Mets Game 100: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 8 Mets 6

Another collapse.

That’s really the only way to describe this loss — a collapse. The SNY announcers termed it “devastating”, but I’m not sure Tom Glavine would agree.

This game was neatly wrapped, signed, sealed, and about to be delivered. However, somewhere between the end of the eighth inning and the third out of the top of the ninth, the package was dropped.

Instead of an easy 5-2 victory, the Mets were stunned by an 8-5 deficit, and found themselves having to take another turn at the plate in the last of the ninth.

Johan Santana finally performed at the ace level we’ve been waiting to see — 8 IP, 2 ER, in perhaps his biggest game of the year to this point. EXCEPT: a true “ace”, knowing the closer was unavailable, and on pitch #105, would have finished the game. Ask Tom Seaver.

OK, OK, we’re not be fair to Johan. He’s been the victim of very tough luck this year. But at what point is the “luck” analyzed as something else? No doubt, he pitched well enough to win this game. He’s pitched well enough to win at least four or possibly five other games. But the bottom line is, he did not win those games. Thus, talk radio has another four days to find fault with the best pitcher on the Mets.

After falling behind 1-zip, the Mets found their way to a 3-1 lead thanks to an RBI double by David Wright and a clutch two-run homerun by Carlos Delgado. It could’ve been a three-run homer, but third-base coach Luis Aguayo sent Endy Chavez home on Wright’s double, and Endy was nailed on a perfect relay from Pat Burrell to Jimmy Rollins to Carlos Ruiz. Red-hot Ramon Castro blasted a two-run dinger in the sixth to extend the lead to 5-1, and it appeared the Mets had the game in the bag.

However, the fightin’ Phils never quit, and got to within three thanks to a solo homer by Shane Victorino. Still, when the ninth inning began, a three-run lead felt pretty cushy, even with Billy Wagner unavailable. After all, the Mets had yet to dip into their bullpen, and had access to everyone else.

The final frame began with Duaner Sanchez on the mound. Sanchez gave up three straight hits to load the bases, and was relieved by Joe Smith. Smith did his job, getting a grounder to Jose Reyes, but Reyes made an ugly, awkward attempt to force out Victorino at second, rather than going for the easy out at first, and missed the bag. Everybody safe, score 5-3, bases still loaded. Lefthand hitter Geoff Jenkins was announced as a pinch-hitter, so Jerry Manuel called for Pedro Feliciano, and the Phillies countered with another pinch-hitter, righthand hitter So Taguchi — who was 0-for-16 as a pincher before this at-bat. As you might guess, Taguchi got his first hit — a double over Endy’s head in rightfield, scoring two to tie the game (it was an excellent, pesky at-bat by Taguchi, by the way; he fell behind 0-2, worked it to 2-2, then fouled off three tough pitches before the blast).

Feliciano remained in the game to face every Mets’ fans’ favorite Phillie, Jimmy Rollins, and Rollins ripped a double to score two more and put the Phillies up 7-5. Feliciano got a groundout from Chase Utley for the first out of the inning, intentionally walked Burrell, then induced Ryan Howard to hit a perfect double-play grounder back to him. However, instead of turning to second base with the ball, or throwing home to get Rollins running in from third, Feliciano unbelievably turned to first, dropped the ball, then had no play except to first. It looked like he didn’t know how many outs there were, or at least didn’t consider before the pitch what he would do with the ball if it came back to him. So Rollins scampered home with the 8th run, and Howard was retired for the second out at first. Aaron Heilman then came in to finish up the mess.

Notes

Hindsight is 20-20, but I was wondering why Argenis Reyes was pinch-hitting for Santana in the eighth with one out and no one on. On the one hand, the bullpen should be able to hold a three-run lead for one inning. On the other, you don’t have Wagner, you don’t have anyone close to Wagner’s dominating stuff to take his place, but what you do have is a pitcher in a good rhythm slicing through the Phillies like a hot knife through butter. At 105 pitches, Santana shouldn’t be out of gas in a game this big. If he were the type of guy who regularly throws tons of pitches — an Oliver Perez or John Maine — OK then, replace him. But Santana is a guy who regularly tosses low-pitch innings, and had an emotional advantage over the Phillies. Take it from someone who has played this game — when the other team’s ace is on the mound, and he’s cruising, and you’re down by three with three outs left, you’re not feeling good about your chances. In fact, in that situation, you’re ROOTING for a relief pitcher. Tough call, though, either way. As a manager you’d really like to believe your bullpen can get the job done with a three-run lead.

Duaner Sanchez has been pitching well, but far from dominating. To me it appears he has yet to adjust to his reduction in velocity — and that may affect his confidence more than anything.

Endy Chavez was 3-for-5 but was thrown out at home twice. Wright and Castro had two hits apiece.

Ironically, the relief pitcher who did his job — Joe Smith, who induced what should have been a groundout — was tagged with the loss.

Joe Blanton was less than impressive in his first NL start. In fact, he looked a little scared in front of the New York crowd. Strange, since he’s been to Shea before … but, not as a Phillie.

Next Game

The Mets will try to come back from this tough loss in another 7:10 pm start on Wednesday. John Maine is scheduled to face Brett Myers. Maine needs to correct his mechanical flaw ASAP in order to re-find his command. He might have some luck in that this will be Myers’ first start in the big leagues since June 27th, when he lasted only two innings in an 8-7 loss to the Rangers. He’s been in the minors for the past few weeks.

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. murph July 22, 2008 at 11:00 pm
    Here is an excerpt from the press conference after last night’s game. (note: this press conference was in my head).

    Question:
    Did tonight’s loss feel like a punch in the throat, a punch in the gut, or a punch in the balls?

    Answer:
    Since the bullpen showed no guts and no balls, it must have been a punch in the throat (i.e., a choke).

    Way to come up big in a pressure situation, fellas.
    Reminded me of Tom Glavine in game 162 last year (also known as Glavine’s last game as a Met).

  2. sincekindergarten July 23, 2008 at 4:55 am
    Santana should have been left in to finish it. No doubt.

    However, there was at least one fly ball from Delgado (the first one) that, if it had been hit in the bandbox of CBP, would have gone out. Even though the Phillthies won/the Mets bullpen gave away, this game, if I were Rich Dubee, I’d be a tad concerned about my new starter.

    I’ve got a bad feeling about John Maine tonight. Thing is, I think Wifebeater isn’t going to do any better; maybe a tad worse.

  3. isuzudude July 23, 2008 at 5:52 am
    After this game I went to bed completely sick to me stomach. This was September all over again. With a win in their grasp, they find a way to lose. I can’t place blame on Johan or Jerry for going to the pen in the 9th. I mean, c’mon, just get 3 outs before you give up 3 runs. I would have trusted Jorge Sosa to get that job done. But the game was bound to be lost. And you can look back at this one and recount a hundred different things that could have changed the outcome. Endy getting thrown out twice. Leaving the bases loaded in the 7th. Jose Reyes’ and Feliciano’s poor defense in the 9th. On and on and on. But who cares. The game is only played once, and you have to live with the decisions that are made. We lost, again, and in the process completely re-openned all the (seemingly) healed wounds from last year, and the rest of us are scrambling for the gauze pads to try and stop the bleeding.

    And with this one loss, I have almost completely lost all confidence and faith. Johan finally gave us the type of dominating start we’ve been waiting for, and it gets wasted. Now all the momentum (talk about your pendulum) is with the Phils, and it would be no shock at all if the Phillies offense comes alive and pounds the brains of out our suddenly woeful pitching. I’m afraid we’ve witnessed the beginning of the end.

  4. RockStar78 July 23, 2008 at 6:58 am
    The most frustrating thing is that they are probably not even going to play tonight. Forecast says heavy rains all day and night. The stench is going to linger.
  5. Micalpalyn July 23, 2008 at 11:01 am
    Sorry guys, I could not stay out of this one:

    Joe: I am disappointed in you. SK where are you?

    1. Its one loss. And there are some bright silver linings here. Often i have felt this team would win when down by 3. This weekend i knew we would grind out a couple of wins. This one was always tenuous. But consider i thought Johan would not pitch the 8th. giving the BP 6 outs to get!

    2. Isuzu is RIGHT! 3 outs among 4 relivers is a no brainer!!!! Consider the rumor mill has the Mets looking at huston street and Damaso marte and no wonder!!! Consider ’99 and 2000 when Benitez was our closer we still had John Franco, dennis Cook and the Turk. Frankly this group was giving an exam and failed!! AND i would rather Jerry look at his team and identify the weaknesses BEFORE July 31st. Sanchez is the 2nd closer but he coughed. Muniz did not match up well with the bases loaded. But in hind sight i might have Aaron in there but again he does not do so hot with the bases loaded.

    3. Silver lining. The Mets gave away 3 runs yet still had a 3 run lead in the 9th. santana was fine and Blanton looked average. Hopefully this fires up the Mets.

  6. joe July 23, 2008 at 11:54 am
    Hey why are you disappointed in me? Do you think I’m too hard on Johan?
  7. isuzudude July 23, 2008 at 11:58 am
    Mic’s prodding has me thinking crazy thoughts. Just a month ago I was all for trading Ollie and whatever other spare parts could fetch a decent prospect or two, but now I’m crossing my fingers the Mets go out and land a corner OF and a relief pitcher. Funny what a 10-game winning streak and a playoff race can do. Call me a flip-flopper, I’m guilty as charged.

    Anyway, I think last night’s debacle showed us that the bullpen is not as good as Phillie fans have been conveying to us. I trust Wagner can get the job done with relative reliability in the 9th, but I quiver with anxiety everytime someone else is brought in from the pen – and that’s despite the pen looking brilliant during the streak. If nothing else, the pen needs a set-up man who can be depended on to A) retire both lefties and righties as to work a full inning, and B) close a game when Wagner is unavailable. I really like Sanchez, and his numbers suggest he should fill that void, but his ERA has hovered around 4.00 all year so far, and that’s not going to cut it. I’m not saying cut him or make him the mop-up guy, but his role can very much be upgraded…and I think it needs to be if the Mets consider themselves contenders. Everyone else in the pen right now is a situational pitcher. Feliciano and Schoeneweis only get lefties out, Heilman and Smith only get righties out (an pardon me for leaving out Muniz). So here’s my proposal:

    TRADE HEILMAN & A PROSPECT TO OAKLAND FOR HUSTON STREET.

    Considering the Mets projected desperation for starting pitching next year, this may seem like a crazy, kneejerk move. But I seriously think Heilman has reached his ceiling with the Mets. His arm angle is a ticking time bomb. And there are no guarentees that, if given an opportunity to start, he would succeed. And Street is no crappy return. This is a premier closer with strikeout ability and success vs lefties and righties. He would give the Mets as deadly a bullpen combination as the franchise has seen since McDowell/Orosco circa 1986. Additionally, Street is under contract thru 2010 and is arbitration eligible this offseason, a huge reason why Billy Beane would be looking to unload him. Oakland will probably ask for Niese or Kunz along with Heilman, and that would be a hefty pricetag, but hopefully a counteroffer of Rustich, Antonini, Owen, or Parnell would suffice. I’d love to know what y’all think about this idea.

  8. Micalpalyn July 23, 2008 at 12:34 pm
    I think Isuzu that you are spot on. Heilman and prospect is probably fine with Beane. BUT look at MLB rumors…Reds looking at Street..wt* i can only think thed would unload Franci Cordero and then get Street.

    I also think Ibanez or Winn is realistic too.

  9. joe July 23, 2008 at 12:37 pm
    I’d be into a Huston Street trade, because although it would deplete the farm system, it would bring in a guy who has yet to turn 25. It’s when guys get into their late 20s that you have to think twice about giving up youngsters.

    However I’m not sure Billy Beane is as hot on Heilman as he was in previous years. Aaron is already in arbitration years, and not that far from free agency. And at 29 is hardly a youngster.

    I’m afraid to say Beane would have his eye on F-Mart.

  10. JIMMYJ723 July 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm
    This was one of those nights where I had turn off my TV after the last out and just go straight to bed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fall alseep. I spent half the night thinking about how much this loss hurt. But once I had a chance to fully asses the game, rather than go off sheer emotions, I realized it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.

    It’s not like our bullpen went out there and kept walking everyone. The Phillies got hit after hit after hit. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team. Jose Reyes made a mental error and Luis Aguayo made two horrible decisions but otherwise, it was a well played game.

    I’m not overly worried about this loss, or our bullpen. What we really need is a corner outfielder that can drive in some runs. Our biggest problem is leaving men on base. Once that situation is addressed, this team will play up to it’s full potential.