A Good Trip Almost Spoiled

A homer, an error and a balk conspire to thwart the Mets

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Balk-off losses are the worst kind of losses.

    You could almost taste the giddiness as the bottom of the ninth inning started in Atlanta on Thursday night.

    The Mets had come back from being down 6-2 to take an 8-6 lead and were three outs away from a sweep in a stadium that usually provided them with nightmares. If Francisco Rodriguez got his job done, the Mets would be over .500 and coming home with a serious head of steam provided by an often stirring road trip.

    They would come home to the loving embrace of a fan base excited by a team so unlike the one they expected to get this season. A team of boundless energy unaffected by the negativity that flowed around them so often in the early going and a team led by Jose Reyes, the most electric player in all of baseball.

    It wasn't time for a parade or anything like that, but exuberance was in the air and it felt pretty darn good. And then, as if out of a cartoon, a gigantic anvil fell right on everybody's head.

    K-Rod, who has looked so good of late, served up a game-tying home run to Brooks Conrad and barely escaped the ninth inning with the Mets still breathing. Then came a 10th inning that felt like a product of the factory that produced so many horror shows of the recent past.

    D.J. Carrasco, pitching on the second straight night after being a starter in Triple-A, swerved into trouble, seemed to escape with a double play and then got right back into the muck by allowing a double. Then came an innocuous enough looking grounder to the right side, but Lucas Duda, an infrequent first baseman, butchered a ball he should never have been fielding and the Braves had runners on the corners.

    And then, because a single up the middle by Jason Heyward just wouldn't be a brutal enough way to end things, Carrasco balked in the winning run. It was enough to make you throw a shoe through the television if not for the fact that watching a loss like that unfold leaves you far too paralyzed to do anything but stare and mouth semi-intelligible questions about what just happened.

    One loss, no matter how awful, doesn't erase all of the pleasant things the Mets have been doing recently. It does remind you that there was a reason why you've felt, somewhere in the back of your mind, that the Mets couldn't possibly keep things moving on the right track for much longer.

    Perhaps, but it will take more than Thursday night for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down. Right now it is nothing more than a bad end to what was a pretty enjoyable trip.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.