Mets Game 136: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 4 Mets 3

As usual, the Mets jumped out to an early lead, then slumbered. They scored two runs in the first, another one in the third, then went right to bed. Meantime, Mike Pelfrey pitched another gem, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead, which we all knew would not last.

Naturally, the bullpen blew the one-run lead. Duaner Sanchez gave up a solo homer to Mike Jacobs to make it 3-3, and Jerry Manuel set up Aaron Heilman to fail in the ninth.

Notes

Go ahead, blame Aaron Heilman if you’re a “Heilman hater”. I blame Jerry Manuel, the “genius” who demanded on back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases. Tell me again why that’s such a brilliant idea? Oh yeah, it’s not — because when there’s a ground ball hit to a drawn-in infield without a force, it is just as easy to nail the runner at home via tag play as it is via force play. Loading the bases intentionally is one of the most illogical and senseless recent trends in baseball management — all it does is create a situation where the pitcher has no room for error. Completely idiotic.

I’m not saying Heilman would have gotten out of that jam. However, I don’t see the point in making his job more difficult by creating a situation where he CANNOT walk a batter. With the winning run on third base, the pitcher’s goal more than any other time is to make the batter hit a “pitcher’s pitch”. It’s difficult — close to impossible — to succeed in getting three outs that way with no margin for error.

I’m amazed at the stupidity of postgame reporters who were asking why Aaron Heilman threw so many balls, wondering if perhaps there was something wrong with his mechanics. Did you watch the game? Some of Heilman’s pitches missed by a lot, but some of the others were damn close. In fact I thought ball four to Hanley Ramirez could easily have gone either way — home plate umpire Jim Wolf was squeezing both sides all night.

Will some sabermetrician please remind Manuel and all the other “genius” managers out there that even the very best hitters FAIL 7 out of 10 times?

While the talking heads and knee-jerk pundits continue to berate the bullpen, how about we go back to my theory: score more runs! Yes, the Mets bullpen blows a lot of games. But they’re also handed too many opportunities to blow games. Again, I call for a math geek — please tell us how many times the bullpen was given a one-run lead or less? These games would be much easier to win if the offense would provide a few runs of cushion.

Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy were the only two Mets in the lineup with more than one hit.

Pelfrey hit Cody Ross in the bottom of the second, and Ross took issue with the action, sparking a bench-clearing non-brawl. It was clearly a mistake, so not sure why Ross was going crazy. Someone needs to check him for greenies. A few minutes after the teams returned to their dugouts, Pelf picked off Ross at first.

My vote for 2009 Mets manager: Lee Mazzilli. He’s the only guy who seems to understand how a bullpen works.

Next Game

The rubber match will be played at 1:10 pm. Pedro Martinez goes against Scott Olsen. Coverage will be on CW11, WFAN, and XM 183.

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. isuzudude August 31, 2008 at 7:57 am
    Joe, you and I usually see eye to eye on many things. I agree that the SNY infatuation with Jerry Manuel has gone way overboard, and I agree that management has done a terrible job for the past 2 years of “saving bullets” in the bullpen. But I have to take umbrage with a couple things in this post.

    First of all, your insistent defense of Aaron Heilman is getting old. It seems like anything less than letting him face 7, 8, and 9 of the opposition’s batting order, working with a 4+ run lead and bases empty, is “setting him up to fail” in your eyes. Now, I agree 100% that Jerry’s call to walk the bases loaded was lamebrain. But that should not excuse Aaron from getting pegged with the loss. Because before that decision, Aaron walked Ramirez to lead-off the inning. Close pitch or not on ball 4, why does Aaron have to go to a full count in EVERY at-bat? After a sacrifice he throws a wild pitch, allowing Ramirez to go to 3rd and forcing Jerry to play the IF and OF in. And then after the two IBB’s, Aaron throws 4 straight balls to Willingham and that’s the ball game. Nobody is demanding or even expects Aaron to work spotless innings anymore, but when the Marlins’ only ball in play of the inning is a bunt back to the pitcher and they still score the winning run on 4 walks and a wild pitch, you have to place a large amount of blame on the pitcher. There is a reason why Aaron has collected 8 losses, 4 blown saves, and an ERA of 5.25 this year – and it’s not entirely because Willie or Jerry continually put him into situations destined for failure. It’s because Aaron continuously dooms himself, getting behind in counts in virtually every at-bat and walking way more than he should be. Do you realize that since the all-star break in 22+ innings Aaron’s WHIP is 2.00? That is COMPLETELY unacceptable and screams that he has lost all control. It’s like he’s throwing pitches and has no idea where the hell they’re going. I’m sure you’ll argue that the reason for his loss of control is because he’s dropping his arm angle, which is due from overuse and fatigue – the fault of management. And I agree, Aaron’s been abused more than any relief pitcher in baseball for the past 3 years, and it’s catching up to us now. But if that’s the case, then either management needs to step in and shut him down, or Aaron needs to speak up and say, “YO – MY ARM IS TIRED CAN I PLEASE GET A REST?” It would behoove him to say that knowing that his numbers will continue to falter the longer he pesists through pitching with a dead arm.

    Aside from the latest Heilman fiasco, you also say, “As usual, the Mets jumped out to an early lead, then slumbered.” Yes, this statement is true if you look at the entirety of the Mets’ season, but you pick an interesting time to use that line – having seen the Mets rally back in the 8th and 9th innings for improbable wins in each of their last 2 games. So, whereas you defend the offense for being allowed to “fail” 7 out of 10 times, it sounds like you expect the Mets to provide the bullpen with non-save situations in each and every contest. I may be comparing apples to oranges, but my point is that, no matter how good an offense is, there are going to be games where they just have trouble scoring runs. Credit Ricky Nolasco for being a good pitcher instead of knocking the Mets for having a bad offense.

    Truth is, the Mets have scored 668 runs this year, 2nd most in the NL, trailing only Chicago. Sounds to me they’ve provided the pitching with AMPLE run support throughout the season, but it’s the bullpen that continuously fails to hold the leads the offense has given them, no matter how large or small. I love the idea of tack-on runs as much as you do, but there are going to be times where the oppositions’ pitching is not going to allow tack-on runs (because, remember, they’re trying to win, too) – and thus it’s up to OUR BULLPEN to not blow a lead from time to time. Is it really so much to ask for our relief pitchers to get 6 outs without giving up a run? Since when did that become such an impossible task?

  2. murph August 31, 2008 at 9:28 am
    I think I speak for many fans when I say to the Mets bullpen:
    stop it.
    STOP IT!
    We have had enough of your crap.
    Do your frickin’ jobs and save some games when you are asked to.
  3. joe August 31, 2008 at 10:37 am
    I’m definitely going overboard with Heilman. Problem is I’m tired of seeing him as a reliever — he’s a square peg being forced into a round hole. My infatuation with Heilman goes back to Notre Dame, and my frustration with the Mets began the week after they drafted him #1 and made him change his arm angle. I’ll try not to sound like Aaron’s little brother going forward. Thanks.

    Murph, the bullpen ain’t gettin’ better anytime soon. The damage was done in the first four months of the season, when ALL the personnel was overused and overexposed. You simply can’t put the pedal to the medal with four relievers from Opening Day and expect them to have anything left come September. We saw the same thing last year!