New York Mets lefty specialists Mike O’Connor and Tim Byrdak let starter Mike Pelfrey and the rest of their teammates down on Saturday night -- and they knew it.
O’Connor allowed a stolen base to Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and a game-tying RBI single to second baseman Chase Utley, while Byrdak gave up the go-ahead two-run double to first baseman Ryan Howard in the top of the eighth inning, as the Mets went on to lose to the Phillies, 5-2, at Citi Field.
New York Mets
“It sucks,” said Byrdak. “Mike pitched his [guts out] Saturday, plain and simple. We needed to get the job done and we didn’t do it.”
“I feel like we let Mike down,” O’Connor said. “He pitched great, and to go out there, throw four pitches and let the game get away stinks for everybody.
“If I could take back the pitch I would, but I can’t.”
Pelfrey left with a 2-1 lead after throwing a season-high-tying 7 2/3 innings, but O’Connor and Byrdak couldn’t hold it.
“They get that final out 99 out of 100 times,” Pelfrey said.
Unfortunately, this was the one time they didn’t.
O’Connor was told to keep Rollins, who had singled, close to first base. But after getting two strikes on Utley, O’Connor forgot about him.
“Well, we told him on the mound if he throws over, throw over multiple times. Not just one time,” manager Terry Collins said. “And they were waiting for me to put it on. I should've put it on a couple more times, for sure.”
But he didn’t, and Rollins swiped second, moving into scoring position for Utley, who got a curveball from O’Connor that stayed up and floated it into center to tie the game at 2.
“It was a poorly executed pitch,” O’Connor said. “I just left it up.”
Right-hander Jason Isringhausen came in to face third baseman Placido Polanco but walked him after Utley advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Ronny Paulino, who was trying to nab Utley stealing second.
Byrdak, who had given up eight hits in 30 at-bats against left-handed hitters (.267), came in to face Howard, fell behind 2-0 and was forced to throw a get-me-over slider for a strike, which Howard laced into right-field, scoring both Utley and Polanco and giving the Phillies a two-run lead they’d never relinquish.
“If I knew [Tim] was going to hang it, I wouldn’t have have him throw it in that situation,” Collins said. “He had to have it down and he left it up.”
The Mets’ bullpen, which had been the linchpin of the team earlier in the season, has now surrendered 24 earned runs in its past 17 1/3 innings (12.46 ERA) -- including seven earned runs in its past two games, both losses.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Mets have lost consecutive home games when leading entering the eighth inning for the first time since August, 2005 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“When you pitch at this level you’ve got to make pitches or execute in certain situations,” Collins said. “Especially against a team as good as they are.”