There have been many points this season where we've wondered why Miguel Batista is on the Mets and the answer came on Wednesday night.
No, not his ability to hand over runs to the opposition as quickly as possible, which he did in the seventh inning against the Nats to turn a 2-1 game into a 4-1 game and rendering moot another ninth inning rally by the Mets. It's his ability to spit in the face of reality and maintain an indefensible point of view despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.
"Right now [the Nationals] are playing good baseball, but I don't think they are better than us," Batista said after the sixth straight Mets loss. "I haven't seen a team better than us. I believe we are the best team in baseball. We just have to play like one."
After the 4-3 win on Wednesday, the Nationals are now eight games ahead of the Mets in the NL East. That doesn't happen because they are playing good baseball right now, it is because they have been better all season.
You need only watch an episode of American Idol to learn that Batista is not the only wildly delusional human being running around this country, but it's pretty rich for a guy who allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning to drag his teammates into it by saying "we" and "us." At least have the decency to say that the Mets had a real chance to win before Terry Collins again turned to a pitcher whose performance would never be tolerated on the best team in baseball.
That's not a knock on Collins because he doesn't really have anywhere else to go. Chris Young gave him six good innings, but Young falls off a cliff when facing a lineup for the third time and Collins had to hope that the bullpen could somehow get the job done.
Batista couldn't, of course, and the Mets fell further behind in a season that's caving in faster than a tunnel braced with graham crackers. In the clearest sign that no one's really trying to stop that from happening, Batista will start on Saturday instead of Matt Harvey unless Wednesday night was finally the moment that the Mets decided to stop deluding themselves about his ability to pitch in the major leagues.
The loss isn't all on Batista. The offense slept through eight innings again, before home runs by Jason Bay and David Wright drew them close enough to make it seem like the game was there for the taking.
That makes three homers off of Nationals closer Tyler Clippard in two nights and all seven runs the Mets have scored in this series have come off Washington relievers, so bullpen problems aren't the exclusive purview of the Mets. The big difference is that the Nats have roused themselves enough to score a few runs off of Mets starters as well.
Mets hitters don't roll like that. When you're the best team in the league, you just score runs whenever you feel like it and don't worry about silly little things like making sure you have more of them than your opponent.