The eighth-inning role continues to be a gloomy game of musical chairs for Mets manager Jerry Manuel. Just one night after it seemed Hasinori Takahashi could be the next best option as Mets’ setup man, he entered Wednesday night’s contest with New York up 2-1 and put men on first and second after getting two quick outs.
Manuel called on flamethrower Manny Acosta to be the finisher and he was anything but that. Acosta threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners into scoring position, encouraging him to intentionally walk star Troy Tulowitzki. Melvin Mora – remembered by Mets fans for his versatile play for New York in 2000 – made Acosta pay by jacking a grand slam, the ninth the Mets have surrendered this season. Acosta left the game without recording an out. The inning ended with the Mets down 6-2, which remained the final score.
The poor performance of the bullpen looks even worse now that the team will be without K-Rod, who was arrested after the game for getting into a violent altercation with his father-in-law.
After Mora’s grand slam, fans booed and some tried to start a feeble "Fire Jerry!" chant aimed at Manuel.
“We thought that once we got to a certain point, we would find that [eighth-inning guy], but we've yet to solve that, to be honest with you," Manuel told reporters after the game. "We're trying to mix and match, trying to use who we think is the best possible matchup for us, and it just hasn't worked out for us.”
Jonathan Niese turned in another stellar performance, allowing one run in seven innings. Manuel told reporters he asked Niese if he could go back out to pitch the eighth inning, but the lefty told the coaching staff that his hamstring, which put him on the disabled list earlier in the year, was beginning to tighten up. Manuel’s was left with the bullpen as his best option.
The bullpen has been relied on heavily in August. The Mets have been held to three runs or fewer in seven of its nine games this month.