Photo: Matt Slocum (AP)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The New York Mets lost in deeply dispiriting fashion Thursday, to finish off a gruesome series and drop eight games below .500. Things are getting pretty grim over there.

For a moment, the Mets looked like they were on their way to a stirring win. In the top of the ninth inning, down 1–0, Michael Conforto singled to right field, and then Todd Frazier ripped a full-count fastball over the wall in left to put the Mets in front. Two batters later Amed Rosario chopped an RBI groundout to give the Mets an insurance run. For a team that had lost 10 of its last 14 games, this burst of clutch hitting might’ve been the spark of a sudden turnaround.

Which made what happened in the bottom of the ninth both utterly predictable and unbearably cruel. Mets manager and dead man walking Mickey Callaway called on closer Edwin Diaz to bring the Mets home against the bottom of the Phillies’ lineup. Diaz walked César Hernández to leadoff the inning, and then everything went completely, completely to shit:

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Diaz got one out—a strikeout of pinch hitter J.T. Realmuto—sandwiched between two walks, a single, and two dingers, including a walk-off three-run Jean Segura job to left. The Mets had allowed just three hits, three walks, and one run through eight innings, and wound up losing in nine. It was enough to drive one comatose sports crank out of his mind:

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What makes this hideous but not especially uncommon meltdown so painful for Mets fans is how unavoidable this kind of thing now seems. Incredibly, this was the fifth consecutive game where the Mets led by at least two runs and went on to lose. They led 3–1 in the eighth inning over the Cubs on June 23, and lost 5–3. They led 6–4 in the fifth inning over the Phillies on June 24, and lost 13–7. They led 5–2 in the sixth inning over the Phillies the following night, and lost 7–5. The following night they had a 4–0 lead in the sixth inning, and lost 5–4. And Thursday they led 3–1 in the ninth, and lost 6–3. Tim Britton of The Athletic has some ugly win probability numbers that throw this streak into proper perspective:

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Before you say ah, every subpar bullpen goes through stretches where they can’t protect a lead, you should know that a team getting swept in a four-game series under these conditions is extremely rare, and is also pretty much the exclusive domain of your New York Mets:

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There comes a point in every season when the Mets achieve maximum Mets. If we haven’t reached that point yet, I am genuinely fascinated and more than a little afraid to see what comes next.