Closing the Door Confounds the Mets

Francisco blows two leads in three games vs. Marlins

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, May 14, 2012  |  Updated 9:25 AM EDT
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The Frank Francisco treat was not in evidence.

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The Mets rolled into Miami this weekend on quite a little roll.

Five straight wins, a sweep of the Phillies and a growing reputation as a blue collar band of comeback kids who were winning games on spit, polish and David Wright's remarkable start to the season. It was a really fun week and it has been a really fun season as players like Wright, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis have flagged the flames of what had been a dying fire.

There are plenty of reasons why the Mets' start hasn't been a bigger story, from the Rangers to the Knicks to the fact that the record wasn't otherworldly good. But the biggest reason is probably the fact that there's still a lingering feeling that there's another shoe about to drop that ruins everything.

And, right on cue, Frank Francisco did everything he could to make you forget how much fun it had been to watch the Mets for the previous four games. He spit the bit on Friday night with a one-run lead in the ninth inning and blew a save for the second time this season.

Saturday's win was easy enough to keep Francisco out of sight, but Sunday was another chance for Francisco to push a black cloud into the middle of the sunny tableau that the Mets have been devising for themselves. Up 4-2 after scoring a pair in the top of the ninth off Marlins closer Heath Bell, the Mets then had to watch as Francisco imploded.

Francisco gave up a triple, a walk and a single to start the ninth, handing the Marlins a run and a golden chance for more before Terry Collins came to get Francisco.

He went out screaming and yelling at the home plate umpire, earning an ejection from a game Collins had already ejected him from, and Manny Acosta went on to give up a walk-off grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton for an 8-4 loss.

It could have been worse. At least Francisco didn't hit anyone with a chair this time.

When the Mets acquired Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez this offseason, the idea was that a deep bullpen would do a better job of protecting leads for a team that couldn't afford to blow leads. It's darkly ironic, then, that Francisco is pretty much personally responsible for the fact that the Mets aren't in first place.

Collins said he'll consider making a change with the closer job, which frankly seems like the bare minimum by way of reaction to what Francisco has done to this point in the season. The Mets opened the year with the need for a lot of things to break right for them and they've gotten a lot of those breaks in the first 34 games.

The bullpen hasn't worked out and there's no better way to ruin a nice start than to botch the finish. Let's hope games like Friday and Sunday aren't foreshadowing what will happen to the Mets season.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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