The Mets lost the game. Jason Bay lost his job.
It was not the way either wanted to start the six-game, and possibly career-defining homestand.
“Jason Bay is a professional and he understands,” Terry Collins said before a meeting with the leftfielder where the manager announced he will now become a platoon player for the foreseeable future following the Mets’ somnambulant 4-2 loss to the Marlins at Citi Field Tuesday night. “All he wants to do is help the club. We had a conversation on the road. He’s aware what we’re thinking about.”
Bay has struggled since signing a four-year contract worth $66 million on Dec. 29, 2009. Brought in to bolster the middle of the Mets’ lineup, Bay has only hit .238 with 23 home runs in 258 games over three seasons. This year, he has missed time due to a fractured rib and concussion and is hitting just .157 with five home runs. Bay went 1-for-4 with a single and two flyouts last night.
“It’s not like it’s coming out of nowhere; I feel like they gave me a lot of opportunities,” Bay told reporters of the post-game meeting with Collins. “Time missed, injuries aside, it’s irrelevant in my eyes. I should be doing better.
“If I had a better leg to stand on, I could say something. As of right now, I don’t,” Bay said. “If I was playing better and time was taken from me unjustly, then yeah I think I would [be affected personally]. But I try to be a realist and with all that’s happened, I’m not the best option right now even though I still feel like it’s there. But how many times are you going to hear that?
“This didn’t blindside me or anyone else, I would imagine,” Bay said.
Bay repeatedly stated he did not want to be a “distraction” for a Mets team that fell to 53-57 with the loss and are 13 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington and 9 1/2 games behind NL wild card co-leaders Pittsburgh and Atlanta. St. Louis, Los Angeles and Arizona are all ahead of the Mets in the race for the second wild card with 52 games remaining in the season.
For a team that fancies itself a playoff contender despite all evidence to the contrary, it is imperative that it receives strong pitching every night to get back into the race. That was not the case as Jonathan Niese (8-6) was not especially effective against a mostly anonymous Marlins lineup. The left-hander allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings.
“That’s been my Achilles’ heel this year, giving up those big innings,” Niese said. “That’s something I have to work on.”
The Marlins took control with a four-run fourth inning. Carlos Lee ripped a RBI single that plated Justin Ruggiano with the game’s first run. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a sac fly that scored Jose Reyes (who reached on a bunt single to increase his hitting streak to 25 games). Three batters later, John Buck’s two-RBI double pushed Miami’s lead to 4-0.
“Again, we just didn’t make the pitches when we had to,” Collins said.
The Mets’ best chance to get back in the game occurred in the bottom of the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs for Ruben Tejada. But the shortstop popped out to Marlins’ second baseman Donovan Solano to end the threat.
Daniel Murphy slammed a 2-0 pitch from LeBlanc off the second deck of the Pepsi Porch to lead off the fifth inning. Andres Torres added a RBI single later in the frame that plated Bay with the Mets’ second and final run of the game.
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.