That face was different on Tuesday night after a doubleheader defeat and again on Wednesday night following a lopsided loss. The face of the franchise was sad and flushed with frustration and touches of anger. The Mets had done the improbable in two nights in Dixie, removed the smile from the lips of their de facto captain and replaced it with an unfamiliar purse.
The word repeatedly spoken by Wright on Tuesday was "mediocrity" -- and variations thereof. He said it as if it were four letters and profane. And Wednesday night when an 11-4 loss to the Braves put the Mets' winning percentage right at mediocrity, the word he used often was "embarrassed."
"Extremely embarrassed," Wright said.
Wright spoke as if Tuesday and Wednesday were seamlessly connected, that three losses in three games in Atlanta were like the first three quarters of a game. And he recognized Johan Santana was starting the fourth quarter. But his mood remained unchanged by that awareness. Three games had produced three losses. Those games can't be retrieved, those losses can't be fixed like written parking tickets.
"I can accept losing," Wright said. "Not easily, but every team loses here and there. But to go out and give the effort we're giving, to go out and lose without a fight ..."
His voice trailed off in much the same way his team has.
"I just don't think we have the fire I would hope we'd have," Wright said.
Standing at his locker, most of his teammates already departed, Wright pointed toward manager Willie Randoph's office, then to the room where the coaches dress.
"The problem," he said, "isn't there or in there. ... The problem is with us, in here."
Without any other pointing, he wondered aloud about the general confidence of a team that now has 22 victories, 22 losses and more problems than solutions. The Mets had been beaten by a team with less talent and, now, with more injured key personnel.
"Losing like this, I hope, would ruin their nights," Wright said of his departed teammates.
He didn't appear to think that it had.
"I want them to take it personally when we lose," he said. "I want them to be ticked off.
"If it was a matter of talent, it'd be different. If we just weren't any good, I could put my head on the pillow at night and sleep. But to got through the motions every night ..."
Wright interrupted himself again.
"Talking about it doesn't get it done," he said.
But neither had playing.
"It's hard to lose a doubleheader," Wright said. "It's actually hard. Ninety percent are splits. And after losing two and getting embarrassed, you'd expect to come out and fight today.
"And we didn't."
The Mets' mediocrity stared Wright in the face. Here in the land of NASCAR and in the week of Indy, the Mets are all about .500. They are a break-even team this late in a season for the first time since the 154th game of their 2005 season.
They were beaten by a team that made three errors but that produced three innings of three runs, two against losing pitcher Mike Pelfrey. They were undone by the pitching of Jair Jurrjens and middle of the Braves' batting order -- namely Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur -- that produced 10 hits, eight runs and nine runs batted in.
They were undermined by their own offense. They scored more runs than they had in the doubleheader loss on Tuesday, but three of the runs came after the fact -- after the Braves had a comfortable lead. And though only one of four was unearned, poor defense by the Braves contributed to another.
Pelfrey (2-5) lost his fifth straight decision, pitching four innings and allowing six runs. He might have escaped the third inning unscathed, but second baseman Luis Castillo couldn't turn a difficult ground ball into an out with a runner on base and two outs. The Braves scored three times after Castillo, playing on the outfield grass against Teixeira, was slow to charge a soft ground ball. Then Castillo lost control of the ball as he began his throw. Teixeira beat the throw and somehow was awarded a hit.
"That play has to be made," Randolph said.
Pelfrey allowed three more runs in the fifth, one on a home run by Jones. The other runs -- two, two and one, respectively -- came against Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis. Even Billy Wagner was challenged in his "get some throwing in" appearance in the ninth. But he has yet to allow an earned run in 18 innings this season.
But he'd rather have saves than zeroes.
"I'd like to have something TO save," Wagner said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less