- Last Updated: 8:30 AM, May 14, 2012
- Posted: 12:29 AM, May 14, 2012
MIAMI — Frank Francisco became the Grinch that stole Mother’s Day.
The putrid Mets closer didn’t even bother retiring a batter in the ninth inning yesterday before he was yanked, walked toward home plate and started berating umpire Todd Tichenor. By then, the Marlins had all but sunk the Mets.
Francisco’s latest implosion may cost him the closer’s job. After Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off grand slam against Manny Acosta iced the Mets’ 8-4 loss at Marlins Park, manager Terry Collins conceded he is pondering a change in the ninth inning.
“I’ve got eight options or however many guys are down there [in the bullpen],” Collins said. “But I’m not going to address that right now. The emotions are running a little high tonight, and that’s not a good time to make a decision.”
Francisco, who is 1-3 with an 8.56 ERA, certainly wouldn’t be stunned if he’s demoted.
“[Collins] is the boss and he can do whatever he wants,” said Francisco, who signed a two-year deal worth $12 million with the Mets this past offseason. “I’m here to help the team, and I guess I’m not doing that. Whatever decision he makes is fine with me. But I’m here to fight.”
Francisco, who also blew the save in Friday’s 6-5 loss, spent about 20 minutes staring vacantly into his locker as players dressed. He told The Post he is fine physically, and blamed Tichenor for squeezing the strike zone during John Buck’s at-bat that resulted in a walk.
With the Mets leading 4-2 in the ninth, Francisco allowed a leadoff triple to Emilio Bonafacio and walked Buck before pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs delivered an RBI single. Collins removed Francisco and then had to play the role of peacemaker as the pitcher walked to the plate and started screaming at Tichenor.
Francisco said all four balls he threw to Buck should have been called strikes.
“I didn’t care about Bonifacio, but I was trying to shut it down right there and I thought I was hitting my spots really good and I didn’t get a call,” Francisco said. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”
But pitching coach Dan Warthen said Francisco’s frustration was misguided.
“These umpires work their [butts] off and they travel, and I’m not going to put the blame on anybody but ourselves,” Warthen said.
Acosta entered and allowed a sacrifice fly to Jose Reyes to tie the game. With one out, Hanley Ramirez walked and Austin Kearns was plunked to load the bases. Stanton homered on the next pitch to end it.
It concluded a 4-2 road trip for the Mets that could have easily been a sweep.
“We’re fighting a lot of odds here,” Collins said. “We’re fighting against people that think [we can’t] be successful, and games like this it’s, ‘We told you so.’ That’s not the way we’ve been looking at it. That’s not the way we’re going to look at it. We’ll get on the plane and make sure everybody is ready for [tonight’s] game.”
The Mets had taken a 4-2 lead in the ninth on Justin Turner’s pinch-hit, two-run double against closer Heath Bell. It was the second time in 2 1/2 weeks Bell was victimized by the reserve infielder. On April 26 at Citi Field, Turner had a 13-pitch at-bat against Bell in the ninth inning that ended in a walk and sparked the Mets’ 3-2 comeback victory.
But Francisco’s latest meltdown helped ensure Turner’s dramatic hit yesterday became a footnote.
“When you go in the ninth inning and have a lead and then you lose it, it’s tough for anyone to swallow,” Turner said. “But we’re still playing good baseball. I still like where we’re at.”Follow @NYPostsports