Playoff aspirations can dissipate in the sweltering August humidity. Especially for a team on the playoff periphery.
It is why Terry Collins felt compelled to address the state of his team’s union before Wednesday night’s game against division rival Florida at Citi Field. The Mets lost the first two games of the series to the Marlins and are now 55-55 with 52 games left in the season. A makeup date has not been set. The Mets trail division leading Philadelphia by 16 games and National League wild card leading Atlanta by eight games.
“They have to know I care. This isn’t a joke. These games count. Winning is what we’re supposed to do. Playing the game is what we’re supposed to do,” Collins said before the rainout. “Guys started coming in and tried to make sure it was a light atmosphere; it’s over, [Tuesday night] is over with. [Tuesday night], there were some things I had to say. If you say it from the heart and you’re serious about it, they listen.”
What made Tuesday’s 4-3 loss especially galling was that the mistakes were both physical and mental.
The Mets left 14 runners on, including six in scoring position against Brad Hand and four relievers. Yet, the Mets led, 3-2, in the ninth. That is when the bottom fell out in spectacular fashion.
Justin Turner fielded a routine ground ball off the bat of Marlins left fielder Bryan Peterson with the bases full and one out in a game the Mets led by a run. Turner’s options were to begin a 6-4-3 double play or throw home to get Marlins rookie Logan Morrison.
What happened was inexplicable.
Peterson froze between first and second, before leaning towards first, which forced Turner to throw towards Lucas Duda. The throw was five feet wide of Duda and sailed towards the Mets dugout. Morrison and Mike Cameron both scored.
Turner and Jason Isringhausen — who was on the mound in that calamitous ninth inning and took the loss after allowing a hit, a walk, hit a batter and two runs (one earned) to score — took turns falling on swords following the loss.
It was enough to cause Collins to decide to wait until yesterday to inform Isringhausen that he had the day off. By not pitching Isringhausen last night, and with today’s off-day, the closer will have “a couple days of rest” heading into this weekend’s series with Atlanta.
The manager did speak with his second baseman after Tuesday night’s loss, though.
“These guys take this stuff personally. They have to. This is who they are. They’re frustrated, especially when they cost the team a win. They like each other so much, it’s like they let down everybody. One thing about Justin Turner is that he’ll get over it. He has to,” Collins told Metro after his pre-game press conference. “I went to him Tuesday night and just told him the options. He told me what his thought process was. I told him I understand that but in that situation here’s what you got to be thinking: ‘I got to do this or that.’ Can’t make something out of nothing and that’s what he tried to do. He either goes to home plate and do not have a double play or ‘Hey, I got to get a double play here’ and go to second. The runner is not going to let you tag him.
“He looked up and saw the runner; he thinks he has an opportunity. The runner starts going back that way [to first base] and he can’t catch him [and] had to hurry the throw to get somebody out and made a bad throw.”
One that may cost the Mets come October.