Mets Game 63: Loss to Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks 9 Mets 5

What started out so promising ended horribly.

John Maine was shaky in the first frame, allowing a run, but the Mets came right back in the bottom of the inning to jump ahead 3-1. They tacked on two more in the second inning to extend the lead to 5-1, and things were really looking up for the first time in about a week.

But, that fifth run was the last one they’d score, and the pitching couldn’t hold the fort.

After that difficult initial inning, Maine settled down and kept the D’Backs scoreless until the fifth, when his inefficient execution caught up to him and rendered him exhausted. Orlando Hudson re-directed Maine’s 97th pitch off the scoreboard to make the score 5-3. Maine finished the inning but was replaced by Claudio Vargas in the sixth.

It was all downhill from there.

The previously struggling Diamondbacks scored two more in the sixth to tie the game five-all, went ahead 6-5 in the eighth when Chris Snyder took Joe Smith deep, and then added three insurance runs in the ninth off Duaner Sanchez. The Mets offense was predictably inept against the dominating D-Backs bullpen, and that was that.

Notes

Someone was wearing Carlos Delgado’s uniform today — either that or the Mets have been denying him meals, because a hustling, hungry player was running around wearing #21 in this game. Delgado had only one hit, but it was a ground-ball single stretched into a double when Chris Young bobbled the ball in centerfield. A few minutes later, Delgado scored all the way from second on a base hit, running full speed (for him) all the way. And I swear I saw him hustling on a routine grounder to second base — busting out of the box and running completely through first base. I really wonder if perhaps Willie Randolph had a chat with Delgado … perhaps after reading about Del’s comparison to a rattlesnake.

Interestingly, since that scathing post by yours truly, Delgado is hitting .411. Coincidence?

Moises Alou returned to the lineup and swatted a two-run single on the first pitch he saw. However, he did not return after the rain delay due to tightness in his calf (don’t laugh). Marlon Anderson also appeared as a pinch-hitter and flied out. Ryan Church was finally placed on the DL and Raul Casanova was demoted. Thus the pressure is on Ramon Castro to wake up on time.

John Maine’s command is affected by a minor mechanical flaw in his delivery. He drops his glove and opens up his front side a bit too early, which causes his right arm to drag a little behind and also causes the ball to fly up and to the right (up and in to a righthanded hitter). He’s had this issue for as long as he’s been a Met, but usually finds a way to correct himself. If he doesn’t fix the problem, he’ll not only continue to miss up and in, but will also begin to strain his shoulder. An easy fix is to keep the glove up as he begins the stride, and push it forward toward the catcher instead of down past his hip. This little tweak should also help hide the ball for an extra moment. I’m surprised Ron Darling hasn’t pointed out this issue.

Duaner Sanchez was terrible. His pitches were up and flat, and looked like they didn’t have much velocity. An off day, but what can you do — no one is perfect.

Joe Smith actually pitched quite well, other than the gopher ball. Shame he had to take the loss.

Aaron Heilman cleaned up Duaner’s mess, throwing two pitches and getting an inning-ending popup from Justin Upton.

The game was delayed for about an hour due to rain. Before the rain came down, the grounds crew struggled to get the tarp down in swirling winds. However, they received a helping hand from Billy Wagner and Scott Schoeneweis, who jogged out and helped pull the tarp into place. It was like something out of a minor league or college game, and it was beautiful. And it made the rest of the Mets sitting in the dugout look like bums. Too bad … it may have been nothing, but it could have been something. How great would it have been if the entire team followed Billy’s and Scho’s lead and 25 Mets were out there positioning the tarp? It would have been a good highlight, but a better symbol of unity and teamwork that this team sorely needs.

Next Game

Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against (gulp) Brandon Webb. My expectations are very low, and I will be attending the game (so don’t expect to see a post until early in the AM). I suggest you also lower your expectations, and be pleasantly surprised if Big Pelf can outduel the best pitcher in MLB.

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 June 11, 2008 at 5:10 am
    I went to bed after the fifth. Whan an expletive-deleted blowup. (BTW, Joe, Blue Moon’s “Honey Moon” is out. It softens the pain.)

    I think, as I pointed out on the post-game thread at MetsBlog, that Carlos Beltran’s words in ST (“Tell Rollins that we’re the team to beat now”) are proving to be just that–words. Worthless. And the Wilpons’ supposed words to Willie (“Just win, baby”) are proving to be just that–words, if Willie isn’t “freed” soon. In the same vein, Willie’s words are proving to be just that–words. Worthless words. So, why should we, as fans, care about the team–or believe anything that comes from anyone in the Mets’ organization?

    At least JRol backed up his words. That I respect. The Mets don’t back up theirs.

  2. isuzudude June 11, 2008 at 5:59 am
    I have a suggestion. Let’s intentionally lose all the remaining games and get the #1 draft pick in 2009. There’s a realistic goal we can strive for!
  3. David W. June 11, 2008 at 10:15 am
    Question: How many of the Mets five starting pitchers can be counted on to pitch into the seventh inning? Only Santana right now, with Martinez perhaps joining him over time. Perez, Pelfrey, and Maine all throw too man pitches per inning. Perez is just wild, but both Pelfrey and Maine have lots of trouble putting batters away with a two-strike count. That’s too much strain on an already weak bullpen. I was extremely disappointed by Maine’s performance last night.
  4. Micalpalyn June 11, 2008 at 11:24 am
    1. Along the lines of MetsGeek my petition will be to title (or sub-title) this blog as ‘Free Willie’

    2. yesterday the Tigers sent Dontrelle to A ball….BIG MESSAGE!!!
    Note to Omar: instead of defering to Willie,
    a. Send down Joe Smith & Heilman. Disable Duaner. Call up Figs and Kunz. The demotion is just for Smith and Heilman to breathe some fresh air, Dirty is opitching after being out near two yrs and may need some downtime.
    b. Sign Ensberg as your back up infielder- Nunez has been cut as such it appears he was just an injury replacement. As it is Valentin may be back too.
    c. Cut Marlon. Tatis fills his slot anyway.
    d. Again: I’d put beltran at #2 or #3 and Wright at 4. Alou at #5 and Del 6th. e. Castro is moving up to primary catcher status.
    f. Omar dresses as the orange suited Pimp until the end of the season.

    2. David: Feliciano, Smith et al need to get outs period. Maine’s 15 batters with 3ER and 7Ks makes the succeeding 4 innings with 6ER embarrassing for Willie and Omar!

    3. Kudos to you Joe on the Delgado fire lighting.

    4. Isuzu: If we had the #1 draft pick we’d get Paul Wilson again. Note nearly 20 yrs apart we picked Wilson and Humber both the top college pitchers in the draft and darn if the same thing does not happen to both. IOW stick to FA market (hopefully younger ones).

    5. Wally: Wally as a bench coach/3rd base coach….I think THAT small move might be Gi-normous. It’d light a fire on the bench, in the club house AND on the bases. Not to mention have Willie looking over his shoulder.

  5. Micalpalyn June 11, 2008 at 11:54 am
    Addendum:

    1. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/
    Two things here; Wil ledezma was cut. If Sanchez needs to be rested i think this is a credible option.

    2. Jay Gibbons wants back in. here’s a guy who is hungry to play. THAT makes him worthy of at least a look.

    3. a starter market is developing….Ollie for sale? The upside is such that given the pressure to win i think the Brewers, astros or Cubs could bite. I love Ollie, but given Niese is near ready, the Mets-mix needs tinkering, Ollie is a FA 2B, and his value now is as high as it will get, plus he neeed a whup-ass manager (ala sweet lou)…and they have Marshall and the offer mentioned Matt murton. I might toss in Endy to sweeten a deal there.

    B. I like Moises statement that the Mets can/will make the playoffs. I too believe they will make it or fall just short .

  6. joe June 11, 2008 at 12:30 pm
    Agree with David on the starting pitching issue. These guys have to go deeper into games, and figure out a way to be more efficient. Easier said than done. I’m pretty confident that part of Maine’s high pitch counts are due to the mechanical flaw — he doesn’t have good biting downward movement on pitches, and therefore can only get strikeouts on the high fastball.

    Jay Gibbons is worth thinking about at this point. But then, who isn’t?

    Wally as 3B coach …. hmmmm ….. not a bad idea.

    Mic, when speaking of the top pitchers in the draft, you forgot Big Pelf.

  7. isuzudude June 11, 2008 at 12:49 pm
    Mic –
    I agree that Mets are in dire need of a roster makeover. But there’s a big difference between making good moves, and just making moves for the sake of making moves. I mean, you want to bring in a guy like Ensberg who hasn’t hit his own weight since 2005 at the expense of Marlon Anderson, who aside from being more versatile than Ensberg, proved to be the league’s best pinch hitter just last year. Additionally, Ed Kunz is nowhere near ML ready, Smith has done nothing to deserve a demotion, Ledezma and Gibbons are bums, and Sanchez can’t just be DL’d without legitimate proof of injury. I admire you’re desire for change, but I’m not in agreement with your suggestions whatsoever.

    The Daily News is reporting Nunez has been DFA’d and Aguila is being called up, so Omar is heading in the right direction. We can all complain about the starting pitching and starting position players, but the reality is that none of them are going to be benched, demoted, or cut. Perhaps traded – but the group of players the Mets are looking to deal, and who also have value in other teams’ eyes, is no more than 2 or 3 players deep. So, for now, it’s going to be about Delgado continuing his hot streak, Beltran, Wright, and Reyes staying consistent, Alou staying healthy, and finding an adequate alternative to Ryan Church in RF. At that point it’s up the SP to go 6 quality innings each time to the mound, and Willie to correctly utilize his bullpen. There’s little reason for the Mets to keep losing if those things fall into place. However, since this is the season everything is bound to go wrong, most likely we’re going to witness Santana undergo TJ surgery, Wright suffer a nervous breakdown, and CitiField spontaneously combust within the next 2 weeks. At which point we’ll all blame Willie Randolph for not properly motivating the baseball gods in showering their good fortunes upon us instead of those upstart, hard-working, never-say die bastards in Philadelphia.

  8. Micalpalyn June 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm
    Pitching: Watching the games it is obvious the strike zone is pinched by the umps this yr and fighting for the zone is a big issue. Hence high pitch counts for certain pitchers, note Santana has high K’s but is forced to throw down the pipe often enuff to serve up the HR. Note the entire staff, has high numbers of hits per IP.

    big Pelf. not part of my point as he has not been injured.

    Your stories are a good read: I like the focus shifting to Omar. He has NEVER made a managerial change and that is glaring as an achilles heel right now. But I think ala 2006 he will make personnel changes. I like Aguila moving up. That IS bold. But i think we desperately need an infielder ala Chris Woodward. DW’s splits are glaring, CB’s piower numbers are also glaring, and Castillo CANNOT play everyday.

  9. Micalpalyn June 11, 2008 at 3:41 pm
    Isuzu: My intricate points might be flawed but overall i think we do agree…just coming from different sides of the road.

    Prior to this 5 game slide we went 7/9. Point- this team is not washed up. As you point out the core of this team, CB, santana, Maine, DW and Reyes need a shot of cortisone. THAT cortisone is some outside help. No- Smith does not deserve a demotion, heilman shows signs of regain, but last night and the 4 previous nights were all wins with a little lucky hit, better base running or more consistent relief work.

    As i said its not about crucification with little Joe or Aaron, but just a break a mechanical tune up. With Ollie its a makeover.

    hindsight: You could bomb the roster but I think this is a decent core. Reality is we are 2 games under .500 not 10. BUT given a review of performance it should be better. If Florida are competing with a bunch of no names, roster waivers, (hendrickson and Cantu) and a closer who is making a mockery of Wagner (Ok thats extreme). ..we should have better results. One of those Florida players Mike Jacobs was described by Willie as …Said Randolph, “He’s in a nice groove right now.”….(sound familiar).
    http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/ny-sbmets254397441aug25,0,7656394,full.story?coll=sns-ap-football-headlines

    In fact as i was looking for that quote i found some eerily similar paralels to 2005. If you have time look for yourself. Included is the fact in that yr we had Braden Looper destroying games for us. And Benson was analagous to ollie in his inconsistency. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=2143845&type=story

    One point to focus on is again 1-3 players could make a ton of difference. One in the pen, on on the bench (millar), possibly a starter. I like Aguila, i like Pagan and tatis on the bench. Marlon was great last yr and in 06. But maybe the dodgers cut him for the same reason last yr we must cut him now. Aguila, presents a positive upside. Heck- maybe Aguila can spot Church and provide the lift Church did to start the season!

    Bottom line: We cannot allow these late inning losses, late inning collapses. each of these last 5 losses were wins at which point we are right on the Phils heels.

    Isuzu -you yourself have said this team will go on a tear. Last yr Charlie was on the verge of the guillotin …in the press, but JC Romera, Brett Myers and Arthur Rhodes came out of nowhere to solidify their pen and get them to the playoffs…again a little tinkering CAN go a long way.

    As for the manager: Ozzie Guillen is minority manager, he’s not the best spoken guy out there but he sure knows how to light a fire doesnt he. He is definately not concerned about his media perception.