The entire Mets season was played out in microcosm in this maddening loss to Pittsburgh. Manager Mickey Callaway was outmaneuvered by Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle, the bullpen failed and there simply was not enough offense.
Zack Wheeler started for the Mets and was absolutely stellar through seven innings. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven, keeping the Pirates off the board. The Mets had built a 3-0 lead on a clutch double from Jose Bautista in third and a follow up single by Asdrubal Cabrera. Wilmer Flores added a home run in the sixth. With Wheeler cruising, it sure looked like the Mets could notch consecutive wins, consecutive wins at home and take a series, all for the first time in a long time. It sure didn’t turn out that way.
Robert Gsellman relieved Wheeler in the eighth and wasn’t up to the task. Starling Marte led off with a pinch double. He promptly stole third. Austin Meadows brought him home with a long fly to center. Josh Bell then hit a hard single up the middle and Callaway got out the hook. Young Tim Peterson came on and continued his dazzling bullpen work, retiring Josh Harrison on five pitches and striking out Colin Moran on four. Here’s where Callaway got outfoxed.
To start the bottom of the eighth, Hurdle double-switched his closer, Filipe Vazquez into the game, with David Freese taking over third base, trailing 3-1. After Vazquez got out of the inning surrendering only a single to Cabrera, this thinking became crystal clear. Jeurys Familia came in to close out the game — having thrown 23 pitches the night before — and promptly gave up three straight singles to make it a 3-2 game. Jordy Mercer walked to load the bases. About two batters too late, Callaway came out to get Familia. Anthony Swarzak came on shut it down, but gave up a single to Freese — see what happened, there? — to give the Pirates the lead. Bell added an icing-on-the-cake sacrifice fly. Oh, and just for good measure, with two outs, Callaway elected to pitch to Harrison, batting in front of Vazquez, rather than intentionally walking him to face a man who had had all of one at bat in his career.
Day off tomorrow — so we can scream into the closet again, presumably — before the team heads to sunny South Beach.