Mets decision to pull Adrian Houser after just 67 pitches backfires

Even when things seem to be going well, the Mets have managed to deliver disaster.

This time, Carlos Mendoza produced one of the first questionable pitching changes of his managerial career during the team’s 6-3 extra-inning loss to the Tigers on Thursday afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader.

The Mets salvaged a split with a 2-1 win in the nightcap.

Adrian Houser was dominant for the first five innings before tiring in the sixth in the Mets' 6-3 Game 1 loss to the Tigers.
Adrian Houser was dominant for the first five innings before being pulled in the sixth in the Mets’ 6-3 Game 1 loss to the Tigers. Jason Szenes for the New York Post

Starter Adrian Houser cruised through the first five innings of his Mets debut and held a 3-0 lead entering the sixth inning, appearing as if the Mets were finally on their way to a long-awaited first win of the season.

Houser had been dominant, with three 1-2-3 innings in those first five frames.

But he then walked Parker Meadows to start the sixth inning and subsequently gave up a single to Spencer Torkelson, setting up s first-and-third situation with no outs.

Mendoza had seen enough, yanking Houser, whom the team acquired this offseason from the Brewers, after he had thrown just 67 pitches.

“This is his first outing, not only of the year, but it’s been three weeks since he faced major league hitters,” Mendoza said of the decision. “The last two outings at the end of spring training, it was a minor league game and already for him [in the sixth inning], that was the decision.”

Brooks Raley came in to pitch for Houser and gave up a sacrifice fly to Andy Ibanez, cutting the Mets’ lead to 3-1.

Jake Diekman then gave up a run on a wild pitch in the seventh inning, and Adam Ottavino gave up a solo homer to Riley Green in the eighth inning, trying the game at 3-3.

Adrian Houser throws a pitch in the first inning of the Mets' Game 1, 11-inning loss.
Adrian Houser throws a pitch in the first inning of the Mets’ Game 1, 11-inning loss. Jason Szenes for the New York Post

It stayed that way until Michael Tonkin gave up three runs in the 11th inning.

Mendoza’s move to go to the bullpen early certainly backfired.

“It’s been a week-and-a-half [since pitching in a game],” Houser said, echoing Mendoza’s sentiment. “Games got pushed back, it’s been a week-and-a-half since I’ve been in a game and even longer since I’ve pitched against big-league hitters. Just want to be careful here early in the season, especially with it being so cold out. Probably a smart move to get out early and take the good pitching. … I was kind of teetering there. It’s been a week-and-a-half since I’ve been in a game, I was kind of slowing down. I wasn’t hitting my spots as well as I wanted to there late.”

Houser gave up three hits, three walks and was charged for one earned run in five innings pitched, and struck out three batters.

The early move to the bullpen forced the Mets to use a whopping seven relief pitchers, which certainly wasn’t ideal in the first leg of a doubleheader.

To make matters worse, Thursday’s Game 1 was the first of 15 games in 14 days due to rainouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.

And now, their bullpen is already depleted.

“I knew we had a doubleheader, I knew it was gonna take a lot of pitching today,” Houser said. “I was just trying to go out, attack early and try to go as long as I could. I was hoping for six, seven innings, but I wasn’t able to get that done.”


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