Mets Game 159: Win Over Cubs JV

Mets 7 Cubs 6

It was an extremely exciting game, with all the late-inning dramatics a fan lives for. Yet, for some reason, it felt somewhat empty.

Perhaps it was the fact that the Mets were playing the Cubs’ second-stringers, and nearly lost to them.

Pedro Martinez pitched only OK, not great, though he kept the Mets in the game through six. He began the seventh by allowing the first two batters to reach base and was replaced by Ricardo Rincon. Unfortunately, Rincon’s nice string of performances came to an end, as the first pitch he threw was redirected over the right field wall for a three-run homer. Not only was Rincon due to fail — he hadn’t allowed a hit in six of his seven appearances this season — but he ran into the buzzsaw named Micah Hoffpauir. Hoffpauir — whose three-run dinger against Rincon highlighted a 5-for-5 day — is essentially the Cubs’ version of Valentino Pascucci, who after tearing up the PCL returned home to California rather than receiving a cup of coffee in Flushing.

The Mets fought back, though, scratching out a run in the bottom of the seventh and another two in the eighth to even things up. Then in the ninth, Jose Reyes led off with a walk against some scrub named Kevin Hart. Daniel Murphy failed three times to sacrifice Reyes to second and struck out by fouling away a bunt, but a Carlos Delgado walk pushed Reyes to second. That set up a heroic situation for Carlos Beltran, who took the bull by the horns and ripped a single past first baseman Micah Hoffpauir to chase Reyes home with the winning run.

Notes

It’s a win, I’ll take it, but Lou Piniella seemed to do everything in his power to make it easy for the Mets — and they STILL nearly screwed it up. Piniella sat Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Geovany Soto — plus Met killer Mark DeRosa, who is nursing a mild injury. And regular centerfielder and .307 hitter Reed Johnson rode the pine. Rich Harden was a shell of his usual self, topping out around 92-93 with poor command, rather than his typical 96-97 filthiness. In addition to sending out the “B” team, Piniella also refrained from asking Carlos Marmol to hold the lead in the 8th. So excuse me if I’m not as excited as some fans with this otherwise dramatic win.

Speaking of Harden, he looks EXACTLY like John Maine did before Maine went on the DL. Harden has the same fatal flaw in his delivery — he carries the ball behind his back, causing his front shoulder to fly open and pitches to ride up and away to lefties / up and in to righties. Every pitch he threw turned my stomach, and I can’t understand — especially after all his injury issues — why no one has ever took the time to make the correction. Teams can talk all they want about using the 100-pitch count to protect their investments, but if a guy throws like Maine or Harden, it doesn’t matter if you limit him to 50 pitches — eventually, there’s going to be a major breakdown.

Funniest quote of the night: “Jerry Manuel continues to push all the right buttons” — by Gary Cohen in
reference to Ramon Martinez’s RBI single in the 8th inning to pull the Mets within one. Um, yeah. Note to Gary: Manuel is the same guy who “pushed the button” to allow Pedro to start the seventh, and then “pushed the button” that brought in Ricardo Rincon to face Hoffpauir in the seventh.

Second funniest quote, by Keith Hernandez: “Jerry Manuel loves the hit and run … he’s hit and run quite a bit”. Keith, what games have you been watching? Manuel puts on the hit and run about three times a month — and I’m being generous.

Next Game

The Mets begin the final three-game series of the year, and play the final three baseball games ever at Shea Stadium, this weekend beginning with a 7:10 pm contest against the Marlins. Mike Pelfrey takes the hill against Chris Volstad.

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 26, 2008 at 4:35 am
    Joe, I kinda think that we’ll be playing baseball in Shea sometime next week, too. After last night’s win . . . and Santana’s single on Tuesday night . . . as I told you and Matt in that email, it’s Divine intervention. God’s a Mets fan this year.
  2. isuzudude September 26, 2008 at 7:26 am
    I strongly disagree, SK. If God were a Met fan he wouldn’t be torturing their fans as lustily throughout the season. I still say the Mets will fall short. They’ve shown very little reason for A) why they deserve to make the playoffs, or B) why we should be confident they can beat the Phillies for the division or Brewers for the wildcard. Since losing 2 of 3 earlier this month to the Phillies, the Mets have also lost 2 of 3 to Atlanta, split a 4 game series with Washington, lost 2 of 3 again against Atlanta, and now split a 4 game series against a Cubs team uninterested in winning games. That’s 0 series wins in 4 attempts against teams not playing for anything. So why should we believe that the Mets will have what it takes to win more against the Marlins than the Phillies against the Nationals or Brewers against the Cubs? Not to mention, even if they do, how in the world the Mets are going to beat the Cubs in the NLDS after backing their way into the postseason on such a low note. My prediction is the Mets will get swept by Florida (if Mother Nature doesn’t sweep the series away in rainouts first) and will be facing a very tumultuous offseason.

    By the way, Joe, I see the Daily News is reporting that Jerry has taken it upon himself to shut John Maine down for the rest of the season, despite ownership activating him off the DL. Is this a blatant act of defiance and ignorance on Jerry’s part not to accept ownership’s helping hand, or is this a stroke of genius by Jerry to be the only person brave enough to stand up and say that Maine’s future and health are more important than this year’s playoff chances? This is a very interesting topic and I’d like to know what your thoughts are.

  3. joe September 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm
    SK – I think Lou Piniella, and not god, is a Mets fan. It was Lou, after all, who chose to sit his starting team against the Mets, and not use his top relievers in key situations.

    ‘dude – didn’t see that thing about Manuel/Maine, but will check it out. If indeed it’s all Manuel’s decision then kudos to him for FINALLY seeing the big picture. I wonder if he’s already been told he’s getting a contract, and therefore thinking ahead to 2009.

  4. isuzudude September 26, 2008 at 12:31 pm
  5. sincekindergarten September 26, 2008 at 4:17 pm
    ID and Joe–God wants us to earn it. So, He “brushes us back” and allows the Mets to lose a few.