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the sports section

The Mets Fall Apart — Early

Yesterday was such an awful day for the Mets that you might think it happened in September.

The Mets rolled over and died for the third straight game against Pittsburgh, a team that’s punting this season by trading away its best players. (To Mets division rivals, no less.) Starter Mike Pelfrey gave up nine runs in three and two-thirds innings and called his performance “the worst outing I’ve ever had—I pitched absolutely terrible. I need to be better next time out.” After the game, Carlos Beltran, notoriously quiet and subdued, blasted the team, saying, “The reality of this is, coming here to Pittsburgh and being swept, personally I feel embarrassed; I don’t think it’s fun.” Manager Jerry Manuel said it felt like the Mets had been in Pittsburgh for a month.

And that was just the start of it: The Mets announced last night that shortstop Jose Reyes, who hasn’t played since May 20, has a new injury: A torn hamstring that’s going to keep him out “a few weeks.” In a worst case scenario, Reyes could be out until long after the All-Star Break—or even the rest of the season.

The handling of Reyes’s injury— essentially, the Mets just discovered his tear even though he’s been out for two weeks and gimpy the whole year—has caused some Mets observers to question the team’s ability to recognize and treat injuries. But more to the point: The Mets are in some serious trouble right now. Carlos Delgado is also hurt, the bullpen is fraying (off-season acquisition J.J. Putz might end up missing even more time than Reyes), and the charter flights to La Guardia from the Mets’ minor league in Buffalo are becoming cramped with replacements.

Meanwhile, as the Mets have struggled to even-field a full roster, the Phillies have won seven in a row. They now have a four-game lead on the Mets; the Braves, just two games back, are closing in as well. (If you’re counting, even the Marlins are within three and a half games.) Tonight the Amazin’s open a three-game series with Washington, the worst team in baseball. They need to fatten up, because a brutal stretch is coming: This month they have fifteen games against teams currently in first place (Philadelphia, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the Yankees). The Mets are grasping for any solution they can find right now. If they don’t come up with one in the next three weeks, this season might be over before it even starts.

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