Mets lose 6-5 after questionable bullpen decisions and failure to execute early.
The Marlins began the scoring by rallying against Jacob deGrom in the 4th inning. An RBI single by Justin Bour, a sacrifice fly by J.T. Realmuto, and a single by Miguel Rojas put the Marlins ahead 3-0. deGrom settled down to finish 6 innings while allowing just the three runs, but he was not locating at times and gave up a bunch of hard contact.
The Mets hit the ball hard early against Marlins starter Tom Koehler, a pitcher that they had scored 19 runs in 11 innings against this season. Unfortunately, they had nothing to show for it until the sixth inning. A lead-off triple by Yoenis Cespedes was followed by a slow grounder by Michael Conforto, scoring the Mets’ first run of the game. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a walk, advanced to second on a groundout, and scored on an RBI single by Kelly Johnson. d’Arnaud narrowly avoided catcher J.T. Realmuto’s tag after Marcell Ozuna‘s throw from right field beat him to home plate. The Mets were down by one.
The next inning, after a lead-off walk by Curtis Granderson against LHP Mike Dunn (another pitcher the Mets have enjoyed lots of success against), Curtis Granderson hit his 29th home run of the year, his 11th as a Met, just right of center field. The Mets took a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 7th, Sean Gilmartin in for the Mets, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich lead the inning off with a single each. Addison Reed enters and allows an RBI single to Martin Prado, then strikes out Justin Bour. After another single to load the bases, he issued a bases-loaded walk to Marcell Ozuna to give the Marlins a 5-4 lead. Reed escapes any further damage with a double-play grounder to first baseman Kelly Johnson.
In the 8th inning, the Mets got a two out single from Ruben Tejada, followed by a pinch-hit single by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Curtis Granderson was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases for David Wright. Pitcher Brian Morris, however, got Wright to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
In the 9th, still down 5-4, Marlins closer A.J. Ramos gets Cespedes to pop out in foul terretory and Michael Conforto to fly out to left field. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a line-drive single to left-center field on the first pitch. Juan Uribe followed with a single up the middle, sending pinch-runner Juan Lagares to 3rd base. Kelly Johnson followed with a seeing-eye ground ball up the middle to tie the game at 5. A walk to Wilmer Flores (who came in to play shortstop after Tejada was lifted for a pinch runner in the 8th) loads the bases for Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who stayed in the game in right field. Nieuwenhuis grounded a ball about two feet and Realmuto stepped on home plate for the force out.
Mets get through the 9th inning with Tyler Clippard and the 10th with Erik Goeddel, but were unable to score any runs of their own. Goeddel allowed a lead-off single to defensive replacement Cole Gillespie, followed by a lucky bunt pop-up to Dee Gordon. Eric O’Flaherty entered the game to face lefty Christian Yelich, who grounded to Johnson at first who made a nice play to get the force out at 2nd base. With two outs, Martin Prado up against O’Flaherty, Prado grounds a 3-2 pitch over the 1st base bag for his fifth hit of the game. Gillespie scores from first, and the Marlins win in 11.
This is one of Collins’ poorest managed games in a while, and it was entirely due to bullpen management.
In the 7th inning, the Mets having just taken a 4-3 lead, Collins goes to Sean Gilmartin to face the top of the Marlins order (lefties Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich were due up first). Gilmartin has been fantastic for the Mets this season, but Collins is doing the same thing he did with Alex Torres: playing percentages that DO NOT EXIST. A manager will often say he’s “playing the percentages,” but in this instance, the percentages would have told Collins to use Tyler Clippard or Addison Reed. Gilmartin has done well this season, but he is not a lefty specialist, he is more suited as a long reliever. The Mets acquired Reed for this exact purpose: to hold down the 7th inning. As a plus, Reed also excels against left handed batters. Clippard excels against lefties too. The point was moot, however, as Addison Reed entered the game and more-or-less poured gas on the fire. He did get out of the inning without losing control, however.
In the ninth inning, Collins used Tyler Clippard in a tie game on the road. I have no issue with this, because Clippard and Familia have been near-unhittable over the last month. Clippard, however, was limited to just one inning. Collins then fell into the folly of most modern managers: saving your closer in a tie game on the road. As was the case with Matt Williams numerous times recently, Collins preferred to use his lesser relievers to preserve a tie rather than let his closer enter the game. Managers will often say they are saving the closer for the save situation, but as is often the case, the save situation never arrived.
Collins decided to go with Erik Goeddel, who got through the tenth inning and started off the 11th inning with a base hit and a bunt pop-out by Dee Gordon. Goeddel was lifted for lefty Eric O’Flaherty to face lefty Christian Yelich. A lefty/lefty matchup in this case may make sense, but I wonder why Collins thought O’Flaherty good enough to face Yelich, but not Dee Gordon before him. No matter, I thought, this would be a one batter affair.
Once again, I feel it worth bringing up that neither Goeddel nor O’Flaherty should have pitched in this situation. It should have been Familia. But once O’Flaherty got past Yelich to the right-hand-hitting Martin Prado, the decision to leave Eric O’Flaherty in was incomprehensible. O’Flaherty has fared poorly against lefties, but much, much worse against righties. Since the Nationals won 5-2 in 10 innings, Collins lost a must-win game without his best reliever even entering the game.
One more point. With a runner on 1st and two outs and lefty Justin Bour on deck, why did O’Flaherty pitch to Prado? It is certainly against the grain to put the winning run into scoring position, but Bour against O’Flaherty is certainly a better matchup than Prado against O’Flaherty (Prado who had killed them the whole game). As I shout “DON’T THROW A STRIKE” at the television, O’Flaherty deliveres Prado a belt-high pitch on the outside part of the plate. That was as tough as any loss this season.
The Mets are now 5 games up on Washington, with a major series with the Nationals starting on Monday in D.C.
Mets WPA Winners:
- Kelly Johnson (.381)
- Yoenis Cespedes (.313)
- Erik Goeddel (.128)
- Tyler Clippard (.128)
Mets WPA Losers:
- Eric O’Flaherty (-.373)
- David Wright (-.357)
- Addison Reed (-.225)
- Sean Gilmartin (-.194)
Marlins WPA Winner: Martin Prado (.734), no one else close