Mets Game 31: Loss To Dodgers

Dodgers 5 Mets 4

Before this contest, Hiroki Kuroda had established himself as a pitcher who dominated opposing batters during the first time through the lineup, but struggled the second time around. However, the Mets jumped all over Kuroda in their first look, and continued the onslaught until chasing him from the game in the fourth frame.

Unfortunately, the Mets’ offense was handcuffed by Sandy Koufax in relief … oh wait, that wasn’t Koufax, but Kuo, as in, Hong-Chih. You know, the same Hong-Chih Kuo(fax) who has a 7+ ERA against the rest of the NL but somehow is to the Mets as kryptonite is to Superman. Kuofax struck out eight batters in three and two-thirds innings. Yes — of the eleven outs, eight were by the big K.

The Mets had a great chance to blow the game completely open in the third, as they scored one run and then loaded the bases with none out. However, they managed to plate only one runner before Ryan Church grounded into a double play. Kuroda then struck out David Wright to extinguish the threat and end the inning.

Meantime, Nelson Figueroa did a fine job of making me look like an absolute fool. Just hours after I anointed him the Mets’ #3 starter, Figgy had the gall to fall back to Earth and give away a three-run lead. His final line was 5 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 5 ER. Thanks, Figs. On a more pessimistic note, the Mets’ starting rotation is now officially a disaster.

Notes

Aaron Heilman pitched two innings of scoreless relief, and Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith shut out the Dodgers in the eighth.

Ryan Church had a double and a homerun in the game, but his rally-killing DP in the third negated both, as it was the turning point of the game.

Brian Schneider had two hits and a walk and is now hitting .308 with an OBP right around .400. I’m ecstatic he’s hitting that well, but it’s the lightest .308 I’ve seen in a long time.

Strangely, this Mets team not only defied their recent history by beating up on a pitcher they never saw before, but also took pitches and ran deep counts. Kudos to Howard Johnson for finally getting through to these cement-heads. Now if they can only figure out Kuofax …

By the fifth inning, the Mets had ten at-bats with men in scoring position — but managed a hit only twice.

LOVED seeing 41-year-old (and soon to be 42) Moises Alou taking an extra base on Andruw Jones in the third inning on a single by Carlos Delgado. Jones didn’t charge the ball, and Moises picked up on the nonchalance while rounding second and took off for third. A few minutes later, Alou STOLE HOME on the front end of a double steal — Angel Pagan stole second and Moises charged home when Dodger catcher Russell Martin fired the ball down to second. Remember Moises is not only over forty, but also coming off a double hernia and what we thought was a broken ankle. Talk about a “gamer” or an example of an “old school” ballplayer who plays hard — Alou is the man.

Oh by the way, it was Alou’s first steal of home since 2006.

Also by the way, Alou continues to sting the ball all over the place — though this was the first evening his hard-hit balls were finally finding holes. Watching a healthy Alou, it’s easy to understand why the Mets invested another $7.5M in him, despite his fragility — there are few players with a similar combination of skill and effort. Now if he can only stay healthy for, say, 100 games …

Feeble-hitting Nelson Figueroa walked twice. Joe Torre no doubt was drinking his chamomile tea in response.

David Wright made two more spectacular plays at 3B, including a diving stab of a Jeff Kent liner (D-Wright robbed him in game one as well) that reminded me of Yankee third sacker Graig Nettles thieving the Dodgers in the 1978 World Series. I’ll be the first one to say Wright was a questionable choice for the Gold Glove in 2007, but so far this year he has brandished the leather at an elite level. Unfortunately, his throwing remains an issue, as he committed yet another throwing error in the sixth.

Before anyone gets on Willie Randolph for his complacency or lack of fire, take a long hard look at the manager in the LA dugout. Joe Torre might as well be napping during games, yet his team has won ten of its last eleven.

Next Game

The Dodgers look to complete the sweep behind the arm of Brad Penny. The Mets counter with John Maine in a 3:10 PM start. I can’t freaking believe I stayed up until the wee hours to watch the Mets give away two ballgames. Next West Coast trip I’m watching the games on DVR the following morning.

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. julie May 7, 2008 at 4:16 am
    It all looks the same as last year. Uneven, lifeless, doing nothing with men in scoring position. there is no feeling to this team.
  2. sincekindergarten May 7, 2008 at 4:35 am
    Julie, come off the ledge. As I pointed out yesterday, we’re 31 games into the season–not even a quarter of the way into it. As Joe pointed out, Moises is a gamer. Stinging the ball and stealing home are two ways to ignite the team. It’s going to take Moises’ veteran leadership to get the team moving, as the two Carlos’ don’t seem to be up to snuff.

    Joe, think about where this pitching staff would be without Johan at the top. At least we have him anchoring it. And if Figgy walked twice, what does that say about where the Dodgers’ pitching is headed?

    RISP should become a poster at Shea, carried by many people. Maybe then, they’ll start doing something positive about it.

  3. RockStar78 May 7, 2008 at 7:34 am
    Regarding Torre, yes he seems to be napping in the dugout during games, but whatever he does behind the scenes in the clubhouse obviously works. Whatever Willie is doing doesn’t seem to be (although it did in 2006).
    On another note, I think that the real underlying problem with this team is the offense. How many times have we seen this team lose because they weren’t able to get that one big hit? I think they lost more games like that so far as opposed to the bullpen blowing the game. Last night, that chance came with the bases loaded and nobody out, and they couldn’t deliver. Problem is, they don’t have enough consistent hitters in the lineup, the 2 Carloses being the biggest culprits. Sure, Beltran can get hot and carry the team for a month, but then the next month he can be totally useless and hit .180. Maybe it’s about time Omar should make his next big splash a big hitter.
  4. isuzudude May 7, 2008 at 7:47 am
    Over the course of the first month-plus of this 2008 season, I’ve seen many adjectives used to describe the Mets early struggles and mediocrity. But there’s one word that keeps popping up that I don’t think accurately fits the team.

    The word “lifeless,” or any variance of the word (including lackadaisical, lackluster, flat, uninspired, and uninterested), should not be used as a reason for the team’s inconsistency, nor blamed for being the cause for any loss. Any of these words implies that the Mets as a whole – meaning all 25 men on the roster plus management and ownership – have no interest in winning. They’re simply out on the field going through the motions, devoid of any emotional attachments to being successful. It suggests that no one on the team has any pride, integrity, or class. It also suggests the notion that all a team needs is motivation and energy to win games, which is a crock. If it were that easy, we’d all be ballplayers. I think what many of us tend to forget is that there’s another team on the field at the same time as the Mets, and they’re trying to win also. And in many instances in which the Mets lose, the other team simply performed better and got more of the beneficial “bounces.” To blame every bump in the road on “lifelessness” and “lack of motivation” is ridiculous.

    So to put this “lifeless” label to bed, allow me to point out a few examples to debunk the accusation. Ryan Church’s hustle to get to the ball thrown away by Feliciano in Arizona, and his consequent strike to 3rd base to nail Chris Burke for an out. Not lifeless. Jose Reyes’ attempt for an inside the park home run in Arizona. Not lifeless. Reyes’ and Carlos Beltran’s show of frustration, slamming their bats and helmets to the ground after strikeouts. Not lifeless. Moises Alou’s gutty gamble to steal home plate. Not lifeless. Johan Santana plowing through 114 pitches in Arizona to get through one last inning and preserve a lead. Not lifeless. David Wright continually making sparkling plays at 3rd base to save runs. Not lifeless.

    Yes, certain players on the team are not living up to their end of the bargain to this point. I don’t need to run down the list because we all know who they are. But I think many people are guilty of confusing a slump, a bad break, a player physically playing at less than 100%, a mental mistake, or a pitcher struggling with his mechanics, as “lifelessness.” If you really think this year’s squad is still looking as lost and listless as they did last September, you’re allowing your disdain from last season to mar your better judgment and perception.

    The team is struggling, and we all think they should be better than what their record says. But the reason for their struggles is not because they don’t care enough. They’re just getting outplayed. And if you don’t have at least a shred of confidence in YOUR TEAM that they will start playing better, then your constant bellyaches are only a nuisance rather than some astute observation. If you’ve really lost all hope in the Mets by May 7th, go find something else to do for the rest of the summer and stop trying to make everyone feel as depressed and hopeless as you do. Whatever happened to YA GOTTA BELIEVE!?!?

  5. joe May 7, 2008 at 8:04 am
    Maybe the fact we were all up past 1AM and struggling through a disappointing game made the players SEEM lifeless.

    In other words, projecting our own lifelessness / sleepiness to the players on the screen.

    YAWN!

  6. Walnutz15 May 7, 2008 at 9:14 am
    Probably one of the more annoying stats you’ll read today:

    I just looked it up — and Hong-Chih Kuo, lifetime, was 3-11 with a teetering on 5 ERA trotting into last night’s game.

    2 of those 3 career wins? You guessed it — vs. the Mets.

    After picking up the victory last night, Mr. Kuo now has 3 wins vs. the Mets out of 4 total for his career– and sports a microscopic 0.46 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched vs. this team. It’s unreal.

    24 Strikeouts as opposed to 5 walks.

    AKA – Pathetic.

    I seem to remember the Moises Alou milk carton….can we make similar pics for Wright, Beltran, and Delgado?

  7. sincekindergarten May 7, 2008 at 9:26 am
    Maybe someone can drill Kuo when he pitches against the Mets again? It’s about the only way we’ll get him out of there. I seem to remember that he hit an HR against us last year, too.
  8. RockStar78 May 7, 2008 at 9:43 am
    Regarding Kuo, at the very least, remember he did start game 2 of the 2006 NLDS. He lost.
  9. Micalpalyn May 7, 2008 at 10:19 am
    If Isuzu is right then that still leaves something missing……..’self confidence? In Major league sports it seems the biggest differentaitor is swagger and arrogance…or as Mike Myers would say…’mojo’ .

    We need that 2006 Mojo back. We need CB’s mojo (circa the 2004/2006 playoffs).

    I cannot fault Willie. I LOVED his line up. And with Pagan scoring a run, and an early 4-1 lead he looked like a genius. EXCEPT i thought he had gone to the BP prior to Matt Kemp’s HR.
    BTW: Kudos to the Mets relief corps.

    BTW: Lost in this dialog was also 2on 1 out, Mets up 4-3. Figs just took a walk, and Reyes and Church cannot deliver. LA promptly takes the lead.

  10. Walnutz15 May 7, 2008 at 11:18 am
    Yes, Mr. Kuo was defeated in Game 2 of the NLDS.

    However, from the “Mr. Kuo’s Ownage of the Mets from During the Regular Season” files:

    He’s given up zero (0) homeruns against the Mets in his career….meanwhile, as stated — he’s actually hit one against them.

    Pretty embarassing, actually.