Game 12: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 0

Maybe he’s the stopper after all.

Mike Pelfrey was absolutely outstanding, throwing seven shutout innings. He positively dominated the Nationals hitters, pounding his 94+ MPH fastball inside incessantly, moving batters off the plate and breaking about a half-dozen bats. His heavy sinker stayed low in the zone and induced a plethora of ground ball outs. Big Pelf used his slider sparingly, just enough to keep the Nats from sitting on the fastball.

Meantime, it was the Late Night with David Wright show — all the scoring came courtesy of David “MVP” Wright, who hit a two-run homer and two RBI doubles. At the end of the night, Wright drove in five and scored twice.

Aaron Heilman threw a shaky but scoreless eighth, and Duaner Sanchez — who came off the DL prior to the game — pitched a nearly-perfect ninth.


The weekend’s rest seemed to have rejuvenated Jose Reyes, who nearly hit for the cycle, and showed no signs of the hamstring scare that sidelined him. Reyes “settled” for a four-hit game, smacking two singles, a double, and a triple.

Of particular note was Pelfrey’s ability to work out of jams early on. He got himself into a few tough situations that could have gotten ugly quickly, but he kept his cool and his confidence and went right after hitters with his fastball. In the past his body language would change and he’d start nibbling around the corners with his slider — pitching defensively. In this game he remained the aggressor, challenging batters to hit his fastball.

Duaner Sanchez looked OK, not great, with his velocity similar to what we saw in Port St. Lucie — in the high 80s, topping out at 91 MPH. Most importantly at this juncture, he looked healthy and comfortable and was throwing strikes. Whether he ever gets back into the 94-96 MPH range remains to be seen, but with his nasty assortment of sinkers and changeups, he may not need the velocity to once again be an effective setup man.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. murph April 16, 2008 at 12:21 am
    I know its early, but who would ever have thought that Pelfrey at any point in time would have as many wins as Santana, Martinez, Perez, Maine & Hernandez COMBINED.
  2. sincekindergarten April 16, 2008 at 4:14 am
    Agree, murph . . . whoda thunk that Pelf would be the stopper in the rotation? Ya think he wants to stay in NYC much when Pedro comes back?

    Also, over at MetsBlog, there’s been a chorus that’s growing louder, about how David Wright needs to step up and start leading. What better team to do that against, than the Nats?

  3. isuzudude April 16, 2008 at 5:44 am
    Last night’s game goes to show that the Mets still have a lot of positive things working in their favor. Pelfrey is stepping up big time, and could finally be developing before our very eyes into the starter we all hoped he was capable of. Despite sporadic slumps, Wright is a true MVP candidate and is as reliable as they come. Duaner Sanchez is back, and if he’s able to pitch like he did tonight over the course of the rest of the season, the Mets’ bullpen woes are over. And, at least for 1 game, Willie made a change that produced results, with Church hitting second (successful sac bunt, reached base 2 out of 4 plate appearances with 2 runs scored) and Castillo 8th. Of course, Willie won’t get any credit for this “motivation tool”…after all, the excuse will be that the game was against the crappy Nationals, or that the idea was likely that of HoJo or somebody. I just hope that if you’re going to be consistently critical, you should also be consistently complimentary.

    I was also kind of taken aback by the booing of Milledge. I know he probably got on the fans’ bad side by some of his comments this Spring, but it’s not like he wasn’t liked during his time in NY. Especially considering Guillermo Mota just made a pitstop at Shea over the weekend and he barely heard a whisper. If there’s anyone that deserves to get booed at Shea, it would be Mota and not Milledge. Oh well, I guess I’m finding out more and more how out of touch I am with the majority of Met fans. Is it just me, or do we seem like a panicky, unappreciative, anxiety-riddled bunch nowadays?

  4. joe April 16, 2008 at 6:54 am
    I was surprised at the reception Milledge received as well … I guess it was due to his “sour grapes” comments in spring training? Curious now how Paul LoDuca will be treated when he gets into a game.

    The booing in general at Shea this year is ridiculous, IMHO. It sounds like a Yankee game.

    Although Ryan Church in the 2 spot was a “successful” move, I’m not on board with it yet. The Mets lineup is pretty weak as it is after Beltran (no, Delgado hasn’t convinced me yet), and not sure what Castillo is supposed to be doing down there in the 8 spot. I’ve been wrong before …. heck, if it were up to me, Pelfrey would be in AAA right now.

  5. isuzudude April 16, 2008 at 7:32 am
    Lo Duca deserves to be cheered. He was genuinely passionate about winning when he was with the Mets. His run-ins with underage women and PED abuse should be put aside, as should his comments about hoping the Mets lose this year and that he wasn’t treated with respect. I mean, he’s on an intra-divisional rival now, of course he’s going to want the Mets to lose. If he gets booed I’m really going to be ashamed to be associated with my fellow “fans.”

    And I agree, Joe. The booing is getting out of hand. I don’t even think Yankee fans would boo Johan Santana. Maybe we’re getting closer to being like Knick fans. I mean, last night is even a good case, despite an easy 6-0 victory. Beltran grounds into a double play and gets booed. What, is he supposed to get a hit every time he has runners on base? Heilman gets booed for walking a batter with 2 outs with the Mets up by 4 in the 8th. That’s terrible. Haven’t fans heard of getting behind their players when they’re down instead of constantly criticizing them? I mean, we all want Willie to talk up the players and never throw them under the bus, why can’t we hold ourselves to the same standards? It’s really no wonder why the Mets were the only team last year to have a better record on the road than at home.

    I also agree about last night’s lineup switch-up. The move worked last night, but I don’t see it being successful over the longterm, and I think it’s just too early in the season to be taking such drastic measures. If anything, maybe Willie goes with this lineup against lefty starters, as it breaks up Church, Delgado, and Schneider. But against the righty starters, I don’t see how it’s beneficial to have the free swinging power-threat in Church hit second, and the contact hitting switch hitter Castillo 8th.

  6. sincekindergarten April 16, 2008 at 8:56 am
    ID, I was thinking about Castillo in the 8th slot. If he gets on to lead off an inning, the pitcher can bunt him into scoring position for the top of the order coming around.

    As for the booing, I think that it is fans who are still pissed off about last year, and they think that the addition of St. Johan Of The Changeup will be the cure-all for the Mets’ perceived woes. Having said that, it’s rude, incredibly unwarranted, and it’s much more befitting Yankees or Phillthies fans.

  7. isuzudude April 16, 2008 at 9:01 am
    SK – agreed, but isn’t Schneider also a singles hitter who can be bunted over by the pitcher? Furthermore, Castillo is speedy so why sacrifice an out when he can steal 2nd base? I think the Church experiment will last only as long as Willie doesn’t get sick of seeing him strike out instead of moving runners over…which just happens to be Castillo’s specialty.
  8. murph April 16, 2008 at 9:56 am
    Isuzudude asks: “do we seem like a panicky, unappreciative, anxiety-riddled bunch nowadays?”

    I think doctors would call it post-traumatic stress disorder.
    The scars from last year have definitely not healed for some, and the booing is how some people are coping with it. Many fans did not get a chance to display their displeasure publicly until now.

    For me, I just won’t ever care about the outcome of any sporting event as much ever again. After seeing how last year’s collapse affected my mood in October and November, I have come to realize that there are more important things in life.

    I never understood how fans would boo their own players, but in this case, I guess I do understand. Let’s hope it doesn’t last.

  9. whatdatmean April 16, 2008 at 11:27 am
    maybe willie has been reading the blogs…
    last night, he was shown smiling and conversing with players, he joked with pelf and gave him a vote of confidence, he let him go thru the 7th, he actually changed the lineup based on who is hot. these are things we havent seen in a while, if at all, from willie.
    church isnt the ideal 2 hitter, but it gives the team a different look, and he can do well there. i kinda see him as a 3 hitter bc of his extra-base hit ability.
    either way, its good to move castillo down during his slump, until he gets himself right. if he gets on base, the pitcher can move him. he probably wont steal much until his knees are better, so the pitcher should be moving him over. he is a much better threat to score from 2nd than the slower schneider. i like it as a change of pace, but the reason why i liked his resigning is bc he was the best 2 hitter available, which is something we havent had consistancy with in years past.
    great game.

    please stop booing your team…its just sad. beltran’s lack of energy, hustle, and slumping bother me as much as anyone…but dont boo! geez!

  10. sincekindergarten April 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm
    There was something I thought about last night’s game that was interesting. The #3 hitter had 5 RBIs, to bring his yearly total to 15 . . . and the cleanup hitter had an RBI also, to bring his total to 4.

    But “lack of energy?” Come on–did you see the game won by Pagan, scoring Reyes from 2nd, where Beltran threw the bat down after striking out in the 10th? What the deuce do you want him to do–take out a knife and commit seppeku in the batter’s box? News flash: Carlos Beltran wants to win as much as anyone. He just happens to be in a position to do something about it. If you or I were in a position to do something to help the team win the game, we’d be on the team. Becausae we’d be good enough to be on the team. Since neither of us actually are on the team (don’t give me this crap about me “knowing” whether you’re on the team or not, as if you were on the team, you’d say something in the media), neither of us know the whole story. Or do you have a crystal ball?

  11. Micalpalyn April 16, 2008 at 1:33 pm
    Which leads me to ask this question: why IS Beltran hitting 4th and DW 3rd? They were reversed last yr, so why the change.
  12. isuzudude April 16, 2008 at 2:04 pm
    I can answer that, Mic. In my opinion, it’s because you want the best hitters in your lineup getting the most at-bats…and right now, the best hitter in the lineup is Wright. Hence, he’s getting the first opportunity to drive in runners on base. If Beltran is hitting 3rd, he has the aptitude to hit into more double plays than Wright, thus killing rallies, ending innings, and giving Wright less RBI chances. To me, if you have two equal power threats in the lineup (as in Wright and Beltran), it makes the most sense to have the hitter with the higher average hitting 3rd, and the other guy clean-up. Do you see how that philosophy works?

    I also agree 100% with SK. Beltran may be very mild mannered and subdued, but don’t mistake those qualities for complacency. He cares as much as anyone about winning. This is the same guy who carried the offense to the playoffs in 2006, narrowly missing an MVP award. He’s a gold glove caliber outfielder, and has consistently made outstanding plays in CF. I’m also wondering since when a .286 average is considered slumping. I really don’t think anyone in the lineup is swinging the bat poorly right now, including Castillo. The Mets team average right now is .269, good for 4th in the NL. They also lead the league in on-base percentage at .360. If these numbers keep up, the Mets will be in VERY good shape this year.

  13. Micalpalyn April 16, 2008 at 2:44 pm
    Thanks I-dude. But I think beltran has more speed than DW (that was subtracted from last yr by the knees). also I think Willie has ALWAYS wanted Beltran to be more of a slugger. But Cb has protracted power outages in which he becomes more of a contact hitter and often wants to use his speed. willie IS spoiled in that his 1-4 hitters are not duds on the basepaths but I still think CB is not a DP guy. He DOES need to see more pitches and we have seen him swing at first pitches too often when frustrated.

    I LIKE the change. Even if for one day. It shows Willie hast the ability to use the line up. Last yr he was stoic with it thinking (until too late) that it did not matter. conversely BV never announced a line up until in the clubhouse and said vehemently EVERYONE needs to be ready to play.

    willie just seemed to role out of bed with the same lineup card. this one showed thought including breaking up the lefties.

    I have not raised it but I think Willie made Yosts (and Kaplers) job easier on Sat and Sunday in that santana is very similar to Ollie in velocity and other factors…esentially he deployed the same offensive strategy for both. In short Ollie and santana should not pitch back to back.

    Beltran: Beltrans body of work in New York is arguably the best by any CF in Met history.

  14. Micalpalyn April 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm
    Speaking of CFer’s coulde the Mets pick Lenny’s kid with one of their high round picks?
  15. sincekindergarten April 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm
    Mic, I’d love to see that. Especially since Cutter (the kid’s name) supposedly has more ability that Lenny did at Cutter’s age. Cutter could play all three outfield positions, from what I heard.