Last night at Turner Field, the Mets dropped to a season worst 37-46 after an excruciating 5-3 loss to the Braves. In a season of horrendous losses, this one will ultimately emerge as one of the ugliest. Saddled with a 3-1 lead going into the 8th inning, the team imploded, allowing 4 runs on 3 errors. The game was essentially over right then and there.
Zack Wheeler took the mound (3-8, 4.25 ERA) looking to bounce back from the worst start of his career. He struggled with command once again, walking 5 batters and hitting another. It seemed as though the Braves took him to a full count on nearly every at-bat. Despite his wildness, Wheeler threw 6.1 strong innings and gave his team every chance to win the ball game. The youngster battled for every out and showed an impressive resiliency on the mound.
The Mets offense shot out of the starting gate on a lead-off home run by Curtis Granderson. It was his second lead-off homer of the year and his eleventh overall. The Mets tacked on a run in each of the two following innings. Travis d’Arnaud drilled an RBI double in the second, while Chris Young drove in the Mets third and final run with a bases loaded sac fly in the third.
The Braves remained off the board until the bottom of the 5th inning. Upton and Simmons both singled, setting the stage for a Freeman sac fly. Wheeler escaped any further damage by coaxing Justin Upton into a neat 6-4-3 double play.
After Vic Black and Josh Edgin had successfully relieved Wheeler in the 7th, Jeurys Familia, who has recently established himself as a reliable bridge to Jenrry Mejia, entered the game. Things quickly spiraled out of control from there.
After allowing consecutive singles to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, Familia snagged a potential double play ball off the bat of Chris Johnson. Familia panicked and completely botched the throw to second base, leaving the bases loaded with no one out. In no time at all, the game was tied on a single by rookie 2B Tommy La Stella. The tying run scored when sure-handed CF Juan Lagares booted the ball, allowing Heyward to cross the plate.
Familia retired two batters without allowing another run. The Mets seemed to poised to escape the nightmarish inning when Simmons chopped a ball down to emergency duty third baseman Eric Campbell. Almost comically and expectedly, the untested rookie simply dropped the ball and botched the routine play, handing the Braves their first lead of the game.
Dana Eveland entered the game to face Freeman, but only added insult to injury by walking in an insurance run for Atlanta. With Craig Kimbrel quickly warming up in the bullpen, the game was effectively over.
The Mets consistently find more and more deflating ways to lose ball games. As a club struggling to generate any offense, anything short of stellar defensive play is unacceptable. The fact that Mets pitchers are consistently incapable of turning a routine 1-6-3 double play is mind-boggling and beyond frustrating.
"We've got to catch the baseball better," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We didn't catch the baseball tonight." At this point, Collin’s is running out of excuses and justifications for his team’s poor play. As the manager of the New York Mets, you would hope that his players are capable of catching the ball. The transcript of his post-game interview felt like he was referring to a team of struggling little leaguers rather than a major league ball club.
While avoiding the clichéd over reaction, it really is time to consider Terry Collin’s position with the team. Nothing is changing, nothing is getting better, and right now the Mets are offering little evidence that they can compete in the weakest division in baseball. Of course, it all comes down to their lack of talent, but the roster management and development over the course of this season has been horrific. The lineups are often head scratching and young players such as Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares have been hampered by Collin’s refusal to play them in favor of under-performing veterans. Frankly, this team is very hard to watch. They provide little reason for their fans to invest any interest in them. Truthfully, there is nothing worse for a franchise than an apathetic fan base.
The Mets will look to overcome their comedy of errors tonight at 7:10 PM ET, when Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23 ERA), takes on Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50 ERA).