NEW YORK - MAY 23: Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets leaves the game in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on May 23, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
It had all the makings of a game that everyone looked back on as the turning point of a season.
Wednesday night got off to an awful start, mirroring the start to the second half for the Mets. Johan Santana gave up six runs in the first inning, driving hope from fans everywhere. Santana, after all, doesn't get run support even when he pitches well. Digging that kind of hole just meant that the pain came early instead of late.
Cue the inspirational music and the thrilling comeback. Mike Hessman, a real-life Crash Davis, doubled in a pair of runs and Carlos Beltran finally found a way to muscle a ball out of the ballpark. Then came the eighth inning and a parade of Cardinals relievers sporting facial hair straight out of a Williamsburg bar specializing in drinks made with obscure whiskies.
They pitched about as well as said hipsters and the Mets took advantage with four runs to tie the game at 7. Luis Castillo grounded out with the bases loaded, though, and the rally died along with the Mets bats.
They'd get runners on base in both the 9th and 10th but couldn't push anyone across the plate. Finally they got to the 13th when Pedro Feliciano found himself facing Albert Pujols with runners on second and third with nobody out. You could have walked Pujols to face Holliday with the bases loaded but the Mets were going to need to get a big out at some point. It didn't come, Pujols singled and it was a loss.
A loss that was ultimately more painful than one that started the same way but didn't feature the excitement of the comeback. Images of a season-defining victory were allowed into to dance their way into our heads and then the music was cruelly snuffed out with a loss that felt like so many others in this season full of games that the Mets couldn't finish late.
You can dress it up all you like with platitudes about the fight and the pluck and the spirit that the Mets showed by battling back. All were nice to see. A win would have been nicer.