Game 151: Loss
Marlins 6 Mets 3
Though it means nothing, it was a tough game to lose, considering that baby fat boy himself, Miguel Cabrera, poked his head into the pregame interview with Willie Randolph and yelled “we’re gonna win today!”.
Mr. Willie was awesome, responding, “You’re going to win today? That’s good. It doesn’t matter much.” Then, after porky left, Randolph said: ‘I like his confidence. We’re going to win today, huh? So what? A little too late.”
Cabrera is so young, so talented, and such a rockhead. He’s lucky to be hidden on the non-market Marlins; if he were in a big market like Boston, Chicago, or New York, he’d get eaten alive. His antics over the last few months have been so immature, foundlessly cocksure, and stupid, that I’ve come to enjoy Andruw Jones and his annoying smirk. As great a player as he is, Cabrera could ultimately be to the Marlins what Bobby Abreu was to the Phillies: an enigmatic roadblock.
Anyway, on to the game …
This loss was also tough for Oliver Perez, who pitched, well, OK, not great. However, considering his struggles this year, it was a pretty decent performance: five innings, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks. And in his defense, two of those runs might not have been charged against him, had a Major League leftfielder been on the field (rather than Lastings the rodeo clown), or if David Wright had thrown home instead of first for the second out of the sixth inning.
Clearly, Perez threw too many pitches (109), and walked too many in his short stint, but there were some positives. First, his velocity is still up in the mid-90s, which is where he should be. Second, he displayed dominance, striking out six with his hard low heater and wicked slider. As Ron Darling mentioned on the SNY telecast, his big issue is his mechanics: they’re all over the place. Of utmost concern is the landing of his front leg: he plants his foot pointing toward first base, which closes up his front and forces his arm to whip across his body. This allows the wicked movement on his slider and fastball, but does considerable harm on his elbow and shoulder. The only guy I can think of who succeeded with a similar style for a long period was Steve Carlton, but even his mechanics weren’t this prounounced. It will be interesting to see if the Mets try to change his stride, which would actually add to his velocity (he’ll get more power from his lower body and legs) and improve his control, but might take away from his movement. I hope the Mets do try to improve his mechanics, and further, I hope Ollie can respond positively to changes. Otherwise, he’ll eventually blow out his arm, and never be more than an inconsistent guy who looks great one game and gets blasted the next.
Too bad for Ollie, the Mets were not prepared to score many runs, and the bullpen was due to give up a few runs. Only Paul LoDuca and Jose Reyes were interested in hitting the ball where they weren’t, and the top two accounted for nearly all of the offensive output. Chad Bradford finally gave up runs in relief, and Roberto Hernandez continued to struggle, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk in one inning. The Mets cut the game to 4-3 at one point, but Bert imploded, and batters 3 through 8 weren’t much help.
And then there was the matter of Dontrelle Willis. It was the D-Train’s night, both on the mound and at bat … but let’s not go there. It was like watching a high school game, where the stud athlete on the team is on the mound dominating everyone and is also the cleanup hitter. When Dontrelle was taken out of the game, I half-expected him to switch places with the shortstop or centerfielder.
Dontrelle Willis has three home runs this year, all against the Mets, all at Shea Stadium. He’s batting .364 with the three dingers and seven RBI at Shea. Rumor has it that he, Chipper Jones, and Pat Burrell play poker together and tend to share secrets.
Anyone notice Dontrelle bringing the heat inside? Reminds one of Roger Clemens, and the old days of when batters occasionally had fear in their heart. Not enough pitchers do that anymore.
Also, did anyone notice how similar the motions of Dontrelle and Oliver Perez are? Willis has far from perfect mechanics, and he seems to land awkwardly and throw across his body much the same way Perez does. However, D-Train has more control and balance when he lands, which is the difference between the two. Who knows, maybe if Dontrelle Willis can make sense of his wacky motion, there is hope for Ollie.
Since the Mets were down by three in the ninth, Heath Bell was allowed to pitch. He threw a heckuva lot of pitches (28), but most were strikes (21). He is the victim of an extraordinary number of foul balls, leading one to believe that he should be working on a nasty strikeout pitch. If Heath can master a filthy split-finger, or slider, or changeup, or something that drops away from the strike zone, he could be devastating — along the lines of Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman. That’s no bull … usually when a successful AAA pitcher has trouble busting out in MLB, it’s because he can’t throw strikes, but in the case of Bell, it’s the opposite. Rivera had similar troubles until he developed that cutter, and Hoffman was similar to Bell while with the Marlins — then honed his legendary changeup with the Padres.