Game 8: Loss
What a frustrating, disgusting loss.
First, Oliver Perez crapped his pants. Then, the Mets offense can only muster four hits in eight innings against journeyman slop thrower Adam Eaton and Antonio Alfonseca, whose only remarkable attribute is the fact that he has eleven fingers.
You can’t put the entire blame on Perez for the loss, as bad as he was, because the Mets should have been able to score at least five runs against the scrubs on the mound. Although, it’s possible that Ollie’s tiresome meltdown put the entire team into a listless coma.
This is the enigma that is Perez — one game, he looks unhittable, the next, an absolute disaster.
Perez lost his confidence immediately after giving up a hit to Chase Utley. Out of nowhere, his confidence level went from medium-high to below-low. He was afraid to throw a strike to Ryan Howard, picking around and outside the strike zone, and in turn completely destroyed his mechanics. He changed his arm slot and release point out of fear, and those bad habits spilled over in the at-bat to Pat Burrell. Again, Perez felt and showed fear with Burrell at the plate, and the snowball of fear gained momentum. By the time Wes Helms strode to the plate, Oliver Perez had lost his release point, velocity, and confidence. He was like Steve Sax trying to throw to first base, or Mackey Sasser returning a ball to the pitcher. At that point, there was no chance of Perez returning to form, but the Mets had no one warming up to take his place. As a result, Willie Randolph had to watch another walk and hit by pitch before removing Perez from the game.
The frightenting thing is, Oliver Perez is like a ticking bomb sitting in the bay of a B-52, and no one knows if it’s going to detonate on its intended target or while it’s sitting in the plane. Worse, no one is sure what exactly sets it off. It could be a little bit of turbulence, a stiff wind, or someone accidentally bumping into it … and then all of a sudden, boom! Game over.
Aaron Sele debuted in the Darren Oliver role and did so-so, allowing two runs over four innings — not really keeping the Mets in the game (despite what Ron Darling’s comment that he did “a good job”). More like, he kept them within striking distance. Pedro Feliciano managed to pitch a scoreless two-thirds of an inning, but it took him 35 pitches to do it, and he left the game with the bases loaded. Thankfully, Mighty Joe Smith was able to throw a low strike to get Wes Helms to end the top of the 8th with a groundout. Smith continued to throw strikes in the ninth and finished with a strong 1 1/3 innings, with one walk and one strikeout on 14 pitches (ten for strikes). It’s only a matter of time before Smith is used as the 8th inning guy in games where the Mets need to hold a lead.
Jose Reyes was the only Met to show an interest in hitting the ball, as he went 2-3 with a walk, an RBI, and a stolen base. Carlos Beltran hit a double in the fourth, but otherwise teamed with the other Carlos to create a big useless hole in the middle of the lineup. Two things in particular disappointed me with Beltran. First, he was struck out twice. No big deal the first time, as it came in the first inning and Eaton threw a nice sequence of pitches. Big deal the second time, however, as Eaton replicated the first-inning pattern pitch-for-pitch, and froze Beltran for the second time on the same exact pitch to strike him out looking. Does Beltran need to take a pill for short-term memory loss? I’m sorry, but if you put your hand into a pan of hot grease, and burn it, do you stick your hand back in there? Of course not. The second disappointment came in the eighth. With two outs, Beltran swung on the first pitch thrown by El Pulpo, which resulted in a weak, broken-bat groundout. Excuse me, but just what in god’s name are you doing swinging at the first pitch when you’re three runs down? This is something you learn in little league.
I’m too critical, I know. But this loss was a tough pill to swallow — it’s so frustrating to watch the Mets beat themselves and give up a game like this to an inferior team. It’s games like this that will be forgotten in September, but could prove costly in the final standings; it will be a tight race this year. If the Phillies won via better performance, fine, but on this evening the Mets as a whole lost their focus, put out a lackluster effort, and gave the game away.
Rubber match on Thursday at 7:10 PM has Tommy “T-Rex” Glavine vs. Jamie “Stegosaurus” Moyer in a Jurassic battle of ancient lefthanders.