J.J. Puts Mets’ Feet into the Fire

June 2, 2009

In the bottom of the eighth inning last night in Pittsburgh, the Mets back-up to the back-up to the back-up shortstop, Wilson Valdez, failed to complete what would have been an inning ending double play. Not only was Valdez unable to record an out and keep the Mets within a run but his miscue allowed Pittsburgh to tack on another run, their fourth of the inning. Eventually, a fifth Pirates runner would successfully cross the plate and before you could blink an eye Pittsburgh was up by three runs. The inning began with the Mets leading five to three.

For the Mets, last night’s 8-5 loss unfortunately produced an eerily similar storyline for a team that felt very strongly that it had finally turned the page on past season’s setbacks. The game began with the Mets scoring all their runs in the early going only to see it slip through their fingers in the later innings. The culprit, you guessed it, their bullpen. Coming into last night’s game, the Mets bullpen was ranked one of the highest in the major leagues. The majority of the Mets relievers had been performing at the top of their game. All of them except right-hander J.J. Putz who has struggled of late by surrendering eight walks in his last six outings. In that devastating eighth inning, Mets manager Jerry Manuel decided to relieve left-hander Pedro Feliciano with a right-hander. Putz saw five batters. The result: four hits, a walk, and four runs, three of them earned raising his already climbing ERA to 4.76.

Fortunately for the Mets, they will be getting some reinforcements come Tuesday. Infielder Alex Cora is expected back from the disabled list and could see action as early as Wednesday. Also, the Mets’ ace, Johan Santana, is slated to start tonight’s game. He will be pitted up against Pittsburgh’s version of a stopper in left-hander Zach Duke. Santana is vying for his eighth victory of the season.

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