For all the roles Daisuke Matsuzaka has filled this season, it's too bad for the Mets that he can't function in two simultaneously. Or that there aren't two of him.
Perhaps if Dice-K the reliever had entered in the eighth inning Monday night, he would have been able to help secure the win for Dice-K the starter.
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Alas, the technology doesn't exist.
Instead, the Mets' bullpen endured a mini-meltdown when Matsuzaka gave way after seven scoreless innings against the Braves. What had been a strong pitching performance and a two-run lead quickly came undone when Vic Black, Josh Edgin and Jenrry Mejia coughed up three runs in the eighth.
The Mets did rally, as Curtis Granderson's two-out homer tied it at 3 in the bottom of the inning, and Ruben Tejada's walk-off single drove in Juan Lagares in the 11th for a dramatic 4-3 victory at Citi Field. Carlos Torres pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.
"It was great that we got the walk-off,'' Black said, "but you do feel a little disappointed that we gave up the lead, especially for Dice-K, seeing how well he pitched.''
The bullpen's one-inning falter denied Matsuzaka a victory in what was the righthander's longest and most impressive outing as a Met.
He began the season as a reliever -- and pitched to a 2.22 ERA in 17 appearances in a number of bullpen roles -- before joining the rotation last month.
He struggled against Atlanta last Tuesday, allowing five earned runs in five innings, but blanked the Braves Monday night and handed a 2-0 lead over to a bullpen whose collective 3.17 ERA was seventh-best in the majors. This time, though, the relievers provided little relief.
"We go out there with a plan of stopping the other team, and that's typically the case,'' Black said, "but tonight we didn't execute pitches when we needed.''
Freddie Freeman laced a one-out double off Black and advanced to third on Justin Upton's groundout. The Mets then brought in lefthander Edgin to face lefthanded-hitting Jason Heyward, and he fired a wild pitch that allowed Freeman to score.
When Heyward singled, the Mets called on Mejia, their closer. He promptly served up a tying RBI double by Chris Johnson. After Tommy La Stella was intentionally walked, Christian Bethancourt blooped a single to right that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead.
Mejia, to his credit, rebounded to pitch a scoreless ninth. Torres, in catcher Travis d'Arnaud's words, "settled everything down'' after entering in the 10th.
"I would have liked to get the win, but I pitched well enough to give us a chance to win, and we did,'' Matsuzaka said through his translator. "That's the most important thing.''