Wednesday night was another chapter in Mets manager Terry Collins book of dubious bullpen decisions in NY’s 6-5 loss against the basement dwelling San Diego Padres.
Robert Gsellman, having his best start of the season, pitched a 1,2, 3 sixth, tossing a total of 84 pitches in the process. With a depleted and overworked roster of relief, why not take a gamble on the rookie in the seventh instead of not quitting while you’re ahead on Fernando Salas, who just so happened to have good fortune the night before?
After retiring the first two batters, Salas gave up a base hit to Travis d’Arnaud’s big brother, Chase, then loaded the bags on back to back walks. And in what has been an ongoing nightmare for Mets in relief, Neil Ramirez, replacing Salas, gave up a two-run tying single to deep left to Wil Myers, the only man he faced.
Josh Edgin took the hill to get the last out of the inning, and then Collins made another suspect switch replacing Edgin for Josh Smoker, who for the second consecutive game immediately gave up a home run to the first batter – only this time, it was of the go-ahead nature.
But, it’s tough to put all the blame on the men on the mound because the Mets had the best case scenario in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs, only to be bitten by Padres closer Brad Hand and his bread and butter breaking ball.
Hand, who was Houdiniesque, took the ball from Brandon Maurer after he escaped with the tying run on second in the eighth. After surrendering a couple of singles and a walk to load the bases for the Mets, he then mowed down the Amazins with back to back strikeouts before retiring Juan Lagares serendipitously on a fly ball for the final out out of the game.
These types of losses are the ones a team loses sleep over at the end of the season when they look back at the games that got away. Leading 5-1 against a 17-31 ball club is bad for the postseason business. I know it’s premature to be so fatalistic, but with the Mets precarious pitching staff, they can’t afford to blow a four-run lead – especially when they’re getting decent results from their starters.
Not to be forgotten was Wilmer Flores clutch three-run double, Curtis Granderson’s RBI single, Lagares’ double and run saving golden glove grab, and Conforto’s continued Yoenis Cespedes-like offense – not bad for a kid who was sitting on the bench at the start of the season.