I’ve been watching the Mets for decades now (man, I’m old). There have been many ups and downs over the years — unfortunately more downs than ups. But I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’ve seen them play a worse series than the one just concluded in Florida. It’s not that they lost four games, which was bad enough. It’s that they played poorly, were managed poorly, and they lost two, although I would say three, of their five starters.
Thursday, May 13
Marlins 2, Mets 1
Johan Santana pitched a gem — 7 innings, 1 unearned run (thanks to his own error). It was the only bright spot of the series. The offense could only muster one run off of an equally brilliant Josh Johnson. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez did the Mets a huge favor by pinch hitting for Johnson in the bottom of the 7th, getting him out of the game. But then Jerry Manuel returned the favor by pinch hitting for Santana in the 8th. Santana had only thrown 98 pitches, and was still pitching well. The Marlins couldn’t hit him. There was no reason to take him out. Santana usually wears down at about 110. He could have given the Mets one more solid inning.
Then in the ninth with Luis Castillo on second and no outs and the score still tied at one, Manuel orders Reyes to bunt. Reyes failed in his first two attempts, then flied out to left. Now, I am not a fan of sacrificing in general, but in this case, it was unnecessary. Castillo was already in scoring position. Reyes was the number three hitter — let him hit. If Jason Bay or David Wright were batting third, I doubt very much that they’d be asked to bunt. In the end, it was Reyes’ failure to get down the bunt. But it was Manuel’s poor decision to order it.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, with Fernando Nieve entering his second inning of work, he allowed a walk and a single. It was first and third with one out. The game was on the line. So Manuel did — nothing. He allowed Nieve to pitch, and he promptly threw a wild pitch that scored the game winning run. Why not bring Francisco Rodriguez into the game? The game needed saving. Isn’t that his job? Manuel, and to be fair, many managers, only bring in their closer in save situations. I think they should come in when the game truly needs saving. And it needed saving in the ninth inning on Thursday, and K-Rod was sitting in the bullpen.
Friday, May 14
Marlins 7, Mets 2
Oh Ollie, we hardly knew ye! Or, we got to know him too well, entirely too well. And now he is gone — from the rotation, anyway. Oliver Perez was in rare form, or should I say, his usual form, allowing seven runs in 3+ innings. He served up four home runs — three of them in the third inning while Manuel and pitching coach Dan Warthen just sat on the bench and watched. Manuel finally ended the misery and took Perez out of the game. It will be Perez’s last start for a while, maybe forever. He’s been banished to the bullpen. Perez said he has no intention of agreeing to be sent down to the minors. For a guy who says he cares so much, going down to the minors to work out his problems would be the best thing for him. Instead, he’ll languish in the bullpen with his $36 million dollars.
With the Mets down 7-0 in the fourth, this turned into the most tedious game of the year. The bullpen was good, not allowing any more runs. But the offense couldn’t mount anything. Just a boring, brutal game.
Saturday, May 15
Marlins 7, Mets 5
John Maine followed Perez to the hill, and could be following him out of the rotation. Maine began the game with 12 straight balls — that’s three walks for the math-challenged. With the bases loaded, Maine managed to get an out. Then he forgot again where the plate was, walking in a run. A two-run single made it 3-0 after one inning.
The Mets actually managed to tie the game at three. But they couldn’t overcome Maine’s continued cluelessness in the fifth, when he allowed three more runs. Maine has proven once again that he is not a major league pitcher. He’s got no velocity left, and at the first sign of trouble, he loses all control of himself. Maine is known as a guy who gets down on himself when things go wrong, and that is not helping him at this point. How many more starts will Manuel give Maine before he is banished somewhere, too?
Sunday, May 16
Marlins 10, Mets 8
Jon Niese took to the mound, hoping he could salvage the final game of the series, and put stop to the bleeding for the rotation. Instead, he did neither. Fielding a bunt in the third inning (and making a throwing error to boot), Niese aggravated his hamstring — the same one that snapped and put an end to his year last season. He’s going to miss at least one start, if not more. So that leaves the rotation with two of its original starters, a promising Japanese guy (Hisanori Takahashi) who nonetheless has never started in the majors, a minor leaguer, and Maine. Hardly a dream rotation.
As far as the rest of the poorly played game, David Wright committed an error before Niese’s ill-fated play, and should have been given a second error on a missed backhand in the same inning that was scored a double.
Both Reyes and Niese were doubled off first on a fly ball and a line drive respectively, putting the brakes on what could have been promising innings.
The offense came alive, making it 7-6 before Nieve allowed a three-run homer.
All in all, a wasted weekend. Worse than wasted, actually. They lost more than just games. Hopefully, they won’t let the season slip away the way these four games did. And it appears management won’t let that happen — it was announced that Omar Minaya will accompany the team on the road trip to Atlanta. That can’t be a good sign for Manuel, as the managerial death watch that took a break during that eight game winning is back. It’s going to be an interesting week.