Mets Game 158: Loss to Cubs

Cubs 9 Mets 6

So much for the theory that Oliver Perez pitches better in “big” games, and/or against the better teams.

So much, also, for the theory that the Mets win when Argenis Reyes is the starting second baseman.

Perez squandered a 5-1 lead, allowing the Cubs to tie the score with a four-run fifth, and the Mets failed time and time again to command the game.

After falling behind 1-zip, the Mets exploded for a five-run third against Carlos Zambrano, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Mets MVP Carlos Delgado. But after the Cubs tied the game, and then went ahead 6-5, the Mets could only muster one more run, which tied the game in the eighth. The run came on a bases-loaded walk to Ramon Martinez, and it was a rally that should have produced more than one lousy score. Youngster Jeff Samardzija was struggling mightily, but the Mets let him off the hook. But that wasn’t the worst opportunity blown by the New York bats.

In the bottom of the ninth, Daniel Murphy led off with a triple. You would think that with no outs and a man on third, scoring at least one run is a given. It wasn’t. David Wright struck out swinging, Delgado and Beltran were intentionally walked, Ryan Church grounded into a forceout at home, and Ramon Castro whiffed to demolish a golden opportunity to win the game.

As it turned out, Luis Ayala pitched a second inning of relief, and the Cubs took advantage, first with a bloop RBI single by Derrek Lee and then with a two-run homer by Aramis Ramirez.

A stunning, head-shaking loss for the Mets, who were playing against a team that wasn’t necessarily focused on winning the game.

Notes

Another great job of bullpen management by Manager of the Year Jerry Manuel. Manuel had Joe Smith warming up in the fateful fifth, but when things got hairy, Smith sat down and Duaner Sanchez began tossing. Within three minutes after his first warmup pitch, Sanchez was summoned into the game with the bases loaded and one out. Ron Darling explained that Manuel might have had Smith getting ready to begin the sixth, and preferred to use Sanchez in a mid-inning situation, but I’m still scratching my head. So, you have your best righty ready in a crucial spot — maybe the most critical time of the game — against a righty-heavy lineup, but you save him for later? And instead you put in a guy who a) was proven to be spent in late July and b) is not ready to enter the game? Umm …. OK!

Speaking of bullpen management, Lou Piniella gave the Mets a gift by putting Jeff Samardzija on the mound in the eighth instead of Carlos Marmol. I know the Mets lit up Marmol the other day, but he’s still the best setup man in baseball. The Mets were DAMN LUCKY that the Cubs are more in “audition mode” right now, and don’t really care whether or not they win games — yet the still couldn’t take advantage.

As I’ve said many times before, Carlos Delgado is the key to the Mets’ success. Had he not hit that grand salami, the end of the game would not have been nearly as dramatic. Oh, and it was Delgado who started the eighth inning rally with a leadoff double. The Mets might be behind the Marlins right now if not for Delgado’s resurrection.

The Brewers won their game, which means the wild card race is tied. No, I’m still not concerned, because they have to finish their season against the Cubs, who proved in this game that even in “coast mode” are a better team than anyone else in the NL. If the Mets can’t take at least two from the Fish, they have no business in the postseason anyway.

Next Game

Mets finish their four-game series with the Cubs with a 7:10 pm finale on Wednesday. Pedro Martinez goes against Rich Harden.

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 September 25, 2008 at 7:04 am
    I’m sorry, but a team whose bullpen is this atrocious and who can’t score a leadoff triple against Bob Howry does not deserve to make the playoffs. I an openly rooting against the Mets from here on out because, quite frankly, I have better things to do with my time than watch this team get swept in the first round by these Cubs. If they can beat us 2 out of 3 (and most likely 3 out of 4 after tonight) without even trying, imagine what they’re going to be like in the postseason when they’re giving max effort. I hope the Mets lose all the remainder of their games so heads roll this offseason and drastic changes are made. Because this same recipe of horrible bullpen personnel and untimely hitting is making me insane.
  2. Micalpalyn September 25, 2008 at 9:47 am
    Joe: there were 1,449 comments on the game last night at METSblog!!! Do you think that we should send a transcript to Jeff Wilpon/Jay horowitz….just to show him how much WE care.

    1. I’m with Isuzu, kinda. That loss left feeling in me i have not felt since Mike Scossia’s homer in 1988. Granted there are 4 games left and as we saw last night as Philly lost to Atl, anything can happen. Isuzu..cheer up. Consider the early season series when the Cubs were not this good, or relaxed and toasted the Mets….forget a relevant 9th inning.

    2. Advice to Jerry. Ramon martinez looked like the veteran starting 2nd baseman last night. as opposed to anyone not named carlos, he was cool and calm and made ALL the plays AND took the game tying walk without flinching once (DW ?)

    3. Glass half full. The Mets had enuff from the core of the lineup to put up a challenge to CZ …a game no one gave us a chance in. but DW has got to relax…Pinella pitched to DW but NOT CB and Del…Metsfans take note.

    4. Ollie. he is going to walk and bring back two picks. but THIS performance should guarantee he does not get a big contract from Omar. Other goats church. Bring on Nick Evans….(hind sight has me subbing in Endy and laying down a drag bunt in his spot.

  3. wohjr September 25, 2008 at 10:51 am
    Hi Joe-

    Regarding the Sanchez/Joe Smith situation Manuel did clarify a bit in post-game comments:

    He said that facing the bottom of the Cubs order he wanted to use someone who could face both L and R batters to negate a LH pinch hitter in response to bringing in Smith. The pitchers spot was up first in the next inning so he didn’t want to use Smith for just one out as well, preferring to keep him on hand for the big Cubs righties that definitely wouldn’t be pinch-hit for (soriano, dlee, etc.). Of course none of this explains why smith was up in the first place…

  4. Micalpalyn September 25, 2008 at 11:33 am
    Its not out there yet, but do you think of pitching Santana on sat on short rest? possibly Ollie on Sunday?

    2. my line-up for the next 4 games:
    -reyes
    -murphy
    -beltran
    -delgado
    -wright
    -endy/church
    -martinez/a-reyes
    -schneider/cancel
    -P

  5. joe September 25, 2008 at 11:54 am
    Hey wohjr …. I’m not sure I’d use the word “clarify” to describe Manuel’s comments …. LOL!

    But yeah, I heard the well-drawn-out, full of timed pauses and fake thinking, “explanation”, and it doesn’t matter whether it takes Jerry ten seconds or ten minutes to explain it, it still makes no sense.

    So Duaner Sanchez can get righties and lefties out but Smith can’t? (I know the stats for the year say that, but Sanchez has had trouble retiring anyone RECENTLY). And it’s more important to save a guy for a future situation when the bases are loaded with one out? Whatever …

  6. wohjr September 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm
    Haha, Agreed. He does have a sonorous voice though doesn’t he?

    He’s just flailing around at this point trying to find something… and yet still no trace of bobby parnell! It is infuriating.

  7. joe September 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm
    I swear I watched the game from beginning to end, and didn’t see Parnell, yet in the boxscore there he was. Did he have a 3-pitch inning when I went to the fridge for a beer?
  8. wohjr September 25, 2008 at 12:18 pm
    If he was in there I missed it too… I didn’t see him at all
  9. wohjr September 25, 2008 at 12:20 pm
    You’re right, looks like he had a 12 pitch inning, one walk.

    revising my earlier comment… no trace of bobby in big spots. why not? Gotta be better than duaner at this point.

  10. ghost of doug sisk September 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm
    This 2008 bullpen makes me look like the Japanese closer, Yutaka Enatsu. He was Fireman of the Year five tims and led the league in saves six times. I am finally at peace.
  11. sincekindergarten September 25, 2008 at 4:45 pm
    Gang, I’m still thinking we’ll do this.

    If not, Northern Zone bow season for deer, in NY, starts Saturday.

  12. ghost of doug sisk September 25, 2008 at 4:53 pm
    I’ll need David Blaine’s balloon to save me if no playoffs – - I’m out here on the ledge fellas.
  13. Micalpalyn September 25, 2008 at 5:58 pm
    I watched him. He was definately decent. In fact the announcers liked him too comparing him to samardja.