Bad finish hard to swallow for Glavine
Left-hander's worst outing in years came at worst time for Mets
NEW YORK -- If Sunday's pennant-losing game was Tom Glavine's farewell appearance for the Mets, then his time at Shea Stadium will have ended the way it started.
A torturous first inning in which the Hall of Fame-bound left-hander, 41, was unable to survive and sank the Mets into a 7-0 deficit in a must-win situation brought to mind Glavine's first start in a New York uniform on Opening Day in 2003. It's safe to say neither performance will be mentioned on his eventual plaque in Cooperstown.
After turning his Mets days around to be in position to become a 300-game winner this season, that first start at Shea as a Met could easily be forgotten, or at least forgiven. He was stung for five earned runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 15-2 embarrassment to the Cubs.
Unfortunately for Glavine, what occurred Sunday in an 8-1 loss to the Marlins before a sellout crowd of 55,453 won't fade from the memory of Mets fans so easily, and it will take even longer to absolve. Glavine faced nine Florida batters, eight of whom reached base, including the last seven.
A crowd poised to make its support known from the get-go was removed from the game just as quickly and never got louder than the thundering boos showered on a big-game pitcher who came up so small.
"I've heard it before," Glavine said. "That's part of playing in New York. It doesn't feel great. But when you pitch that kind of game, you don't expect to get a standing ovation."
Having shriveled away a seven-game lead in the National League East since Sept. 12, the Mets entered the 162nd game on their schedule tied for first with the Phillies. A 13-0 victory Saturday behind no-hit bidder John Maine brought a ray of hope, but it essentially ended in less than a full inning.
A leadoff walk to Hanley Ramirez was unsettling. A fielder's choice followed, but it would prove the only out Glavine notched. Ground-ball singles by Jeremy Hermida and Miguel Cabrera produced a run. Cody Ross' double into the right-field corner brought in two more runs. Ross, running to third on the relay, was able to score when Glavine himself threw wildly to third.
That got the crowd snarling, which continued as Glavine gave up singles to Mike Jacobs and Alejandro De Aza sandwiched around a walk to Matt Treanor. The topper was a 1-2 changeup that struck opposing pitcher Dontrelle Willis, forcing in a run and prompting Glavine's exit.
"When you give one of your veterans the ball, you expect him to have a good game," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Tom is one of the best in the game, but he didn't have a good game. He didn't have his best stuff."
"I'm not devastated, but I am disappointed," Glavine said. "Devastated is a word used for greater things in life than a game. I was disappointed in the way I pitched. I got some ground balls, but I can't control where they go. A couple got through. Another was too slow to turn a double play."
The result: seven earned runs, five hits, two walks, a hit batter and an error in one-third of an inning. It was as ugly a line as Glavine has displayed in what was his shortest outing since May 16, 1989, when with the Braves, he got through only four batters without recording an out.
It was the third consecutive miserable start for Glavine, who was 0-2 with one no-decision and a 14.81 ERA during that stretch, one of the elements in the Mets' September meltdown. Yet Glavine declined to rate it as the low point of his career.
"I've had plenty of low points," he said. "I played for 20 years and won one World Series, so a lot of seasons ended in low points. The goal every year from the start of Spring Training is to win a championship. That's not always realistic. We had the chance to go to the World Series last year and fell a game short. We had the opportunity to make the postseason this year and let it get away from us. You never know when one or two games that got away from you will make a difference. In the last six weeks, we did a lot of that."
Glavine wasn't singled out by the crowd, which also made targets of shortstop Jose Reyes and relief pitcher Guillermo Mota, but the first inning set a tone resembling a funeral procession. The Phillies' 6-1 victory over the Nationals officially ended the Mets' season.
"Time heals all wounds, but some things are tougher to deal with," Glavine said. "It depends on what you learn from the experience. Everyone in this room will relate this experience to every team they play on in the future."
As for Glavine's future, it is up to him. He can exercise an option that will put into effect a 2008 contract with the Mets that would pay him $10 million, but he has yet to reveal plans for next season.
"This game has no bearing on where I play next year," Glavine said.
No, only where he would have played later this week.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.