It's never enjoyable to watch the Mets lose to the Yankees, but it's particularly irritating when the deciding factor in the game is bullpen mismanagement.
At its outset, the game had the makings of a pitchers' duel, but neither R.A. Dickey nor CC Sabathia was great on Sunday night in Queens. Dickey allowed five runs in six innings, and Sabathia yielded five, four of which were unearned because of the timing of the Yankees' shoddy defense, in five-and-two-thirds innings.
The Yankees had struck first with a four-run third inning and tacked on a run in the fifth, but with one run in the third and one in the fifth, the Mets kept the game within reach. Dickey scored the Mets' run in the fifth on a David Wright single that required him to slide through the Yankees' catcher to reach the plate. He did so without hesitation and scored.
Down three in the sixth inning, the Mets tied the game, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Kirk Nieuwenhuis entered the game as a pinch hitter and struck out to put an end to the Mets' best threat to take a lead in the game. In the process of tying the game, Vinny Rottino had hit for Dickey, which meant the team's fate would rest upon the shoulders of its woeful, Frank Francisco-less bullpen.
Terry Collins called up Miguel Batista to pitch the seventh inning. With the score even at five, it was a questionable move, but Batista set down Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez in order. The Mets failed to score in the bottom of the inning, but Batista remained in the game to pitch the eighth. Due up for the Yankees were Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher. With Tim Byrdak, the Mets' best option for retiring left-handed opponents, watching from the bullpen, Batista served up a solo home run to Cano, the Yankees' best left-handed hitter.
Although Batista surprisingly got out of the eighth without giving up another run, the Mets were not able to score in the bottom of the inning when Andres Torres reached third with two outs. Bobby Parnell pitched a one-two-three ninth inning to give the Mets the best shot at coming back again in the ninth, but Lucas Duda's two-out single against Rafael Soriano was all the Mets would muster up in their final inning.
There's no guarantee that the Mets would have won the game had different decisions been made, but the obvious choice between Batista and Byrdak to pitch the eighth inning makes this one sting a little bit more. The intolerable Yankees and ESPN broadcast certainly didn't help.
The Mets travel to Wrigley Field to begin a three-game set against the helpless Cubs tomorrow night at 8:05 pm EDT. Johan Santana is set to take the mound for the Mets, while the Cubs will trot out Travis Wood.
SB Nation Coverage
* Traditional Recap
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Pinstripe Alley Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Andres Torres, +30.0% WPA
Big losers: R.A. Dickey, -24.3% WPA, Miguel Batista, -12.1% WPA, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, -10.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Andres Torres's two-run single in the sixth, +19.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Robinson Cano's go-ahead home run in the eighth, -25.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -33.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -16.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Robinson Cano