MIAMI -- The relay approached perfection, propping up a Mets team sorely in need of some. With two men on base in the ninth inning Sunday, Yoenis Cespedes tracked down Miguel Rojas' hit in the left-field corner, firing in to Asdrubal Cabrera. The cutoff man fielded it and "made a sweet spin move to hit me right in the chest," as catcher Travis d'Arnaud put it, allowing the Mets, for the fleetest of moments, to avoid a walk-off loss.
"We're going to win the game," manager Terry Collins recalled saying to himself.
Collins repeated it twice: "I said, 'We're going to win this game.' And we didn't."
Instead, the Mets took a 4-2 loss, their third straight in Miami to cap a 4-3 road trip against the Phillies and Marlins. Although the Mets avoided the ignominy of the ninth no-hitter in franchise history -- Dan Straily and three Miami relievers took one into the eighth, before Neil Walker broke it up with a two-out single -- they could not evade a dispiriting defeat.
"If you win 10 in a row and lose one, it's disappointing," said closer Addison Reed, who gave up J.T. Riddle's walk-off homer, mere seconds after the play at the plate. "But what are we,  games in? We've still got a long way to go. We'll be fine."
It seemed as if the Mets would be fine on Easter Sunday, despite Straily's no-hit effort. Settling down after an unearned run in the first inning, Mets starter Matt Harvey -- like Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom before him -- pitched well into the middle innings, allowing two runs. The Mets caught a break when Marcell Ozuna's fourth-inning single struck Giancarlo Stanton on the basepath, killing a promising Marlins rally. They caught another when Stanton committed a throwing error in the top of the ninth, allowing Cabrera to single home the game-tying runs.
But the final piece never clicked into place for the Mets, who watched this week as one heavily-worked reliever after another fell victim to the Marlins. This time it was Reed, one of four members of Collins' bullpen to pitch in at least seven of the Mets' first 13 games.
"I didn't know if it was going to get out," Riddle said of his first career homer. "I thought it was going to get down off the bat, though. I didn't think they were going to get to it. I didn't even care. I didn't see it go out. It was awesome."
Pardon the Mets if they blacked out as well, trying to forget all that happened in Little Havana. Following the game, Collins addressed his team as a group for the first time since Opening Day, imploring them not to worry too much about a three-game funk. Reed said the pep talk "got everybody's attention," eight percent of the way through a season that has really only just begun.
"This is a good baseball team," Collins insisted. "We have issues like everybody else, but … we're going to be OK."
Things might have looked rosier for the Mets if they emerged from Miami with an extra win or two, but, as Collins bluntly noted, "we didn't." So onward they go, fully believing this rough patch won't stick.
"These were high-leverage games, close games the entire series," Walker said. "These are games that are going to make us stronger over the course of the season."