DENVER -- Mets players began trickling into Coors Field in the early morning hours Tuesday -- prepared, finally, for a day of baseball.
What they experienced was an almost surreal collection of errors and disappointment in a doubleheader sweep, all encapsulated within a snow-encrusted stadium. After sitting idly through wintry postponements Sunday in Minneapolis and Monday in Denver, the Mets waited another two hours Tuesday for various Rockies employees, a purple dinosaur and their own general manager to clear the field of snow.
With piles of snow still flanking both dugouts and flurries again descending upon Coors Field in Game 2, with a few hundred fans clapping and screaming through their mittens and parkas, Jordan Pacheco hit a walk-off, 10th-inning single to send the Mets to a 9-8 loss. They dropped the opener, 8-4.
"It's been a long 24 hours," closer Bobby Parnell said. "It's been a long 48 hours, a long 72 hours. When you come in here and lose two, it's tough."
"It's not very much fun," manager Terry Collins added. "We got here at 7:15 this morning, so it's been a long day."
Beneficiaries of an early offensive explosion, the Mets were in line to win until Ruben Tejada's throwing error in the eighth. With the potential tying runs in scoring position and Parnell on for a four-out save in a two-run game, Michael Cuddyer hit a slow roller toward shortstop. Tejada fielded it cleanly but threw high and well wide of first base, allowing both runs to score.
"It was a bad throw," Tejada said, insisting that the cold weather was no excuse. "I have to make that play."
Two innings later, the Rockies put multiple men aboard against Greg Burke on a two-out walk and a sharp single to third base, which David Wright could not handle. Pacheco then grounded the second pitch he saw through the right side of the infield, ending the ballpark experience on a sour note.
"If you're looking for a guy to get a hit to win a game, he's near the top of the list," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He handles the bat so well. It's a tough at-bat for a right-handed hitter off of Burke."
It did not have to come down to that. The Mets plated eight early runs on a series of singles, doubles and walks, seemingly snapping whatever doldrums seemed to affect them in their Game 1 loss. Marlon Byrd drove in three with a two-run single in the fifth inning and a sacrifice fly in the third, and Tejada added multiple RBI singles.
Mets starter Aaron Laffey, meanwhile, gave New York four relatively effective innings, holding the Rockies to two runs. But with a chance to break the game wide open in the top of the fifth, the Mets elected to pinch-hit for Laffey and turn to their bullpen, aiming to bring Laffey back Saturday on short rest. Jordany Valdespin came through with a run-scoring infield single, but the bullpen could not hold a six-run lead.
Such forward-thinking roster decisions have become the norm for Collins, whose team has endured two postponements, one delay and heaps of snow since early Sunday morning.
Game 1 was an exercise in refrigerated frustration for the Mets, who watched Dillon Gee battle cold weather and coarse defensive play in allowing five runs over 4 2/3 innings. Collins chalked up the loss to Coors Field's wintry conditions and his team's two-day layoff.
By Tuesday, both teams were determined to play. Early in the morning, with Game 1 initially scheduled for 1:10 p.m. MT, scores of Rockies employees took to the field armed with shovels, plows and carts for snow removal. Even their purple dinosaur mascot, Dinger, helped out. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson joined at one point, cognizant of additional poor weather forecast later this week.
"People just started working on it," Rockies owner Dick Monfort said. "People were coming to work and they'd see people out there with a shovel. They'd go upstairs, check their email and say, 'I'm going to go help.'"
In the visiting clubhouse, the Mets padded around wearing royal blue sweatsuits, trying to shake the rust of a two-day layoff. Tired of the cold, eager for a return to the sunshine of the East Coast, the players did not participate in snow removal.
"I grew up shoveling snow," Collins said. "When I moved to Florida, I sold my shovel."