Friday, June 13, 2014
Game turns into another Mets mess
By Danny Knobler | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Through seven innings, it was a normal game, a simple pitchers' duel.
Somehow, it turned into yet another New York Mets mess. Somehow, this season has quickly turned into a Mets mess, one that has left them with plenty of anger and frustration but very few runs, fewer wins and even fewer answers.
Thursday night's 5-1, 13-inning loss to the Milwaukee Brewers was just the latest defeat, the Mets' eighth in the past nine games. But in some ways, this one was even more disturbing than the others, and perhaps even more costly.
Closer Jenrry Mejia, forced out of the game in the 12th inning by what the Mets quickly announced as back stiffness, revealed after the game that he had first complained of the problem while warming up in the bullpen. Mejia described the issue as tightness and "a little bit of pain."
He said that despite that, he wanted to pitch Thursday. Despite what they heard, the Mets let him pitch and planned to have him pitch a second inning, too.
Mejia said he's hopeful that he'll feel better Friday.
The Mets will be hoping they feel better Friday, when they end a run of six straight games against first-place teams and welcome in the equally struggling San Diego Padres.
They'll also hope they can score a few runs. They scored just eight in the three games against the Brewers, and half of those came on one swing of the bat from journeyman catcher Taylor Teagarden. They continue to waste good performances from starting pitchers, just as they did when Jonathon Niese went 7⅔ innings and allowed just one run Thursday.
Niese was angry at being removed when he was, even though that decision by manager Terry Collins actually made plenty of sense. Aramis Ramirez (who hits Niese well and already had a home run) was at the plate, and with Niese at 97 pitches and due to bat second in the bottom of the eighth, he wasn't going to go another inning, anyway.
Collins had a good answer for that move, but he struggled both before and after Thursday's game to provide answers for the struggling offense. He resorted Thursday night to talking about how the Mets are keeping games close.
"We don't get blown out by anybody," Collins said. "We just can't come up with a hit when we need a hit."
They couldn't score when they had the winning run at third base with one out in the 11th, when Wilmer Flores grounded out and Anthony Recker took a called third strike (and then inexcusably got himself ejected from the game).
But the bigger issue is that David Wright remains in a horrible slump. Wright hit a couple of balls hard Thursday but went 1-for-5 and is now two for his past 31.
Worse yet, Wright's answers Thursday suggested he's getting frustrated by Citi Field's dimensions.
"I have to do a better job, especially when I'm here, of getting on top of the ball and hitting line drives," he said.
It wasn't much of an answer, but it was all he had. It was all the Mets had after another game gone wrong.
Attendance update: After announcing season-low crowds on back-to-back nights for the first two games of the Brewers series, the Mets announced a slightly larger crowd Thursday night, 22,155. Once again, though, there appeared to be nowhere close to that many people in the ballpark.