After a second straight frustrating loss against the Chicago Cubs last night at Wrigley, it was clear Terry Collins was about ready to explode in his post-game press conference. The Mets skipper told the media he’s at a loss for words to try and explain New York’s fourth straight loss. In the series opener on Monday, he attributed fatigue to the letdown game they experienced against Travis Wood and co., but he didn’t let his team off that easy last night.
There was no public call outs in his press conference, a la Kevin Youkilis and Bobby Valentine, but he was quite frank about his
squad’s lack of production against the team with the least wins in all of Major League Baseball. Good teams play potential playoff contenders tough, and beat the teams that are inferior, that’s just the way it goes, and the Mets have yet to do that lately.
There were a few instances in particular Collins pointed out from last night’s loss. One was Lucas Duda‘s inability to obey the sign from third base coach Tim Teufel, as he stopped at third on Ike Davis‘ double when Teufel was signaling him to head home. Duda ended up being stranded on third, which has been the recurring them during this four-game skid. Another was the performance of Dillon Gee last night, which Collins said was the worst he’d seen him pitch in a while. With a spotty bullpen, the Mets can’t afford their starters to not go deep into games, and when they aren’t able to do so during a losing streak, the problem is magnified.
The final answer that caught my attention was his reaction to being asked about Ike Davis getting ejected after arguing a pick off attempt at first base:
“Ike touched (Gonzalez) with the glove. He’s automatically ejected. I’m not going to get into it. They aren’t responsible for leaving 10 guys on base. It’s not (the umpire’s) fault that we didn’t hit with stinkin’ guys sitting all over the bases tonight. That’s the way it goes.”
If that doesn’t tell the story, I don’t know what does. Last year, Collins picked strategic times to ream his team about behind closed doors regarding their sloppy play. This type of talk probably hasn’t happened yet, but he’s on the verge of exploding. If Jonathon Niese and the Mets turn in another lackluster performance this afternoon, you better believe Collins is going to sit his guys down and have a chat with them. This two-week stretch before the All-Star break is important and New York can’t afford to fall off the cliff, as Sam Maxwell said yesterday.
As we saw over the weekend, the Mets are a very different team from the Yankees. Unlike the Bronx Bombers, who now have 116 home runs in 2012, the Amazins can’t score over half of their runs with long balls, it’s clearly not their scene. This team’s mantra is to get on base, move the runner over, and drive them in. As of this morning, the Mets rank 8th in the MLB with a .326 OBP and 1st in the league with 163 runs scored with two outs; situational hitting has been a strength for this team in 2012, but not lately, as Terry Collins is visibly frustrated with the amount of stranded New York base runners over the last few days.
Not running the bases effectively, failing to field consistently, and not pitching well have doomed the Mets recently during this cold spell. They now sit 4.5 games out of first and only three games over .500. Analysts are licking their chops as they can see the possibility of their good fortunes coming to an end. Everyone picked the New York to end up in the basement; Terry Collins knows that, and no matter what the players say, they all know it too. They have been a team with nothing to lose all year, and the effort they put into the game for the first 70 games in 2012 displayed that. The “Eye of the Tiger” that was evident early on has been mysteriously absent in Chicago. Today is the day they need to play like they have all season, or else Terry Collins is going to tell it like it is behind close doors and light a fire under their behinds. Let’s hope these guys don’t need that to start playing like a team again.