Mets Game 32: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 12 Dodgers1

Wow … where was all that offense in the first two games?

The Mets went ape on Dodger ace Brad Penny, slapping him around for ten runs on ten hits and three walks in four frames, then assaulted Scott Proctor for another two in his one and one-third inning of work.

Meantime, John Maine was Just Magnificent, plowing through eight and and a third before giving up a run. His final line: 8 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 ER. His near-shutout performance came just hours after the sports talk radio jockeys and other pundits pointed out that the Mets had no starting pitcher go more than seven innings in the season.

When a dozen runs are scored, it’s hard to highlight one or two players. Ryan “Lastings Who?” Church was the brightest star of the day, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three runs scored from the six spot. Luis Castillo, back in the two-spot, went 2-for-4 with two two-out RBI. Raul Casanova also went 2-for-4, with 2 RBI and 2 runs.

Notes

The Mets drove home six runs with two outs — and John Maine was responsible for two of them.

A bright green flag (usually we talk about “red flags”) from today’s game was the Mets’ patience at the plate. For the third straight game, the Mets batters were exhibiting good plate discipline, working deep counts, letting the ball get deep, and hitting to the opposite field. Is it any coincidence that Jose Reyes, at the top of the lineup, has become more selective lately? Is it possible that the rest of the order is following his lead? Keep it up, Jose.

Interestingly, the Mets had this offensive explosion with regulars Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou, and Brian Schneider riding the pine. Marlon Anderson, Angel Pagan, and Casanova were all productive in their places.

Pagan, by the way, made a spectacular play in the first inning, catching a fly ball at the wall in foul territory and then doing a somersault over the wall and going headfirst into the seats. He stayed in the game but eventually left due to shoulder tightness. Pagan is scheduled for an MRI and is day-to-day.

Two things great to see from Johnny Maine: getting ahead of the batters (which is easy with a big lead) and pounding the ball inside. On several occasions he made a batter “dodge” his inside fastball, and in fact went so far in on Jeff Kent that he elicited a response from Pig-boy Penny and a warning from the umpires. Despite the warning, Johnny continued to make batters move their feet here and there — I like seeing that nasty side of Mr. Maine.

Carlos Beltran seemed completely over the “flu-like symptoms” that kept him out of Tuesday night’s contest, zipping around the bases and stinging the ball all over the place (he scorched the ball, but right at people). After reading about Darryl Strawberry’s hangovers being reported as “flu-like symptoms” in Bad Guys Won, I’ve been extremely skeptical of players who sit for one day and return the picture of health the next. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to start any rumors — just taking the reason for Beltran’s day off with a grain of salt. Carlos may not have been partying the night before, but Willie Randolph could very well be covering up something else. For example, perhaps one or both of his recently repaired knees is still acting up, and rather than allow the knee to become a media issue, it makes more sense to give an excuse that evokes no questions.

I love listening to Ron Darling, but he’s driving me nutty by identifying two-seam fastballs as four-seamers. For the fifth time in the last three games, he called a particular pitch a “four-seam fastball” as the slo-mo replay magnifying the pitcher’s hand at release clearly exhibited a two-seam fastball (this is when the index and middle fingers are on, or parallel to, the red stitching on the ball). Get yer eyes checked, Ron … maybe you need glasses.

Next Game

The Mets have a day off to travel on Thursday, then return home on Friday to host the Cincinnati Reds for a weekend series. Game one begins at 7:10 PM and will have Mike Pelfrey on the mound against Matt Belisle.

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. sincekindergarten May 7, 2008 at 4:35 pm
    It would look like John Maine might pitch into the ninth. Maybe something called a “complete game,” which seems to be something alien to Willie Randolph.
  2. sincekindergarten May 7, 2008 at 4:46 pm
    He does, and the first batter–PH Andruw Jones–doubles into short RF, then Maine walks Juan Pierre . . . and The Jacket is out to the mound.
  3. Micalpalyn May 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm
    This is what makes these Mets so frustrating, Blasting Brad Penny is hardly easy to do. But then they make Kuo and Billingsley look like Cy Young on PEDS.
  4. sincekindergarten May 8, 2008 at 4:15 am
    I know, Mic . . .games like this make me wonder if some of my hair loss isn’t self-induced, and I really do need to get most of the remaining ones cut . . .
  5. Walnutz15 May 8, 2008 at 6:21 am
    Hmmm…..”flu-like symptoms” the day after Cinco De Mayo…..

    (Kidding……)

    Nice work by the fellas yesterday. Clicking in every facet — they need to build off of it now.

  6. sincekindergarten May 8, 2008 at 6:54 am
    Walnutz, they have the perfect team coming into Shea to do just that.
  7. Walnutz15 May 8, 2008 at 7:08 am
    And that’s why it’s high time to raise these guys’ ERA’s even further than they already are.

    Coming home, Matt Belisle, Bronson Arroyo, and Johnny Cueto on the mound. Let’s get to cookin’.

  8. isuzudude May 8, 2008 at 7:19 am
    I guess the Willie bashers and the “lack of motivation” crew don’t have much to say after yesterday’s performance. It goes to show that the Mets are as capable of dishing out a blowout as they are at receiving one.

    I’d like to make a plea to Willie to keep Castillo in the #2 hole once and for all. It is just so obvious that he is so much more comfortable hitting there. His approach at the plate is so much better suited for the 2-hole. He loves to take pitches, even when he was a hitter’s count. He’s a table-setter, a guy who gets on base by any means necessary. By hitting him 8th, all it does is play into the other team’s favor as they’re more than obliged to give Castillo a free pass to get to the pitcher on deck. But by hitting 2nd, it’s like having another lead-off hitter in case Reyes makes an out. And the proof is in the pudding. Batting 2nd this season, Castillo is hitting .273 with an OBP of .377. Batting 8th, .182/.308. Now, I understand antagonists to that idea will say that Church has been the team’s best #2 hitter and it would be detrimental to drop him back down to 7th in the order. My response would be that Church is a power hitter, as evidenced by his team-leading .541 slugging percentage and 6 HR. He’s also not the best contact hitter – a big characteristic of what a #2 hitter should have during hit-and-run situations with Reyes on base – evidenced by his team-leading 28 punchouts. I think Church’s best spot in the order is 5th…at least for the time being. That way, instead of hitting solo home runs, we’ll be knocking in Reyes, Castillo, Wright, or Beltran when they get on base, which is quite often. I’d propose to bat him behind Beltran and ahead of Alou, with Delgado and Schneider/Castro bringing up the rear of the order. For the most part the Mets keep their lefty-righty platoon in order while putting everyone in their most productive batting order spot. And then Church and Alou are still getting more at-bats than Delgado, yet it leaves room for Delgado to advance in the order when/if he gets his batting average to a more respectable plateau. Church is hitting over .300 in all 4 spots Willie has batted him in this season, so I don’t think the move will hinder his fast start. I feel it’s high time to stop messing with Castillo already and just leave him in the 2-hole where he is clearly most qualified to be. If I’m right we’ll see a lot more of what we saw out of the offense yesterday over the next few weeks.

    Walnutz – you are dead right, too. “They need to build off of it now.” With a 7-game homestand upcoming against the lowly Reds and Nationals, this is the time the Mets need to rattle off a 6-1 stretch and start their progression up the standings. If the team is serious about considering themselves contenders, they cannot let this opportunity pass them by.

  9. Micalpalyn May 8, 2008 at 10:17 am
    The Dude is back!.

    1. as everyone is pointing out…the Mets needed a game like this to show some swagger. Once the foot hit the gas it did not let up.

    2. Isuzu has a point on Castillo, and the data to back it up. But on the line-up,; How is delgado going to advance if Church is hitting as he is , DW and CB heat up (annual ritual) and Alou is himself?

    3. Willie: Willie has tinkered with the line up this yr, he has rested players, even Reyes and CB have had rest. And his BP management has waaay improved.

    4. As Joe pointed out previously these Mets ARE winning at home. This is Where Willie gets scrutinized the most is in not taking care of the minnows. It really was not Atl or Philly that blocked us from last post season. It was the Marlins and Nats at Shea.

    5. Speaking of the BP: They seem to have done really well recently. The weakest link had been Heilman, but he seems to have turned a corner and is the chief Fireman in the middle innings allowing Sho to be a LOOGY. I really dont see where Matt Wise has a role.

  10. joe May 8, 2008 at 10:46 am
    While I agree over the long-term in regard to Castillo batting second, I also like having Church up at the top while he’s on fire. And I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to have Luis batting eighth — it’s often good to have a disciplined hitter in that spot, because 1) during rallies, he likely won’t get a strike; and 2) with less than two out and no one on, I like the idea of Luis drawing a walk and getting bunted to 2B, to give Reyes an RBI opp.

    As for Matt Wise, any bullpen that includes Jorge Sosa can make room.

  11. isuzudude May 8, 2008 at 11:18 am
    Mic – In regards to your #2, I think Delgado could move up in the order when Alou suffers his next injury, or when Church starts his eventual fall back to earth. I think the masterplan for the season was to have Delgado 5th, Alou 6th, and Church 7th, but Willie has had to shift gears on the fly as Delgado slumped, Alou was hurt, and Church has been a stud. Once Delgado heats up, or Church cools down, or Alou reinjures himself, Delgado will find himself ascending the order again. But if none of those 3 things happen, I’m perfectly happy keeping Delgado 7th. That’s a pretty deadly #7 hitter, wouldn’t you agree?
    I also commend you on a job well done with your points #3-5. I agree with all.

    Joe – I agree it’s good to have a disciplined #8 hitter, but Schneider fits that bill as well as Castillo, and it doesn’t exactly take a hall of famer to be bunted over to 2nd by the pitcher. Both have low K numbers and are at least decent at drawing walks. And though it is nice to have Castillo ahead of the pitcher with less than 2 out, far too many times Castillo is going to come up with 1 or 2 outs and runners on base needing a hit to avoid the pitcher coming up representing the potential rally-killer, which takes him totally out of his comfort zone. And you know as well as I that he qualifies as the prototypical #2 hitter, while Church is more a middle-of-the-order guy. It’s not as though I’d be dropping Church to the 7-spot where he wouldn’t get enough at-bats for the Mets to take advantage of his hot streak. Batting 5th, behind Beltran and ahead of Alou, seems to me like a very envious spot for any hitter to be placed in, and I think he’d get plenty of opportunities – perhaps more than he has now – to drive in runs.
    Agreed with cutting Sosa. How this is even becoming such a dilemma is beyond me.

  12. Micalpalyn May 8, 2008 at 2:01 pm
    Thanks Isuzu:

    1. sorry if i might seem like the Archangel of (willie’s) doom. But in context i think he could get past the watershed and be here (indefinately).

    2. I disagree on Church. I think he could have blossomed. If his achilles was lefty pitching he has gotten past it. yes he may slump, but ALL hitters do at some point.

    3. Disagree on Alou. Given how Willie has matured this yr he could be here a while. In the WEEK he has been here i believe Pagan and Endy have started games in left (gasp).

    4. Del: I’m happy if he gives anything. To me his lack of production is offset by Church. I dont think Marlon’s glove would be welcome in the everyday line up. Del has made DW look really good.

    5. I think we pick on Sosa too much. His 4-1 record is reflective of the fact he has kept us in games. His ERA was more reflective of the fact he was used in MOP duty. Sho 2007 he is not.

  13. Micalpalyn May 8, 2008 at 2:11 pm
    Misc notes:

    “Speaking of first baseman, according to Jamey Newberg of the Newberg Report, Rangers 1B Jason Botts has cleared waivers and will return to the team’s farm system”

    but Botts has stated he’d like to move on to a new organization. He is a 4A player, and ala Mike Jacobs could be lured to the Mets with future considerations for the Shea 1st base job.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

  14. isuzudude May 8, 2008 at 3:06 pm
    Mic, I strongly disagree with your stance on Sosa. His 4-1 record is more reflective of beneficial run support than his capability to keep us in games. In essence, he’s collected 4 wins by being the pitcher of record while the Mets took a lead late in the game. All it does it mask how poorly he’s pitched overall and how ineffective he’s been as the team’s 2nd ROOGY after Smith. In 56 ABs, righties are hitting .286 vs. Sosa w/2 HR. And overall, hitters are .313 against him, while he sports a 6.05 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, and 8/11 BB/K. He may have 4 wins, but with those stats, how many games has he prevented the Mets from staying in contention for by allowing the opposition to extend their lead? He has easily been the worst of the Met relievers this season, and that’s including Heilman. I know Smith has minor league options, but it would be a true crime to demote him so to cater to Sosa’s contract. With Wise in the pen, Sosa is useless. Heilman can become the #2 ROOGY after Smith, keeping Sanchez as the setup man, and Wise can take over as the long-man/6th & 7th inning guy. I see no reason why the Mets should cling to Sosa, especially when Smith is a much more valuable and reliable commodity.

    Also, you can disagree with me on Church, but I’d be willing to bet you that he doesn’t finish the year batting .328, which he’s at right now. He may have blossomed, but I can see him cooling off to the .280 range when the season is over – which means he’ll be batting around .250-.260 for the rest of the year while continuing to strike out a good deal. And I’d bet my life savings that Alou will get hurt again this year. And both of those things could lead to Delgado moving up in the order, which was the point of my original statement.

    Finally, I’d pass on Botts. We have Val Pascucci in AAA now, and if we’re serious about progressing the career of Mike Carp, we don’t need any other career AAAA’s clogging his path.