Wright's late blast ties it, but Marlins prevail
Dessens gives up tiebreaking three-run home run in eighth
MIAMI -- Mathematics, for all its precision, can be a misleading science. By all accounts, the Mets have been well out of playoff contention for quite some time. The team itself has openly acknowledged its fate for weeks.
And yet the Mets entered Tuesday's game at Sun Life Stadium still technically alive, still technically in contention for a playoff berth.
Then Gaby Sanchez crushed an Elmer Dessens fastball into the left-field stands, sending the Mets to a 5-2 loss to the Marlins and officially eliminating them from postseason contention.
"It's really a half-season of disappointment," third baseman David Wright said. "We had our chances. For whatever reason -- injury, poor performance, poor execution -- we really shot ourselves in the foot the second half and weren't able to keep up that pace that we had in the first half."
Entering a tie game with two outs in the eighth, Dessens served up singles to the first two batters he faced, before Sanchez rocketed a 1-2 fastball into the stands, easily clearing the high wall of advertisements that prevents most balls from ever reaching the seats.
After Dessens earned a called strike on a 1-1 fastball that grazed the inside corner, he then tried to retire the Marlins' first baseman on a nearly-identical pitch.
"They were pitching me there the whole entire game," Sanchez said. "He tried to go back in there and he just left it in the middle of the plate."
One inning after Florida took its first lead on Wright's fielding error in the seventh, Wright tied the game with a solo homer off reliever Jose Veras, taking Mike Pelfrey off the hook for his 10th defeat.
Wright also contributed to the one earned run against Pelfrey, making an ill-advised throw to first base on Sanchez's infield hit in the second. That throw allowed Dan Uggla to reach third base with no outs, in turn permitting him to score easily on Chad Tracy's ensuing groundout.
And so Pelfrey, despite holding the Marlins to five hits, no walks and just one earned run over seven innings, settled for a no-decision.
"This was the best stuff that he's had in a while," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think he is getting stronger. That's a good sign for a young pitcher to be pitching that well this late."
By most measures, Pelfrey outpitched his Marlins counterpart, rookie Adalberto Mendez, who gave up 10 hits and two walks in seven innings of his own. Lucas Duda did the only damage off Mendez, hitting a solo homer in the second.
But neither starter wound up earning a decision -- a disappointment for Pelfrey, who entered the game 1-6 with a 5.79 ERA in 11 career starts against the Marlins.
"I came in motivated," he said. "I wanted to beat these guys. I wanted it bad, and it ended up not working out."
Such has been the anthem for all of these Mets, who spent the first half of this season pitching exceptionally well, hitting just well enough and convincing their skeptics that they were ready to compete in the National League.
Then the All-Star Game arrived, the Mets lost nine of their first 11 games out of the break and never recovered.
"We really just went into a tailspin," Wright said, "especially offensively, and dug ourselves too big of a hole to work ourselves out of."
In large part due to the glut of teams battling each other at the top of the NL Wild Card standings, the Mets managed to remain in postseason contention with as few as a dozen games remaining on the schedule. The playoffs were no longer a dream for the Mets, certainly no longer a realistic aspiration. The team was under no delusions that it had a shot.
But the Mets did remain alive until Tuesday, still kicking, and that counted for something. Now they are just one of 22 teams who will miss the playoffs, no different than the Pirates or the Nationals or the Dodgers. Their fate is the same.
Though the Mets won't change their process over their final 11 games of this season, they will look to give some of their lesser-used players more extended looks in the first head-on glance at 2011.
That is hardly what the Mets envisioned in March, April or even July. But with 11 games left, that is what has become of their season.
"It's obviously not going to be a fun two weeks," Wright said. "I would hope that guys don't play any differently because we're out of it. I hope guys go out there and play with pride, and try to finish as strongly as possible. We need everything we can going into next year as far as some momentum."