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If Only There Were Some Sort of Moral Standings

Unquestionably, the Mets have shown considerable spark since they've returned to Flushing from that 2-9 road trip, the one that's the primary reason they're quite unlikely to trade for Ted Lilly or Roy Oswalt or anyone else in the next few days. The Mets' playoff odds are at 7 percent now thanks to that awful trip, and it is to the team's credit that despite that trip, and despite Johan Santana giving up six runs in the first inning last night (!!!), they fought all the way back to send the game against the Cardinals into extra innings. That shows fire and dedication; it shows backbone, as your high school PE teacher might have said. But it was just a moral victory: The Mets lost 8-7, and this afternoon they'll be fighting to not lose yet another series.

The last time Santana faced Cardinals rookie Jorge Garcia, the game went twenty innings. This time could only muster thirteen, in large part because Santana was so awful in the first. He settled down enough to allow the Mets to slowly crawl their way back, and a two-run pinch-hit single by Ike Davis in the eighth tied the game at seven. Then everything shut down, and no one scored until Albert Pujols's RBI single in the thirteenth inning. By then, everyone was too tired to either hurt or be inherently joyous, depending on your side.

The Mets have clearly outplayed the Cardinals this series in 21 of the series' 23 innings. Unfortunately for the Mets, the first inning and the thirteenth inning last night were too much to overcome. They have four more games on this home stand — one with St. Louis and three with Arizona — before traveling to a potentially season-ending road trip to Atlanta and Philadelphia next week. It wouldn't hurt to stack up as many wins as possible in that time. Last night was a valiant, impressive climb, yet still ended in a frustrating loss. You wonder if it would have been less painful if they'd have just gone to bed after the first inning. Early start today, after all.

Photo: Kathy Willens/AP