There was an odd moment in the fifth inning of Monday night's dreary 10-0 Mets loss to the Phillies.
Angel Pagan was due up at plate, but he wasn't in the on-deck circle or in the dugout after Nick Evans walked with two outs in the inning. The game stopped cold as the umpires and the Mets tried to figure out where the center fielder might have gone in the middle of a game without any explanation.
Pagan finally materialized and went to the plate to ground out against Cliff Lee and send the Mets on their way to another loss. While no one would have blamed him for simply being reluctant to face Lee, it turns out that Pagan had been in the bathroom dealing with a sudden call from nature that needed to be answered immediately.
Mets fans know the feeling. The team has lost 16 of their last 21 games to fall seven games below .500, a run that has likely sent more than one fan rushing to the bathroom with a sudden bout of indigestion.
The trades of Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, along with Jose Reyes' latest trip to the disabled list and the loss of Daniel Murphy for the season, have left the Mets without enough weapons to compete the way they did on a nightly basis for so much of the season.
The team has gone from being a pleasant, if ultimately doomed, diversion to resembling the teams that made the last two seasons so miserable in Queens.
It's a depressing turn of events for a team that still seems to have the spirit they showed while hanging around the fringes of the playoff race earlier in the season, but simply doesn't have the talent to turn that spirit into victories.
It seems to be a different thing every night, Dillon Gee's inability to throw strikes was a killer on Monday, with the end result always being a Mets loss that pushes good feelings further into the recesses of memory.
Reyes expects to play minor league rehab games over the weekend and his return would be a welcome event, although it is hard to see it making a significant difference in the team's results the rest of the way. There are just too many holes to fill on a team that probably overachieved for long stretches of the season.
It's a funny thing how timing can affect your perceptions. If the Mets had lingered south of .500 for the entire season, it would feel easier to see the bright spots than it is now that the team had a brush with success before collapsing into a heap with the finish line in sight.
The only hope now is that the team finds some way to put a respectable bow on the year before starting an effort to close the gargantuan gap between them and the team that crushed them on Monday night. That and making sure any future in-game bouts of stomach problems don't make for the kind of on-field image that will serve as shorthand for the entire season.