Mets Game 31: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 3

Start a new streak tomorrow.

The Mets’ seven-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Derek Lowe and the Braves, though you couldn’t fault Johan Santana. For the second time this season, the Mets lost a game in which Santana allowed ZERO earned runs. Ouch.

It was a classic pitcher’s duel through the first six frames, with each team scratching out a run. In the seventh, though, Johan blinked, Kelly Johnson singled, and next thing you know Bobby Parnell is on the mound. A few minutes, two more pitching changes, and a Jose Reyes error later, and the Mets were down 5-1. Poof.


Not much to say. Johan Santana was very good, once again, but couldn’t stay in the game long enough to win. The Mets’ offense was impotent against the sinkerballing Derek Lowe, against whom they’ve historically hit well. Maybe it’s the uniform.

Why wasn’t Gary Sheffield in the starting lineup? He’s pasted Lowe in his career, to the tune of .471 AVG. and 1.415 OPS. By himself he may not have made a difference … but maybe, just maybe, he would’ve driven in a run early in the game — which could have drastically changed the way the 7th inning was handled.

I did like seeing Jeremy Reed get a start, though, in right field. Reed went 2-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .353 in limited duty this season — not far off from the big numbers he put up during spring training.

Fernando Tatis also had two hits, scored twice, and drove in a run, filling in for the injured Carlos Delgado. He’s hitting .356.

The other two runs were driven in by Omir Santos, who refuses to fall down to Earth and is now hitting .302.

With Tatis and Reed in the lineup, where would you have put Sheffield? How about left field? How about not worrying about the lefty-righty thing for once and just going with the raw numbers?

By the way, it’s possible that Delgado is out until the weekend, or goes on the DL. His hip is barking.

The Mets were sloppy on the field, a carryover from the Pittsburgh series that wasn’t noticeable while scoring 7-10 runs a game against the Buccos. Both David Wright and Jose Reyes committed key errors, and the cutoff man was overthrown by Carlos Beltran and Danny Murphy.

The Braves used regular setup man Rafael Soriano in the 8th, but did not burn through their closer. In lieu of Mike Gonzalez, Bobby Cox had Buddy Carlyle finish the game.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces Jair Jurrjens.

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. nwaldrop May 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm
    Was this loss on Jerry Manuel’s shoulders? I think so. Why was Feliciano not taken out after he faced Brian McCann? As every baseball analyst is saying; Diaz is tearing up Lefties. And Feliciano was taken out after 4 runs were scored. Too late. Another great Santana performance wasted by poor bullpen management.
    I’m not saying the rest of the team wasn’t to blame. The scroll on ESPN sums up the game this way: “Mets provide poor defense and little offense for Santana start.” But I think the Mets could’ve stayed in the game if Jerry had used Feliciano for that one lefty hitter. A poor performance all around but it could’ve been an “ugly” win instead of an “ugly” loss.
  2. joe May 12, 2009 at 12:51 am
    As much as I usually like to, I don’t know about pinning this one on the zen master. Reyes fields that grounder, and it’s a completely different ballgame.

    Though, I don’t get pulling Santana in the first place. And how do you not find a way to get Sheff’s bat in the lineup? Murphy’s been struggling, why not sit him one day? Or put Sheff at 1B?

  3. nwaldrop May 12, 2009 at 1:47 am
    You’re right joe, this might have been a “team effort” loss. There’s so much blame to go around it’s hard to know where to start.
    Has Sheffield played much first base lately? I guess he would be as good as Delgado on first base. With Delgado out for a series of games it would be nice to see what Sheff could do starting four or five games straight. I really can’t imagine a scenario where he platoons with Church, it seems that he’s destined to be a powerful pinch hitter. But it’s early in the season and now would be a good opportunity to test what he’s capable of with the bat and on the field.
  4. murph May 12, 2009 at 2:25 am
    You can’t win them all, but another start with Santana giving up no earned runs sure looked like the streak should have lasted 1 more day.
  5. isuzudude May 12, 2009 at 9:24 am
    I don’t think there’s any doubt that Jerry gets pegged with the fault for the loss tonight. Reyes error or not, when the error was committed the game was still tied 1-1, and there were 2 outs. That means there is still every chance in the world, with the proper bullpen management, that the Mets could have gotten out of the inning unscored upon. And with the way Diaz notoriously rips apart LHP, Pedro should have been taken out of the game. The voice in my head tells me that, if Stokes were brought in for this atbat, the Braves could have used Garrett Anderson to PH for Diaz, creating a favorable lefty-on-righty matchup for Atlanta, so perhaps that’s why Jerry stayed with Feliciano. Still, I’d much rather take my chances with the “cold” Anderson, who’s been hitting all of .191 on the year and .131 against RHP. “Zen master” Jerry was probably playing one of his hunches, but picked the wrong time to gamble with destiny with the bases loaded in a tie game.

    Regarding Santana’s “early” exit: he was up to 108 pitches, and with the way Jerry and the Mets coddle their SPs, it’s not a shock that Johan was taken out in that spot. He very well may have gotten out of the inning if he were left in without any runs scoring, but how many extra pitches would it have taken and at what expense to Johan’s health later on in the year? I won’t blame the Mets for being precautious with the best pitcher in the world after an achy elbow scare this preseason.

    Also, I wouldn’t be going crazy about not having Shef in the lineup. With the career he’s had he has ungodly numbers against three-quarters of the active pitchers in the game, but that doesn’t mean, now as a 40 year old, he will continue to beat up those same pitchers as he had in his younger days. Example: Sheffield is a 14-for-30 in his career against Jamie Moyer, but earlier this season went 0-for-3 in a start against Moyer. Also, the last time Shef faced Lowe was in 2004, a long time ago in both players’ careers. Who’s to say Shef’s lifetime success against Lowe would carry over 5 years after his last head-to-head at-bat?

  6. joe May 12, 2009 at 10:37 am
    ‘dude – First, it’s not my fault Santana was up to 108 pitches with only one out in the 7th inning. Why can’t he be more efficient against a Chipperless lineup that has aggressive swingers such as Diaz, Francoeur, and McCann?

    Second, Jerry Manuel has been yakking it up forever how he’s going to push his starters past 110-115 pitches, and most recently suggested that Johan could go to 120 if necessary.

    Third, where is the evidence that a high pitch count will cause Johan Santana to be unhealthy down the road? Please don’t tell me you believe the ASMI and SABR nonsense that going over 100 pitches is the death knell for every human being? Ask Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman what their pitch counts were — and neither ever suffered an injury. Why? Everyone is different. Back in the day pitchers knew their own limits and if they didn’t the coaches and managers helped them figure it out. That pitch count bs is a teflon tactic for brainless push-button managers to escape responsibility for their actions.

    An ACE finds a way to win, and is given the opportunity to do so.

    And btw I was equally miffed when Bobby Cox pulled Lowe while on 95 pitches and in hot water. Watching the 10th and 11th-best pitchers decide what was a classic pitcher’s duel is nauseating. Thank you, Bud Selig!

  7. mic May 12, 2009 at 11:04 am
    Couple of things:

    A). I’m in the concensus. Jerry brings in a RHP to face Diaz, (Feliciano is a throwback from when RISP meant gameover for the Mets…)..but why not PUTZ? it would at best be 4 batters with Stokes in waiting.

    B.) No chatter on Del?
    I think a DL stint is just wise. also it gives Murph a chance at 1st base at least in a RH-LH platoon with Tatis. Also F-Mart can get 15days in the bigs in RF-LF with Reed and Sheff backing him.

  8. joe May 12, 2009 at 11:23 am
    Putz is already exhausted. Bringing him in at that point means he’s going 4-5 outs, and/or K-Rod is going for a 4-out save.

    I agree Delgado should go on the DL ASAP. You can’t keep around injured players in this day and age of 12-man pitching staffs. But, the Mets would be foolish to promote F-Mart, as he won’t make a difference. Keep him down on the farm until September, so you don’t have to burn an option and can prolong the time before his arbitration years. If he was going to be an impact guy, it’s a different story. But I’d rather see Bobby Kielty promoted. Even though Kielty is stinking up the place in AAA, he earned his promotion during ST, and it’s nice to have a switch-hitter on the bench.

  9. isuzudude May 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm
    Joe, I agree Johan should have been more efficient than 108 pitches over 6.1 innings. If there’s one thing Johan has done poorly since becoming a Met it’s that his pitch count consistently reaches the century mark by the 7th inning. And I agree an ace finds a way to win and if all things were equal Johan should have stayed in the game and been allowed to get out of his own mess. But all things are not equal. Firstly, it could be said the Braves were holding their own against Santana on the night, getting 7 hits off him. Likewise, the right-hand batters due up after Johan was lifted, Escobar and Prado, were a combined 3-for-4 with a walk and a sacrifice previously in the game, suggesting they were seeing the ball well against Johan. Also, the threat of an elbow injury may still be in the back of the Mets’ minds, even if Johan’s preseason soreness was just a cover to get out of the WBC. On the broadcast last night Gary said that Jerry doesn’t want Johan exceeding 110 pitches over the early portion of the season, so I’m not sure where you’re getting this 120+ pitches comment from (link?). My point is that it should not come as a surprise that Jerry appears eager to remove Johan from a game, especially if his pitch count is up over 100. Better safe than sorry, if you ask me. And by all means the Mets very well could have won the game last night taking Johan out when they did, but a Reyes error and a boneheaded decision to leave Feliciano in the game did them in. IMO, jumping on Jerry for taking out Johan with 1 out in the 7th and a 108 pitch count is misdirected.

    I have no idea what ASMI or SABR is. All I know is that, these days, for whatever reason, any starting pitcher around 100 pitches in a game is nearing the end of his rope. I didn’t invent the number and I don’t argue whether it’s too low. But if that’s the standard these days, that’s all I have to go by. Seaver and Koosman can say whatever they want, but that was a different baseball era and things have changed. Closers don’t pitch 3 innings anymore, teams don’t use 4-man rotations anymore, and starters don’t throw 150 pitches anymore. That’s just the way it is.

    And I wouldn’t be expecting Bobby Keilty to be called up anytime soon. For some reason (probably injury) he hasn’t played for Buffalo in over a month. If Delgado were to go on the DL, I’d predict the Mets would call up a lefty-bat who could play 1B. Mike Lamb comes to mind.

  10. joe May 12, 2009 at 12:37 pm
    ‘dude, the ASMI is the “American Sports Medicine Institute”. SABR is the “Society for American Baseball Research”. Both organizations did separate bits of research about pitch counts and came to the conclusion that if a pitcher goes over 100 pitches, his performance worsens and he might injure himself. The research by both was flawed and incomplete but because Grady Little let Pedro Martinez pitch to Aaron Boone on one October night, the findings became law.

    Manuel has been making so many quotes and double quotes lately it’s making my head spin and I can’t keep track of them. I could swear that within the last two weeks he said he was going to push the starters, and Johan specifically, toward 120 pitches. But since the beat writers are beginning to realize that 90% of what Manuel says is babble, they’re not including a lot of his quotes in their stories. Maybe I didn’t hear him right, or maybe I misremembered.

    You’re right, things have changed. Pitchers now are on intense, highly tuned, year-round conditioning programs, and get instant access to the best medical attention money can buy. And if they injure themselves, they go straight to the surgeon’s table and return within 3-10 months depending on the injury. And now they get four days’ rest instead of three. Yet somehow they can’t throw nearly as many pitches in one game as they did 20-30 years ago. Go figure. But hey, we can’t fault Jerry Manuel for being a lemming, right? If everybody else is jumping off the bridge, we should too! Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella are crazy cats for hanging out on the bridge and watching everyone else jump!

    Anyway …. good call on Kielty. I don’t know what’s going on with him either; he was placed on the DL in early April but nothing about why. Wow, looking at that Buffalo roster, there’s pretty much no one worth promoting.