For the incurable optimists among Mets fans: Their team outscored the Philadelphia Phillies by six runs in the last six innings last night. And Ike Davis had two hits. And Marlon Byrd and David Wright slugged home runs. And the team had 12 hits.
Still, it must be noted that the Mets lost, 13-8.
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"Tell you what," said Mets manager Terry Collins, whose job description includes a need to stay upbeat, "to be down 11-0 and make it a game -- pretty impressive."
Mets catcher John Buck agreed. "I think that says a lot for this team," Buck said. "Usually, you just roll over in a game like that."
In truth, though, when baseball returned to Flushing last night, so much player talent and not a little Mets hope for a strong second half had fled the scene of Tuesday's All-Star Game. The game was heavy on offense but light on real drama, and hardly reinforced the Mets' pre-All-Star break efficiency of winning six of nine.
Almost instantly, Collins' pregame reverie -- that a .500 record at season's end was "attainable" -- qualified as wistful.
Philadelphia quickly wore out Mets starter Jeremy Hefner (4-7), who had taken the mound with the major leagues' best earned run average (1.76) since June 4. Hefner needed 38 pitches just to get through the first inning in the moist, 95-degree heat, by which time he had allowed four runs and six hits.
Too hot? "I wasn't out there long enough for the heat to affect me," Hefner said. "I put the team in a horrible situation. Especially, coming out of the break, you try to set a good tone. I didn't do that."
Philadelphia twice sent every hitter to the plate in a single inning, the first and the third. In the first, Jimmy Rollins' leadoff single and Michael Young's strikeout were followed by Chase Utley's triple and singles by Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, Delmon Young and John Mayberry Jr. to make it 4-0.
In the third, Brown's leadoff homer lit the fuse for Ruf's double, a single by Delmon Young that was misplayed by Byrd, allowing a run to score, and RBI doubles by Mayberry (bringing Greg Burke from the bullpen to replace Hefner) and Carlos Ruiz. After winning pitcher Kyle Kendrick (9-6) sacrificed, a walk to Rollins and Michael Young's three-run homer made it 11-0.
Utley's two-run home run in the fifth made it 13-3.
The Mets managed just enough offense in the middle innings to prolong the agony, with Byrd's three-run homer in the fourth the biggest blow and Wright's two-run shot in the ninth too little, too late.
Last night, all the scoring belied Collins' bid for some sympathy, contending, "This is a tough place to hit, let me tell you." He backed his claim by quoting National League All-Star manager Bruce Bochy during Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the American League.
"He said, 'This is a tough place to score,' " Collins said. "I said, 'Really!?' "
The Mets, he reminded, "lost three-fifths of [our] starting rotation at the beginning of the year, didn't have [our] closer, [our] fourth hitter's had a rough time . . .
And now, at 41-51, they seem to be wasting away again at Citi Field.
Notes & quotes: Collins said utility infielder Justin Turner (rib muscle strain) likely won't rejoin the team until the Atlanta series, which begins Monday.