It’s impossible to say that it cost them the game, but Terry Collins had a terrible ninth inning on Thursday that at least decreased the Mets chances to tie and possibly win the game against the Giants.
Here’s what happened — the Mets entered the bottom of the ninth down 2-1. With Giants closer Sergio Romo unavailable, Santiago Casilla was on the mound. Casilla is having a good year, but he’s the guy who started the ninth inning for the Giants Wednesday night and failed miserably, giving way to Romo who blew the game. So the Mets were facing a possible shaky pitcher.
Casilla opened the inning by walking Matt den Dekker. So maybe what happened the previous night was still on his mind? So what does Terry Collins do? He orders Juan Lagares to sacrifice, which he did successfully, moving den Dekker to second. This was ill-advised for two reasons. First, it is asinine to give away an out in the ninth inning when you are down a run. Sure, you move the runner into scoring position, but you have just given away 33% of your outs for the rest of the game. It makes no sense.
Secondly, a pitcher was on the mound coming off a failure and he just walked the first batter he faced and was about to face the potential winning run. Casilla’s back was against the wall. Why bail him out by giving him an out? You’d think Collins would want to keep the pressure on him. Well, Collins apparently thought otherwise.
The next batter was Travis d’Arnaud. Well, it was supposed to be Travis d’Arnaud, except Terry Collins decided to pinch hit Lucas Duda for him. Collins was playing the righty/lefty thing, but of course Giants manager Bruce Bochy countered that by bringing in lefty Javier Lopez to replace Casilla.
Once again,Collins helped bail out Casilla by getting him out of the game. This was the embattled guy the Mets wanted to face, and Collins made a move that virtually ensured he would be taken out of the game. Duda, hitting a whopping .200 against lefties, of course popped out to short center for the second out.
Collins should have known that Bochy would bring in a lefty to face Duda, leaving Duda overmatched. Still, though, he made the move.
Next, Collins pinch hit Anthony Recker for Omar Quintanilla, which was fine. Recker struck out to end the game.
Now here’s the question — with the game on the line, would you rather have d’Arnaud and Duda up, or Duda and Recker? No offense to Recker, but d’Arnaud is a far better hitter. Pinch hitting for d’Arnaud made absolutely no sense at all, unless he is having trouble swinging the bat because of his sore shoulder. But if that is the case, he shouldn’t be playing at all.
No, Terry Collins mismanaged the inning. It doesn’t mean he deserves to be fired or anything, but it just shows that while Collins has done as well as he possibly could with the players Sandy Alderson has given him, he will never be confused with dugout geniuses like Bobby Valentine or Tony LaRussa.