Game 108: Loss
Phillies 5 Mets 3 Chase Utley 0
At least the Mets were able to end the Chase.
In a game where El Duque turned in a better-than-Trax performance, it looked as though the Mets might come away with a victory. However, their inability to conquer the Phillies’ bullpen was their ultimate downfall.
Orlando Hernandez hurt himself by balking twice in the 4th; one of them forced in a run. In El Duque’s defense, the first balque was an unusually strict interpretation of the rule, and no one would have said boo if the balk wasn’t called. Yes, technically he balqued, but the spirit of the rule is to prevent a pitcher from deceiving the runner; there’s no way on god’s green earth that Shane Victorino was somehow deceived by El Duque’s ever-so-slight movement forward. I wouldn’t mind these pansy-ass calls if not for the fact that a guy like Andy Pettitte NEVER gets called for a balk, even though he balks 90% of the time he throws to first.
El Duque made up for the run-scoring balque by hitting the first triple of his career, a blast down the third-base line. Jose Reyes followed with a two-out single to drive him home.
Reyes had a big day, with three hits, but he completely threw away his fifth at-bat by swinging at a first-pitch inside fastball from reliever Arthur Rhodes in the 8th. He jammed himself, nearly breaking the bat, and hit a weak ground ball that turned into a double play. Why he’s swinging at a poor first offering from a pitcher he hasn’t seen all night when his team is down by one is beyond my logic. But, he’s still learning, right?
Perhaps what made the Reyes’ throwaway at-bat was Jose Valentin’s sac bunt attempt the at-bat before, which was too hard and directly to the pitcher. Rhodes picked up the ball and threw out the lead runner easily, erasing Lastings Milledge and nullifying the purpose of the sacrifice. Milledge had a good at-bat, working Rhodes for a walk, and it seemed foolish to put the bunt on right away with Valenin up next. Why not take a pitch or two, maybe get Rhodes into a jam? Instead, he got out of the inning with just two pitches after the walk. Inexcusable.
Overall, the Mets looked uninspired at the plate. A few stray extra-base hits were sprinkled among a few singles here and there, with no “team hitting” happening at all (working the pitcher, advancing runners, cutting down the swing in appropriate spots, etc.). It’s as if they are waiting around (and swinging) for a three-run homer — even with no one on.
With Carlos Delgado on third with two outs and righthander Ryan Madson on the mound in the 7th, Mr. Willie had Endy Chavez ready to pinch-hit, but at the last minute opted for Julio Franco. Why? No one’s quite sure, especially considering the fact that Franco was barely able to stand while suffering with the flu. Usually Mr. Willie goes with the lefty vs. righty no-brainer by-the-book strategy, making this decision all the more puzzling. I’ll guess he had one of those “Torre moments”, and “had a hunch”.
Uncle Cliffy looked awful at the plate. He needs to stop swinging for the fences.
The Mets left 17 runners on base, which is also awful. Ironically, it wasn’t as bad as the Phillies, who left 18 on. This game was like watching a competition in clutch hitting futility.
Tommy Glavine vs. Jon Lieber on Saturday afternoon. With both veterans fading miserably lately, this game could resemble a 3-hour batting practice.