PHILADELPHIA -- New York Mets manager Terry Collins never wants to hang one of his players out to dry. He knows how predecessor Jerry Manuel got in trouble in his own clubhouse with his pointed comments in the media. So after the Phillies routed the Mets 10-3 on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, Collins pointed his finger at himself for the defeat.
Looking to protect his players, Collins second-guessed allowing himself to be talked into starting Mike Pelfrey as the right-hander recovered from an illness. Collins also blamed himself and other decision-makers for using Dillon Gee in relief, a role Gee had not been given professionally in the regular season since 2007 with the Class-A Brooklyn Cyclones, the year Gee was drafted out of Texas-Arlington.
Collins had planned to start Gee and push back Pelfrey out of this series, until Pelfrey convinced him otherwise. Gee relieved Pelfrey in the middle of the fifth inning. Each ultimately was charged with four runs.
"It was my fault," Collins said. "I write the lineup. I didn't need to pitch him. I had a little concern there might be a problem. I know better than that. ... It was my responsibility to take charge of that and I sent him out there."
Pelfrey had eaten a full three meals on Thursday for the first time in at least a week and had dropped 11 pounds. Still, Pelfrey would not take his manager's alibi.
"I'm not going make any excuses," said Pelfrey, who actually lowered his career ERA at Citizens Bank Park to 9.38. "I felt fine. When I left the ball over the middle of the plate, they hit it obviously."
As for Gee, Collins made it sound like the right-hander needs to go into the rotation somewhere -- be that at the major league level or Triple-A Buffalo.
"You'd like to put guys in positions where they're most comfortable," Collins said. "And we're asking this guy to do something probably today that he wasn't comfortable with."
Asked if that meant Buffalo or the major league rotation, Collins answered: "Until I talk with [GM] Sandy [Alderson] and see what our options are going to be ... "
The manager did not complete that thought, but then added: "He's a real good pitcher. What you saw in that one inning is not Dillon Gee. That's for sure."
It was the 18th slam surrendered by Mets pitching since the last one hit by the Amazin's, on Aug. 1, 2009, by Angel Pagan. Howard had two homers and six RBIs -- becoming the first Phillie to drive in that many runs against the Mets since Von Hayes in a 26-7 rout in 1985.
Meanwhile, wasn't Phillies starter Vance Worley supposed to be the gimmee, before Roy Halladay on Saturday and Cliff Lee on Sunday? Well, things don't always follow a script. Or maybe they do, because it historically never has been easy for the Amazin's against pitchers who have yet to establish themselves.
Back on June 18, 2002, a young and then-unknown pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, making his 12th major league start, limited the Mets to one run in six innings in his team's 6-1 win at Shea Stadium. I sarcastically wrote in the newspaper after that game: Johan Santana -- yes, that Johan Santana -- shut down the Mets. (One of Santana's agents still remembers.)
What Worley did on Friday night -- six scoreless innings in a 10-3 rout of Pelfrey and the Mets -- had plenty of precedent among pitchers with his level of major league experience. The 23-year-old Worley actually became the 18th pitcher in MLB history to toss six-plus scoreless innings against the Mets in one of his first six major league appearances. The group also includes Brandon Webb in 2003 and Pedro Astacio in 1992.
"I'd like to see him again," Collins said.
Now, the Mets have lost their last two games at Citizens Bank Park by scores of 11-0 and 10-3, with the three runs coming on inconsequential ninth-inning homers by Ike Davis and Jason Pridie on Friday. And Halladay and Lee loom.