NEW YORK -- A Mets team starved for magic received a hatful of it in the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Citi Field, when Yoenis Cespedes parked a go-ahead, two-run homer off the second deck in left-center field to turn a seemingly inevitable loss into a probable win.
"Suddenly, the whole game got set up in our favor," manager Terry Collins said afterward, lamenting what happened next in a 5-4 Mets defeat. "You've got the eighth and the ninth innings set up pretty good, you think. Then the Cardinals show you why they're a good team."
What the Cardinals did was nearly as dispiriting as what the Padres did to Jeurys Familia last July 30, waiting out two rain delays to beat him on a nightmare afternoon for the Mets in New York. Since that game, Familia had converted 52 consecutive regular-season saves, third most all time, including a franchise-record 36 in a row to start this season.
The Cardinals snapped both streaks in rather unceremonious fashion on Wednesday, swiping both a game and a series victory from the Mets. After issuing a one-out walk to Jedd Gyorko in the ninth, Familia coughed up a first-pitch, game-tying double to Yadier Molina, then a go-ahead two-base hit to Kolten Wong. The hits came on 96- and 97-mph sinkers, respectively.
"It's baseball," Cespedes said. "Until the 27th out, you don't know any results. We have a lot of faith in Familia, but things unfortunately didn't work out."
The Mets could hardly place much blame on their closer, considering how automatic he had been over the previous 362 days. In Major League Baseball's history, only Eric Gagne (84) and Tom Gordon (54) had converted more consecutive saves than Familia, who took over the Mets' ninth-inning gig last April and rapidly developed into one of the game's best closers. Prior to Wednesday's game, the Latino Sports Writers & Broadcasters Association gave Familia his 2015 NL Closer of the Year award, an oversized portrait of him in a frame.
But no closer is perfect, as Familia well knows. Though his streak encompassed 52 regular-season opportunities, it did not count the three saves he blew in the 2015 World Series, much of that trouble the product of shoddy defense behind him.
In that sense, at least, Familia has proven he knows how to recover from rough patches.
"I've been in that situation before -- last year," Familia said. "I know tomorrow is a new day. We can do better. I can get another opportunity and do my job."
Added Collins: "This is something we haven't had happen in quite some time, Jeurys Familia not saving the game. But we've got to come back."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.