The last shining light of the Mets season has gone out.
R.A. Dickey picked up the loss in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Nationals, ending an 11-game personal winning streak and marking the first time that Dickey has been on the wrong side of a decision since April. It was the Mets' 11th loss in their last 12 games and it was actually one of the easiest losses of that stretch to swallow even if Dickey's invincibility took a serious blow.
The Mets didn't bother with the teases and feints that they were actually going to be winning the game this time around. No late rallies to tie the game in the late innings and no need for the bullpen to come up with a new way to turn a baseball game into the Bataan death march.
All it took this time was a four-run Nationals sixth inning and a sharp performance by Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Dickey wasn't terrible, but he wasn't the unhittable wunderkind that he was earlier this season and it is clear that it will take more than a run of the mill quality start to lift this Mets team out of nosedive they've decided to make their reason for being this month.
The Mets aren't brimming with fight anymore and, frankly, it's hard to blame them for simply accepting the inevitable. It's a message that needs to filter up to Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson and the other people who are making the decisions about who goes onto the field every day.
Now is the time to figure out what pieces might be able to help you in the future instead of holding onto the moldy names that helped put them in this position in the first place. Jordany Valdespin is at the top of this list.
Valdespin hit another pinch hit home run on Tuesday night, setting a team record with five of them on the season. Jason Bay, meanwhile, was hitless and made an error that led to one of the runs in the fateful sixth inning.
Valdespin might not be able to replicate his offensive production of 96 plate appearances over extended playing time, but isn't it worth a shot at the expense of a player like Bay who you know can't do anything to help you win? Shouldn't Bay be the one designated for assignment while Lucas Duda remains in the majors so you can figure out if he's actually part of the future?
Matt Harvey is coming and he should be joined by plenty of his young friends over the final two months of the season. Any current player on the wrong side of 30 should either be sent to the bench or dropped from the team entirely because 2013, 2014 and beyond are the only seasons that matter for the rest of 2012.
That's not the way anyone wanted things to go, but it is they way they went. Take advantage of it or the losing will be even more painful.
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