No lead is ever safe when you’re playing Major League Baseball.
There are three examples of games played last week where a team has come from behind to win it.
The Blue Jays couldn’t hold a solid effort pitched by Roy Halladay when they led after the seventh up by five.
Livan Hernandez struggled in his first outing since his complete game victory last Tuesday, but it was the bullpen that collapsed on the Mets in this loss.
So now we come to the Mets who opened a can of kill early on against Ian Snell. They held a 5-0 lead until Livan gave up three runs in the fourth. They were able to escape some trouble in the sixth when Livan put men on first and second and Bobby Parnell was called upon to clean up the mess.
After Jack Wilson reached on an infield single, Parnell struck out Vazquez the pinch-hitter to get out of a huge jam.
During this time, you would think the Mets would feel a little bit pressured to score a couple of runs to help out their pen for once.
That never happened.
The Mets couldn’t buy a hit after the third inning and would go down easily in the seventh and eighth.
Pedro Feliciano was effective in the seventh, but started off the eighth with trouble. Adam LaRoche led off with a double. He was moved over to third after Hinske grounded into the fielder’s choice. Then Jerry Manuel decides to make the move for the right-hander J.J. Putz to finish the inning off.
Putz was ineffective with his outing as he gave up two runs almost throwing away the game. Dan Warthen had taken him aside earlier today to work with him on his mechanics.
Anytime a pitcher is put into a new pitching mindset, it is bound to take a day or two to get him to feel comfortable with the changes. Alas, the right move Jerry should have made was to have K-Rod get the five out save.
That didn’t happen, but this did.
Andy LaRoche was J.J.’s first batter to reach base. He hit a chopper right up the middle that Castillo couldn’t handle; his brother Adam would come in to score.
One run, fine.
Mets were still ahead 5-4 with one out and in good position for a double play.
Jaramillo, the backup catcher, hit one straight up the middle, exactly where LaRoche hit it. This put men on first and second.
The next batter Jack Wilson comes up and what does he do?
Base hit to center, game is now tied.
Apparently there was only one pitch to hit against J.J. tonight. Delwyn Young followed the recipe his teammates boiled up and hit the fourth in a row off Putz, once again to center.
This run would put the Pirates ahead, but more damage was to follow.
Brian Stokes relieved Putz after Nyjer Morgan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Freddy Sanchez would hit into a sure double play ball, but it got botched by usually sure-handed shortstop Wilson Valdez.
Another run in and the misery for the Mets continued.
McLouth would drive in the Pirates fifth run of the inning with a sac-fly, and that was enough damage for this loss.
This game seemed much too similar to a 2008 bullpen meltdown.
Like I said last year, it’s the hitting that couldn’t come through with extra insurance to help a tired bullpen. I mentioned, after Saturday’s game, that it’s rare to see Sean Green or Ken Takahashi because of the starters getting through six or seven innings. Usually the case is this, the Mets score enough runs to have their everyday setup men and closer take the mound.
Now, because guys like Parnell, Feliciano, and especially Putz are seeing innings almost every game, we’re starting to see these guys become worn and hittable.
Mainly Putz on that matter.
The fact is that if the Mets would have tacked on runs after nearly losing their lead in the sixth, it would have given Sean Green the opportunity for an extra outing.
Say the Mets unloaded two runs in the seventh inning, you now have a non save situation where you can give another guy a shot who hadn’t been changing his mechanics that day.
The game doesn’t end after the fourth.
Winning teams understand that.
Yes, this team is even more battered and bruised since the game prior, but that can’t be an excuse to not win. Backup players Jeremy Reed and Wilson Valdez hitting sixth and seventh in the lineup were the bulk of the Mets' offense those first couple innings.
If they can give a piece, the rest of the team should be able to as well.
That includes you David Wright.
Oh, there’s no need to fear, Super Santana pitches tomorrow!
If they don’t win this game tomorrow, rest assured that the rest of this road trip will be hell for them. It isn’t an easy task either as Zach Duke pitches 5-4 for the Buckos.
On a lighter note, maybe there will be even less fans in attendance tomorrow than there was tonight.
The Penguins are home for Game Three of the Stanley Cup.
The entire town of Pittsburgh will probably be spending their night at the Igloo.
Randy Sobel is a contributor to HowBoutThemMets.com and can be reached at Randy.Sobel@gmail.com.