Miscues mount as Mets fall to Marlins
Maine, Dessens combine to allow seven runs in fateful fifth
MIAMI -- To the base that went untouched, the bag that went uncovered, the relay that went unthrown, the outs that went uncounted and, of course, the popup that went uncaught, the Mets have added yet another faux pas. Alas, it wasn't one that went unnoticed.
Indeed, this one was the focal point of yet another flawed performance by a team that has prompted memories of its beloved and fundamentally challenged ancestors of 47 years past. Chances are, Marv Throneberry or Rod Kanehl was guilty in 1962 of the same baserunning misdemeanor that left David Wright embarrassed and apologetic Saturday night. The missteps of Casey's '62 Mets, however, had some perverse appeal to those who witnessed them.
The one that occurred in the Mets' unsightly 9-6 loss to the Marlins was without appeal.
Wright did not score from second base on a base hit by Jeff Francoeur with two outs in the fifth inning. But the play that denied the Mets a 4-2 lead cannot be so simply stated. Francoeur sprinted toward second base, hoping to get into scoring position, but the relay from center fielder Cameron Maybin to second baseman Dan Uggla beat him to second base. Problem was, Wright had downshifted during his trip from second base and didn't score before Francoeur was called out.
Before the ripple effect of that misplay had passed, losing pitcher John Maine and his successor Elmer Dessens allowed seven runs in the bottom of the inning, and the Mets were all but done. Their only remaining run production came in the eighth inning, when Carlos Beltran hit his 10th home run, and in the ninth, when two runs scored on an error.
By then, Wright had apologized to his colleagues in the dugout and vowed to them he never again would be guilty of the same mistake. And the red had drained from his face.
"[It was] a mental mistake -- my fault," Wright would say 30 minutes after the Mets' 89th defeat. "It won't happen again."
Francoeur's hit had been to the third-base side of second base; it prompted Wright to take a step to his left, toward second base, so he got a late start. And when he passed third base, coach Razor Shines assured him he had time.
"You're OK; you're OK," Shines yelled, according to manager Jerry Manuel.
So, by the time Wright was within 10 feet of the plate, he was moving at the speed of Ramon Castro carrying Mackey Sasser.
But Wright wouldn't accept his manager's quasi-exoneration.
"It was all me," Wright insisted.
Manuel characterized it thusly: "It wasn't a good play at all. Mark it down as an aberration. But we had to address it."
The manager praised Wright's accountability. The third baseman is standup, even when he's sitting down. But Wright's mistake was just one more entry on the Mets' season-long and extraordinarily long rap sheet. You wouldn't call it fundamental-list.
Wright wasn't isolated in his mistake. The Mets were charged with no errors, but ...
Angel Pagan, who scored the Mets' third run, did so by jogging in from second base on Wright's double. He also got turned around in left field on a ball hit to the warning track in the fifth and made a seemingly apathetic relay on another double.
Shortstop Anderson Hernandez dropped the relay, eliminating any chance for an out at the plate.
Catcher Omir Santos seemingly could have stopped either of two wild pitches Maine threw. Each allowed a run to score.
Fernando Tatis, playing first base, wandered over toward second base to catch an infield popup in the second inning, nearly colliding with second baseman Luis Castillo.
And most of the Mets on the field when the ugly fifth inning ended made no move toward the dugout, as if they had lost track of the outs during the 11-batter inning.
Maine's performance hardly eliminated the taint. He was charged with seven runs, marking the 16th time this season a Mets starter has allowed at least that many. Maine (6-6) was responsible for one other of the 16. He lasted merely 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two walks, hitting two batters -- in a row, no less -- and threw the two wild pitches.
In the first inning, when he retired the side in order, Maine had more trouble with the heavy South Florida humidity and needed to use an inhaler to get his oxygen. He allowed two runs in the second, pitched a clean third and loaded the bases in the fourth when he hit two batters after two outs. The fifth overwhelmed him. Maybin's rocket three-run home run to left prompted Maine's departure and essentially assured him of his second loss, against five victories, in 10 career starts against the Fish.
Manuel used the term "dead arm" as he discussed Maine's 79-pitch workday. And Maine, having made his third start since his extended assignment to the disabled list, seemed to suggest that phenomenon might be the reason behind his struggles.
"I kind of felt like Spring Training," Maine said. "I couldn't get swings and misses with my fastball. They hit it pretty hard."
But even had Maine pitched effectively, he might not have prevailed. The Mets were playing one of those games in which they do relatively little as Branch Rickey would have it done.
They've got seven more games to get it right.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.