New York Daily News


Mets pitcher has wish that Sandusky verdict makes difference


CHICAGO — Two popups, two three-base errors, and one manager who found his dark prophecy realized.

The Mets arrived in Chicago at about 4:10 on Monday morning — that’s 5:10 New York time — following a Sunday night loss in Queens. They were cranky after a series loss to the Yankees, feeling an urgent need to storm through the 13 games preceding the AllStar break, but afraid of an energy drain after a full subway weekend.

“An absolutely brutal trip in here last night,” Terry Collins said, crusty from sleep and win deprivatio­n. With interleagu­e play over for the year, the manager views the stretch of games that began with Monday night’s 6-1 loss to the Cubs as crucial and dangerous.

“This is when you can have a real hiccup, and we’re going to try to avoid that,” he said before the game. “I’m really concerned with tonight because of the weekend series — all the hoopla, all the excitement, all the adrenaline. Those guys are absolutely out of gas today, so we’re going to see if we can rise the energy up a little bit.”

They could not. Later, asked if his prediction had become mainifest, Collins said, “It was. We were a little flat . . . They’re human beings, and the adrenaline can knock you down for a while.”

This loss was marked for the entire night by deadness, except for Johan Santana’s six-inning, two-run performanc­e — and Santana flew in Sunday, ahead of his team. Nowhere was this punchiness more evident than in the seventh inning, pockmarked as it was by three errors.

The first two were all-timers. A leadoff popup by Adrian Cardenas just a few feet in front of home plate. David Wright charges, and muffs it. Cardenas on third.

“I just misjudged the wind,” Wright said.

Two batters later, Darwin Barney sends a popup to shallow right. Lucas Duda charges, and yes, muffs it. Cardenas scores, Barney lands on third.

There was more: a third error, this one a sharp grounder that bounced off Ronny Cedeno’s glove. By then, the night had fulfilled Collins’ bleak prediction of an sleepy evening, but the Cubs were not finished. They still had hitting to do, and runs to score, in what became a four-run inning.

It was a much different game through the first three frames, when pitchers dominated. Behind lefty Travis Wood, the Cubs assumed a lead in the fourth, after Santana issued a two-out walk to Geovany Soto, then surrendere­d a home run to Joe Mather.

The Mets were only able to scatter random hits, without assembling a rally. They came close in the seventh, with two on and two outs, but Justin Turner flied out to end the mini-threat. Their lone run came on an Ike Davis homer in the ninth, devoid of any meaning.

Collins was philosophi­cal about the horror show, his relative calm a result of the goodwill his team has earned after a highenergy spring. “It’s that kind of night,” he said. “And we don’t make those mistakes.”

Wright partially accepted the manager’s premise of a sleep-deprived team. “That’s a very small percentage of what went wrong today,” he said. “It obviously doesn’t help when you land at 3:30, four in the morning, but it’s mainly that they played a lot better than us.”

Recent Met teams have impressed early, and faltered in July (see 2010 and 2011).

Collins is loath to see that repeated this season, another that began with unexpected promise.

“I don’t want a letdown right now,” he said. “We’re getting into a stretch where, hey, we’re getting close to where we can take a good break and re-energize ourselves at the All-Star break. We’ve got to go in on a positive note. We’ve got to play well over the next 10 days.”

 ?? EPA ?? David Wright misplays pop in seventh as road-weary Mets pay price for all-night ride to Chicago.
EPA David Wright misplays pop in seventh as road-weary Mets pay price for all-night ride to Chicago.
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