(Ruben Gotay’s Paul Simonon impersonation, due to get poor reviews tomorrow morning)

Because I’m pretty sure they can’t actually lose more ground to the Phillies without either team playing, right? And that’s about it for consolation, folks, as the built-to-win-now Mets are on the brink of a Mauchian collapse. Their 5th consecutive loss occurred last night against the lowly Nationals, who a night after erasing a 4-0 lead, came back from 4-0 and 7-3 en route to a 9-8 victory. Though the Metropolitans’ streak of games with 4 errors of more came to a halt at 2, the ungluing of John Maine in the 5th inning was as unwatchable as an episode of “The Aurelia Desire Forget Me Not Show”. I wouldn’t usually bother to quote Marty “this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs” Noble of MLB.com, but the following 3 sentences might be amongst the saddest I’ve read this season.

The eight runs — all earned — were the most he ever has allowed. The final three came on a home run by Ronnie Belliard in the fifth inning, when the lowest-scoring team in the big leagues produced five runs. Maine was allowed to pitch on despite his ineffectiveness, ostensibly, because the bullpen has become so unreliable.

Emphasis mine. Meatball to Ronnie (Fucking) Belliard, all Maine’s.

I think we can safely say the wheels (to the Rascal) are coming off before our eyes. Moises Alou, whose recent return from the DL was a key component of the Mets’ 10-2 run prior to the current slide, departed in the 5th inning with tightness in his left quadriceps. Orlando Hernandez, having missed his last start in favor of the just-released Brian Lawrence, will have a protective boot on his right foot for the next 7-10 days. In other words, you probably haven’t seen the last of Willie Colazzo in a pennant race. Or, if you prefer, Dave Williams.

While the Mets have seen their lead over the Phillies shrink to 1.5 games, Boston’s formerly robust margin over the Yankees is down to a mere two and a half. On cue, Baltimore rolled over for ex-Oriole Mike Mussina (7 IP, no runs, 3 hits), while the underachieving A.J. Burnett whiffed 11 Red Sox in Toronto’s 4-3 triumph. Eric Gagne had an 8th inning so catastrophic (3 walks, the game winning 2-run double allowed to Russ Adams), even Aaron Heilman can’t believe the (New) Canadian Crippler was given the ball in such a crucial spot.

To quote a favored Wilpon phrase, they’re actually playing meaningful September baseball in Denver. Though surely Todd Helton and Clint Hurdle’s public make out session stands in stark contrast to the Rockies’ fundamentalist leanings.