on October 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Mets complete collapse, lose 8-1 to Florida after Glavine gives up 7 in first inning

NEW YORK (AP) _ The collapse is complete. When the New York Mets needed a big game, Tom Glavine pitched one of his worst.

After blowing a big September lead in the NL East, the Mets missed the playoffs Sunday when Glavine was tagged for seven runs during the first inning of a season-ending 8-1 loss to the Florida Marlins.

New York’s loss coupled with Philadelphia’s 6-1 win over Washington gave the division title to the Phillies and sent the stunned Mets home for the winter wondering how they squandered a seven-game cushion over the final 18 days of an excruciating season.

Now, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez and the rest of this talented team will forever be remembered alongside the 1964 Phillies and other famous failures for skidding to one of baseball’s most monumental collapses. To make it worse, start slugger Carlos Delgado broke a hand in the first inning when he was hit by a pitch.

No major league team had owned a lead of seven games or more with 17 to play and failed to finish in first place. New York, which had that margin on Sept. 12, matched the largest lead blown in September. The 1938 Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 1) and 1934 New York Giants (Sept. 6) also led by seven games in the final month only to tailspin.

Philadelphia swept a three-game series at Shea Stadium from Sept. 14-16 — giving the Phillies wins in the final eight meetings between the teams this year. That started a slide the Mets never recovered from.

Doomed by inadequate starting pitching and a leaky, exhausted bullpen, New York lost 12 of its last 17 games, committing 21 errors in the process.

Luis Castillo struck out to end New York’s latest lackluster defeat against a second-division club, prompting the last round of boos at Shea Stadium this year.

Moments later, the final in Philadelphia was posted on the out-of-town scoreboard and Mets fans filed for the exits, quietly muttering to themselves.

It was one of the darkest days for a franchise that prided itself on late-season comebacks in 1969, 1973 and in the 1986 World Series against Boston.

Last year, the Mets advanced to Game 7 of the NL championship series before losing 3-1 to St. Louis. Beltran struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, a sudden end to a thrilling season.

This time, the pain was drawn out over 2½ weeks of wretched play — and the finale was a wash from the first inning on.

After squandering their cushion, the Mets fell a game behind Philadelphia with their fifth straight loss Friday night. But they bounced back when John Maine nearly pitched the club’s first no-hitter Saturday in a fight-filled rout of Florida, which pulled them back into a tie for first when the Phillies lost to the Nationals.

That put the Mets’ fate back in their own hands and gave them hope that their massive slide was over.

The previous time two teams went into the final day of the regular season tied atop a division — and neither assured of the wild card — was 1993. Glavine started for Atlanta that day and beat Colorado 5-3, sending the Braves into the playoffs with help from a Dodgers blowout of San Francisco.

The 300-game winner put his team in a huge hole this time, chased after getting only one out and charged with all seven of Florida’s early runs. He made a throwing error and hit Marlins lefty Dontrelle Willis with a pitch with the bases loaded, mistakes that symbolized the Mets’ late collapse.

The seven runs matched the most Glavine (13-8) allowed in an inning during his 21 years in the majors, the Elias Sports Bureau said. He also gave up seven to Colorado in 1996.

It also was the second-shortest start of his brilliant career — and perhaps his last.

The 41-year-old left-hander is contemplating retirement, or he might choose to pitch elsewhere next season. Glavine, also roughed up in a 10-9 loss to Washington on Tuesday night, has a $13 million player option for next year with a $3 million buyout.

The Mets nearly got back in the game right away, though they lost first baseman Carlos Delgado to a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch.

New York scored in the bottom of the first on Willis’ wild pitch and had the bases loaded when Ramon Castro hit a long drive to left field. Thinking it was gone, Castro raised his index finger in the air. But Cody Ross made the catch on the warning track and let out a deep breath.

The Mets also stranded two in the second and left the bases loaded in the third without scoring.

A wild Willis was pulled after walking five in 2 2-3 innings, but New York failed to muster much of a threat the rest of the way against Florida’s five relievers.

Logan Kensing (3-0) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the win.

Notes:@ Willis hit his third triple of the season. … Wright finished the season with a 17-game hitting streak.