|Mets Manager Terry Collins tried to keep closer Frank Francisco away from the home plate umpire Todd Tichenor in the ninth. (NYTimes.com)|
Giancarlo Stanton's walk-off grand slam punctuated a dismal 9th inning for the Mets bullpen, as the game and the series went to the Marlins 8-4.
The Bad Stuff:
- After re-taking a dramatic lead in the top of the 9th (see Good Stuff for what might have been), Frank Francisco was brought on to redeem himself after a blown save on Friday night. Redemption he would not earn: Emilio Bonifacio laced a leadoff triple (the same way he led off the 7th when John Buck homered off Ramon Ramirez) to bring up Buck again. After two borderline strikes went Buck's way, Francisco issued the walk and let a run come in on Gregg Dobbs's RBI single. The Mets had seen enough of Frank-Frank, but he wasn't finished with home plate ump Todd Tichenor; Francisco blew up in the man's face and had to be restrained by Terry Collins and fill-in Third Base Coach Bob Geren after being ejected.
- Manny Acosta was brought into an impossible situation: first and third with none out, one-run lead to hold; and quickly let in the tying run on Jose Reyes's sac fly. (Unfortunately in that situation Acosta gets the blown save, while Francisco only gets the blown gasket.) After getting Omar Infante to pop up, Manny walked Hanley Ramirez and beaned Austin Kearns to bring up Giancarlo Stanton. At this point, Mets fans probably knew their team's fate...the only question is how Stanton would deliver the poison. He chose the "grand slam" variety. Game over, doesn't even look close in the end.
- The bullpen's implosion destroys all the Good Stuff that was the making of another road series win. Jon Niese got out of a few early jams and pitched 6 innings of shutout ball, giving up 5 hits, walking 3, and striking out 4 to lower his ERA down to 3.40.
- New York got 2 runs in the 4th inning after Lucas Duda's groundout and Daniel Murphy's opposite-field single brought home Kirk Nieuwenhuis and David Wright respectively.
- Tied 2-2 in the 9th, Miami brought on Heath Bell to get the team to the bottom half. It didn't quite go the way they wanted: Daniel Murphy doubled with 1 out, then after Ronny Cedeno walked, Jordany Valdespin grouned them over to second and third. Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter was intentionally walked, bringing up Justin Turner. You will recall Turner-Bell I from two and a half weeks ago...Le Grande Orange Jr. only needed 7 pitches this time, smacking a 2-run double to right to give New York the lead and all but reassured that the Mets own Heath Bell. Unfortunately because of arcane baseball rules, Bell will end up with the W on the afternoon. Ouch.
The first screws have come loose on this team, and in all seriousness, did you expect it from anyone else than a closer named "Francisco"? The Mets have not had their best luck with those two combinations, and this weekend a 6-0 stellar road trip became a 4-2 just good road trip, one which the team will finish up with a more-than-sour taste in their mouths. Frank-Frank's ERA is up to a gut-wrenching 8.56, and Manny Acosta (who shouldn't have been in there in the first place) is up to a dismal 9.53. The Achilles heel of this 2012 edition Mets team has been all but revealed, and it might be time to seek an upgrade from Mr. Tantrum. Perhaps it is time to give Bobby Parnell another look at closer, or even Jon Rauch, who got his ERA under 3 with a perfect 8th this afternoon. Whatever the case, the Mets have to patch up this leak fast before it gets any wider and gushes out more and more potential wins.