(Met killer supreme J-Ro, hitting a two-run triple in the 8th that Carlos Beltran misjudged, and managing to somehow tune out Jeff Jensen’s cries of “get in the van”)

While the New York Times’ Murray Chass reminds us the New York Mets have lost a combined 1085 days to the disabled list this season, Newsday’s Wally Matthews surveys yesterday’s 5-3 loss to Philadelphia — the hosts’ 7th consecutive defeat to the Phillies — and concludes, “this is the time when the Mets should be breaking the spirit of the Phillies and the rest of the National League. Instead, they are filling them with hope.”

Yes, their lead in the NL East is 4 1/2 games, but right now, it feels more like a 4 1/2-game deficit. The frontrunners are running scared. The closers are comng up fast. And even if they don’t quite get there – luckily for the Mets, there are only 15 games left, and even more luckily, only one is against the Phillies – it raises the frightening prospect of a Mets-Phillies NLCS, a series that truly counts.

Just when the Mets are supposed to be coming together, they appear to be falling apart. Just when their focus is supposed to be laser-like in intensity, they are playing the most ragged, sloppy, knuckleheaded baseball of their season.

Sometimes it seems as if the Mets believe their own hype. Somehow they seem to forget how for two years now, they have benefited from playing in a weak division in the weaker league, and have convinced themselves that last year’s NLCS meltdown against the mediocre Cardinals wasn’t a failure but a fluke. They are kidding themselves if they think they can flick the October switch and make everything OK, and they are kidding you if you believe these past seven games with the Phillies are an aberration rather than an omen.

Yesterday, Luis Castillo forgot how many outs there were, Jose Reyes forgot never to make the last out of an inning at third base and Willie Randolph forgot to get his story straight with his player before sending it out to the media. Throw in Carlos Beltran taking a step in when he should have taken two steps back, mix in a dash of Jose Feliciano, Jorge Sosa and Guillermo Mota, and you have all the ingredients for a poisonous loss.

Castillo’s gaffe, breaking from second with one out on a routine fly ball, was bad enough, but Reyes’ attempt to steal third with two outs in the sixth with a 3-1 lead was so horrendous that not even David Wright could hide his disgust. Wright, at the plate with two men on, dropped his bat and helmet and glared in disbelief. “You never want to run yourself out of an inning like that,” Wright said.

Or pitch yourself out of a game, which is exactly what Feliciano did in the eighth, allowing a ltying eadoff homer to Aaron Rowand. With righties Sosa and Aaron Heilman in the bullpen, Randolph’s decision to leave the lefthanded Feliciano in to face the righthanded-hitting Rowand was curious enough.

But the manager’s explanation was even stranger. “Heilman was going to be my closer because Wagner wasn’t available,” he said. “He told me he needed a day.” To which Wagner replied, “I was fine.”

Clearly one of them was being less than truthful, but what happened on the field and what has been happening the last seven times they have played the Phillies, is no lie.

The SF Chronicle’s Susan Slusser
reports the successful suicide squeeze pulled off by the A’s Donnie Murphy Friday night was the first such attempt by Oakland in 7 years. Never let it be said that Bob Geren’s shit doesn’t work in the games no one is paying attention to.