Mets Game 112: Win Over Padres

Mets 6 Padres 5

Maybe Fernando Tatis IS the answer in the outfield after all.

Tatis blasted two homeruns, driving in the Mets’ first four runs, in leading the Mets to a much-needed victory over the Padres.

On the mound, Mike Pelfrey allowed only 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings, spreading out nine Padres hits and one walk. The runs scored on two solo homers — one by Kevin Kouzmanoff and the other by Adrian Gonzalez.

Luckily, the Mets were able to tack on two extra runs from sources other than Tatis — ironically, both from deep doubles off the bats of the “other” corner outfielders, Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. It would figure, since I publicly announced my lack of confidence in all three on MetsBlog about 24 hours before the game. But hey, if that’s what it takes, I’ll be happy to look the fool.

The ninth inning was an adventure, as Aaron Heilman began the frame with a 6-2 lead but exited the game with the score 6-5 and only one out on the board. He wasn’t helped by a poorly played Texas Leaguer behind second base that set up a three-run homer off the bat of Jody Gerut. However, Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis came to the rescue, getting the last two outs to save the win.

Notes

While we knew Billy Wagner was unavailable (he was put on the 15-day DL prior to the game), I would imagine that he would NOT have been called upon to start the ninth inning, since it wasn’t a save situation. That said, it’s curious that Heilman — anointed the “interim closer” by “interim manager” Jerry Manuel — was called upon to start the frame. If he’s the “closer”, why is he pitching in a non-save situation? Once again an inconsistency in Manuel’s supposed bullpen roles has been identified.

Regardless, Heilman did not pitch effectively, and nearly blew the game. Looking at his face after the Gerut blast, his confidence is shot. This has happened too many times, to the point where we must consider that late-inning relief is something he cannot handle — emotionally nor physically. This is not an indictment on Heilman’s character — not everyone has the gumption, thick skin, and “rubber arm” necessary to succeed as a setup man and/or closer. At the same time, he has great stuff that shouldn’t be wasted. So hopefully the Mets will smarten up and move him back to starting after this season.

Speaking of late-inning relief, my wife had an outstanding point: why wasn’t Eddie Kunz brought in to start the ninth? Since it wasn’t a save situation, the Mets had a four-run lead, and there were plenty of arms to rescue him, it appeared to be an ideal spot to give Kunz a shot. Remarkably, Kunz was warming up at the very end of the game, with Schoeneweis on the mound with two outs and a one-run lead. Presumably, Kunz would have come in to relieve Scho if Scho did not retire either Brian Giles or Adrian Gonzalez to end the game. Are you kidding me? So, you don’t bring in Kunz to start the inning with a cushy lead, but you’ll have him come in with the go-ahead run on base? Wild, crazy stuff.

In the third inning, the Mets had a chance to put a toll on Chris Young, as Mike Pelfrey led off with a 9-pitch at-bat before grounding out to second. Two batters later, rookie Daniel Murphy saw 9 pitches as well before walking. That’s 18 pitches between two batters. Unfortunately, the two veterans who hit in the inning — Jose Reyes and David Wright — both popped out swinging on the first pitch they saw. So what could have easily been a 25-30+ pitch inning, instead turned out to be Young getting very lucky after wasting a number of pitches and effort on the two least-experienced batters in the Mets’ lineup. In other words, the Mets let him off the hook. Little things like this are often the difference between a win and a loss, particularly in close ballgames.

In case you missed it, Nick Hundley is not related to Todd nor Randy, despite the fact he’s a backstop. And for the record, former MLB catcher Eric Munson is not related to Thurman Munson, either.

Next Game

The Mets host the Friars for another 7:10 pm game on Wednesday night. Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start against Cha Seung Baek.

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. RockStar78 August 6, 2008 at 7:07 am
    Tatis is looking very much like the Jose Valentin story of 2006. What I really like about him is that he’s a right handed bat. That is something this team is sorely lacking, especially lower in the order.
  2. isuzudude August 6, 2008 at 7:14 am
    I agree, Joe, that Aaron just can no longer be counted on in late and close games. There’s no doubt he’s got great “stuff,” but he’s lacking something else that’s causing him to get shelled everytime he’s on the mound. Whether it be confidence, control, proper mechanics, pitch-tipping, injury…I don’t know, but for the foreseeable future Heilman needs to be Mr Mop-up.

    Jerry is going to have one hell of a time figuring out who’s best suited to close games in Billy’s absence. With Heilman and Sanchez both struggling right now, it doesn’t leave him with many clear-cut choices. Feliciano, Schoeneweis, and Smith are all specialists, and I wouldn’t trust any against a switch-hitter with a 1-run lead in the 9th. Muniz has been spotty, Lugo is a career AAAA’er. So that leaves Kunz as his de facto closer, if you ask me. And even that I’m not comfortable with. Of all the options, Kunz has the most closing experience, albeit at AA. But perhaps his “unknown” quality will last long enough to make him effective in that role until Billy comes back. One can only hope, because Heilman proved he can’t be trusted last night, and the choices are few and far between after him.

    A bit of solace, however: Huston Street blew another save for Oakland last night, and is sporting a 4.20 ERA and a sore groin. Not saying he’d be running into the same bad luck if he had become a Met at the deadline, but for the time being at least he’s showing not to be any better of an option. Still, the Mets need some relief pitching BADLY, whether it comes from within or without. Anybody know what Scott Strickland’s doing with himself these days? Oh wait, he has a 2.57 ERA and 9 saves pitching for the Yankees triple-A team. Damn them.

  3. Micalpalyn August 6, 2008 at 11:11 am
    This post begins by pointing out the positives without dwelling too much. Pel was a stopper. considering an agonizing 4 game losing streak on the road which could have been a 4-2 road trip…this was a breath of fresh air.

    Fernie was a tonic also. we broached this before. Again I think of him as a former ML who could have had a much different career. Now with his chance to right a wrong he is doing his best ‘atonement’ impersonation.

    With murphy and Evans (and Muniz) i am less likely to say they are overmatched than they are giving rookie performances. Both are infielders by trade, so their play in the OF is hardly embearassing. In fact i think they are increasing in value rapidly.

    Conservatively, i am in agreement with isuzu. The BP is full of specialists. But someone has to step up. Heilman hade his turn. Now i expect the job to be Sho’s. But i do think i’d have Kunz start the 8th and set up. I’d also send down Heilman to be ‘stretched out’.

  4. isuzudude August 6, 2008 at 11:54 am
    By the way, here’s some encouraging news from the Star-Ledger today:

    “Right-handed pitcher Ambiorix Burgos began a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast Mets (rookie league) yesterday and allowed two earned runs on three hits with four strikeouts in two innings. If he doesn’t suffer a setback, he could contribute during the last month of the season.”

    Help may be on the way! Hopefully his arrival won’t be too late.

  5. RockStar78 August 6, 2008 at 12:32 pm
    Joe, just curious what you think about Joba’s situation? Do you predict a rotator cuff issue? Seems like he uses a lot of arm in that delivery.
  6. joe August 6, 2008 at 4:05 pm
    I don’t love Joba’s mechanics. In fact the reason the Yankees were able to draft him so low is because most other teams figured he’d break down due to them — and there were whispers that he was already damaged goods. For a big tall guy with legs for tree trunks, it’s strange he doesn’t incorporate his lower body … if he did he might throw 110 MPH. But you’re right RockStar, he’s almost all arm with that motion.

    As for a rotator issue, it’s possible. Though to me it looks more like he’s straining the front of his shoulder … could be a labral strain.