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New York Mets’ Bullpen Blows Late Lead in 5-3 Loss

May 26th, 2014 at 5:09 PM
By Mike Phillips

New York-The New York Mets were in good shape after seven innings in their Memorial Day affair with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Mets had a 2-0 lead, got strong pitching from Jacob deGrom, and looked poised to win their second game in a row. The bullpen had something to say about that, spectacularly imploding and allowing five runs over the final two innings. Jose Valverde was the most egregious reliever, allowing four earned runs in two thirds of an inning as the Pirates (23-27) defeated the Mets (22-28) 5-3.

'Jose Valverde' photo (c) 2014, slgckgc - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Mets scored two of their runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Daniel Murphy delivered a two out RBI single to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Jacob deGrom scored on the play, but outfielder Juan Lagares was thrown out on the relay throw from third baseman Pedro Alvarez. The umpires reviewed the call, however, and awarded the Mets a second run after it was deemed that Pirates catcher Russell Martin illegally blocked the plate before he had the ball. Lagares officially scored on a throwing error from right fielder Josh Harrison, making it 2-0.

The lead looked like it would be plenty for Jacob deGrom, who had another spectacular outing from the Mets. deGrom threw 6.2 shut out innings, scattering five runs and five walks while striking out four. deGrom threw a career high 122 pitches before being pulled with a man on in the bottom of the seventh in favor of Jeurys Familia. Familia did his job, retiring the only man he faced to preserve the lead.

The rest of the bullpen couldn't make the same claim. Scott Rice came on in the top of the eighth inning and promptly served up a home run to pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez to cut the deficit to 2-1. Rice recorded the first two outs of the inning, and was then removed by manager Terry Collins in favor of Jose Valverde. With closer Jenrry Mejia unavailable after pitching in both ends of the double header yesterday afternoon, Collins hoped to get a four out save from Valverde. That went up in smoke quickly as Valverde gave up a double to Starling Marte and a single to Jose Tabata to tie the game at two.

Valverde (L, 1-1) remained in to pitch the ninth inning, and he added more gasoline to the fire. Valverde recorded the first out, then got himself in trouble by walking two straight Pirates hitters to get to Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez singled to left field, bringing Neil Walker home to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead. The second run ended up coming in to score after the throw from Curtis Granderson bounced off of Anthony Recker's glove and to the backstop because Valverde wasn't in the proper position to back up the throw. Valverde then received the hook from Collins, and the Pirates added an insurance run as Carlos Torres gave up an RBI double to Russell Martin on the first batter he faced to make it 5-2 Pirates. Lucas Duda got the Mets a bit closer in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run off of Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon, but Melancon recovered to retire the side and pick up his 10th save of the season.

The bullpen implosion was a disaster, but part of that lies with Collins himself. The Mets played a double header yesterday, and added an extra arm for the double dip, Vic Black. Black didn't pitch in either game, and Collins instead used three pitchers (Mejia, Familia, and Josh Edgin) in both games. In addition, regular set up man Daisuke Matsuzaka was the spot starter, throwing six innings and leaving himself unavailable for a few days. Failing to use Black left Collins short handed today, putting Valverde back in a pressure spot and it resulted in another ugly loss for the Mets. 

The ugly loss led to some drastic changes by GM Sandy Alderson after the game. Valverde was released minutes after the game was over, and will be replaced by a new reliever tomorrow. The Mets also fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens and will replace him with Lamar Johnson. Johnson adds a fresh face to the coaching staff and the Mets hope that he can help some of the Mets' slumping bats get going. To be fair to Hudgens, this anemic offense isn't entirely his fault. The Mets have failed to put major league quality offensive players on the field in a lot of positions for years now, and it's easier to fire a coach then change the players. As much as the front office denies it, this move is likely a shot across the bow at Collins and the rest of the coaching staff. If the Mets don't improve in the next couple of weeks, the Mets could change managers mid-season.

Player of the Game:

Today's Player of the Game award goes to Pirates' first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez went 2 for 2 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI's. Sanchez woke the Pirates up with a pinch hit home run in the eighth and drove in a run in the ninth to give them the lead for good.

Post Game Notes:

  • Ike Davis went 0 for 2 with a walk in his first game back against the Mets.
  • Four different Pirates collected two hits a piece.
  • The Mets are now 3-20 in games where they score three runs or less.
  • Tony Watson (W, 5-0) picked up the win in relief for the Pirates and got his first career major league hit against Torres in the ninth inning.

What's Next:

The Mets and Pirates will continue their three game series tomorrow night at 7:10 pm at Citi Field. Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.70 ERA) will face off with Edinson Volquez (2-4, 4.37 ERA) on the mound.

Tags: Baseball, Daniel Murphy, Dave Hudgens, Gaby Sanchez, Jacob DeGrom, Jose Valverde, Lamar Johnson, Mark Melancon, Memorial Day, MLB, New York, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Terry Collins, Tony Watson

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