Game 158: Loss
Braves 13 Mets 1
What an ugly, ugly game …
We went into this contest not concerned about the outcome, so the fact that the Mets lost their fourth straight game — and second straight by double digits — was no big deal.
We’ll also pretend we’re not concerned with the continued lack of offense, sloppy defense, and overall sluggishness.
The main concern was Pedro Martinez. And we’re still concerned … very much so.
Pedro looked absolutely awful, flipping high change-ups (or were they fastballs?) from the get-go. I was astonished that it took three innings for one of the Mets announcers to mention his arm slot, and even then it was only a quick comment by Ron Darling that was lost by the next play-by-play call. Either they were not paying attention or in denial, because Pedro’s mechanics more closely resembled Chad Bradford or Dan Quisenberry than Mr. Martinez — his elbow was down around his hip and often lower on all pitches.
In addition, Pedro did not have a good “look” on his face — he looked scared, tentative, and without confidence. He also could not get a rhythm going, similar to Tom Glavine’s problem the night before. It was painful to watch, as it seemed like a moon shot was going to be launched every time he released the ball (and several were). It was sad, really.
Whereas we hoped that Pedro just needed to build his strength back, it’s now clear that Pedro either has a major physical problem, or possibly several physical problems. He cannot be counted on to pitch in the playoffs — not game one nor any other game. It’s a shame, because where the Mets are today can be traced directly to the signing of Pedro Martinez; perhaps the most significant milestone in recent Mets’ history. Without Pedro, the Mets don’t get Beltran, don’t get Wagner, and probably don’t get Delgado, either, because they might have needed Yusmeiro Petit.
The Mets can say all they want that this latest development is nothing to be concerned about, and the statisticians can show us that the Mets win more often without Pedro on the mound. However, Pedro validates the Mets as a contender. Without Pedro Martinez, the Mets may on paper be OK, but in their minds and hearts a seed of doubt is planted. The confidence factor WILL go down a notch, knowing that Pedro is not among their playoff starters. By not having Pedro, every Met player will have at least a slight feeling of anxiety — a feeling that they must try just a little bit harder. That creates tension, which in turn negatively affects performance. Not a good formula for the playoffs.
Wasn’t Chipper Jones supposed to be out for the rest of the year? Funny how he heals just in time to mash against the Mets.
Even up by ten-plus runs, the Braves continued to play hard, hustling out every play and diving all over the place for balls. Marcus Giles and Ryan Langerhans in particular made some spectacular plays to help drive the nails into the Mets’ coffin. After watching these two games, you’d never believe the Braves were eliminated from the postseason; they played like they had some kind of vendetta. I guess 14 consecutive division titles wasn’t enough.
Is any Met pitcher ever going to brush a guy back? After eating up and spitting out Pedro, the Braves proceeded to tee off on Darren Oliver — literally. Even the mild-mannered Ron Darling noticed that it was about time for someone to get dusted, stating, “I would not allow this to happen…” and leaving it at that. He’s 100% correct, and I’m not sure if this is a lack of heart, fear, or just the pussyfoot way baseball is played today … but I’m with Ron: if a team is going to dig in and swing from their heels like it’s a slo-pitch softball game, I’m sorry, but someone is tasting clay.
The blowout enabled Philip Humber to enter his second big-league game. While these late-season outings are relatively meaningless, one must be impressed with this youngster. He has smooth, easy mechanics, a very sharp 12-6 curveball, and a nice low moving fastball. His consistent, simple, overhand delivery suggests that he’ll throw lots and lots of strikes. He reminds me a bit of Tom Seaver, as he does have a little “drop and drive” to his motion (though he doesn’t get his back knee as low and dirty), and he has that nice easy yet powerful motion that delivers a good low fastball and overhand curve. He might just be ready to step in and be a #3 or #4 sometime next year.
The Astros won their 8th straight, coming back from a five-run deficit to beat the Pirates in 15 innings. Their only way into the playoffs is by winning the division, which means if the Phillies get in as the wild card, the Mets will face the ‘stros and are dead meat. Sorry, but I don’t see any possibility of the Mets getting through Clemens, Oswalt, and Pettitte — with or without Pedro. What a shame it will be to see the team with the best record in the NL be eliminated in three games.
Thursday night will have El Duque against Kyle Davies. It would appear that Orlando Hernandez will be the #1 playoff starter, so maybe this will be the game the Mets use as their pre-postseason tuneup.