Mets Game 99: Win Over Reds

Mets 7 Reds 5

So much for the pitcher’s duel.

The Mets jumped on Edinson Volquez early, scoring three runs in the first three innings and running up his pitch count. They knocked him out by the fifth but had a slim 5-4 lead as Mike Pelfrey also was roughed up by the Reds.

Pelfrey, though, was more efficient with his pitches, and worked through seven frames before leaving the game. He pitched well enough to keep the Mets in the game, but not well enough to win – 7 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K. Pelf’s bugaboo was the longball — he gave up 3 dingers in the bandbox known as the All-American Ballpark. How small is Cincinnati’s field? Consider that Pelfrey allowed only seven homers all year prior to the contest, and just one in his previous 14 games.

After the Mets started the game with a 1-0 lead, the Reds tied it on a solo homer by Adam Dunn in the second, but Ramon Castro blasted a two-run homer to make it 3-1. The Mets tacked on another in the fourth on a sac fly by David Wright (driving in, who else, Jose Reyes), and then Pelfrey ran into trouble, allowing three runs in the bottom of the frame.

That was the only inning that Pelfrey struggled, but he gave up the lead on a solo homer by Brandon Phillips. The Mets fought back and tied the game in the seventh when Carlos Delgado singled in David Wright. The game remained 5-5 through regulation.

In the 10th inning, however, Reds reliever Bill Bray ran into trouble quickly. First, he gave up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Robinson Cancel, and a bunt by Jose Reyes put runners on the corners. Argenis “Middle of Everything” Reyes followed with a grounder to third that Edwin Encarnacion threw into right field, allowing Cancel to score and putting runners at second and third. David Wright was walked intentionally to load the bases, Carlos Beltran struck out, and then Delgado came through in the clutch for the second time in the game with a sac fly to score Reyes.

Billy Wagner came on in the bottom of the 10th and struck out the side to earn his 24th save.


Carlos Delgado must have found Juan Ponce de Leon’s map of the Fountain of Youth, because he looks like a different person the last few weeks. He went 3-for-4 with a walk, a double, and 2 RBI, and blistered the ball all over the place. He’s now hitting over .260 and .397 for the month of July. His batting average coming into July was .228. If he keeps up this pace there is no doubt in my mind that the Mets make it to the postseason.

Carlos Beltran had a spectacular at-bat in the first inning. He fell behind 1-2 with runners on the corners, and fouled off several close “pitcher’s pitches” before finally dumping another tough pitch into shallow left for a base hit. No doubt his statuesque effort from the night before influenced this at-bat. It was a “breath of fresh air” to see Beltran cut down his swing and be more “defensively aggressive” with a two-strike count and runners in scoring position.

Jose Reyes sprinted to his 63rd career triple in the fourth, breaking Mookie Wilson’s all-time Mets record of 62. Let’s hope he stays with the Mets long enough to hit another 63.

After Delgado’s third-inning double, Keith Hernandez suggested that he could be moved back into the cleanup spot. That might be an OK idea, but it was the rest of Keith’s lineup that bothered me — particularly, moving David Wright to fifth, Carlos Beltran to third, and Endy Chavez to second. That’s a bizarre head-scratcher to me. Call me crazy, but you don’t bat the best hitter in your lineup (Wright) anywhere but third — you certainly don’t bury him in the fifth spot. You want your best hitter to get an at-bat, guaranteed, in the first inning — so he bats 1, 2, or 3. Similarly, you don’t put your lowest OBP guy in any of those first three spots; therefore Chavez does NOT bat second. I’ll never understand good baseball minds like Hernandez getting blinded by speed alone. For example, Chuck Tanner used to bat Omar Moreno leadoff, and Billy Martin did the same with Mickey Rivers, yet both players rarely posted OBP’s above .320 (Moreno struggled to get over .300). Hernandez was referring to when Ryan Church would be healthy — if that’s the case, Church and his .370 OBP should bat second. If not Church, then Luis Castillo (if and when he’s ever healthy).

I know Wright went 3-for-4 the other day, but his selection when ahead on counts has been poor lately — he’s often swinging at bad pitches on 2-0, 2-1, and 3-1 counts. The good thing is, he’s continuing to get himself into those advantageous counts.

If I got one thing out of the Cincinnati series it was this: Brandon Phillips is a Gold Glove second baseman, and deserves serious consideration regardless of Orlando Hudson.

Next Game

The Mets get a day off on Monday, then travel to Philadelphia home for a three-game set. This was exactly what I hoped for: a split in Cincinnati, then face the Phillies still tied for first. The Mets’ fate is in their hands. Johan Santana faces newly acquired Joe Blanton on Tuesday at 7:10 pm in Citizen’s Bank Park Shea Stadium.

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 July 21, 2008 at 4:45 am
    Joe, the series is going to be at Shea. That’s probably one of the reasons behind Cholly Manuel’s thinking–get Blanton against the Mets in a pitcher’s park, as opposed to the bandbox that is CBP.

    Also, if Brandon Phillips wasn’t on Sportscenter after the play he had to end the third inning, there’s no justice in the world.

    It was nice to see the Mets come back after having the lead twice, then going down one run. If this game is two months ago, we lose, and scream for Willie’s head.

  2. sincekindergarten July 21, 2008 at 4:48 am
    One more thing–Wags complained of some shoulder discomfort while out on the mound in the 10th, and is going for an MRI today. If he goes down, who gets the call? Muniz has closer experience, but so does Kunz. I’d be alright with a callup of Kunz and do a “closer by committee” deal for the two weeks, with either Sanchez or Heilman as the first guy to get a save chance–probably Heilman, as he’s got a better fastball than Duaner.
  3. isuzudude July 21, 2008 at 6:12 am
    That is a very scary proposition, SK. If Wagner goes down, regardless of how unreliable he is in “big” save situations, it’s a serious blow to the team’s postseason chances. I don’t see anybody in-house who could fill those shoes. I don’t believe there would be a closer-by-comittee because Manuel has stated he likes setting specific roles for his bullpen arms. I would believe Sanchez would get the first crack, and if anyone from the minors is to be brought up it would be Willie Collazo, since you’d be looking to replace a lefty in the pen. Like I said, scary. Then again, the situation could develop into 2006 all over again, when Sanchez got hurt and forced Omar to deal Nady for Roberto Hernandez. Yes, we also got Ollie, but I don’t count on landing another reclamation project-turned-15 game winner. More like Omar goes for Fuentes from Colorado and has to part with Heilman or Neise in the process. However, let’s regress, because Wagner DID strike out the side after being tended to on the mound, and has said it is a non-issue. My fingers are crossed, nonetheless.

    Delgado’s up to .261 and is batting .419 in July. Whoda thunk it?

    Read over at metsblog that Trot Nixon underwent season-ending hernia surgery. It’s also highly likely that Angel Pagan won’t be heard from again in 2008 either. With 9 days left until the deadline, I really hope Omar’s working the phones for a corner OF. Chavez is already cooling off, so it’s only a matter of time before the current arrangement starts costing us precious games.

    Finally, good call Joe regarding Brandon Phillips. Honestly his only competition for the NL Gold Glove is Hudson, and it looks to me like Phillips is winning that battle. I second your vote for the challenger.

  4. sincekindergarten July 21, 2008 at 4:03 pm
    ID, I third that vote for Brandon Phillips.

    Wagner said that his shoulder felt better on the plane home from Cincinatti, so he didn’t get the MRI today.