Familia blows third straight save as 'pen falters
NEW YORK -- As Jeurys Familia stepped on the mound in the ninth inning on Thursday, a flash of lightning ripped through the sky above Citi Field. Many fans retreated to the concourses to avoid the rain and watch Familia try to finish off another save.
Familia has been one of the most dominant closers in the National League this season, and he looked the part right away, dispatching two batters with three pitches. Then the rain turned to a deluge and a subsequent 44-minute delay wrecked what looked destined to be a Mets win.
When the game resumed, Familia took the mound with two outs, already in an 0-1 count against Padres first baseman Derek Norris. The closer gave up a bloop single, then another one to Matt Kemp before Justin Upton's three-run home run finished off a six-run Padres comeback. The Mets went on to lose, 8-7, as San Diego clinched the three-game series.
As the rain poured, Familia went into the Mets' clubhouse to stay warm. He wouldn't pin the blame for his blown save on the weather.
"Nah, just made my pitch in the middle," Familia said. "No excuse."
When Mets starter Jon Niese left the game after six innings, he handed over control of a 7-1 lead that didn't last half an inning.
Bobby Parnell tallied just one out as the Padres loaded the bases, and he was promptly replaced by Hansel Robles. The rookie's third pitch to Norris cleared the Party City Deck in left field for a grand slam, immediately slashing the lead to two runs.
Then out came Familia in the ninth, and down came the rains. The lead didn't last long after that, giving Familia his third blown save in a week and his fifth of the season.
"He's still going to be the closer, but we'll hopefully get his confidence back and get him out there more often," manager Terry Collins said.
After each of Familia's previous four blown saves, the Mets have recovered to win the game. That didn't happen Thursday, as the top of the order couldn't do anything against Padres closer Craig Kimbrel and the club watched a winnable series slip away.
The Mets thought they had shored up their bullpen just two days ago, trading for Tyler Clippard in an attempt to shorten games with a formidable back-end trio. Eighteen hours later, Jenrry Mejia was given a 162-game suspension after testing positive for the second time for performance-enhancing substances, and the club saw that progress come undone.
General manager Sandy Alderson said he didn't anticipate going after another reliever before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, which means the Mets will have to make do with the group they have now.
To this point, that group has been well above average, holding a 2.82 ERA in 271 2/3 innings this season. Collins won't shake that up after a few blips, especially not after acquiring the experienced Clippard.
"There is some youth down there, but there's guys that have been around, too," Clippard said. "That's all you need. You've got to have confidence out there on the mound ... All that stuff that's going to come in the next couple months with this pennant race, I think we're well-equipped to handle."