Mets closer blows second save since break, although New York wins in 10th
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- The Mets had been 43-1 when leading after eight innings this year, a testament to how dominant and valuable Jeurys Familia proved himself over the season's first four months. They are 44-1 in such situations after salvaging Sunday's 3-2 win over the Dodgers. That in spite of Familia, who blew his second save of the second half after converting 27 of 29 chances in the first.
"He knows he's not making pitches he made earlier," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Look, he's been out there three times in 10, 12 days. It's kind of understandable. We have to keep him going out there and in the groove as best we can. Even if they aren't saves we have to get him some innings."
Collins raised eyebrows Saturday when he brought Familia into a 15-2 game in the ninth inning. In Collins' mind, it was an attempt to keep Familia sharp for when his typically lockdown services were more direly needed. That was the case Sunday, when Collins called on Familia in the eighth inning to preserve a 2-0 lead.
With a runner on second and two outs, Familia replaced starter Jacob deGrom and retired Joc Pederson to end the eighth. Then in the ninth, things got messy, with Familia allowing three straight hits to the heart of the Dodgers' order. After doubles from Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner, catcher Yasmani Grandal provided the dagger. His opposite-field single -- on a 100-mph sinker -- scored pinch-runner Carl Crawford to send the game to extras.
"I left a couple of pitches in the middle," Familia said. "Sometimes my sinker doesn't do the same thing every time"
On Saturday, Grandal praised the steps Familia took to improve his control from last season and grab onto the closer's role. Familia decreased his walk rate significantly this season.
"I faced Familia last year and I was going to let him walk me," Grandal said. "He was basically throwing hard with sink but he was all over the place. I've been watching him this year, too, and he's basically been a different guy."
On Sunday -- as was the case July 19 in St. Louis, when Familia was unable to convert his first save of the second half -- he may have thrown one strike too many.
Collins rode Familia in the first half, particularly before relievers Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia returned. His four saves of more than one inning are tied for the second most in the Majors and he's second in the National League with 38 games finished.
"I'm not tired," Familia said. "Everybody has a bad game. I've had a couple bad games, but I'm not tired."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.