In what started out as another gutsy performance by Livan Hernandez and the Mets backup players turned into a meltdown in the eighth inning as the Mets squandered an early 5-0 lead to lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-5.
The Mets were cruising along, scoring runs in the second and third innings. Fernando Martinez, Jeremy Reed and Wilson Valdez combined for five hits, four runs and three RBI. The problem with the offense was with starters David Wright, Gary Sheffield, Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy, who went a combined 0-for-15 at the plate.
Still, the Mets were leading 5-3 in the eighth inning when Pedro Feliciano pitched his second inning of work, allowing a lead-off double. He got a ground out. Then JJ Putz came into the game and proceeded to allow four straight hits. Valdez, a usually solid defensively player, made an error when he lost the handle on the ball during a transfer to start a possible double play.
None of the balls was hit particularly hard but they were just enough to get the job done. Putz, who was tinkering with his mechanics before the game, was tagged with four runs, three earned. It was his second straight rough outing.
Hernandez pitched well enough, going 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs. It wasn’t as good as his last outing in which he pitched a complete game, but it should’ve been more than enough. This was exactly what the Mets didn’t need. Luckily, Johan Santana pitches Tuesday.
Another note of concern is that Sheffield clearly isn’t running well, so there is some concern that his legs might be a little worn out, which is probably why he played in right field instead of left.