I got a sinking feeling when Jason Bay was up in the second inning with the bases loaded and one out. The pre-Met Jason Bay would have, at the very least, made solid contact to an outfielder and drove in the run from third. But the version of Jason Bay that wears orange and blue is completely useless. And thus, he struck out on outside slop from Andy Pettitte and set off a chain of events which ended with me drawing up plans to build a rocket ship and send Jason Bay to outer space to solve mysteries like Josie and the Pussycats when they went to outer space. Except in my version, the Pussycats would be the Mets bullpen ... except for Jon Rauch, who judging by the crazy look in his eyes and his post game rant needs to be "Bleep".
Maybe I overestimated the turning point. Perhaps it was when Terry Collins penciled him in the second spot in the lineup. But once he struck out in the second, I had a bad feeling that the game was lost right then and there. I've seen it happen before, especially against the Yankees (throw F%&@ing strikes, Soler!) And unfortunately, it's happening again. Well before Jon Rauch gave up a soul-crushing home run to Russell Martin to give the Yankees the whitewash in the first series between the two, Bay's strikeout predisposed this loss. Although I don't know what's worse, when players who stink like Bay cost you a game, or when a player who has performed at top levels all season helps cost you a game like when David Wright's throwing error with two outs in the seventh led to Martin's first home run which cut the Mets lead to 3-2. To me, those were the two plays that cost the Mets the final game of the series. It should have never come down to Rauch vs. Martin, or Bobby Parnell getting dinked and dunked to death in the eighth, or even Josh Thole leaving a runner on third with one out in the ninth. (But that was kinda the same thing as what Jason Bay did, just in a later inning.)
Because here's the deal: When do we go from outrage about Bay killing the Mets as he's done for three years to the point where we just watching him strike out and say "oh bless his heart, he's trying" (which is code for "he's terrible, isn't he?) And then at what point to we say "to hell with that bless his heart garbage" and go back to wondering just what the hell Jason Bay is doing here? And don't tell me "oh he's coming off flu-like symptoms, be nice." I've never known a damn flu to last three years. Look, the Mets got to eight games over .500 with good starting pitching, David Wright, and timely hitting from unlikely sources. The latter of those three you can't depend on all season. Two out run scoring hits from guys like Ronny Cedeno, Jordany Valdespin, Vinny Rottino, Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Nickeas, Omar Quintanilla and Scott Hairston isn't going to last all season. They need consistent production from guys who they expect to do it. Guys like Lucas Duda, who I'm going to disappoint you by telling you that he's just okay. Guys like Ike Davis who hasn't hit since spring training. And guys like Bay, who hasn't hit since spring training ... 2010 (.344, 4 HR's, 10 RBI).
As for Duda and Davis, they actually got the job done in the ninth, tying the game off of Rafael Soriano in the ninth with back-to-back doubles. But they need to do this often enough so that Wright doesn't get pitched around as he's been for the last couple of weeks. Davis needs to figure it out, and figure it out in the major leagues. What's the point of Davis going down to Buffalo so that he can hit some batting practice fastballs when his problem has been recognizing and laying off the slow stuff? If you want to send him to Buffalo, just give him extra BP in the cage because that will be the same thing as sending him to Buffalo. And Duda? He actually has hit safely in ten of the last 11 games so it would seem silly to say that Duda needs to be more consistent. But Duda can't go another whole month without hitting a home run or it's all over. He's okay. He's a serviceable player in that lineup. Not productive enough to make you forget about his defense, and not productive enough to make you forget that Bay and Davis stink to the proportion of the East River, much like the odor of the past week. But Davis, Duda, and perhaps Jason Bay (I say perhaps because I'm not even counting on him anymore) need to be better so that they can take a foothold in the lineup and leave guys like Hairston and Baxter on the bench where they're more productive, and that they don't have to depend on the Omar Quintanillas of the world to provide secondary offense.
The good thing is that this run of good teams on the schedule continues so the Mets have a chance to right the ship and impress people in the process. They've beaten good teams and good pitchers before, so the Rays and Reds can be had. Hopefully Bay and the Bullpen Cats will be solving mysteries in outer space by then.
Can I play optimist or a moment? Here goes:
1) After awful performances in Washington and at Yankee Stadium, they're still 3 games over .500, and only 4 games out. Can you believe that?!? It's a miracle. Let's enjoy the fact that we're still in it, and there's still something to watch, in mid-June mind you! Who'd a thunk that in the pre-season!
2) The past 5 games have further proven that Bay is done. He's moved closer to the bench. Who plays left - perhaps Valdespin?
3) There was no "douching" by Nick Swisher on either Saturday or Sunday. Yes, I think such behavior should officially be called "douching".