Mets Game 36: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 10 Mets 3

A terrible night, from all angles. The weather stunk, the defense stunk, the pitching stunk, and the hitting stunk.

Nelson Figueroa struggled every inning of his outing, allowing a run in three of the first four frames. Most of it was his own fault — he walked five batters, hit two, and made a key throwing error allowing a run to score. He found himself in trouble again in the fifth, as Nick Johnson singled and Rob Mackowiak walked, but Figueroa managed to retire two batters in between. With two outs in the fifth and the #8 hitter up, it looked like he might eke out of trouble one last time and leave the contest still keeping the Mets in the game. Unfortunately, eight-hitter Jesus Flores stroked a double to clear the bases, then scored himself on a single by pitcher Odalis Perez, before Figgy finally retired Cristian Guzman for the third out. By the time the smoke cleared, the score was 6-3 Nats.

Down three was not insurmountable, particularly with Odalis Perez on the mound, but any chance the Mets had to stay in the game was blown away by Jorge “Gas Can” Sosa, who allowed four hits, two walks, and four runs in his one inning of “work”, to give the Nationals a cushy 10-3 lead. On a cold windy night at Shea, a seven-run deficit may as well be death. Not unexpectedly, the Mets offense was unable to get anything going over the final four innings, save for a mini-rally in the seventh highlighted by David Wright’s seventh homer of the season.

Notes

Seventh inning, down seven runs, Ryan Church leading off. What does he do? He swings at the first pitch offered by Odalis Perez and pops up weakly down the third base line. If Willie Randolph had any cojones, he’d sit Church down IMMEDIATELY after that stupidity and set a new tone for the rest of the season. Damion Easley did the same damn thing leading off the eighth, popping up the first pitch to shallow rightfield. Stupidity begets stupidity — and Randolph allows it to happen. Last I checked, it was impossible to hit a seven-run homer with no one on base. Simple fundamentals, people.

Easley did hit an absolute bomb over the centerfield fence in the second inning. Nice shot, and his first dinger of the year.

Figueroa remained a standup guy after the game, taking blame for the loss and giving props to opposing pitcher Odalis Perez. When asked if the weather had something to do with his control, he admitted it could have affected it but refused to make an excuse, citing the fact that everyone else had to pitch in the same weather.

Next Game

Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:10 on Tuesday, with John Maine going against Long Island native John Lannan. Lannan struck out eleven Mets in six innings, holding them to only one run in a losing cause back on April 17th.

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. JIMMYJ723 May 12, 2008 at 10:39 pm
    This is my major problem with Willie Randolph. He still thinks he’s in the American League. We don’t play “small ball.” We rarely hit and run. We don’t bunt. We don’t make productive out. We don’t work the count. We don’t have a team first mentality on offense. Everyone goes up there and swings for the fences. When was the last time you watched the Mets grind one out for a victory? I can’t even remember

    The only way we win is if we have an offensive explosion or a great individual pitching performance. Thats why we’re only 2 games over .500 with a team that’s loaded with talent. This is also the reason why I never give Willie Randolph credit for our wins and all the blame for most our losses.

    On a more positive note, the crowd at Shea or at least the ones that stuck around till the end was great. They were chanting, “Let’s go Mets,” in the 7th and 8th even though we were down by 6 runs. I wish there were more Mets fans like those, as opposed to the morons that booed Duaner Sanchez the other day.

    I can’t wait to see, “The Zen of Bobby V” tomorrow and watch a real MANAGER in action. As for tonight, I’ll just be dreaming of the day Willie Randolph is shown the door and Wally Balkman or Bobby Valentine take over. A guy can always hope can’t he ???

  2. isuzudude May 13, 2008 at 6:07 am
    Jimmy – you are a classic example of a person who is letting their hatred for Willie interfere with their better judgment. When was the last time the Mets grinded out a victory? Did you not watch the Arizona series just last weekend? Hello! We don’t bunt? Um, didn’t Reyes just lay down a bunt single LAST NIGHT?!?! We don’t work the count? Do you realize the Mets have drawn 157 walks so far this year, 3rd most in the NL?? Why don’t you do us all a favor and go back to the Bronx once the Yankees are back in town and stay there. Obviously your distortions of the truth are an attempt at anti-Met propaganda and are serious insults to our inteligence.

    And I know I’m about to tick off hdarvick, where ever he might be, but I think we’ve seen the last (at least for the time being) of Nelson Figueroa. The Mets need to recall a starting pitcher for an upcoming game in this Washington series and he’s likely the guy to go to make room on the roster. Also – EARTH TO OMAR – will you please dump Sosa already and activate Matt Wise! What are you waiting for? What more evidence do you need to determine what pitcher should be cut to make room? Sosa gets rocked for 4 runs in 1 inning of work last night, while Joe Smith strikes out the side. What is going on here? What is the delay for?

  3. joe May 13, 2008 at 8:01 am
    isuzudude, funny you bring up figgy / sosa … they are the subject of the next post, coming in the next hour …
  4. JIMMYJ723 May 13, 2008 at 9:14 pm
    First of all, I have no hatred for Willie as a person. I don’t mind his demeanor, work ethic or even most of the rhetoric that comes out of his mouth after every loss. I just think he’s a terrible manager, at least in the NL. I’d rather have a manager that plays, “small ball” to manufacture runs, rather than one who just waits around for the big hit. That’s my biggest problem with Willie Randolph.

    Second, Reyes should be bunting and hitting the ball on the ground a lot more, rather than swinging for the fences. I’m not happy with a bunt single every now and then. I want to see it with some consistency. Not just Reyes, I’d like to see more bunting in general, as well as productive outs. We do it every now and then, but we need to do it CONSISTENTLY.

    Third, I didn’t realize that we’re 3rd in the NL with 157 walks. I will have to admit that I’m wrong on that point. I’m not a stats guy. I do however watch every Mets game and it seems to me like we swing at way too many bad pitches. We don’t wear out starters by fouling off pitches to increase their pitch counts. That’s what I was talking about.

    As for the Arizona series, did you actually watch the games or just look at the score? Because the reason we won the only close game in the series was because of a terrible throw by Conor Jackson. Not because we grinded it out.

    Instead of making stupid comments like, “Why don’t you do us all a favor and go back to the Bronx…” Can you do me a favor and tell me why we should keep Willie Randolph as our manager? Are you happy with a .500 team. Because since the all-star break of last season, that’s what we’ve been.

  5. isuzudude May 14, 2008 at 6:18 am
    Jimmy, I concur that the Mets need to be more consistent. However, I’m not sure that they need to be more consistent at playing small ball. They just need to be more consistent at winning. Look back at 2006 when the Mets ran away with the division. No one had a problem with how Willie ran things that year, yet the Mets were very much a “swing for the fences” kind of team. They mixed in some small ball tactics hear and there, but they did what they had to do to win, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

    Like you, I watch nearly every game. Yet, for whatever reason, I am seeing more evidence of small ball then you claim is taking place. For example, take last night. We had Delgado laying down a bunt for a single to beat the shift. We had runs scoring on ground outs and sac flies. We only had 1 run out of 6 be accounted for by a home run. To me, it appeared as though Willie pulled the right strings to help the Mets secure a victory. But therein lies your flaw, Jim. You stated you’re willing to lay blame on Willie for every loss, no matter the score or outcome, but will never give Willie credit for any win. How is that being impartial? Do you not give Willie credit for altering a lineup to get Church more ABs in the 2-hole and Delgado less hitting 7th? Do you not credit Willie for changing bullpen roles to take Heilman out of high pressure situations while using the hot Joe Smith in bigger spots? Conversely, when things have gone wrong this year, why is Willie always to blame? Is he responsible for Delgado hitting .228? Or for Alou and Pedro getting hurt? Or for Heilman’s struggles with control? It is completely unfair to blame Willie for anything.

    So to answer your question, no I’m not happy with a barely-above .500 team, but I am perceptive enough to realize, unlike many other Met fans with their blinders on, that Willie is not solely responsible for the mediocrity. And I’ll state again, as I have in other posts, that since April 15th the Mets have won 5 series and lost only 2, so it appears as though Willie has the team headed in the right direction. To proclaim that Willie deserves the axe after every loss gets sickening after a while, especially to someone of the opinion that he shouldn’t be made to be the scapegoat for an even larger problem.

  6. JIMMYJ723 May 14, 2008 at 1:16 pm
    I understand how you could be tired of all the Mets fans that call for Willie’s job after ever loss. I however am not that fan. I’ve been calling for his job since the middle of last year. I probably made one comment about how I want him fired after watching Moises Alou pushing aside Carlos Gomez to make a few catches in the OF that Gomez had already called for. When I saw Willie letting Alou get away with that stupid stunt, not once but twice in the same game, I said this guy has no business being the manager of a Major League ball club. I try to be as supportive as I can of my team, all the players and the manager. I was highly dissapointed when Minaya decided to bring Willie back at the end of last season but I figued hey, it’s a new season, he probably learned a lot from last year and won’t be the same guy. That assumption was completely wrong. I have no faith in Randolph and I don’t want to wait for another Isiah Thomas situation. (Yes, I know that’s a bit dramatic, but I couldn’t think of a better analogy)

    But lets get back to 2008. Delgado bunting is not small ball. That was a random act, thought up by Delgado, I’d be shocked if Willie actually asked him to bunt in that situation.

    I admit I was being a bit harsh when I said I don’t give him credit for every win and all the balme for every loss. I do give Willie credit for batting Ryan Church second and Delgado seventh. I do not however give him credit for taking Heilman out of high pressure situations. I think he waited way too long to make that move. I’m not a fan of Heilman either, I think at best, he’s a long reliever but that’s a whole different topic.

    I don’t blame Willie for Delgado’s batting average or Heilman/Sosa’s lack of control. I do blame him for making the decison to keep Brady Clark and let Ruben Gotay go. I do blame him for trusting Heilman so much. I also blame him for using Joe Smith, Duaner Shanchez and Billy Wagner, in the 7th, 8th and 9th inning of a game we’re down by six runs, WITH SIX GAMES TO PLAY IN THE NEXT 6 DAYS !!!

    Isuzudude, although we strongly disagree on this issue, we are on the same team. I look forward to debating this and other issues in the future.

    PS – The last time we disagreed was right after the Milledge trade. I was strongly defending the trade and said that Mets fans would, “Fall in love with Church,” after half a season. So right now I consider myself 1-0. =)

    http://www.metstoday.com/07-08-offseason/2007/mets-trade-milledge-to-nats/

    We see how this arguement turns out.

  7. isuzudude May 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm
    Just a few parting shots…

    The Isaiah-to-Willie comparison is noted. However, how about a Willie-to-Tom Coughlin comparison? You know, that guy every Giants fan wanted fired halfway through the 2007 season and then went on to win a Super Bowl. Sometimes it just takes a little more initiative from the PLAYERS in order for a coach/manager to get the credit he deserves.

    As far as the Delgado bunt, I reckon it was Willie’s idea. Or at least partially his idea. As quoted after the game, Willie said, “I like it. He should have been doing it a long time ago, actually…It’s an ocean out there with everybody on the other side [of the field during a defensive shift].” By saying that Delgado should have been doing it already, I think that implies Willie has suggested the idea to Delgado in the past. The fact that Delgado bunts so rarely – in my opinion – is more a testament of Delgado’s stubbornness than Willie’s insistence that Delgado always swing for the fences.

    Anyway, I look forward to future debates as well, Jim. Hopefully you’ll continue making comments on this blog so I can even up the score! (Although I’m not willing to concede this disagreement just yet)

  8. JIMMYJ723 May 14, 2008 at 3:50 pm
    We both want the same thing. For our Mets to win it all. We just have a difference of opinion on how to do that and who is best suited to lead the team.

    For the sake of our Mets, I hope your right on this one. Nothing would make me happier than for Willie to pull off a Tom Coughlin.