Mets Game 19: Win Over Nationals

Mets 7 Nationals 2

The Mets paid a $137.5M insurance policy against losing streaks. Their policy is named Johan Santana. On this evening, the policy delivered.

Santana stopped a three-game slide, giving the Mets seven solid innings off the mound and a pair of two-bagger blasts off the bat en route to a 7-2 victory and his third win of the year.

For a while there, it looked like the Mets bats were still in a slumber, as they were only able to manage four base hits — two by Carlos Beltran and one by Santana — off Nats starter Tim Redding. Redding wasn’t particularly dominating, but the Mets couldn’t get anything going against the veteran righthander. However, Redding’s pitch count was nearing that sacred century mark in the sixth, so Washington skipper Manny Acta did the Mets a favor by removing his starter after giving up a leadoff single to Carlos Beltran. His choice for replacement, however, was dubious — Ray King, who would easily be confused with a hot dog vendor who is eating the profits. The slothlike southpaw was successful in his job of retiring lefthanded hitters Carlos Delgado and Brian Schneider, but not before giving up two infield singles, two stolen bases, a double to Santana, and three runs. Before Tim Redding could get to the showers, his 2-2 tie became a 5-2 deficit.

The Mets tacked on another two in the top of the ninth courtesy of a two-run double by Ryan Church to put the game out of reach.

Notes

Santana was sparkling, but not dominant, giving up seven hits and a walk in his seven innings of work. According to the scoreboard radar reading, he never cracked 90 MPH, topping out at 89 in the early frames and then slowing to around 87-88 later in the contest.

Interestingly, the radar readings displayed on the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) broadcast were consistently two miles per hour faster than those shown on the scoreboard. I know this because I was at the game and had the luxury of seeing both readings from a seat at the bar. Nationals Park is a fine place to watch a ballgame, BTW, and has that “new stadium smell”. There’s not a bad seat in the place, there were no lines at any of the concessions stands despite a packed house, and there are plenty of areas to lounge around with flat screen HD TVs on every wall. The corporate boxes look pretty sweet — I peeked my head into one — and all come with an outdoor deck with seating, so the high-rollers have the choice of staying indoors or watching the game outside. Even the restrooms are nice — yes, NICE. In fact the mens room had marble floors, new wallpaper, and porcelain sinks set in stylish Corian countertops. I thought I was in the restroom of a fancy NYC restaurant, rather than a ballpark. Amazing. I hope Citi Field includes similar features — in particular, I enjoyed the freedom of moving around the stadium to watch the game from different views (and drinking different brews).

Johan put three balls into the rightfield seats during batting practice prior to the game, so his two doubles — which were rips — weren’t a fluke. He wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to play for the Mets so he could hit. Although, I did fear he’d pull a hammy while tearing around first base each time — the guy is a ballplayer, and hustles right out of the box.

Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one and reaching 90 on the scoreboard gun (92 on TV). Billy Wagner extended his scoreless innings streak to seven in finishing the game.

On a negative note, Jose Reyes was disappointing in that there were two instances he came to bat with runners in scoring position, and he swung at the first pitch saw — both times resulting in weakly hit outs. The second time was the first pitch thrown by reliever Saul Rivera with Santana on second, and it resulted in the third out of the inning. I don’t mind first-pitch hitting if it’s successful, but I mind it greatly if the batter doesn’t get good wood on the ball. Jose has been over-anxious all season, and is going to see both his batting average and OBP continue to plummet until he changes his approach.

Speaking of first-pitch swinging, Carlos Delgado came to the plate in the sixth vs. Ray King with no outs and Ryan Church on second base. Delgado flailed at the first offering, and meekly popped the ball to Ryan Zimmerman. For a moment I thought Luis Castillo was at the plate — that’s how bad it looked. It’s not like King has hellacious stuff, so Delgado clearly does not have a plan at the plate. First pitch, man on 2B, he should be zoning an area that he can drive the ball to the outfield, and if he doesn’t get it, he should let it go. On that pitch he looked like he was protecting the plate on an 0-2 count. Ugly.


Next Game

The Mets and Nats do it again at 7:10, with Oliver Perez facing Shawn Hill.

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. isuzudude April 24, 2008 at 6:15 am
    Joe, SNY had Johan topping out at 92-93 last night, so either the scoreboard radar gun was slow, or TV is trying to impress its viewing audience.

    I’m still in the corner of Delgado and Castillo, but they both come with their own set of problems at the plate. Perhaps I’m over-simplifying, but it seems to me like Delgado is over-aggresive, and Castillo is under-aggresive. Gary and Ron mentioned during the broadcast that it seems like Castillo is taking every 3-1 pitch, almost preferring to walk with Wright up next than put the ball in play. This dude is a .300 career hitter, in my opinion he should be swinging away when he has a hitter’s count. And then there’s Delgado, who’s swinging at first pitch balls in the dirt and lofting lazy pop-ups in foul territory. He needs to be more selective – especially with runners on base. If he still thinks he’s the power hitter he once was, then he should know that pitchers are going to try and make him swing at crap and nip at the corners, and not give him anything meaty to hit. In that case, he should be working the count and trying to get ahead in the count so the pitcher will be forced to throw something over that’s good to hit. But that’s just my amateuristic analysis. Maybe I’m wrong.

    I’m wondering out loud if Sanchez is becoming the new set-up man. 5-2 score in the 8th and no Heilman. Can’t help but speculate.

    I think Willie did the right thing dropping Delgado to the 6-hole, and I can’t help but wonder, if his struggles continue, if he could even be dropped down to 7th when Alou returns.

    And don’t look now, but Castillo is hitting 9 for 32 (.281) with 4 BB, 2 K, and 4 SB since April 15th. If those aren’t typical numbers for a #2 hitter in the lineup, I don’t know what is. Slowly but surely he’s getting his confidence back, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before his average is back up around .300.

  2. Micalpalyn April 24, 2008 at 10:09 am
    Uhhh. Isuzu I have to endorse your thoughts.
    1. Del and Castillo: Chipper is older than Del, and Del is a proffesional hitter. As long as health is not an issue I think Del will find his rhythm. castillo bothers me more because of his knees. I think Gotay’s loss (2 me) is apparent in that gotay could easily be in a pseudo-platoon with castillo (or even a R-L platoon) and be inserted to rest Dw and Reyes.

    2. I think santana is on cruise and his best stuff is still to come.

    3. I too think Sanchez has taken back the set up role.

    4. Anyone see Willie’s comments on Metsblog: Sorry Willie but the evidence speaks volumes.

  3. Micalpalyn April 24, 2008 at 10:18 am
    From MLB rumors: Cabrera-Guillen Position Switch Upsets Inge
    We haven’t discussed the Miguel Cabrera-Carlos Guillen position swap here on MLBTR – on the surface it doesn’t appear to have hot stove implications.

    However, Ken Rosenthal heard from a Major League source that Brandon Inge is “livid” that Cabrera was moved off third yet Inge still doesn’t have a starting gig.

    Inge, 31 in May, is off to a decent start this year with a .246/.357/.439 line in 20 games. His versatility is especially valuable for the Tigers, who have multiple injury-prone starters. Trading Inge now only makes sense if a respectable reliever comes in return (even if $6.2MM is pricey for a supersub).

    …………..I think this is worth watching.

  4. Walnutz15 April 24, 2008 at 10:37 am
    Willie’s F.O.S.

    1. When Derrek Lee grabbed the ball that was still rolling foul at Wrigley, Willie (and more than a few of us at home) had to know it was flat-out wrong. He even admits he saw it right away….

    Yet, we see here….plain and simple — a hesitance to stick up for his players when confronted with on-field events that are obviously wrong and against his favor.

    This time it was just downright horrible umpiring — and his “excuse” for not arguing the non-call?

    “When I first saw it, I jumped on it right away. I jumped on the top step. I thought maybe Angel (Umpire Angel Hernandez) might call something there but he wasn’t gonna. I know with Angel it’s like fighting a losing battle. The night before he was at home plate and I was all over his case so I know he didn’t want to see my face. I probably would have been thrown out right away.”

    Un-flippin’ real!

    Nobody’s saying that he needs to argue every little ball and strike — or call that doesn’t go in his team’s favor — but when it’s so obviously out of the realm of baseball rulebook standards and guidelines, and there for the taking in a crucial spot: GO GET YOURSELF TOSSED!!!!!

    This is unacceptable, and shows his players that he’ll rarely, if ever — go to bat for them. I would really question my manager at that point, and it’s clear that some in the clubhouse do — and have in the past.

    Hearing Cliff Floyd say that Willie looked confused in Game 7 of the NLCS, coupled with Lo Duca’s continuous insistence that his manager/team wasn’t fiery enough — basically translates to: this team knows that Willie’s like a bag of marshmallows on the bench.

    That play is very rare — went against the Mets — and they took it like champs in the keister. The precedent they’ve seen this year, in umpiring squads getting together, conferring, and sometimes over-turning calls should have been enough for Willie to infer, in his gentlemanly manner (mind you) — that Angel Hernandez should have asked for some help.

    It gets overturned, kudos to Willie. If not, who cares? Do your job as manager….

    Instead, he’s a ‘fraidy cat of getting tossed……another word synonymous with “cat” comes to mind, that I’m not allowed to say.

    2. On Bunting:

    “If you see a guy bunting early in the game it’s not something I believe in. Castillo and Carlos Beltran do it but it’s not something I want.”

    He’s against bunting early on in the game? Castillo doesn’t get the ball out of the infield, you don’t ever hit-and-run, and your team loves hitting into double plays — sac bunts are also nice sometimes, General Willis…you know, when guys are struggling? Another philosophy I don’t agree with, nor do I like in a manager of National League baseball.

    3. I especially loved the part about the communication — where they asked him about younger players, etc. Because he basically laughed it off in some sort of superior manner…..you’re not above questioning, pal. And your boys had better come to play this weekend vs. the Braves.

    Willie has really turned me off this year, completely. Last year wasn’t even the start of it for me, but opened the door a crack….the rest of the hot air/b.s. has blown it open completely.

  5. Micalpalyn April 24, 2008 at 12:54 pm
    Joe, walnutz and Isuzu:

    All of us have our perspectives some of ‘left and some ‘right’ and some in moderation.

    But I do think it is important to speak up.

  6. joe April 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm
    Good stuff guys.

    ‘dude, you’re dead-on re: pitch selection with Delgado. And it’s funny what you say about Castillo, because at the game last night I said basically the same thing to my friend: “Castillo looks like the 8th hitter on a little league team — taking pitches and hoping to walk because he doesn’t think he can hit”. However, I do believe in Castillo in the #2 hole over the long haul. He may not be a .300 hitter anymore, but I’m confident he’ll start getting on base more often and doing all the things he needs to do in that spot.

    Delgado, on the other hand, gets more more concerned every day. His at-bats last night were atrocious. I don’t so much mind him swinging and missing if he at least appears to have a plan — but these days he looks completely clueless. Time for a few days off, perhaps.