." Now they have to make plays Sunday night at Wrigley. The chance for history comes in an historic park, a place Glavine likes.
"But," Glavine said, "I'd much rather be going for 301 there."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.