Mets Game 157: Win Over Cubs

Mets 6 Cubs 2

The Cubs offered the Mets an easy win, and Johan Santana took advantage.

Santana breezed through a Cubs lineup devoid of regulars Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto, allowing just two runs on seven hits through eight innings and 125 pitches. He struck out ten and also had a key broken-bat hit in the fifth that led to two Mets runs.

Santana’s strange single helped the Mets tie the game two-all, and the rest of the lineup scorched Cubs reliever Chad Gaudin for four runs one inning later. The key blow came off the bat of Jose Reyes, who cleared the bases with a bases-loaded triple — his 200th hit of the season.

Notes

Strange not to see Jose Reyes running on contact from third in the sixth inning with one out, Luis Castillo at the plate, and a four-run lead. With that kind of cushion, you have the luxury of being overly aggressive. As it turned out, Castillo bounced the ball to Mark DeRosa, and Reyes would have scored easily. Instead he was stranded after David Wright struck out to end the inning. In the end, the run didn’t matter, but still it was a situation that called for aggressiveness, and instead the Mets were passive. At this time of year, with so much at stake, I’d be leaning toward the aggressive side whenever possible.

David Wright had two hits and two RBI. For all the criticism he gets, Wright is hitting .300

Speaking of lack of aggressiveness, some funny quotes by Keith Hernandez in the fifth, regarding Jerry Manuel: “… he’s unpredictable, and he’s hit and run a lot since taking over …”

Actually, Keith, he’s remarkably predictable — you could set a watch by his managerial moves. And as far as the hit and run, no, actually, the Mets run it much LESS often since Jerry took over. It only seems more often because it’s so rare, you notice it. But we’ll excuse Keith — he also thinks the Mets have been stealing more bases since Manuel took over, while the numbers unabashedly prove otherwise. For example, did you know the Mets have stolen all of 12 bases this month? I’m really not understanding where Keith gets this notion of the Mets being “much more aggressive under Manuel” … if anything, JM leans toward the safe / conservative side of baseball.

SNY displayed a line of stats showing how the Mets relievers do not do well against opposite-hitting batters (i.e., lefties vs. righties and vice-versa). This was used as the explanation for why Jerry Manuel “needs” to use so many relievers every game, and work so hard on “matchups”. Well, here’s my theory: if you don’t give a guy a chance to face many opposite-hand hitters, and tell him he’s a specialist, he’ll turn into a specialist. I would have been more curious to see the actual number of at-bats, and the stats month-by-month. I have a funny feeling that these “specialists” were the product of nurture, rather than nature. This situation was created, and remarkably, all the “experts” are knocking their hands against their heads wondering how this happened. Is everyone else really that inattentive?

I’d love to be Luis Ayala’s agent right now … he is the king of the “up-by-three-plus-runs” save. All these easy saves will be wonderful artillery when Ayala goes for a new contract / arbitration this winter.

With Sean Marshall on the mound, Henry Blanco behind the plate, Jason Marquis’ bat on the bench, and a guy named Casey something at third base, the Cubs were clearly giving this game away against Johan Santana. If the Mets lost this one, I might have begun to get concerned. However, since they won, and the Brewers remain a motherless child waiting to be eliminated, I am confident the Mets will cruise into the postseason via the wild card.


Next Game

The Mets will need an acelike performance from Oliver Perez as he faces Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano in another 7:10 pm start on Wednesday. Ollie’s been remarkably focused and effective in “big” games, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 7- or 8-inning gem from him. For Zambrano, it’s a tune up for the postseason, so I’m liking the Mets’ chances.

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. sincekindergarten September 24, 2008 at 4:29 am
    The Brew Crew won, but the Phillthies lost. We’re 1 1/2 back of the Phillthies and 1 up on the Brewers with five to play. My gut feeling is that Carlos ‘The Animal” Zambrano and Rich Harden don’t stay in for more than 90 to 100 pitches. Ollie knows that this is a big game. He should (I said should) be fine. David Wright has suddenly gone white-hot in his last five games.

    The Phillthies have one more game with the Braves, and Brett “Wifebeater” Myers is facing Jo-Jo Reyes. This is Jo-Jo’s last chance to make a decent impression on any organization–I don’t see Jo-Jo in a Braves uniform next year. Myers had his worst start of the season his last start. Is he reverting back to his early-season “form?”

    In Milwaulkee, CC Sabathia is going against Paul Maholm. CC just may come back to pitch on Sunday, if the Brewers need him to. Oh–Josh Johnson goes tonight for the Marlins (remember them?). Means that we won’t see him this weekend.

  2. isuzudude September 24, 2008 at 7:41 am
    Joe, with the Brewers just a game in back of us for the wildcard, I just see no way how the Mets will be able to “cruise” into the playoffs. Milwaukee has 2 more easy games against Pittsburgh while the Mets have to face Zambrano and Harden. For all we know, the Mets could be a game behind in the wildcard standings this time Friday. And then the Fish come to Shea to finish the year, and they were able to put the dagger in our hearts last year. I don’t believe in jinxes, but being just a year removed from coughing up a 7 game lead with 17 to go, I would think you’d be a little warier of the Mets’ chances. I admire your confidence, but you are really setting yourself up for some major crow-eating if the Mets fail to make the playoffs again.

    On that note, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Johan broken bat-base hit is fate’s way of telling us that the Mets are going to make the postseason. I have never seen anything like that in all my days of watching baseball. It’s like the baseball gods reached down and placed the broken shard exactly in the right position to have it hit the ball in front of the secondbaseman and allow Johan to reach base safely – on a butcher boy play, no less. Those are the type of “breaks” teams get when they’re going good, and in my opinion, up to that point of the game, things had not been going good for the Mets over the past couple of weeks. But just like that, Wright got the 2-run single to tie it, and Reyes follows with a 3-run triple and the Mets win while the Phillies lose. It’s crazy things like this that sometimes separate the champions from the chumps.

    And while on the topic of Johan, I really hope he gets some serious Cy Young consideration despite a not-so-high win total. I know everyone is in love with Brandon Webb’s 22 wins, and Tim Lincecum’s great season, and Brad Lidge’s consecutive saves streak, but Johan has proved his worth this 2nd half as one of the game’s most clutch and dominating pitchers. The dude hasn’t lost since June for goodness sake. It seems like he’s been taking the mound in a must-win situation for the past 3 months and he’s been money every time. It almost makes one say Carlos Gomez who? Kevin Mulvey what? Deolis Guerra huh? Pessimistically, Johan will probably lose out on the award due to his record, but in our eyes we know he is as deserving of the Cy Young as anyone in the NL.

  3. RockStar78 September 24, 2008 at 8:57 am
    You know, I really don’t think the division is out of the question. With only 1 game back in the loss column, all the Mets have to do is play 1 game better than the Phils. And the Phils are due for a swoon since they have been so hot the past 2 weeks. I don’t think it’s out of the question for the Mets to go 4-1 and the Phillies 2-2 to finish out the season in a tie.
  4. Micalpalyn September 24, 2008 at 10:28 am
    and the Brews play 3 vs the Cubs to close out….also the Fish are all but eliminated.

    Santana: He could get to 16 wins sunday to enhance his chances of the CY. I think he starts if the Mets can posibly pass the Phils in the division race. manuel can pull him out after 5 innings.

  5. joe September 24, 2008 at 10:53 am
    Webb will get the Cy …. it’s all about the wins, and getting 20 these days is a remarkable feat that can’t be ignored.

    Mic, I agree on D-Train — if he can come cheap, he would be a nice gamble to be the next Ollie.

    And yes, ‘dude, even if Willis can’t pitch anymore, at least you have another stick to put in LF!

  6. upson September 24, 2008 at 11:07 am
    How about starting Perez on a short rest on Sunday? (In an unlikely situation that the Wild Card is wrapped up but there is still chance to win the division). This would rest Santana for Game 1 (Wednesday) and possibly Game 4 (Sunday) on a short rest. Furthermore, Ollie has been very effective against the Marlins… Or is he too tired already? Of course, the Mets first have to win today’s game… that walk-off Brewers’ homerun did not help yesterday.

    Btw, I’m really glad we have not entertained the idea of a short rest for our starting pitching so far. I am afraid it would be a disaster. On the other hand, the Phillies already started Myers and Moyer on the short rest, the Brewers used Bush on the short rest and Sabathia is going on the short rest for the second straight outing and the Astros used Oswalt on the short rest yesterday.

  7. Micalpalyn September 24, 2008 at 11:12 am
    The phils and Stros (and even brews (with coffey) have something we dont ….bullpens.
  8. joe September 24, 2008 at 4:01 pm
    Mic – ‘brews with coffey’ … did you do that on purpose? LOL … i can see it now …. coffey brews in the bullpen ….

    upson, as for short rest, if the Mets don’t have to win that game, why bother throwing Ollie at all? Give both Ollie and Johan a rest and throw Niese or Parnell or anyone who won’t be a postseason factor.

  9. Micalpalyn September 25, 2008 at 10:21 am
    1. I wish. now are there greenies in the Coffey.

    2. Parnall and Niese. Even if we have a 3-man rotation, do we take Heilman and Sanchez? or has Parnall shown you enough yet.