Sunday, May 9, 2010
Updated: May 10, 10:36 PM ET
Manuel weighing his options for Perez
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- Oliver Perez needed to be unhittable in a matchup with reigning National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
Not like this, though.
The New York Mets left-hander walked seven batters on Sunday, one shy of his career high, and hit another with a pitch before manager Jerry Manuel pulled him with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning. Although Perez allowed only two hits, he ultimately was charged with four runs in what became a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants that snapped the Mets' nine-game home winning streak.
Afterward, Perez took the blame, saying his inability to feel the ball on a raw, windy day was not a valid excuse. Regardless, his manager didn't give a full-fledged vote of confidence for Perez's remaining in the rotation.
Manuel initially said he didn't expect "at this time making any changes, as I sit here right now."
Still, Manuel added: "Those are some things that we'll have to reflect on. We have to take everything into consideration as we contemplate and chew on it and marinate on it and see where we are."
Of course, the last time Manuel said something similar, a struggling John Maine ended up in the manager's office at Coors Field for more than a half-hour, after which the rope on the right-hander was loosened.
What's the answer? Maybe not the bullpen. If a change eventually is made with Perez, using him as a reliever could be tricky.
"It kind of shackles us in a sense, trying to get that done and also win games," Manuel said. "And we're here to win games."
Perez seemed to have possibly turned a corner when he limited the Cincinnati Reds to two runs in six innings Monday. Yet his most recent outing underscored the erratic nature of his performances. Fourteen of the 20 batters Perez faced went to three-ball counts. Perez has walked 25 batters in 30 innings this season.
He threw only 44 of 98 pitches for strikes Sunday. Only three other pitchers in the last 15 years have reached that pitch count while throwing 44 or fewer strikes: Kansas City's Jorge De La Rosa (44 strikes in 98 pitches in 2007), Philadelphia's Scott Ruffcorn (43/99, 1997) and Seattle's Chris Bosio (39/98 in 1995).
For a while, Perez danced around trouble despite loading the bases in three straight innings. He walked the opposing pitcher, Lincecum, to load the bases with two out and two runs already having scored in the second inning, but recovered by striking out Aaron Rowand with an 89 mph fastball to hold the Mets' deficit at 2-0.
Perez loaded the bases with one out in the third as Raul Valdes warmed in the bullpen. Perez then fell behind 3-0 to Nate Schierholtz before inducing a full-count pop-out to third baseman David Wright. Perez then fell behind 3-1 to Matt Downs before Angel Pagan tracked down a shot to the track in left-center while converging with Jason Bay.
When the Giants reloaded the bases in the fourth on three walks, Valdes entered and issued a two-out walk to Juan Uribe, the Mets' eighth of 11 walks in the game, to force in a run. A passed ball by Rod Barajas allowed the final run charged to Perez to score.
"He lost his release point and we were walking people," Barajas said.
Said Perez: "I'm disappointed. I'm mad at myself because I have to be better than that."
Perez also struggled in similar weather conditions at Citi Field during the last homestand, when he was charged with three runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I was not able to throw a strike," Perez said. "I wasn't feeling my hand, but that's no excuse."
|"I'm mad at myself," Perez said after Sunday's debacle.|
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.