It's funny how quickly you can go from sitting on top of the world to lying in a ditch begging for mercy. In the case of the Mets on Sunday night, it took 23 pitches.
The Mets were up 5-2 with two outs and a runner on second when Johan Santana started Raul Ibanez off with a strike. You might have headed for a snack, content that you'd return to the TV in time to watch the Mets hit in the top of the fifth. If you did, you came back to see utter carnage had erupted over the next 22 pitches. The Mets were down 10-5, Santana was heading to the showers and the joys of being in first place were in the rear view mirror. As Ron Burgundy would say, things escalated quickly.
It's tempting to say that this weekend couldn't have gone any worse for the Mets. They were shut out by Roy Halladay on Saturday and saw their two best pitchers get thumped around by a Phillies lineup that hadn't been doing much thumping of late. Someone looking to draw big conclusions might say that this proves that the Mets can't hang with the Phillies and that their pitching worries have returned in the form of a bad Johan Santana start.
To each of those observations, the only response is that considering either of those a newly formed observations is to engage in the worst kind of instant reality. Deciding that the Mets were somehow on par with or ahead of the Phillies based on 10 strong days would be silly, but not as silly as making that determination after a three game series at this point in the season. It was a big weekend for the Mets, but it wasn't that big.
As for the pitching, the problem isn't Santana, will never be Santana and has always been a problem no matter how many wins the team reeled off during their homestand. Santana, and Mike Pelfrey for that matter, will have bad starts and those bad starts will likely result in Mets losses. Santana's velocity was there and for three and two-thirds innings his location and movement were there enough to survive. Then the manure hit the fan and, well, these things happen and they suck but you move on and come back in five days to try again.
It was a bad weekend, but it wasn't a defining one. Winning hides your flaws, no matter how large, and losing makes them seem bigger than they are. If it's your thing, you can even put a positive spin on things on the weekend.
It's important to get a reminder that there needs to be a focus beyond the three feet in front of your face, no matter how pretty the view might be. The big picture, in other words, hasn't changed because of one series against the Phillies.