- Last Updated: 8:26 AM, July 18, 2012
- Posted: 2:03 AM, July 18, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Mets went from celebrating Jordany Valdespin to just another night of sit and spin.
If manager Terry Collins consistently awakens at 4 a.m. scarred by the same nightmare, it’s understandable. The shoddiest bullpen in the major leagues is only getting worse.
Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak and Pedro Beato handled the honors last night, rendering Valdespin’s go-ahead, ninth-inning home run a distant afterthought in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to the Nationals in 10 innings.
Bryce Harper — the rookie who earlier this season answered a reporter’s inquiry with the now famous line, “That’s a clown question, bro,” — tripled home the tying run in the 10th against Byrdak before Beato uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded that completed another clownish effort by the beleaguered bullpen.
Byrdak (2-1) created the jam by allowing a leadoff single to Jhonatan Solano before Harper’s triple tied it, and Byrdak intentionally loaded the bases with one out. Beato got the second out, but then buried a 1-2 curveball to Tyler Moore that Josh Thole couldn’t handle.
Thole’s double in the top of the inning had put the Mets ahead 4-3.
“It [stinks]. There is no other way to describe it,” Byrdak said. “These guys play their [butts] off for 10 innings and they deserved to win, numerous times in this game, we just didn’t get it done tonight as a bullpen and we need to do that.”
The latest meltdown came just hours after general manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets are buyers heading to the July 31 trading deadline, with the bullpen as the No. 1 focus. He might want to act sooner rather than later if he is serious.
“In terms of priorities [bullpen] is No. 1 on our list,” Alderson said. “You take the overall productivity of the bullpen and then take out Frank Francisco from that mix and look at what happened in Atlanta.”
He was referring to an 8-7 loss to the Braves on Saturday in which Parnell was summoned for a five-out save and blew it. Francisco, the team’s closer, remains on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.
Last night, Parnell blew his second straight save, allowing a run on three hits in the ninth. Danny Espinosa’s RBI single made it 3-3 after Jon Niese had given the Mets a chance by allowing one run over seven innings. Josh Edgin then allowed a run in the eighth.
“Coming off that break is tough,” Parnell said, referring to the All-Star break. “It’s tough for relief pitchers. We’re used to going out there two out of three days or whatever, but you just get out of rhythm.”
The Mets (46-44) lost their fifth straight — and sixth of seven — and fell to two games above .500, their lowest point since May 19. The five-game losing streak is their longest of the season.
The Mets appeared cooked until Valdespin’s three-run homer gave his team a 3-2 lead. Valdespin, pinch-hitting for Jason Bay, hit a shot against Tyler Clippard that struck a fan seated above the right-field fence and caromed onto the field. The call was upheld on replay, giving Valdepin his fifth homer.
In his return from the disabled list, Bay finished 0-for-3. That included grounding into a double play in the second inning against Ross Detwiler and hitting a weak fly ball in the seventh that failed to get David Wright home from third with one out. The Mets never scored in the inning.
“This division is so difficult and the schedule is not going to get any easier for us,” Wright said. “We’re right in the middle of divisional play. So far after the break we’ve failed that test and we’ve got to get things turned around.”