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One sentence summary: Fans like Ike and even warm to Jerry, but after the break the season gets scary.

This was the “All right, we’re giving you one more shot” season for GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel. Coming off 92 losses in the opening season of Citi Field, ownership vowed to wait and see what this cast could do when healthy. Though Carlos Beltran wound up missing the first half of the year after knee surgery (not authorized by the club). That, however, allowed another look at Angel Pagan in center field. Pagan, who previously had been quite brittle himself, hit well after Beltran’s injury in 2009 despite being prone to baserunning gaffes and poor routes on fly balls. In 2010 Pagan was transformed, showing superb range in the outfield, solid baserunning, and consistent hitting. Gary Matthews Jr., acquired as insurance for Beltran’s injury, got the Opening Day assignment in center. From that point on, though, Pagan pushed Matthews out the door and led the club in hits and steals.

More questionable than Matthews was starting the season with retread Mike Jacobs at first base. He was so abysmal that after a 4-8 start—in which the Mets went 1-2 in each of their first four series—the Mets recalled 2008 first-round pick Ike Davis. The Mets suddenly took off, matching a franchise record with a 9-1 homestand. New York continually gave back its gains on the road, finishing 32-49 away from Flushing (and that included a seven-game interleague road winning streak in June). At home, the Mets often dominated at their spacious second-year ballpark with David Wright even showing renewed power with his fifth 25-homer, 100-RBI season in six years (though strikeouts remained a problem). The players having the most trouble at Citi Field generally wore road grays, including the two-time defending champion Phillies. The Mets blanked the Phils three straight nights in May—and even tossed another shutout in Philadelphia’s next game there in August. The latter was a one-hitter by R.A. Dickey, the 35th career Mets one-hitter—still no no-no—and second one-hit gem by a Met in 2010 (Jon Niese tossed one against the Padres in Flushing).

While Johan Santana’s shoulder injury marked the second straight year the team’s ace was shut down early, others stepped into the breach. Dickey, 35, became New York’s knuckleballing sage and was the club’s most consistent hurler for much of the year. Niese, in his first full season, showed marked improvement, as did Mike Pelfrey, who led the club with 15 wins and 204 innings. Pelfrey even earned his first career save to close out a surrealistic 20-inning victory in St. Louis, the fourth game to go at least 20 innings in club history and the first won by the Mets.

After standing 10 games over .500 and topping the wild card standings on July 4, the Mets crumpled. The Mets went just 33-47 from that point on, including a ruinous 2-9 roadtrip after the All-Star break that also claimed slumping left fielder Jason Bay with a concussion. The Phillies won their fourth straight NL East title, though New York’s two September wins in Citizens Bank Ballpark delayed the clinching until the Mets were safely out of town. Pyrrhic victories could not save Manuel or Minaya. The season ended with Oliver Perez, buried in the bullpen despite a $12 million salary, walking in the winning run in the 14th inning against last-place Washington.

By Matt Silverman
 

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Tagged:
Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, David Wright, Gary Matthews, Jason Bay, Jerry Manuel, Johan Santana, Mike Jacobs, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Philadelphia Phillies, R.A. Dickey

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