Mets Bullpen Blows Two Leads, Gives Up Six Runs in Loss to Marlins

Greg JansenCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2008

A day after Johan Santana pitches the Mets' first complete game since September 2006, the Mets bullpen blows two one-run leads in a 7-3 loss to the Florida Marlins. John Maine left after one out in the fifth with a 2-1 lead, reportedly with shoulder stiffness.
In a 2-2 game in the eighth, David Wright went from first to third on a Carlos Delgado ground out when the Marlins' shift backfired and left third base open. He later scored on Fernando Tatis's ground out. In the bottom of the inning, the Marlins recorded five consecutive hits on Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis.

 When the damage was done, the Marlins hit two doubles and four singles to bring home five. They were also helped by two wild pitches by Schoeneweis. The Mets couldn't muster any offense in the ninth, going down in order. The resulting loss leaves the Mets a half-game in front of the Phillies, and one game ahead of the Marlins.

It is only the Mets' fifth loss in their last 20 games. However, it seems the bullpen is now dictating the game's outcome for the Mets. In the five losses, they have given up 22 runs in 19 innings. In the fifteen wins, they have given up 13 runs in 44.2 innings.

Forget about a 7-run breakdown against Philadelphia July 7 (a Mets win), and the bullpen has a stunning ERA of 1.54 in 14 wins. Now, there's no need to panic with tonight's bullpen meltdown. In each of the last two series against the Phillies and the Cardinals, the bullpen gave up runs in the late innings to lose the game.

In addition, in each of the series, it was the only game the Mets lost. The offense has been responsive after these losses, and given much support to the starting pitchers in these games. However, to be honest, these meltdowns are getting old. These are all games the Mets should win. The games the Mets win are spectacular to watch.

However, the games they lose lately are heartbreaking. They are not dominated, but seem to crack at just the wrong time. The offense cannot bail out the relief pitching every time.   They will not score ten runs per game every game. There will be games that they do not score many runs.

In these close contests, the relief pitching must come through for the team. The problem in the Mets' bullpen isn't limited to one reliever. Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman, Carlos Muniz, Smith, and now Schoeneweis have all been guilty of giving up late-inning runs to opposing teams.  

Lately, since the All-Star break, it seems Wagner is the only consistent reliever, converting seven consecutive save opportunities. Two of a team's offense, starting pitching, or relief pitching performing well will get any team into the playoffs. All three firing on all cylinders win a World Championship.

Right now, the Mets have two. All they need is relief pitching to complete the trifecta.