The Mets bullpen cost them another game on Tuesday night, as Wilmer Font blew a 5-2 sixth inning lead in the 7-5 loss to the Phillies.
Walker Lockett, making his second start for the Mets, gave them five strong innings, allowing just two runs through those first five frames. Mickey Callaway sent Lockett back out in the sixth, and after he allowed runners to reach second and third with one away, Callaway went to bullpen, bringing in Font.
Thought he'd given the Mets quality outings of late, Font allowed both inherited runners to score on ground balls, and then allowed a pair of home runs to Maikel Franco and Brad Miller. He allowed three earned runs of his own and saw his ERA rise to 5.26.
"He came in with runners in scoring position, second and third, one out, got two ground balls," Callaway said after the game. "The second ground ball just didn't end up being an out, which would have gotten us out of the inning with the lead. Once those two guys score, you give up back-to-back homers. He's been pitching so good. I wanted to put him in and see if he could get the ball to [Edwin] Diaz."
This latest poor outing from the bullpen negated a solid start by Lockett, who rebounded nicely from his rough debut in Chicago. His final line read four earned runs allowed in 5.1 innings of work with four strikeouts, but he pitched better than the box score denotes.
He now has an 11.74 ERA in his two starts, but Callaway was pleased with tonight's start.
"I was very pleased with the way he threw the ball," said Callaway. "Last game he came out like gangbusters in the first two innings and then really struggled in the third and things just spiraled out of control after he got a couple guys on. Tonight, he did a better job. He kept on throwing the ball over the plate. I thought he and [Wilson] Ramos were on the same page … They did a great job, and it was good to see out of Walker."
The Mets are now a season-worst six games under .500, and the bullpen deficiencies have been a big reason for team's struggles. The bullpen as a collective group now has an ERA of 7.44 in June, though Callaway remains optimistic that the pen can get back on track.
"You do expect it to level off. You would have hoped it would have leveled off by now," said Callaway. "It hasn't' so we've got to keep on working, keep on fighting. Those guys have to keep on going out there and throwing the ball over the plate and giving themselves a chance.
"It will even out. We have enough talent where it will even out. It's going to be better than what it's been. That's just the law of averages, but it hasn't been and it makes it tough."