Well, the bullpen did it again; Dillon Gee pitched a great game in his 6.2 innings of work and the Mets were able to get to Cliff Lee enough to take a lead into the late innings, but the bullpen surrendered nine runs in the last three innings of the game to drop their first series of the year to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gee retired the side in order in the top of the first, which allowed the New York offense to take charge in the bottom of the inning. Daniel Murphy drew a one-out walk from Lee, then David Wright gave the Mets a 1-0 lead on a double to deep center field. Gee couldn’t hold onto the lead, as he gave up a lead off homer in the very next frame to Ty Wigginton, who killed the Mets all series.
Lee and Gee matched zeroes from that point on, until the bottom of the sixth came around. Scott Hairston got the start last night, and he stayed hot by ripping a double off the southpaw. Then, fans saw Lucas Dudabreak out of his slump with a two-run homer, giving the Mets a 3-
1 lead, and helping Lee’s night come to a close. Dillon Gee came out to pitch the top of the seventh, but he was only able to get through two outs before Brian Schneider doubled, prompting Terry Collins to bring in Bobby Parnell. The final line for Gee: 6.2 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts.
Why did his line include two runs? Well, Bobby Parnell wasn’t able to retire pinch hitter Carlos Ruiz, and he hit a two-run homer of his own to tie the ballgame back up at three. Statistically speaking, the Mets have the worst bullpen in the Major Leagues, and it showed last night, as each of the five relievers that came into the game (Parnell, Jon Rauch, Tim Byrdak, Ramon Ramirez, and Chris Schwinden) all gave up at least one run in each of their appearances.
Rauch gave up the go-ahead run in his one inning of work, as Shane Victorino hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Then all hell broke loose in the ninth, starting with Ramon Ramirez. He inherited Freddy Galvis on base due to a Byrdak walk, then allowed John Mayberry on with a single. That brought up Jimmy Rollins, who hit his second home run of the year, this one of the three-run variety, to give the Phillies a 7-3 lead. Ramirez was out in favor of Schwinden, but Philly wasn’t done scoring. Wigginton added an RBI double and Victorino was at it again with a two-run single to extend the lead to 10-3.
This lead seemed insurmountable, but the Mets did try and mount a small comeback in the bottom of the ninth. They were able to touch up reliever Raul Valdes, as Lucas Duda greeted him with his second home run of the game. Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled and Andres Torres drove him in with an RBI double. Daniel Murphy followed with an RBI single off Jonathan Papelbon, but that’s where the rally ended as David Wright grounded out to Galvis to end the game and the series.
With the help of the Marlins sweeping the Nationals, the Mets didn’t lose any ground in the NL East, staying 1.5 games behind Washington. Miami moved ahead of New York in the standings, so the Amazins have found themselves in third place with their 28-23 record. Offensively, most of the spark came at the top of the lineup; Andres Torres was back in the lead off spot, and it was nice to see him put together a two-hit game, as did Daniel Murphy, his first multi-hit game in quite some time after having 10 such games in April. Hairston continued his hot hitting with two more knocks and Lucas Duda was the offensive star last night with three hits and two home runs, his second multi-homer game of the season. What was more satisfying was that both of his long balls came off left handers. With Cliff Lee on the mound, Terry Collins decided to put Ike Davis back on the bench.
The bullpen is obviously very concerning with their lack of consistency. Bobby Parnell gave up a run for the second time in three games, and Jon Rauch hasn’t been able to repeat his performances from the beginning of the season. It’s great that Frank Francisco has gotten back on the right track, but the Mets won’t be able to take advantage of him if they can’t build that bridge to the ninth. It’s amazing how the Mets are five games over .500 as we move to June with a bullpen ERA well over 5.00, a negative run differential, one of the fewest home runs in the league, and three of their starters injured and out of the lineup. As long as the starters come back and the bullpen gets under control, this team can keep rolling. If not, then I have some concerns.
The Mets are off tonight as they hit the reset button before the Cardinals come to town and New York welcomes back Carlos Beltran back to Citi Field on Friday.