Mets morning briefing 7.18.12

WASHINGTON -- Jordany Valdespin's pinch-hit three-run homer in the ninth and Josh Thole's RBI double an inning later both put the Mets in position to win, but the Amazin's failed to close the game out each time and lost to the Nats, 5-4, in 10 innings Tuesday night. The Mets dropped to 0-4 in the second half with their fifth straight loss as their maligned bullpen surrendered four runs in 2 2/3 innings in relief of effective Jon Niese. Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak were charged with blown saves. Pedro Beato, who inherited the bases loaded from Byrdak, threw a game-ending wild pitch.

The Mets' bullpen ERA swelled to a National League-worst 5.00. GM Sandy Alderson said seeking relief help was the near-entirety of the Mets' trading-deadline focus. But if the GM waits until closer to the July 31 deadline to pull the trigger on a deal, it may be too late and not even make sense to consummate a swap anymore.

“We just didn’t get it done tonight as a bullpen,” said Byrdak, who surrendered the game-tying RBI triple to Bryce Harper in the 10th. “… Our job is to go in there and close the door. We didn’t do it. Hitting-wise, they came back. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They grinded it out for 27 outs. They got us the lead. And we didn’t do it as a bullpen.”

Said Terry Collins: “We’ve got to believe in them. We’ve got to trust them. We’ve got to give them the baseball. ... We’re going to have to hope next time out we have better results.”

Wednesday's news reports:

• The Mets have selected Miguel Batista over 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey for Saturday's start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Alderson suggested Harvey was likely to make his major league debut this season, and said his development trumps immediate needs of the major league club. The first weekend in August at spacious Petco Park, home of the light-hitting San Diego Padres, might be the time Harvey debuts.

As for the trade deadline, Alderson said starting pitching is not being pursued in earnest because of the exorbitant price. The GM added that a righty bat is a secondary concern as well. The focus, as Tuesday's game demonstrated a need for upgrading, is the bullpen.

During a pregame address with media Tuesday, Alderson also indicated top prospect Zack Wheeler should move soon from Double-A Binghamton to Triple-A Buffalo. Wheeler is not a consideration to pitch at the major league level this season, the GM added.

Writes columnist John Harper in the Daily News:

The day began with the decision not to promote Matt Harvey, which seemed well worth arguing against at the time. By the time the bullpen left the Mets staggering from the worst kind of loss, the Harvey decision barely seemed to matter. After all, it’s hard to say the Mets should bring up Harvey when their season is falling apart on them -- when their bullpen isn’t good enough to take them seriously as contenders.

Writes Tyler Kepner in the Times:

On the fringes of the pennant race in July 2004, the Mets traded a top starting prospect, Scott Kazmir, to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano. Kazmir was in the majors within a month and soon made two All-Star teams. Zambrano was a colossal flop. Shortly after that deal, the Mets went on a free-agent shopping spree that ended only when their mangled finances forced a change in direction. The last of the overpaid imports, Jason Bay, returned to the team on Tuesday after missing a month with a concussion. Alderson made it clear that for the money Bay makes -- $16.5 million per year, through next season -- he is expected to contribute. The team will not dip into its farm system to find someone to do it for him. ... “A right-handed bat is low on our list,” Alderson said. “Jason’s got to play a role, whether that’s just against left-handed pitching, I don’t know.”

Read more on Alderson's explanation of the Batista/Harvey decision in the Post, Newsday, Journal, Times and Record.

• The Mets have shown interest in Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, a major league source told ESPNNewYork.com. Read more in Newsday.

Dillon Gee, who was discharged from the hospital in St. Louis on Monday, said he hopes to resume throwing a baseball in six weeks. He recounted his scary shoulder-clot episode and revealed doctors could not even detect a pulse in his numb right arm the day after his final first-half start. Gee said his artery had been 96 percent blocked. During surgery Friday in St. Louis, a surgeon expanded the artery using a vein taken from Gee's groin. Read more in Newsday, the Star-Ledger, Record, Post and Daily News.

Jason Bay went 0-for-3 in his return from the disabled list following a concussion, and Collins pinch hit for him with Valdespin in the ninth inning. Bay said he could not quibble with Collins' decision. Omar Quintanilla was designated for assignment before the game to clear Bay's roster spot. Quintanilla must clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors. The Mets carried him this long on the major league roster while he went largely unused because they fear losing Quintanilla via the waiver process. Read more in the Post.

• Tuesday's loss left the Mets a season-high seven games behind the first-place Nationals, and 3½ games out of the second wild-card position, which is occupied by the Braves. Read game recaps in the Times, Post, Newsday, Record, Star-Ledger, Daily News and Journal.

Lucas Duda expects to return to the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since the second-half opener. Duda received a cortisone shot in his strained left hamstring in New York during Monday's off-day.

Mike Baxter served as the DH in both ends of a doubleheader for Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday night, on Day 3 of a rehab assignment as he returns from a displaced right collarbone.

Matt Tuiasosopo went 4-for-4 with three RBIs in Buffalo's 17-1 rout of Toledo. Robert Carson balked in the deciding run in the ninth in Binghamton's loss. Read Tuesday's full minor league recap here.

Chris Schwinden now recounts his four-organization tour of the minors via waiver claims in the Journal.

TRIVIA: Who was on third base and scored when D.J. Carrasco balked in the winning run in Atlanta last season?

Tuesday's answer: The last Met to homer against the Nationals' Ross Detwiler was Scott Hairston in the 12th inning on June 5, in a game Elvin Ramirez lost in the bottom half of that inning.