WHAT IT MEANS: With a 3-1 loss to the Pirates, the Mets split the four-game series. They again fell short in their bid to reach .500 for the first time since they were 22-22 on May 20, after beating the Yankees in the Subway Series opener in the Bronx.
New York Mets
BIG PELF: After surrendering a first-inning RBI single to Neil Walker, Mike Pelfrey retired 11 straight Pirates. That streak ended when Pelfrey surrendered a solo homer to Brandon Wood to lead off the bottom of the fifth, which staked Pittsburgh to a 2-0 lead.
Pelfrey was replaced by pinch-hitter Lucas Duda in the eighth after a leadoff walk to Ruben Tejada. The Opening Day starter’s line: 7 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K. Pelfrey threw 81 pitches (54 strikes).
In the last 18 games, Mets starting pitchers have a 2.54 ERA (34 earned runs in 120 2/3 innings).
RUNNING OUT OF INNINGS: The Mets made two costly baserunning gaffes.
With the Mets trailing 1-0 in the fifth, and with Daniel Murphy on second and Tejada on first with one out, Pelfrey missed a bunt attempt. Catcher Michael McKenry, in his first game with the Pirates after being acquired Sunday night in a trade with the Boston Red Sox, fired to second and caught Murphy too far off the base.
Then, on a sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes that scored Tejada and pulled the Mets within 2-1 in the eighth, Duda -- who had singled to advance Tejada to third base -- did not properly tag up at first base on the sliding catch by left fielder Jose Tabata. Duda was thrown out for a double play. (He may have thought the ball short-hopped Tabata.)
A day earlier, Angel Pagan had been ruled out on the bases on a sacrifice fly when he failed to retouch second base while retreating to first base.
OBSTRUCTED VIEW: Second base umpire Jerry Layne ruled Reyes impeded Tabata’s path from first to third base on Xavier Paul’s single in the first inning. Layne awarded Tabata third base. Tabata, who briefly slowed but did not appear to make contact with Reyes, had been thrown out at third base by the center fielder Pagan and began walking off the field when he learned of the obstruction call. Reyes was charged with an error. The decision, which Reyes and then Terry Collins argued, proved costly. It was Tabata who ended up scoring the game’s opening run on Walker’s ensuing single.
SILENT NIGHT: The Mets mustered only three hits in seven scoreless innings against southpaw Paul Maholm, two by Murphy, the lone left-handed bat in the starting lineup.
POISON PEN: Manny Acosta, in his first appearance in eight days, loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Tim Byrdak entered and issued a two-out walk to the righty-hitting Walker to force in a run. D.J. Carrasco then entered for his first major league appearance since returning from Triple-A Buffalo and coaxed a flyout to right field.
K-ROD TRACKER: Francisco Rodriguez did not appear. He remained at 25 games finished, on pace for 61. That would place K-Rod six over the games-finished threshold for his contract to kick in at $17.5 million for 2012. Said Collins: “I’m being totally honest with you: No one has come and said, ‘Why’d you use him?’ Or, ‘You can’t use him.’ Or, ‘You shouldn’t use him.’ All I know is he’s helping us win games. The one night I brought him in a game that didn’t count to have him finish the game because it was what we had to do to make sure he stays ready, because if he’s not ready he’s not going to pitch well when we need him.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets open a three-game series in Atlanta on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. Jon Niese (5-5, 3.51 ERA) opposes major league ERA leader Jair Jurrjens (8-2, 1.82) in the series opener.