Marlins 7, Mets 4

I’ll say this much for Oliver Perez — he lasted longer in a must-win game than Steve Traschel. But that’s about it. Proving as capable of handling a high pressure spot as, well, Tom Glavine on Monday night, Perez grooved one to Jeremy Hermida in the first inning, went plunk-crazy in the 3rd (shortly after allowing Byung-Hyun Kim’s 4th base hit of the entire year) and was victimized by a ground ball Jose Reyes should’ve kept in the infield in the fourth.

Speaking of whom, just a year removed from an MVP caliber campaign, Reyes’ miserable 2nd half cannot end soon enough. The shortstop was 1-5 on Friday night, his 9th inning single being just his 4th hit in his last 34 at bats. I would hate to think Reyes’ regression can be blamed on Rickey Henderson’s supervision, but I’ll try to look on the bright side. Maybe Jose’s gotten better at cards.

I’m equally loathe to second guess the manager each time something goes wrong, but I’m still not convinced the urgency of the situation has been impressed upon Willie Randolph. Trailing by 3 runs in the last of the 8th with none out and Carlos Delgado on first, Randolph chose to let Paul Lo Duca hit, despite Captain Red Ass’s noticeable limp. (Ramon Castro would catch the top of the 9th). Boogie Shoes hit a weak fly to center, typically tossing his helmet a moment later.

Why, pray tell, are Marlon Anderson, Carlos Gomez, Lastings Milledge or Castro on the roster if they can’t be called upon to pinch-hit for a player in tremendous pain? Tom McCarthy opined the Mets wouldn’t worry about Lo Duca failing to beat out a ball on the infield “because he wouldn’t do that anyway”. Good to know, then, there’s no apparent relation between hitting and healthy legs.

Newsday’s David Lennon
— quick to point out that Omar Minaya let Brian Bannister and Heath Bell get away — spills the beans on a Flushing whispering campaign.

Common sense dictates that Randolph keeps his job. That the Mets don’t eat the $4.25 million they owe him through 2009. That, in a meltdown as complete as this, you can’t possibly target one person as the scapegoat.

Nevertheless, one person inside the Mets’ loop, asked about Randolph’s future, opined: “I think it all depends who gets in the Wilpons’ ear at the end of the season, and how ugly it ends.”

It’s an open secret, by now, that Mets vice president of development Tony Bernazard — brought into the organization by Minaya — is no fan of Randolph. Bernazard doesn’t seem to care who knows.

As to the “ugly” factor: Was last night ugly enough? Why wasn’t anyone warming up in the bullpen as Oliver Perez melted down in the third inning, hitting Cody Ross and Mike Jacobs on back-to-back pitches — after hitting Dan Uggla earlier in the inning — to force in a pair of runs?

The answer became clear in Randolph’s postgame session. The man who boasts of having seen everything explained, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Philadelphia’s 6-0 victory over the suddenly mortal Nationals moved the hosts into sole possession of first place with two games to play. Cole Hamels (8 IP, 6 hits, a season-high 13 K’s) provided the sort of dominant, poised performance the Mets have been crying out for. It took 160 games, but it turns out J-Ro was right. The Phillies are the team to beat. And even if the Mets manage to get off the mat later this afternoon against Chris Sneddon, they’re counting on some help from Washington to stay alive over the next two days. It’s a desperate scenario, one a nearly tearful David Wright described as “pathetic”. As for this sickened observer, I’d like to think a 7 game lead with 17 to play was margin enough, even without Heath Bell in the bullpen, but apparently not. We’re watching history in the making, and unless something remarkable happens over the next 48 hours, these Mets will join the ’64 Phillies and ’78 Red Sox amongst history’s biggest (regular season) chokers.