As if the Mets don’t have enough problems with injuries to Lucas Duda and David Wright, now it appears they are facing a crisis of confidence with closer Jeurys Familia. For the second straight game, Familia struggled badly, and unlike Friday night, when he blew a four-run lead but came away with a win, this time he turned a tie game into a 4-2 Dodgers win Sunday night at Citi Field.
Familia’s breakdown came on the heels of an uplifting eighth-inning Mets rally that tied the score at 2 after a long evening of futility against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who was lifted with two outs and Kevin Plawecki on first base. Curtis Granderson greeted lefthanded reliever Adam Liberatore with a tying triple.
But that joy was short-lived for a sellout crowd of 42,287 as Familia came on in the top of the ninth and struggled again. On Friday night, he blew a 5-1 lead before Granderson’s home run in the bottom of the ninth won it. This time Familia just flat blew it, allowing a two-run single by Adrian Gonzalez that gave the Dodgers the win.
Familia (2-1) surrendered a leadoff single to Kike Hernandez and walked Corey Seager and Justin Turner to load the bases with one out before Gonzalez stroked his game-winning hit. Familia got out of the inning with a double play, but the damage was done. The Mets could muster nothing against Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth.
Manager Terry Collins said Familia’s lack of command with his slider has hurt him the past two outings. “That’s where he lives and dies,” he said. “The one pitch that’s really hurting him is the slider to righthanders. He left one over the plate on the initial hit [by Hernandez]. He’s got a great sinker. I hate to see him rely on those off-speed pitches.”
Familia began the season with 16 saves in as many attempts. The last two times he entered were not save situations, but the magic has evaporated lately. He said his arm feels great and that he’s not fatigued.
“I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong,” Familia said. “I’m working on my slider and my sinker. The slider isn’t doing what I want it to do.”
Losing a chance to win a game that was dominated by Kershaw admittedly was hard. “It’s a little tough,” Familia said. “But I’m not perfect. We all make mistakes.”
Kershaw pitched 7 2⁄3 innings, giving up four hits, walking none and striking out 10. His only real mistake was a 1-and-2 curveball in the bottom of the sixth that Asdrubal Cabrera barely lifted over the left-centerfield wall to cut the Mets’ deficit to 2-1.
Mets starter Bartolo Colon (4-4) was his usual reliable self, but Mets nemesis Chase Utley, fresh off his five-RBI performance Saturday night, served Mets fans another dose of bile with a one-out single to right in the third for the Dodgers’ first hit. Utley moved to third on a single by Seager and scored on Turner’s forceout to make it 1-0.
Ironically, the play on which Utley scored was reviewed by the umpiring crew to determine if Seager had violated the slide rule implemented this year and nicknamed for Utley, who broke the leg of former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada with a slide. But the umpires ruled it was not a violation, and Utley’s run counted.
The Dodgers added another run in the fifth. After recording two quick outs, Colon surrendered three straight singles to Seager, Turner and Gonzalez, the last of which made it 2-0.
The Mets managed to wipe out that margin, but Familia’s failure made for a bitter end.
Notes & quotes: Wilmer Flores was activated from the disabled list and started at third base. Infielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room . . . Manager Terry Collins said pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who was ejected in the third inning Saturday night, might be available for an inning of relief on Tuesday night against the White Sox and will make his regular start on Friday night in Miami . . . Collins expects newly acquired first baseman James Loney to be in the lineup Tuesday night.