PHOENIX - Forget about Jeff Wilpon’s vote of confidence back in June. Injuries or not, if the Mets continue to play the way they did in Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Diamondbacks, any purge at the end of this season could include Jerry Manuel.
Manuel can’t afford many more brain-dead nights like this one at Chase Field, where the Diamondbacks made his club looks like it belonged in Buffalo or Binghamton. The manager knows it, too.
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After seeing Daniel Murphy fail to cover first base on a routine double play grounder, as well as a handful of other block-headed stunts, Manuel took a few of those players aside following the game and delivered a wake-up call.
The manager said those conversations were “private,” but it wasn’t difficult to figure out that the mild-tempered Manuel was quite upset with his team’s showing.
“We were a bad team tonight,” Manuel said. “We didn’t pitch well. They had a couple hustle plays on us that are unacceptable that we addressed. They were throwing to bases and there was nobody there.
“Very poor game, poor effort on our part, very poor effort. Despite maybe not having what we’d like to have, still this is the major leagues and we have to perform better than this. We have to do a better job.”
With Omar Minaya taking most of the heat this season for the Mets’ lack of organizational depth – along with his news conference meltdown – the crosshairs could soon find Manuel, who is only signed through 2010.
The Mets have 10 players on the disabled list, including five former All-Stars. But even with the team out of contention, it’s still reflects badly on Manuel that they can’t muster a big-league effort over the final two months. The Mets already are 1-4 on this road trip.
“For us to win, we have to be able to execute and do the small things right,” David Wright said. “We didn’t do a very good job of doing that tonight. Throwing to the wrong bases, kind of being careless with what we were doing with the baseball.
“The physical errors are going to happen. But when you relax a little mentally and don’t think out there that’s when you get yourself in trouble. So we’re going to have to clean that up.”
Manuel blamed some of that on fatigue, and in the case of Wright, he’s going to get Tuesday off. But the manager was ticked off that some of his players didn’t have their heads in the game and also delivered a veiled threat at those trying to keep their jobs.
“What we have to do on this side of the table is we have to put people out there that we think have an understanding of the game a little better than we did tonight,” Manuel said.
“This is also a time of evaluation going forward. You got to say, hey, does this fit or does this not fit, and you have to react and respond accordingly.”
Of all the dismal performances on Monday, it seemed that only Mike Pelfrey had a decent excuse. Blame it on the pressures of being a first-time father.
Pelfrey (8-8) allowed eight hits and five runs over six innings in suffering his fourth loss in five starts. Among the lowlights: A two-run double to the pitcher, Doug Davis, with two outs in the second inning. Pelfrey slipped to 0-4 in five career starts against the D-Backs and 0-3 in Arizona.
“I guess it’s fitting that I named my kid Chase and my first loss is at Chase Field,” Pelfrey said.
Pelfrey skipped his scheduled turn on Saturday because of his son’s birth and flew to Phoenix on Sunday – arriving just in time for the following night’s start against the Diamondbacks.
The Mets didn’t see the long layoff as a problem. Pelfrey had last pitched on Aug. 2, which was a 5-3 loss to Arizona, and squeezed in two side sessions.
But the Diamondbacks soon gave Pelfrey something else to worry about, starting with slugger Mark Reynolds, who sparked a second inning rally by playing small-ball. Reynolds led off with a broken-bat single fielded deep in the hole by Anderson Hernandez – the shattered bat prevented Wright from cutting it off – and then stole second.
“I looked at the ball and saw the bat coming,” Wright said. “I love Pelfrey to death, but I’m not going to take a jagged bat for him. It’s tough trying to dodge a bat and catch a baseball at the same time. I got a little distracted with bat coming at me.”
Miguel Montero followed with an RBI double, and two outs later, Pelfrey intentionally walked Augie Ojeda for a shot at Davis, a career .082 hitter. But Davis had bumped his average up to .146 (6-for-41) this season and he slapped a first-pitch fastball for a two-run double.