Thanks to the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals are pulling away from the cellar-dwelling Florida Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies are now only 1.5 games away from tying the Mets for first place.
The Mets are in a free fall without a parachute.
Why have the once-mighty Mets fallen so fast?
It starts with the bullpen, a pen that's noticeably weaker than last season's.
It continues with the moves that Randolph's not making. Reyes is wearing down from playing so many games. Start Anderson Hernandez at shortstop for a game or two. Several days ago the Mets named Hernandez the Sterling Minor League Organizational Player-of-the-Year. Give him a chance to play.
The Mets slide's been hastened along by the starting pitching. John Maine hasn't been getting the job done; Oliver Perez's last start was deplorable; and Orlando Hernandez's injuries have minimized his availability. In his last start, his lingering foot injury diminished his effectiveness so much he was ineffective.
Yesterday, Maine didn't belong on the mound. In 4.1 innings he gave up 11 hits and eight runs. But Maine wasn't the one who kept himself on the mound that long. Willie Randolph did. I'm clueless as to why Randolph would allow Maine to give up so many runs and hits before pulling him from the game. For the first time, I think that Randolph is the wrong man to manage the Mets. He can't stop the bleeding. Will the front office wait until the Mets bleed to death before replacing him.
After Randolph pulled Maine, four Mets relievers, amazingly, pitched scoreless ball for 3.2 innings. So if Randolph had pulled Maine in the fifth before he'd given up five runs in that inning, the Mets would have won the game.
So it ends with the manager, Willie Randolph. Commenting on the Mets current losing streak, Randolph said: "This is not Armageddon to us." What is it then? A picnic?
Armageddon is a decisive conflict. In a pennant race in which the Mets are losing ground every day, if Randolph doesn't view it as a decisive conflict the Mets are really in trouble.
Randolph added that "We still feel good about where we are ... we, as a group, are going to keep things in perspective. For us, there is a calm and a feeling of wellness, even though we haven't looked that way." When I read that I couldn't believe he said that. There's still a "feeling of wellness"? This team is in the midst of a losing streak that's sickening most Mets fans, and Willie's talking about wellness.
The Mets are a team with intensity but not focus, an intensity that some players have trouble keeping under control. If there's any difference between the Phillies and the Mets other than the Phillies are a betting hitting team, it's that the Phillies, as a team, are focused on winning. The Mets, on the other hand, seem more focused on talking about why they're not winning.
Right now, the Mets are in a sorry state. Unfortunately, no one appears able to pull them out. Unless someone rises to the occasion, the Mets will continue to sink in the standings until they're out of the pennant race.