Though another Mets bullpen collapse is only part of last night’s story in Miami — also another episode in the Todd (Jones) Killings — the NY Post’s Kevin Kernan places blame squarely at the feet of management, if not a recent arrival from Chicago.
Disaster lurked in the right arm of Shingo Takatsu (above).
Still, Willie Randolph went with a gut feeling, the unorthodox move of calling on Takatsu, who had not pitched in the majors since July. It’s so easy to second-guess Randolph on this move, but keep in mind that the Mets’ bullpen has been a weak link since last winter, a problem that’s never been fixed.
That bullpen drove a stake into the heart of the Mets in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins at Dolphins Stadium last night. The Mets were on their way to a 4-2 victory as Kris Benson put together a masterful performance over six innings.
Benson tired in the seventh, and Randolph was forced to go to his pen. Game over. Season, most likely over.
With two on and one out, Juan Padilla came on and got Juan Pierre to fly to left for the second out. Padilla then committed the sin of walking Luis Castillo with two monster hitters coming up, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado, who had already crushed a two-run home run.
The bases were loaded and you just knew the Mets were about to fall from the tightrope they’ve been walking all season long.
Hoping that a “funky” look would throw off Cabrera, Randolph called on Takatsu, who didn’t fool anyone with the White Sox. Randolph could have gone to Roberto Hernandez, except Cabrera was hitting .583 lifetime against Hernandez with three home runs in 12 at-bats. Randolph said he didn’t look at the numbers. He just went by feel.
He could have turned to Heath Bell. But Cabrera had faced Bell five times and collected three hits off him. He could have stuck with Padilla, who retired Cabrera on a fly to center on Friday night. Randolph chose the short straw of Takatsu and paid dearly.
On a 2-1 phat pfastball, Cabrera lined a laser over the head of helpless Cliff Floyd in left and off the wall for a bases-clearing double.
How hard was this ball hit? Floyd said he was lucky it wasn’t hit right at him. Gone was the 4-2 lead in the blink of a bullpen.
GM Omar Minaya has many jobs in store this upcoming off-season, but Job No. 1 is to rebuild this bullpen. The Mets will never be true contenders until they have a bullpen they can trust.