Mets pitchers allowed four home and 14 hits on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. But the worst sign for the Mets' staff on a very bad day at the office happened in the eighth inning, when Oliver Perez took the mound.
Perez, who has been persona-non-grata at Citi Field since he refused to accept a minor-league assignment in May, sets foot on the mound only when the Mets are out of pitchers or getting blown out.
The latter was the case on Sunday. Perez entered the game in the eighth with the Mets down, 10-1.
Perez allowed four earned runs on five hits in two innings to end a miserable afternoon for the Mets. He walked one and threw one wild pitch. He threw 28 of his 47 pitches for strikes. After the appearance, Perez insisted that he wears the Mets uniform "with honor" -- a comment that is sure to draw the ire of the Flushing faithful.
Jerry Manuel said the lefty reliever -- in the second year of a three-year, $36 million contract -- is in a "tough situation."
"Well it’s tough, he’s in a tough spot not getting the reps that (are) needed to gain confidence to compete," Manuel said. "He did go out and throw strikes for the most part (on Sunday) but right now he’s just in a tough, tough situation."
Perez, who was booed lustily after allowing an RBI single to Mark Reynolds in the eighth, said that he would continue to try and pitch through his problems. He added that he didn't want to pitch for another organization.
"I have to keep working. Keep working and I’m (not going to) give up. I think this is (baseball). Sometimes it’s tough and you have to be a real man and get better," Perez said. "... I’m here and trying to do everything to win. That’s why I’m here.
"... For me, when I wear this uniform I play with honor. I try to do the best."
ROTATION SPINNING: Prior to Sunday's game, Manuel said that Jon Niese would start on Friday night in Philadelphia if he pitched well against the Diamondbacks. That move would allow Hisanori Takahashi to pitch out of the bullpen for the Mets' three-game road series in Atlanta and Philadelphia this week.
Niese then proceeded to allow two three-run homers to Adam LaRoche in the fourth and fifth innings, leaving the Mets in a 6-1 hole. In all, Niese (7-5, 3.78 ERA) allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against Arizona. It was the left-hander's first loss since a July 16th defeat at San Francisco, a game the Mets lost, 1-0.
Manuel wasn't ready to pronounce Niese as Friday night's starter after his rough start against the Diamondbacks.
"We’ll have to sit down and talk with (pitching coach Dan Warthen) and talk with (bullpen coach Randy Niemann) … and then make a decision," Manuel said.
Niese made it clear that he didn't want to be skipped.
"Obviously I want to be out there every five days," he said. "I feel good, and if I feel good I want to be out there."
BEL TOILS: Manuel spent a few minutes talking to Carlos Beltran about hitting before Sunday's game. Beltran was batting just .204 entering the series finale against Arizona. He raised his averge to .218 (12-for-55) with a pinch-hit single through the right side in the ninth inning.
"I know he's not confident, I know he's not seeing the ball well," Manuel said before Beltran's pinch-hit, adding that the Mets center fielder had "fundamental flaws" in his swing.
Beltran, who hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of the Mets' 5-4 win on Saturday, didn't want to use the fact that he missed three months recovering from athroscopic knee surgery as an excuse for his slow start through 16 games.
"I’m not here to put any excuses on saying I’m not ready," Beltran said after Saturday's game. "No, no. I’m here because I’m ready."
BAY HEADACHES 'PERSISTENT': Manuel said he hasn't talked to Jason Bay since the left fielder went on the disabled list on July 26 with what the team is calling a "mild concussion." Manuel said trainer Ray Ramirez told him that Bay's "headaches are still persistent." The manager said Bay would be re-evaluated in the coming days ... Manuel also said reliever Sean Green would have to have back-to-back strong outings at Triple-A Bufallo before the Mets would consider calling him back to the big leagues. Green allowed one run on two hits in a one-inning relief appearance on Saturday night. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since April 8 with a strained muscle on his right side.