Mets Lose Fifth In Row As Season Begins To Slip Away

Published on: 24th July, 2012

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New York – It can now be safely said the Mets ship be sinking. After tonight’s 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals slipped them further into playoff oblivion, it appears we are seeing a replay of last season, when all that was left for the team by the end of July were meaningless games to play.

R.A. Dickey, on whom so much is counted on, started tonight’s game hoping not to continue his recent spate of poorly pitched games. The 13-2 knuckleballer has been sterling most of the season but over his last four outings, his earned run average was 5.19. Unfortunately, Dickey did not get back on track tonight, blowing up in the sixth inning when the Nationals broke the game open with four runs to take a 5-1 lead.

Dickey ended up pitching six innings, allowing eight hits and five runs (four earned). The big blow in that fateful sixth was Adam LaRoche’s two run homer, sent far into the upper deck. You could feel the air go out of the Mets collective psyches at that moment.

The Mets have now lost five games in a row, and 11th in their last 12 games. Manager Terry Collins is searching for answers.

“Right now, we’ve got to figure out something,” said Collins. “We’re not a bad team, we’re just playing bad. We’re not pitching, we need to make pitches. We’re not hitting when we need to get a hit. We’re not making a play when we need to make a play. We’re not coaching. We’re not managing. We’re not doing anything right, right now.”

Gio Gonzalez, he of the 12-5 record coming in and in serious consideration for the National League’s Cy Young award, started tonight for Davey Johnson’s first place club which is now firmly in control in the National League’s East Division, leading the Braves by 4 ½ games and the Mets by a whopping 10 ½ games.

Gonzalez pitched as advertised, controlling the Mets lineup with his pinpoint control and 93mph heater. Gonzalez pitched seven tidy innings, allowing just two hits and no earned runs while striking out four. He seemed to be having a very fun evening out on the mound, playing catch with his catcher, Jesus Flores as Mets batters flailed at most of his offerings.

The only bright spot for the Mets was the continued pinch-hitting expertise of one Jordany Valdespin, who set a franchise record tonight by hitting his fifth pinch-hit home run of the season. The record was formerly held by Mark Carreon (1989) and Danny Heep (1983). Valdespin has hit in 13 of his last 17 games, compiling a .413 batting average with five home runs and 11 RBI. He may not be far from claiming an everyday spot in the lineup.

Jason Bay, in case anyone is wondering, went 0 for 2 with a throwing error and is now hitting .182. Collins did say he was going to be patient with him, though, hoping his limited at bats this season is the reason behind Bay’s futility. At the post-game press conference, no one asked Collins if the past two and a half years of disappointment could also be a direct result of not enough at bats.

The pressure on Dickey is immense now, with the need for a Mets pitcher to stop the bleeding of this losing streak. His E.R.A. in his last seven games is 5.36 (24 earned runs, 40.1 innings pitched). In comparison, over his first 14 starts of the season, covering 98.2 innings pitched, Dickey only allowed 22 earned runs.

“There’s a lot on his shoulders right now, with Johan (Santana) being out,” Collins said. “Right now, he’s the guy and it’s a big responsibility. He’s pitched great all year long but we have to rally around him and we have to figure out who in that locker room is willing to grind it out.”

The Mets hope help is on the way in the person of minor league phenom, Matt Harvey, who has been brought up from Triple-A Buffalo and will be making his first major league start this Thursday in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. The kid throws hard but hasn’t quite harnessed his command or his control at the minor league level. The Mets have to hope Harvey doesn’t experience the same rude awakening that the big club has gone through these past two weeks.

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