It is the month of August and the plays are important, and the New York Mets are well aware that any hope to stay in the NL wild card hunt means they have to stay away from the mistakes. The past two nights at Citi Field against the Florida Marlins have cost the Mets. The latest was a blunder Tuesday evening by rookie second baseman Ike Turner in the ninth inning that gave the Marlins a 4-3 win.
Another victory got away from New York and Florida tied them for third place in the NL East, now taking four straight at Citi Field. The Mets look like the fading team, while the Marlins are making a move in the wild card and their 80- year old manager, Jack McKeon, who took over for Edwin Rodriquez on June 19th has his team at 50-50.
With New York ahead, 3-2 in the ninth and with Jason Isringhausen, who got the loss (2-2) on the mound, John Buck was hit by a pitch that loaded the bases. Pinch hitter Bryan Patterson hit a slow grounder to second base and Turner charged for the ball. Buck would stop in the middle of the base path and Turner tossed the ball to first instead of going for the out at the plate. The ball went past Lucas Duda at first enabling the Marlins to take a 4-3 lead.
“He did an outstanding job of base running,” said Turner about the throw to first and how Buck commanded the base path. “I don’t necessarily think that I made a bad choice, I just made a bad throw,” he said. And to the credit of Turner, a rookie mistake is possible, but in this case it cost the Mets another ballgame and extended their losing streak to four games after winning five straight.
It has epitomized the Mets season. Win a few in a row and then compile a losing streak. Though they have the best road record in the National League, New York still struggles at Citi Field at 22-28. Earlier this season, when New York lost six of seven games in the late innings, also at home, manager Terry Collins said it had to get better. He was not lambasting Turner about the decision Tuesday night about the play to first but offered his opinion.
“When that ball is hit you can’t get two,” he said, also explaining that he talked to his rookie about the play. “You have to go to the plate. I talked to Justin. He knew what he had to do. He just didn’t get it done. We have to make plays because we don’t strike many people out.”
Collins was alluding to his bullpen that gave up the game Monday night. New York has now lost three straight when the winning run was scored in their opponents final at bat, which included the final two games against Washington on the recently completed road trip, and two at home to start the series with Florida.
Chris Capuano pitched six good innings for New York and was the victim of two solo home runs from Omar Infante in the first and fifth innings, both balls going to left field. Infante is not known for the home run ball, now with three on the season. “You have to make the pitches and Infante got me a couple of times,” said Capuano who became the second pitcher in Mets history to start three games against the same opponent in a span of no more than 16 days.
“It’s like they went through that really bad streak and ever since they haven’t let up,” he said about the latest winning ways of the Marlins. Jose Reyes hit his first home run of the season from the right side in the third inning that tied the score at 1-1.
Said Collins about the latest three games, “Three losses in a row, they hurt bad. We now let the Marlins catch us. We let some games slip away when you are fighting for something.”
NOTES: Johan Santana will not make his next rehab start scheduled for Thursday and will see a doctor in New York. The Mets starter, who had off -season left shoulder surgery, is feeling discomfort and it could be a setback to getting him back this season.
“It’s a matter of Johan proceeding at his own pace,” said General Manager Sandy Alderson. Said Collins, “I want this guy on this team, I am disappointed but he knows about pain,” alluding to Santana knowing when it will be the right time to return…
Isringhausen, two saves away from a career milestone 300th, may not be used Wednesday night in game three of the series. The 38-year old veteran, who has become the closer and used more often when Francisco Rodriguez was traded, may be showing some signs of fatigue after a shaky ninth inning that led to the Turner play.
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