Another Oliver Perez start; another bad night. Here’s how I wrote it:
LOS ANGELES _ On the bright side, Oliver Perez didnâ€™t give up many of those excruciating painful pull-out-your hair walks.
Instead, he settled for giving up those annoying home runs.
Perez gave up three, making for a quicker, less agonizing defeat, 5-1, last night to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At first, manager Willie Randolph, standing in a cramped hallway outside the Metsâ€™ clubhouse, said, “I thought he pitched fairly well,â€™â€™ then modified that to, “he was better than last time,â€™â€™ and eventually, “it was a fair outing.â€™â€™
Before the clearly frustrated manager was done, Randolph said, “heâ€™s in my rotation and will stay there until we deem that we have to make a change.â€™â€™
Inside, pitching coach Rick Peterson dressed quickly and left without comment, leaving Perez to explain the homers to Rafael Furcal, Blake DeWitt and Matt Kemp.
“I did everything I can,â€™â€™ Perez said. “It happens. Sometimes I make mistakes and they hit it.â€™â€™
“Itâ€™s all about focus with him,â€™â€™ Randolph said. “I donâ€™t want to beat it to death.â€™â€™
Focus, no doubt, is getting ahead 0-and-2 to Furcal before throwing a lame slider that was crushed.
“In that case, no,â€™â€™ Randolph said, when asked if Perez focused.
Perez was coming off a 1 2/3-inning meltdown in which he walked five and gave up seven runs in a 13-1 loss to Pittsburgh that prompted closer Billy Wagner to rip the potentially talented, but frequently easily-hit left-hander who hopes to capitalize big in the free-agent market this winter.
Wagner said with the bullpen being overworked Perez needed to give the Mets innings and carry some of the load.
Randolph wasnâ€™t happy Wagner took Perez to task through the papers, but when asked which was the greater issue, Wagner speaking up or Perezâ€™s pitching, he didnâ€™t hesitate to say the latter.
Prior to the game, Randolph said he hadnâ€™t given up on Perez and his sub-two inning stint against the Pirates was an aberration.
Was it really?
Perez gave the Mets six innings last night, but also put them in a hole their sputtering offense couldnâ€™t escape.
The Dodgers added another run in the first on Russell Martinâ€™s RBI single, then blew the game open with three in the fifth on DeWittâ€™s homer and Kempâ€™s two-run drive.
When their offense is clicking, five runs is a doable deficit from which the Mets can rally.
However, with how theyâ€™ve played lately, they made Chad Billingsley _ he of the 1-4 record and 5.20 ERA going in _ appear invincible.
They had their chances to make a game of it long before Moises Alouâ€™s cosmetic RBI in the sixth.
The Mets left five runners in the first four innings, including four in scoring position.
They had runners on second and third with one out in the second, but Brian Schneider struck out and Luis Castillo grounded to third. Jose Reyes was left on third in the third, and Carlos Delgado was stranded on second to end the fourth.
“It was one of those games where we had opportunities,â€™â€™ Alou said. “But, we didnâ€™t come up with the key hit. If we couldâ€™ve come up with some clutch hits it could have been a different game.â€™â€™
Instead, it was the same old story.
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