Late shakiness proves costly for Mets

Despite four consecutive series wins, sweep remains elusive

May 10th, 2017

NEW YORK -- Although the Mets have won four consecutive series, they have come away from each of them with a bittersweet taste in their mouths. Two weekends ago in Washington, they won two straight before losing their starting pitcher, , in a double-digits defeat. The Mets next won two of three in Atlanta, but they watched rain wash away their lead in the finale. Against the Marlins, the Mets again won two in a row, only to lose a Sunday blowout after suspending Matt Harvey.

To continue the trend Wednesday at Citi Field, the Mets took a one-run lead into the ninth inning of what might have become a three-game sweep of the Giants. Instead, allowed four runs as his defense betrayed him in a 6-5 loss.

"He's the closer. He's used to that," manager Terry Collins said. "He's used to coming back, back-to-back. That's what he's done for years. He had 51 saves last year, and go look it up, how many times he pitched three days in a row. That was not the issue. He didn't have his command. The walk to [Joe] Panik hurt us. The error hurt us. And they got a big hit. That's the way baseball is."

Familia is indeed used to this sort of thing; as Collins noted, he pitched in three consecutive games a half-dozen times in 2016, blowing one of those save attempts and posting a 3.00 ERA overall. Familia threw just 15 total pitches on Monday and Tuesday before entering Wednesday's game with a one-run lead.

But from the start, Familia demonstrated little command, walking Panik with one out. exacerbated the issue when he bobbled a potential game-ending double-play ball, throwing wide of second base for an error. The next batter, , tied things with a single, before Familia walked and allowed a three-run double to .

"Once I knocked it down, I didn't put myself in position to make a good throw to second base," said Flores, who doubled home two runs in the bottom of the ninth to draw the Mets back within one. "That was it."

Collins' usage of Familia was not his only eyebrow-raising move. In the sixth inning, the Mets manager asked and his sprained left thumb to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and one out, instead of . Cabrera struck out, dousing a rally that could have broken open the game.

Nursing a sore hamstring, Conforto pinch-hit two innings later with no one on base and two outs. Collins said he did not use him in the sixth because left-hander was warming in the Giants' bullpen, and he preferred Cabrera versus a right-hander than Conforto against a lefty.

Then in the bottom of the ninth, after Flores brought the Mets back within a run of the lead, Collins opted not to pinch-hit the final man on his bench -- hot-hitting catcher -- for .083-hitting . The manager said he wanted to retain an option to bat for the pitcher had Plawecki tied things.

Such was the strategy. In the end, both Collins and Familia agreed, the Mets' loss came down to their closer not making pitches when he needed to.

"I just didn't have it today," Familia said, the Mets' clubhouse quiet after another defeat that squelched a run of good vibes for them.