Mets Game 97: Loss to Reds

Reds 5 Mets 2

Not even the genius of Jerry Manuel could save the Mets on this evening, as their 10-game winning streak came to a close in Cincinnati.

Once again the Mets starting pitcher — in this case John Maine — crapped the bed and put the team in a hole. For the second time in his last three starts, Maine couldn’t pitch past the fifth. Five was the big number for Maine — he allowed 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks and struck out 5 before being removed with two outs in the 5th. He exited after 103 pitches and left the bases loaded for Scott Schoeneweis, who failed in his duty to clear the bases; lucky for Maine, Scho retired Joey Votto to end the inning.

The Mets offense was awful in this game, with only Carlos Beltran able to hit the ball hard and safely. Beltran’s double and triple comprised half of the hits, and David Wright drew the team’s only walks (two). The rest of the team was completely mystified by the 75-MPH curves of Bronson Arroyo, who came into the game with a 5.94 ERA but held the Mets to 4 hits and 2 runs in 8 innings.

If there was a bright spot, it was that Schoeneweis, Joe Smith, and Aaron Heilman shut out the Reds through 3 1/3 innings.

Notes

Bronson Arroyo reminds me of the skinny kid in little league who could throw a spinner, threw it every pitch, smiling the entire time because he knew he was the only kid in the league allowed to throw a curve and was therefore getting away with something.

Poor pitch selection by the Mets’ batters this evening. And once they went down by three, there were too many hitters swinging from their heels before seeing a strike. Would have been nice to see a little patience against Arroyo, who threw almost exclusively curveballs and sliders.

Conversely, what was the thinking behind having Maine intentionally walk the bases loaded at a time when he clearly had no command of the strike zone? Even his strikes were off the mark.

Funny how Jerry Manuel can do a fantastic job managing the Mets to a come-from-behind victory one night, but can’t repeat it the next. Or was it the stupendous clutch hitting of David Wright that won the opener?

Believe me, I like Manuel, and I’ve come to understand Randolph had to go. But I’m still tired of hearing the SNY announcers tell me about what a genius he is. Any manager in the midst of a 10-game winning streak will look smart. Look at Bud Harrelson — he managed a team through 10 straight, but no one would ever confuse him with Tony LaRussa. Praise Manuel for what he is — a guy who is standing back and allowing the players to play, rather than some amazing in-game tactician.

And while I’m in a disagreeable mood (losses do that to me) … In the ninth inning, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez discussed Fernando Martinez, with both agreeing that F-Mart would be the starting left fielder in 2009. In fact there was no discussion about WHETHER he’d be the starter, but rather they spoke as if it were a given. I imagine Gary and Keith have some inside info the rest of us don’t, and so it surprises me that the organization is so confident in F-Mart’s abilities. Without raining on the Fernando Martinez parade, I just don’t see how anyone could be so certain that a 19-year-old who is doing OK in AA — not dominating, not great, but just OK — can be counted on to be an MLB starter on a contending team in less than a year. Believe me, I’m all for promoting the youth, and building a team from within, but I just don’t see F-Mart being ready so quickly. But then, that’s why I’m a blogger and not a professional baseball evaluator — I can’t project.

BTW, maybe I can’t project, but I can analyze. If you listened to me on “Live from Mickey Mantle’s“, I mentioned that John Maine’s struggles were due specifically to his opening his front shoulder too soon, which has been throwing off his command (I wrote about the same both here at MetsToday and on MetsBlog in recent weeks). I mentioned this on the show when the game was in the first inning. Remarkably, Lee Mazzilli’s post-game analysis of Maine was similar exactly the same — in fact almost word-for-word, and he also used some nifty stop-action video to illustrate the point. Maybe Maz was sitting at the bar of Mickey’s? In any case, I hope Dan Warthen is aware of the issue and can get it corrected pronto.

Next Game

Mets and Reds do it again on Saturday at 7:40 pm, with Oliver Perez facing Josh Fogg. The Mets should beat up on Fogg, but then, they should have beaten up on Arroyo. The Mets’ chance for success in the game will depend on which Ollie shows up.

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. julie July 19, 2008 at 4:02 am
    What is up with Maine? Get it straightened out already.
  2. sincekindergarten July 19, 2008 at 4:16 am
    Julie, he had a stretch like this last year. He’ll go to Pedro, or Pedro will come to him. It’ll work out, soon.
  3. isuzudude July 19, 2008 at 7:02 am
    All good things come to an end. If there’s anything that concerns me most about Maine, it’s the walks. Looking at last night’s game, for example, none of the run-scoring plays suggest that Maine is getting beat around. You had a home run by Bruce in which he hit a ball in the right-hand hitter’s batters box that would likely have been a lazy fly ball at Shea. When things came unraveled in the 5th, there was Jeff Keppinger’s chopper off the plate that Wright mishandled that could have ended the inning but instead loaded the bases. Maine then walked Griffey on a close pitch, gave up a bloop over 1B by Phillips that scored 2, intentionally walks Dunn, and nips Encarnacion with a pitch to force in another run. There were no gap shots, no line drives down the line, no one-hoppers off the fence, no ground-rule doubles, no hits back through the box. Maine just has this re-occuring issue of wildness that seems to always be his undoing. It’s really amazing how similar he and Ollie are. Both keep the opposition to under a .235 batting average, but because of the walks and the vulnerability of giving up the big inning, their ERAs are both over 4.20. If they can figure out how to get the walks down, there’s no doubt they can be 15+ game winners. And if the Mets want to make the playoffs, they had better figure it out.
  4. sincekindergarten July 19, 2008 at 8:09 am
    I hear ya, ID, about Keppinger’s chopper. If Wright gets in front of that ball, then maybe he gets the out. Another thing, ID–it’s amazing how dissimilar the personalities of Maine and Perez are, yet they’re pretty much the same where results are concerned.

    I think, Joe, that Ollie is going to have the “inner Sandy Koufax” come out tonight. 7 IP, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Mets win 5-1. On the other side, Kyle Kendrick gets the L, giving up 5 runs.

  5. joe July 19, 2008 at 9:47 am
    I can fix Maine in ten minutes …. and I won’t even wear a Jacket.