The humiliation began when Mets starting pitcher Jeremy Hefner faced seven batters Thursday night and managed to retire none of them. It ended in the ninth inning when Ryan Howard crushed a grand slam off Josh Edgin.
In between, the Mets failed miserably at virtually every aspect of the game. From tossing a ball to second base, to catching a throw at first base, they appeared disinterested in performing the most basic tasks during a 16-1 thrashing to the Phillies that officially eliminated them from playoff contention. During a second-half free fall, the Mets have done plenty of losing, though rarely have they looked so hapless.
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"Not the way we lost it," manager Terry Collins said. "This is the big leagues."
Of course, through most of Thursday night's drubbing, the Mets made that difficult to believe. A red-faced Collins addressed his team after the game, and though he declined to offer specifics, they weren't required.
Asked if he was embarrassed, Collins offered one-word answers in the affirmative. Asked to cite specific examples, he cited hustle plays made by the Phillies. Asked if the Mets have finally quit after a second half filled with losing, Collins refused to back his team.
"You'd have to ask them," he said. "I have my own opinion. I'm not going to express it publicly."
In the clubhouse, players insisted that they have not bailed out. "No one's throwing in the towel," Ike Davis said.
Yet, as Collins pointed out again, talk is hardly a match for perception. And in that department, the Mets offered compelling evidence that they've exhausted their desire to compete.
"Guys are really upset, guys are embarrassed, and we should be because we have been very, very bad in the second half," David Wright said.
Nobody was spared. The fans didn't even boo Hefner, who was charged with seven of the eight runs the Phillies scored in a nightmarish first inning, setting the tone for a brutal night. Said Hefner: "It's something I'll never forget."
Behind from the beginning, the Mets hardly mounted a comeback, mustering just three hits as Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd allowed three hits in eight innings.
Said Collins: "No disrespect to Tyler Cloyd, none whatsoever, but three hits? Please. We're better than that."
Even if they were, it wouldn't have mattered. The Mets allowed seven runs in the ninth inning. Jeurys Familia, who had been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary September, allowed five runs. Three of them came when he left the bases loaded for Edgin, who plunked Chase Utley before allowing the grand slam to Howard.
By then, an already sparse crowd had thinned out. Announced as 20,010, the actual attendance couldn't have been one-tenth of that. Still, Collins expected more. "You've still got to come out and have some fun playing and enjoy playing and enjoy being out there," Collins said. "People paid money to see this tonight."
Notes & quotes: R.A. Dickey's next start has been moved to Saturday against the Marlins, allowing him to make his next two appearances at home. If he beats the Marlins, Dickey could go for his 20th win on Sept. 27 at home against the Pirates.