Ouch. This 6-3 Mets loss to Cincinnati hurt more than usual because it involved Terry Collins making a pretty dumb decision that immediately resulted in the Mets blowing a lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, New York finally put up a crooked number against Reds starter Mike Leake. With the score tied 1-1 and Lucas Duda on first with a single, Daniel Murphy hit a ball sharply towards the first base line that was deftly snagged by Joey Votto. However, instead of doing the smart thing and taking the easy out at first, Votto attempted to throw to second from his backside. The result was the ball tumbling into left field and no outs recorded on the play.
Slumping Ike Davis was up next, and he also hit the ball hard down the first base line, but this one got by Votto for a double. Duda scored on the play to make the score 2-1 Mets. New York would get another run when Mike Nickeas successfully executed a squeeze play.
That’s what set the stage for Collins’ poor bullpen management. Mets starter Johan Santana allowed a solo home run to Todd Frazier in the top of the seventh. Two batters later, with the tying run on second and two outs, Collins brought on Bobby Parnell to get the final out of the inning. Parnell succeeded by striking out Zack Cozart on five pitches.
Even though the pitcher’s spot had just been passed in the order (ie: Parnell did not need to be subbed out for offense), Collins for some reason brought in Jon Rauch to pitch the eighth. This was very frustrating for me, because I had just wrote a bullpen article for The Daily Stache about how Rauch stinks and how Parnell is great. Here’s me tooting my own article.
…it’s a bad combination for someone to have a low strikeout rate and a low ground ball rate. That’s what Rauch is working with this season, and it’s a good reason to leave him out of high-leverage situations.
I only wish I could be as prophetic when I actually predict good things to happen. Rauch allowed Drew Stubbs to single, which was followed by a Votto double and a Brandon Phillips RBI single. Now with the go-ahead run on third base, Rauch finally got the first out when Chris Heisey hit a pop fly to first base.
Reds manager Dusty Baker then elected to take out the right-handed Ryan Ludwick and put in the lefty Jay Bruce (who had the night off until this point). I thought this was kind of dumb, because it would allow Collins to bring the left-handed (and much more effective than Rauch) Tim Byrdak. The move worked for Baker, though, as Bruce managed to hit a sac fly to easily score Votto. It was still a dumb move, though, when you consider that Rauch is bad at striking people out and good at allowing fly balls. Baker probably should have left Ludwick in the game for the best chance at a sac fly, but that doesn’t matter now.
Anyway, the right-handed Frazier was up next, so Collins brought in D.J. Carrasco, who let up Frazier’s second home run of the game. This one made the score 6-3, which was too much for the Mets to come back from. The end.
Who knows what would have happened if Collins had stayed with Parnell? Maybe Frank Francisco would have blown another save. Or even Parnell could have allowed a run. The only thing I know for sure is that Collins had his best reliever in the game with only five pitches thrown, and he opted to take him out in favor of a much worse pitcher. That’s a bad decision, and poor Johan could only watch the game fall apart.
“Once I do my job and I’m out of the game, I just hope the guys can finish it,” said Santana. “But again, it’s out of my control and there’s not much I can do. I just watch and hope that we get it done. That wasn’t the case tonight. We’ve just got to wait for the next one and see if the results are different.”
Sigh. The Mets play a day game today versus the Reds starting at 1:10 PM. R.A. Dickey will be the starting pitcher for New York while Mat Latos hurls for Cincy.