Mets Game 98: Loss To Padres
Padres 2 Mets 1
At least they weren’t no-hit.
Mets Game Notes
Hey! Look who’s back! Didja miss me? I had not watched a baseball game — of any level — since Mets Game 90. Due to business travel, the All-Star Exhibition break, and a hint of vacation mixed in between, I went without baseball for nearly two weeks — perhaps the longest in-season break in my life in about 15 years. Not that you care, and not that it matters. But, funny how quickly things can change. Prior to my hiatus, the Mets were on their way to yet another awful season, poised to finish the year far below .500, with Terry Collins seemingly on the brink of unemployment. I return, and what do you know? Sandy Alderson is quoting Tug McGraw, the Mets are on a 8-2 streak, and Mets fans are starting to believe that the boys from Flushing just might play interesting games in September. Further, the team went on this wild run going into the AS Exhibition, and would be playing perhaps the worst team in MLB after the break — a perfect way to keep the momentum going in the second half.
The Mets success train didn’t exactly start up again in San Diego. Don’t blame me — if I had that kind of power, I’d use it for far more worthwhile causes than helping the Mets win (world peace, for example). Though, the train hasn’t run off the rails, either. Starting the second half 1-2 isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not the ideal way for a previously hot team to begin, either.
There are three ways to look at this particular ballgame. First, the Mets’ fan viewpoint: “Ugh, what an awful way to lose!” Second, the Padres’ fan perspective: “Gee whiz, it was about time they came through with a run-scoring hit!” Then, the neutral baseball fan: “Finally, the agony is over!”
It was agonizing — truly — to watch the offensive ineptitude of these two clubs. Nearly every time the Padres got something going, it happened with two outs and the pitcher coming up to the plate. The Mets, meanwhile, didn’t get anything going until the eighth inning, when they finally managed to collect a base hit. Odrisamer Despaigne — btw, I couldn’t possibly pronounce his first nor last name, and wasn’t able to type out either without help — no-hit the Mets through 7 2/3, until Daniel Murphy finally broke it up by rapping a double into the left-center alley. David Wright followed with a ground-ball single that bounced through the infield and “poof!” the Mets tied the ballgame. Honestly, I didn’t believe San Diego would win this game. Looking at their stats and watching their horrendous collection of “hitters,” it seemed that one run was their absolute peak. This was my feeling particularly after Despaigne was removed from the game — I thought for sure the mental state of the Mets would change to a much more positive frame of mind, and they’d manage to score at least one run, if not several, against a Padres pitcher without the name “Despaigne” on his back.
Instead, it was the Padres who continued to mount fruitless threats, until finally breaking through with the winning run in the ninth — thanks primarily to two poorly handled balls back to the pitcher. Were those lucky? I guess, sure. Might you also blame the Mets pitchers — Vic Black and Josh Edgin — for not being able to field their position? Well, yeah, and then luck doesn’t enter the picture (#littlethings). Oh, and then there was the issue of walking the leadoff batter (#littlethings) to start the ninth.
The Mets actually got away with a number of #littlethings, thanks mainly to the Padres inability to hit with RISP (or hit, in general). There was the ground-rule double by Chase Headley, on a ball that appeared to bounce off of Bobby Abreu‘s toe (and why were neither Abreu NOR Ruben Tejada running full-out for that pop-up? Do they both fear collision? We know Abreu’s history with walls …). There was the leadoff triple by Will Venable that resulted in no runs scoring. There was the botched relay by Daniel Murphy on that triple by Venable. There was the nearly botched double-play by Murphy in the ninth. There was the Padres going 1-for-11 with RISP and leaving 11 on base. So while it was a “tough way to lose” if you were only living in the final moment of the game, at the same time, there were several situations when the Mets barely squeaked out of trouble. A team can live on the edge only so many times before it finally falls over.
Despaigne was impressive, though I wonder how much of his success was due to the magic of mystery / unfamiliarity. To his credit, he threw a ton of strikes, and he changed both speed and location on every single pitch. He reminded me a bit of fellow countrymen Orlando Hernandez and Luis Tiant in that regard (and his leg kick also is reminiscent of El Duque). It will be interesting to watch how his career continue — will he be another El Duque or Tiant, or more like Alay Soler or Yunesky Maya? We’ll see …
Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler pitched well enough to win — but didn’t. It happens, though it shouldn’t happen against the Padres.
I’m well aware it was Daniel Murphy who broke up the no-hitter, but he didn’t look great at the plate in this game prior to that at-bat. He looks tired, and his back side is dipping again, and he’s rolling over on pitches he should be driving. Looking at the game log, his batting average has dropped from .303 on June 30 to .289 after this ballgame, with his OBP going from .353 to .336 over the same time frame. So far in July, he’s hitting .204 with a .232 OBP. Ouch. Is it possible that he’s wearing out? Should he have been given a few more breathers in the first half? He’s played in all but four games this year, and two of those games came at the very beginning of the season, when he took off on paternity leave.
One last thing: how is Chris Denorfia still in MLB, and, for that matter, starting in RF and batting 6th in a MLB lineup???? I get that it was a Sunday afternoon ballgame, and that’s when the scrubs get their chance. But is it truly possible that Denorfia is the 25th-best player in the Padres’ organization? There’s not ONE player in AAA or AA who is better? There isn’t someone on the waiver wire who is better than Denorfia? Denorfia was kind of fun and interesting about six years ago, when he was a surprising, blue-collar, hustling, everyman super-sub in the Joe McEwing mold. But now he’s 33 years old and has no business starting in right field and batting sixth for even the worst team in MLB. People wonder why I believe MLB talent is watered down today, and here is a prime example. Denorfia should have a hard time finding his way into the starting lineup on a Sunday afternoon for a AAA club, much less one that plays in the Major Leagues.
Next Mets Game
The Mets move on to play the Mariners in Seattle on Monday night. Game time is 10:10 PM Right Coast Time. I can’t promise that I’ll give you a good recap, as I’ll likely be asleep by 11. Jonathon Niese returns from his mysterious DL stint to face Roenis Elias — yet another Cuban pitcher.