Mets' Edwin Diaz blows another save in return to closer role

Manager Carlos Mendoza says he'll keep giving Diaz the ball

Edwin Diaz isn't back as the New York Mets' closer just yet.

Pitching in the ninth inning for the first time since being moved out of the closer role last week, Diaz was asked to protect a 2–1 lead against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the two-time All-Star reliever, his struggles in the ninth inning continued. Diaz gave up hits to two of the first three batters he faced, including a game-tying RBI single by LaMonte Wade Jr. He finished the inning by getting Curt Casali to ground out, but the outing went down as another blown save for Diaz. He's now blown four saves this season.

The Giants won in 10 innings, 7–2, with Sean Reid-Foley giving up five runs (two earned), one walk and two hits. The bullpen squandered an excellent start by Luis Severino, who allowed one run and two hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza moved Diaz into a "fluid" role in the bullpen after allowing seven runs and seven hits in his previous three appearances. The idea was for Diaz to regain his confidence in lower-leverage situations.

In his first appearance since then, Diaz pitched in the seventh inning Friday night against the Giants. He threw a scoreless frame, striking out two batters and allowing one hit in an eventual 8–7 loss. That was apparently good enough for Mendoza, who said that Diaz would likely pitch in the ninth inning on Saturday.

"He’s our closer," Mendoza told reporters before Saturday's game. "Even though he’s going through it right now, I thought [Friday] was a good step in the right direction. I’ve been saying it — his mound work in Cleveland, even though he didn’t get in a game, in some of the conversations we had with him there was more conviction; it comes down to trusting his stuff."

Diaz said he felt better, especially with throwing his fastball down and away to right-handed batters and down and in to lefties. But on the two hits he allowed Saturday, he left a fastball up and out over the plate to Wilmer Flores and caught the middle of the strike zone to Wade.

"We gotta continue to stay with him, work with him and get him through it," Mendoza said after the game. "Because he's a big part of our bullpen. He's gotta continue to work, he's gotta continue to fight. We'll continue to give him the ball and find some matchups for him."