Omar Minaya insists it's still too early to concede. With 36 games left, he believes the Mets are still capable of earning a postseason berth.
"Guys, we're - if I'm not mistaken - seven games out of the wild card and we're still in August, so we're trying to win," the general manager said as he stood in the dugout before last night's game. "That's what we're trying to do."
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Just hours later, though, the Mets' offense was sputtering against 22-year-old Alex Sanabia, who was making his sixth major-league start. Pat Misch was struggling to keep the Marlins off the bases as Florida defeated the Mets, 5-4, in front of 27,096 at Citi Field.
Misch, who went six innings and gave up four runs on nine hits, striking out four batters and walking none, dropped to 0-3 with a 3.50 ERA.
David Wright hit his 20th home run into the centerfield black in the ninth off reliever Leo Nuñez to cut the score to 5-4.
After an Ike Davis pop-up, Jeff Francoeur and Josh Thole hit back-to-back singles. Pinch hitter Mike Hessman grounded into a fielder's choice before Nuñez walked Luis Castillo to load the bases for Jose Reyes with two outs. But the shortstop grounded out to first to end the game.
"We put the winning run out there, with a chance to win," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We had a good shot at it. We're swinging the bats well. We didn't do much early . . . but I think we're going to be OK."
So do his players.
"Of course, we've dug ourselves a deep hole, there's no question," said Wright, who went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. "But if we get hot and we go out there and rattle off five, six, seven in a row, or just put together a few weeks of winning series, I think we're right back in the thick of things."
The Marlins (63-62) never had that one big inning to break open the game. But they roped enough sharp liners to the corners and into the gaps to score in every inning except the fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth.
Florida loaded the bases with no outs in the first on three consecutive singles en route to racking up 13 hits, compared to the Mets' seven. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5.
"They just came out hacking early," said Misch, who said he left most of his pitches up in the zone.
But Thole applauded the lefthander's resilience. "I thought he battled back," the catcher said. "He pitched well when it was crunch time."
Sanabia (3-1, 3.62 ERA) gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and struck out one in 61/3 innings.
The big blow for the Mets - who trailed 5-1 at the time - came in the seventh when Wright reached on a fielder's choice with one out and scored on Davis' first career triple. That made the score 5-2 before Francoeur drove in Davis with a single up the middle.
The Mets (63-63), who committed one error in their previous seven games, had two last night.