Hundreds of managers have uttered some variation of the phrase “You can’t make mistakes against this team.” They often say those words after a tough late-inning loss.
Terry Collins might have said it during his stint managing the Angels in the late 1990s, but he got the full experience Sunday by watching the Mets give away a chance to salvage the finale of the Subway Series. They allowed five runs in the final three innings of a 5-4 loss that was decided on Russell Martin’s solo home run against Jon Rauch with nobody out in the ninth.
“Angry,” Collins said of his team’s mood after losing for the sixth time in seven games. “It’s hot.”
Collins and the Mets were seven outs away from getting the chance to talk about Jonathon Niese shutting out the Yankees and his hitters doing just enough against Andy Pettitte.
Those topics would become secondary because of what his infielders could not do.
Third baseman David Wright could not make a good throw on Andruw Jones’s grounder that would have been the final out of the seventh. Three pitches later, Scott Hairston mistimed his leap at the warning track and just missed getting to Russell Martin’s fly ball that crept over the fence for a two-run home run.
“When we didn’t make a play, I said this isn’t good — not here,” Collins said. “When you give the New York Yankees or anybody else in the big leagues, multiple-out innings, they're gonna get you.”
“It always bothers me making errors,” Wright said. “I don’t try to make errors. Sometimes your pitcher can pick you up and sometimes not.”
Still the Mets had the lead, but that vanished in a flash.
It started when shortstop Omar Quintanilla charged in but did not follow the rule of putting his glove to the ground and allowed Derek Jeter’s ground ball to go under his glove and into short left field.
That led to Curtis Granderson lining a single to left field and Mark Teixeira grounding a single up the middle to score the tying run. That was followed by Alex Rodriguez hitting a pop-up that went in between second baseman Jordany Valdespin and first baseman Ike Davis for an RBI single.
“That was hard to take, but a lot of those things happen at this ballpark,” Hairston said. “Obviously they took advantage of it.”
Fielding weren’t the only mistakes made by the Mets.
They ran themselves out of two innings when Hairston and Wright were caught stealing. They also left the bases loaded against Pettitte after scoring three runs off him in the second as Jason Bay and Wright struck out.
The Mets came through with those coveted big hits in the ninth and handed Rafael Soriano his first blown save. They tied it on Ike Davis’s double to center field and had two on with one out, but Josh Thole and Kirk Nieuwenheis could not get it done.
Moments later, the Yankees deflated the Mets for the third time this weekend and walked off the field with a win after Martin hit a home run just inside the left field foul pole.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.