New York – As ugly as the New York Mets 6-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies was Wednesday evening at Citi Field, things got worse moments later in the family room when closer Frankie Rodriguez assaulted his father-in-law and was charged with third degree assault.
Rodriguez took his anguish out on reporters in the clubhouse when asked “If he was ready to pitch.” Because the Mets bullpen imploded and squandered a lead, as K-Rod with two outs in the eighth inning was not called on by manager Jerry Manuel to get a four-out save.
“I didn’t pitch,” said an angered Rodriguez. “I don’t have to talk to you guys,” as he stormed out of the clubhouse and is now known, he assaulted his father-in-law. With the bases loaded, Manuel opted to use the seldom used Manny Acosta who threw a 2-2 curve to Melvin Mora that went over the left field wall.
The grand slam for Mora, the fourth of his career and a National League leading ninth given up by Mets pitchers this season, also epitomized another night of frustration that may have also put a final dent in any hopes for a Mets postseason. The Mets failed to win back-to-back games for the 42nd straight time, and the K-Rod incident also indicates a frustration and implosion of a season gone bad.
Acosta followed the grand slam with a walk and two singles, including a run scoring single hit by Clint Barmes to short left. “It was a slider, a good pitch,” commented Acosta about the home run ball thrown to Mora.
“I’ve been in this situation many years, and I know the pressure isn’t on me it’s on the pitcher,” said Mora about his grand slam. The former Met added, : “I love that pressure and I love that situation.”
“I knew he had a chance when he swung the ball, it was a big hit, a big win,” said Carlos Gonzalez,” ranked in the top five of the National League in average, home runs, RBI and ruins scored.
Manuel defended his reason for not using K-Rod in the situation, way before his closer had his eruption in the clubhouse and then taken into custody. “Usually when we use K-Rod the night before we wouldn’t take that shot,” he said referring to Rodriguez working the previous evening when he notched his 25th save with a perfect ninth inning.
“We have to find a way to get that out,” he said. “We have no margin of error.” And Mets fans, many of the 30,554 who left after the bullpen implosion let Manuel know they were displeased not bringing in K-Rod by chanting a “Fire Jerry” chant. The Mets trail first place Atlanta by 9-1/2 games and need to jump over six other teams in the wild card race.
“That’s part of it,” Manuel said. “When you make decisions and they don’t work out New York will let you know.” The Mets were limited to three hits as the offense continues to struggle. David Wright also heard it from the fans, striking out four times which tied a career high. Since the all-star break, Wright is hitting .196 and .061 in the month of August.
After a first inning where the Mets scored their two runs on the 10th home run of the season hit by Angel Pagan, a career high, the Mets would produce one walk and one other hit. At one point Rockies pitching struck out seven straight, including winning pitcher Matt Belisle (5-4) who came out of the pen and struck out three in the seventh.
The Mets did not get a base runner after the fifth inning. “I’m not having much fun right now,” said Wright, its rough.” As for the fans also getting on his case, he said “They are obviously frustrated as we are. The fans have every right to voice their opinion.”
Jonathon Niese gave up one run in seven innings and struck out seven failing to get the decision as the Mets bullpen gave up five Colorado runs in the eighth inning with two outs. “This is rough,” said Niese. “It’s tough to watch.”
Manuel said Niese was complaining about pain in his lower hamstring, a reason he did not come out for the eighth, But, like so many negative conditions that exist with the Mets, Niese contradicted what his manager said when asked if there was a problem again with his hamstring.
More so, much tougher to watch a team implode as they may be without their closer. Rodriguez has more pressing issues to deal with as Johan Santana (9-6) takes the mound Thursday afternoon and tries to earn the Mets a series win in what will probably be a very hush Mets clubhouse.
A season on the brink and very little to save, no pun intended.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]