Just nine days ago, Mets fans were in a state of euphoria, a state that Mets fans hadn’t been familiar with since their days venturing Shea Stadium. It was just nine days ago that Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history. It was also the first of a three-game winning-streak against the world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Today the euphoria is gone. The much lauded New York Mets are losers in six of their last seven contests. The Mets lost a crucial series in Washington D.C. as the bullpen coughed up the lead three separate times in the opener at Nationals Park, thanks to defensive miscues from rookie Jordany Valdespin and Daniel Murphy. The Mets then showed little offense in game two, and received a stellar pitching performance from R.A. Dickey to salvage the ugliest series of the year (at the time). Riding high into the Bronx, the Amazins sent ace Johan Santana who was impersonating his Johnny Vander Meer, the Bronx Bombers weren’t having much of that when Robinson Cano twice, Nick Swisher, and Andruw Jones all took Santana deep in the Yankees 9-1 beating of the Mets in the series opener Friday night.
In game two of the series, it was the starting pitchers that stood out. Dillon Gee for the Mets and Phil Hughes for the Yankees. Gee pitched seven innings giving up three runs while Hughes pitched six and a third only giving up two solo home runs as the Yankees took game two 4-2.
Facing a sweep, the New York Mets showed their colors again on Sunday afternoon as they dropped a tough one to the Yanks 4-3 on a game winning home run from Russell Martin. It was a game in which the Mets led 3-0 until the bottom of the seventh inning; after a double play, David Wright picked off a grounder in the hole, spun, and fired low to first. Wright’s throw couldn’t be picked out of the dirt by first baseman Vinny Rottino. Jonathon Niese then gave up a two-run home run to catcher Russell Martin to cut the Met lead to 3-2. The bullpen gave up the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when setup man Bobby Parnell gave up a lead off double to Derek Jeter on a ground ball that Omar Quintanilla ate up and landed in no man’s land igniting the Yankee shortstop to advance ninety feet. The Yankees took a 4-3 lead on a Mark Teixeira single to right field.
Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth inning trying to notch his 20th save of the season; instead the closer gave up back-to-back doubles to Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. The game was tied at 4. The Mets had Davis on second representing the tying run. Quintanilla came up with a chance at redemption, with the Yankees playing in expecting a bunt, ran the wheel play when Quintanilla fouled off the bunt attempt. The bunt was taken off when Yankees manager Joe Girardi went out to align the defense of his infield. Quintanilla then went to skipper Terry Collins, Collins called off the bunt and Quintanilla hit a weak ground ball to shortstop where second base runner Ike Davis ran on first contact and was thrown out at third base. With Quintanilla at second, Daniel Murphy came to the plate and singled to right field sending Quintanilla to third. With runners on the corners, the Mets had the go ahead run ninety feet away. Josh Thole was then summoned to pinch-hit for rookie Jordany Valdespin. The pinch-hitter was called out on strikes. The next hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded out to first leaving the go ahead runners stranded on base.
To the bottom of the ninth we went, an inning that was over quicker then you could say blown save. Jon Rauch served up the game-winning homer to Yankees’ catcher Russell Martin.
With the loss Sunday afternoon, the Mets fell to 32-29, and 4.5 games behind the first place Nationals. A lot has happened over the course of nine days. From euphoria to despair, the Mets have gone from contender to pretender. With solid performances from the starting pitchers, the bullpen continues to disappoint, the Mets pen is the worst statistical relief corps in the big leagues. A bunch of firefighters without hoses, the Mets bullpen continues to be the Achilles heel of the team. Rauch and Frank Francisco continue to be the poster children for a disheveled bullpen. Rauch is 3-6 with a 4.88 ERA and has given up 12 runs in his last ten appearances, while Francisco is 1-3 with a 5.55 ERA and is the owner of three blown saves.
Manager Terry Collins said his team was “Angry” after the loss to the Yankees Sunday Afternoon and rightfully so. The word contender is not out of grasp for this New York Mets bunch; however it will continue to be a rollercoaster season if the bullpen relinquishes quality starts from the rotation. However, for now, the New York Mets are “Pretenders”.
Outside the Redzone gives you Breaking Sports News, Opinion and Analysis with a Southeastern Feel and be sure to “Like” us on Facebook!