Mets Game 51: Win Over Marlins

Mets 7 Marlins 6

Wow … this is EXACTLY what we’ve been waiting for — for about a year.

Fernando Tatis continued his case for regular duty, slamming a clutch two-run double in the 12th to push the Mets past the Marlins.

The big hit came after light-hitting Alfredo Amezega punched a ball over the rightfield fence in the top of the inning to give Florida the lead. However, these “new” Mets did not roll over, but rather came back for the second time in the evening to earn a huge win over the first-place Fish.

But early on, there didn’t appear to be a need for the comeback kids. Oliver Perez was cruising right along, setting down Marlins batters like Earl Anthony used to knock down bowling pins. He retired 12 of the first 14 Fish he faced, allowing only a harmless solo homer to catcher Mike Rabelo. Meantime, the Mets jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame on a two-run dinger by Luis Castillo, and extended it to 3-1 on a sac fly by Fernando Tatis in the fourth.

However, Dr. Perez transformed into Mr. Hyde in the fifth, allowing a leadoff homer to Cody Ross and then losing the strike zone, walking two before wiggling out of the inning without further damage — thanks to a spectacular running catch of a line drive by Carlos Beltran. Miraculously, manager Willie Randolph allowed Perez to start the sixth, despite his struggles in the fifth and obvious sudden loss of confidence. Perez was given a free pass by Jorge Cantu, who flied out on the first pitch, but then walked Wes Helms in a nine-pitch at-bat. Dan Uggla followed with an infield hit, and then it was Cody Ross again. I kept waiting to hear “… and now Willie Randolph will go out to the mound”, but strangely, there wasn’t even anyone warming up in the bullpen. Apparently, Willie is not aware that his job is on the line. He left Hyde out there, and it was “deja vu all over again” as Ross put another one over the fence to give the Marlins a 5-4 lead. Only after the ball exited the playing field did someone in the dugout finally get on the phone to the bullpen. Amazing.

Scott Schoeneweis pitched a scoreless seventh, and then Aaron Heilman, of all people, changed the tone of the game. Heilman pitched with a fervor for two frames, retiring all six batters he faced with a dominance we haven’t seen since the first week of the season. His performance was something of an inspiration to the men in the dugout, who heartily congratulated Heilman after finishing the ninth. Endy Chavez was so excited, in fact, he led off the bottom of the ninth with a homerun off closer Kevin Gregg to tie up the ballgame.


It looks to me like Heilman is over-exaggerating an attempt to “stay closed” with his front shoulder, and also pitching from a lower arm angle than normal. Although he had great success tonight, I fear it may be a short-term fix. As has been mentioned here several times before, Heilman’s release point is extremely fragile, and he can very quickly get too much under the ball. This occurs when he’s overused, and gets fatigued. Pitching from a more upright position, he has a better foundation from which to stay on top of the ball and throw on a downward plane. The way he threw tonight, he’s already starting low, and throwing from more of a level plane — he looks a lot like Joe Smith, actually. I’m happy Heilman pitched well — I’m his biggest fan — but am guarding my optimism at this point in time. There’s not question Heilman can be an effective pitcher, but what worries me is when Willie starts using him five times a week.

The Mets bullpen retired 16 straight Fish before Amezega’s solo homer.

In the bottom of the 11th, Endy Chavez led off with a single, and Randolph put on the hit-and-run with Brian Schneider at the plate and the pitcher on deck. It was a good call, in my opinion, because a) the right side was wide open with the first baseman holding the runner and b) Schneider is a dead-pull hitter who seems to hit a grounder to the right side every other time up. Unfortunately, for only the second time in his career, Schneider hit the ball the other way, and in the air. Figures.

Duaner Sanchez got it up to 93 MPH on the Shea Stadium radar gun. Unfortunately, Alfredo Amezega used aikido to redirect that energy over the fence.

I have to admit I was concerned when John Maine was sent out to pinch-run for Carlos Delgado. Sitting on the bench all night, with his body cold, all I could think was “don’t run too hard, don’t pull a hammy”. Next time, send Mike Pelfrey out there — if he pulls something the impact would not be nearly as great.

Next Game

The Mets host the Dodgers for a four-game series this weekend, starting with a 7:10 pm game on Thursday night. Claudio “Don’t Call Me Jason” Vargas goes to the mound against Brad “JC” Penny. Strangely, the two teams finish the series with an 8:05 pm game on Sunday — and then both teams have Monday night games in California. Talk about jet lag. I wonder if they’ll be sharing a plane.

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 28, 2008 at 10:03 pm
    FINALLY this team shows some heart. We really, really, REALLY, needed this win tonight.

    Heilman comes through in a tight spot.

    Beltran comes through in the clutch.

    Wright draws a WALK to lead off the 12th.

    Endy Chavez AND Luis Castillo homered in the same game. What are the odds of that ever happening again ???

    So many positives in this game. What a good feeling. I really hope we can build on this win.

  2. joe May 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm
    Homers by Chavez, Castillo, and don’t forget Amezega … crazy.

    The walk by Wright was HUGE, and something the Mets have not been doing all year (taking pitches when behind).

  3. Micalpalyn May 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm
    1. i thought the beltran AB in the 12th was the real signature play. after several ABs we regularly admonish him for he had a gritty AB with DW on 1st finally stroking a SINGLE (not trying to get a HR) after i thought he had been well set up for an inside FB. If he strikes out there is another inning.

    2. Del: I’m sorry but this team is a completely different animal without Del. Griitty and not giving away outs. when church comes back…(then alou) it gets even better.

    3. agree with matt: you PULL ollie after 5+ with Cody Ross coming up representing the go ahead run.

    4. jimmy: also the marlins had homered to take the lead….normally 3 strikeouts later the Mets lose. they strung 3 hits together to get that win.

    5. also the OF defense…tatis and CB had big catches.

  4. isuzudude May 29, 2008 at 6:03 am
    You guys mean I didn’t dream all this? I was so groggy when this one ended that I assumed their 12th inning rally was just a figment of my imagination and that I would discover this morning that they had really lost. Wow, talk about getting the day off to the right start.

    Now, I’m not one to get my hopes up on the Mets starting a winning streak due to a gutty, come-from-behind win, because we’ve seen them fall flat on their faces too many times before in similar situations. BUT…the Dodgers are coming to Shea losers of 5 of their last 6, having scored a total of 8 runs during that span (or 1.3 runs per game to you and I), they’re without Andruw, Furcal, and possibly Kent, and send Brad “Boy, I love losing to the Mets” Penny to the mound tonight. 5-12 lifetime against the Mets, 1-9 at Shea.

    And now the Marlins go to Philly to play 3, and Atlanta will continue to blow chunks on the road against Milwaukee and Cincy. Now’s as good a time as any to start making a move in the standings, boys!

    And, oh yeah, PEDRO IS COMING BACK!

  5. sincekindergarten May 29, 2008 at 5:41 pm
    ID, the Squaws beat the Brewers today. But, I agree with the Marlins and Phillthies. Personally, I can’t wait to see Brad Penny throw a couple of laser-straight, 97-mph fastballs at Delgado. If they’re in the same place, at least one of them should riccochet off of the scoreboard.