After 30 innings of maddening baseball over two excruciating days in which the Mets failed to win even once against perhaps one of the worst teams in modern history, the front office finally had seen enough.
In a roster shake-up meant to send shock waves through the clubhouse, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson sent down a trio of players Sunday, with struggling first baseman Ike Davis the most prominent of the three.
Reliever Robert Carson and outfielder Mike Baxter will join Davis at Triple-A Las Vegas. First baseman Josh Satin, lefthanded reliever Josh Edgin and outfielder Colin Cowgill were promoted.
"It's tough to sit through 30 innings and score not even a handful of runs," Alderson said shortly after the Mets suffered an 8-4, 10-inning loss at the hand of the woeful Marlins, a day after a 2-1, 20-inning loss. "It's been frustrating for everybody. I'm sure it's frustrating for our fans, too."
Daniel Murphy's error allowed the go-ahead run to score in what became a four-run 10th, capping a game rife with mistakes. It began in the first, when Jordany Valdespin thwarted a potential rally by getting caught stealing third base with two outs and Murphy at the plate. It continued in the ninth, when Baxter failed to get down a bunt after Murphy led off with a walk. The loss was the Mets' fifth straight against the Marlins (18-44).
Afterward, manager Terry Collins delivered what one clubhouse source called a "passionate" talk to the team. Later, Collins said the team's recent skid is "pretty close" to the low point of his managerial tenure with the Mets.
"Are we starting to run out of patience?" Collins said. "Yes."
Collins dropped hints about a shake-up during his postgame news conference. Less than 20 minutes later, the ax fell on the three Mets. Alderson personally announced the demotions.
"This is not a staff issue," Alderson said, reaffirming his endorsement of Collins and the coaching staff. "This is a player issue."
Davis, who rallied to hit 32 homers and drive in 90 runs last season after a slow start, had long been in danger of losing his roster spot. He was 0-for-3 Sunday, dropping his average to .161, before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of a tie game.
Davis began the season as a key piece in the Mets' rebuilding effort. He ended the weekend with a ticket to Las Vegas.
"First and foremost, Ike needs to get his confidence back," Alderson said. "He's had a lot of people in his ear."
Davis avoided being sent down after a similar start last season but couldn't escape the consequences of his second sluggish start. He refused comment through a team spokesman.
"I think at some point, you have to say to yourself this is not in his best interests," Alderson said. "I'm one of his biggest supporters, and I just felt at some point we've got to get him out of here. Hopefully, he'll be back in a short period of time."
How the Mets intend to replace Davis remains unclear. Utilityman Justin Turner could take over at first base, though the club also has explored sliding Murphy over to first base, which would free up Valdespin to play second, his natural position. Satin, Wilmer Flores and Andrew Brown also might be considered from Las Vegas.
Baxter's average dropped to .212 after he went 0-for-4, including his botched sacrifice bunt in the ninth in which he took strike one, missed a bunt for strike two and fouled off a bunt for strike three.
Carson went from second lefthanded specialist to mop-up man. With the Marlins leading 6-4 in the 10th, he allowed a two-run homer to Miguel Olivo to push his ERA to 8.50.
Satin hit .306 with Las Vegas to earn the chance to replace Davis at first base. Cowgill (.267) and Edgin (6.85 ERA) have struggled since being demoted to the minors, but each will get his second chance this season to stick with the Mets.
"We've been talking all along about the future, the future, the future," Collins said. "We've got to get everybody to understand what it takes to play here."
With the latest loss, the Mets fell to 23-35. Since sweeping the Yankees in the Subway Series, the Mets have dropped six of seven games.
"It's a crazy game," said David Wright, whose two-run double off former Stony Brook pitcher Tom Koehler highlighted a three-run third that gave the Mets a 4-1 lead. "We beat them, a team that was hot. And then it just seems we kind of regressed from there."