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Gone in a flash

Mets left speechless after monumental collapse

Posted: Sunday September 30, 2007 8:45PM; Updated: Monday October 1, 2007 12:39AM
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Despite an MVP-caliber season, David Wright will miss the postseason.

NEW YORK -- When the end mercifully came, when the greatest late-September collapse in baseball history was complete, all Willie Randolph could do was stand alone -- his arms at his side, straight as pipes -- and say nothing.

A grisly silence consumed Shea Stadium in the moments following the Mets' 8-1 debacle against the Marlins on Sunday afternoon, and in the shadows of the home dugout, Mets players and coaches one by one filed past the manager, saying nothing. What was there to say? The manager stared at the empty field. Only when the last man was gone did the manager begin his own long march to his team's clubhouse; the savage New York media awaited. So, too, did a long and cruel offseason.

"We thought we were going to win and move on today," a stone-faced Randolph said as he faced the media after the game. "Everything comes down on you real quick."

Here's how quick: by 1:20 p.m. EST on Sunday, the Mets were already down 4-0, and before a New York hitter even took a swing at the plate, the Mets were staring at a 7-0 deficit thanks to the worst start of Tom Glavine's career.

"The key pitch for me was the changeup. I just was having a hard time being consistent with it," reasoned the lefthander, who allowed seven runs in his 1/3 inning cameo.

Winless with a 9.50 ERA over his last four starts of the season, Glavine, who has now likely thrown his last pitch in a Mets uniform, ambled off the mound in the first showered by boos from the disgusted faithful. By the seventh inning, a crowd had begun to form for the 7 train headed back to Manhattan at the Willets Point stop. There was nothing left to see.

They had sleepwalked through the last two weeks of the season as if entitled to the NL East crown, and fresh off a 13-0 whitewashing of the Marlins on Saturday, the Mets appeared remarkably relaxed -- almost too relaxed -- before Sunday's game, with everything on the line. Before batting practice Jose Reyes and a half-dozen Mets slouched on leather couches, cackling as they watched the PG-comedy Rookie of the Year on a big-screen TV. Glavine had a hard time suppressing a yawn as he sat at his locker.

After the game all TV sets were off -- alas, there were no longer any relevant baseball games being played elsewhere in the country -- as some Mets players sat on chairs in front of their lockers with their heads down; others gazed blankly around the room, at nothing in particular. One by one they spoke:

Pedro Martinez: "We f---ed it up as a team, plain and simple." Carlos Delgado: "It's surreal. You just can't believe any of it." David Wright: "We played beyond horrible." Billy Wagner: "We're all shocked."

In the end, there was nothing more to say.

A look at how the New York Mets squandered a seven-game lead in 18 days:
Sept. 12 at New York: Mets 4, Braves 3
After Mets give up two-run lead in the top of the inning, Shawn Green hits RBI single in bottom of the eighth and Mets extend their lead in NL East to seven games.
Sept. 13: Off day
Phillies beat Rockies 12-4 to cut Mets' lead to 6 1/2 games.
Sept. 14 at New York: Phillies 3, Mets 2, 10 innings
Aaron Heilman gives up a sacrifice fly to Greg Dobbs in the 10th after Mets blow 2-0 lead. Lead cut to 5 1/2 games.
Sept. 15 at New York: Phillies 5, Mets 3
Center fielder Carlos Beltran misplays Jimmy Rollins' line drive into a two-run triple and Mets squander 3-1, seventh-inning lead. Lead cut to 4 1/2 games.
Sept. 16 at New York: Phillies 10, Mets 6
Mets commit six errors that lead to four unearned runs. Eight pitchers combine to walk 11 batters. Lead falls to 3 1/2 games.
Sept. 17 at Washington: Nationals 12, Mets 4
Mets take 4-0 lead before Nationals rally against Brian Lawrence. Five Mets relievers give up eight runs -- seven earned -- in 5 2/3 innings. After the game, the pitching-starved Mets designate Lawrence for assignment. Lead cut to 2 1/2 games.
Sept. 18 at Washington: Nationals 9, Mets
After holding a players-only meeting, the Mets staked John Maine to a 4-0 lead in the first. But Maine, who has given up four hits in 12 scoreless innings against the Nationals all year, allows eight runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Lead falls to 1 1/2 games.
Sept. 19 at Washington: Mets 8, Nationals 4
Moises Alou gets three hits and David Wright drives in three runs to back Mike Pelfrey. Lead increases to 2 1/2 games.
Sept. 20 at Florida: Marlins 8, Mets 7, 10 innings
With Billy Wagner unavailable because of back spasms, the Mets turn to Jorge Sosa in the ninth. Sosa can't hold 7-4 lead, and then gives up game-winning double to Dan Uggla in 10th. Lead cut to 1 1/2 games.
Sept. 21 at Florida: Mets 9, Marlins 6
Pedro Martinez strikes out seven, Paul Lo Duca has four hits and Jose Reyes drives in two runs. Mets win despite Carlos Gomez inexplicably getting caught trying to steal third with two outs in the ninth. Lead remains at 1 1/2 games.
Sept. 22 at Florida: Mets 7, Marlins 2
Oliver Perez shuts down Marlins for eight innings, Ramon Castro hits home run and Mets win second straight for first time since Sept. 9-10. "Sometimes when you get one win, it seems like three," manager Willie Randolph said. "That's the way it feels right now, because they're all huge." Lead remains at 1 1/2 games.
Sept. 23 at Florida: Mets 7, Marlins 6, 11 innings
After Mets score four in eighth, beleaguered Mets bullpen gives up three-run lead in final two innings. Billy Wagner, pitching for the first time since Sept. 19, blows his fifth save, giving up a leadoff homer to Dan Uggla in the ninth. David Wright's single in 11th wins it and Mets' lead increases to 2 1/2 games.
Sept. 24 at New York: Nationals 13, Mets 4
Mike Pelfrey rocked for seven runs -- six earned -- in 5 2/3 innings, and Guillermo Mota and Dave Williams give up another six in the final two frames. "It's embarrassing with the season on the line to go out there and get embarrassed on your own home field," David Wright said. With Phillies off, Mets' lead falls to two games.
Sept. 25 at New York: Nationals 10, Mets 9
Tom Glavine gives up four first-inning runs, and Mets' ninth-inning rally from 10-3 deficit comes up a run short when Paul Lo Duca pops out with runner on third. Glavine loses for the first time since July 2 at Colorado. Lead remains at two games.
Sept. 26 at New York: Nationals 9, Mets 6
Philip Humber makes first major league start and, along with Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano, the Mets squander early leads of 5-0 and 6-2 against the majors' lowest-scoring team. Lead drops to one game.
Sept. 27 at New York: Cardinals 3, Mets 0
Joel Pineiro, who hasn't lasted eight innings in a start since May 2006, scatters three hits in eight innings. Mets can't take advantage of solid outing by Pedro Martinez. Phillies beat Braves 6-4 to tie the Mets for NL East lead with three games remaining.
Sept. 28 at New York: Marlins 7, Mets 4
After David Wright forgets to step on third base to get an easy force out, Oliver Perez, matching up against the typically wild Byung-Hyun Kim, hits two batters with the bases loaded. The Mets lose their eighth straight at home while the Phillies breeze to a 6-0 win to take a one-game lead in the NL East.
Sept. 29 at New York: Mets 13, Marlins 0
John Maine flirts with first no-hitter in Mets' history before allowing infield single in eighth to Paul Hoover. Lastings Milledge hits two home runs, and Jose Reyes and Miguel Olivo scuffle, setting off a bench-clearing brawl. The Mets pull back into a tie with the Phillies, and the Flushing faithful cross their fingers.
Sept. 30 at New York: Marlins 8, Mets 1
The nightmare returns. Tom Glavine pitches one of the worst games of his 21-year career, giving up seven runs in the first inning. The Mets strand eight in the first three innings against a wild Dontrelle Willis, and never recover. Luis Castillo strikes out for the final out, prompting the final round of boos at Shea Stadium this year. About five minutes later, the Phillies complete their 6-1 win over the Nationals to win the NL East.