Could This Be The Last of Ollie?

NEW YORK – New York Mets Manager Jerry Manuel would not admit that his starter Oliver Perez could be out of the rotation soon. But Perez, ineffective again Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, had a hard time with his location against the San Francisco Giants and admitted he has to get better.

What was certain, after the Mets lost the last game of a three-game series to the Giants 6-5, is that Perez can’t walk seven batters and last 3.1 innings if the Mets want to win ballgames. After a perfect first inning he walked the leadoff hitter three straight innings. After a leadoff walk in the second, the Giants then got two hits and a wild pitch that led to a 2-0 lead.

There was more disappointment to come for Perez He walked the bases loaded in the fourth and is now winless in his last seven starts since last August 18th. Not exactly what the Mets are looking for from a pitcher in the second year of a three-year $36 million dollar contract.

“I am disappointed in myself,” commented Perez who for the ninth time in his career walked seven or more batters. “I’ve got to be better than that. I know what I have to do. I have to be better than this, I know what I have to do.”

True it was not a perfect day for baseball. And the 3:45 minute game became an adventure for the outfielders trying to take control of fly balls, as once again the Citi Field winds were playing havoc. More than once members of the Mets grounds crew in between innings had to pick up hot dog wrappers that blew around the infield and outfield.

As to conditions possibly being a reason as to why he had another bad outing at Citi Field, Perez said, “We have to prepare for a game like today. I am not the only pitcher,” he said referring to Giants starter Tim Lincecum the two-time Cy Young award winner who remained winless against the Mets.

Lincecum left after six innings when the Giants had a 4-2 lead. But a wind blown two-run single by Jason Bay tied it for the Mets. David Wright, later ejected from the game in the bottom of the ninth arguing, an out strike call, would put the Mets in the lead.  The Mets with their loss snapped a nine-game home winning streak.

But the discussion afterwards wasn’t about the Mets striking out 14 times, a season high for a nine inning game. It continued to be the questions about Perez and whether or not Manuel would remove his starter from the rotation.

As to the performance by Perez and whether he’s headed to the bullpen, Manuel said “The weather did play a factor for him, the cool weather.  I don’t see right now making any changes” The next start scheduled for Perez is Friday evening down in Florida when the Mets take on the Marlins in game two of a four- game series.

“When he came out in the second he was a different guy, he started walking people,” said Mets catcher Rod Barajas about Perez. “He went from the changeup to the fastball. He just couldn’t find it today. For some reason whether it’s the weather or not, he just could not make the adjustments.”

Manuel may have some thinking to do if Perez once again has a bad outing. As Barajas noted when you pitch behind the count with a team like the Giants there will be trouble.

For now as the Mets prepare for a three game series with the improved Washington Nationals, Manuel knows how important it is for Perez to be that effective starter in their rotation.

“We’re here to win games,” he said when asked to elaborate further about a change in the pitching rotation.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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