Mets Game 50: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 8 Mets 5

Early on, it looked like it was going to be a laugher, as the Mets put up five quick runs in the first three innings off starter Ian Snell, who was getting no relief from the Pittsburgh bullpen at that point of the ballgame. But, in the end, it was the Pirates laughing last.

Snell settled down to pitch three scoreless innings, and the Bucs scored three times in the fourth to begin their crawl back, then plated another five in the eighth against Pedro Feliciano and J.J. Putz to take the lead.

Four members of the Bucco bullpen shut out the Mets over the final three innings.

Livan Hernandez pitched five and two-thirds innings before running out of gas, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out five.

Offensively, the bottom of the lineup did the bulk of the damage for the Mets, led by Jeremy Reed and Wilson Valdez in the #6 and #7 spots, who combined for four extra-base hits, three runs, and three RBI.


The Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in that fateful eighth. Feliciano was charged with one, Putz the other four. Putz did not retire a batter in his 12-pitch performance.

Putz had a special bullpen session around 3pm prior to the game, supposedly to work on a glitch in his delivery that caused him to tip his pitches.

Prior to the game, Angel Pagan was put on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin. No word on who would replace him, though Alex Cora is scheduled to come off the DL on Tuesday.

Carlos Beltran was a late scratch due to a stomach virus.

Gary Sheffield is definitely suffering from some kind of leg injury, because he’s running about one-quarter speed on the bases.

I realize the Mets are shorthanded and playing a makeshift lineup, but it’s hard to use that as an excuse in this contest. The Mets were cruising early, and the 100% healthy bullpen blew the game.

Bobby Parnell came in during the bottom of the sixth and struck out slugger Ramon Vazquez with the bases loaded to end the inning and preserve the Mets’ two-run lead. At the time it was a huge out. Oh well.

Two of the Pirates’ hits were deflected off the gloves of Mets pitchers.

I noticed that Wilson Valdez wears a Wilson glove. Coincidence?

Valdez failed to run on a chopper off the plate in the 8th, presumably because he thought the ball was foul. As it was, the ball was fair, and he was thrown out by 88 feet. But hey, he didn’t know where it was, and that’s a fine enough excuse for Omar Minaya’s dog pound known as the New York Mets. (Note to youngsters: run immediately, and keep running until the umpire makes a call.)

Nate McLouth, who is arguably the best young centerfielder in the National League, looked terrible, striking out three times.

PNC Park was looking empty; I would guess there were less than 10,000 people at the game — it was reminiscent of a 21st-century Montreal Expos game. And it should be noted that ticket prices are the same regardless of what team the Pirates are hosting (what a novel concept!).

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Pirates play again on Tuesday evening at 7:05 PM in Pittsburgh. Johan Santana faces Zach Duke.

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. Walnutz15 June 1, 2009 at 10:54 pm
    The quicker everyone comes to the realization that J.J. Putz is damaged goods….the better.

    There’s a reason why he was so available this winter. The Mets are learning it, albeit very slowly.

    “Can’t get amped for the 8th”

    Cortisone shot

    Not throwing strikes, and when he does, he’s nowhere near the velocity he’s been in past years…

    Let’s wake up with this guy. This reeks of Braden Looper: The Redux.

  2. gary s June 1, 2009 at 11:47 pm
    walnutz15, correct, correct, correct and correct.we need to put parnell in as the eighth inning person real soon.putz can go join ollie perez in never gonna produce as a met world.incredibly he’s as bad a heilman was!!in his defense, he probably has a bad elbow..of course, minaya should have known this and not traded for him..
  3. joe June 1, 2009 at 11:52 pm
    Looper is a good comparison. It was really a shame the abuse Looper received (and STILL gets!), considering that he pitched that entire final year with an injury (which we didn’t find out until afterward). Same with Aaron Heilman, who pitched most of ’06 with bone chips / tendinitis in his elbow and all of ’08 on a bum knee.

    But let’s boo the guys who play through injuries, and cheer the bums who give a half-assed effort on routine ground balls and popups. Nice.

    Anyway, I digress.

    Putz is a non-issue if Bobby Parnell can continue doing what he’s doing. It just stings that the Mets gave up 19 players for someone who is being replaced by someone they already had in-house. Extra sting watching Jason Vargas go 6-7 innings every start and pitch well, in the AL no less.

  4. isuzudude June 2, 2009 at 8:49 am
    Stating the obvious, this was 2008 all over again. And now with a suddenly shorthanded/re-overworked bullpen, it looks like Johan’s going to need another 120-pitch CG to keep this team afloat.

    In defense of Putz, everything he gave up last night was either a bleeder or a blooper. Nothing up the gap, off the wall, down the line, or laced into the outfield. Go ahead and watch the highlights, I’ll wait.

    That dreadful 8th wasn’t helped by Valdez’ error, either. So, to my eyes, it just looked like the Pirates were more lucky than Putz was bad.

    And for all those knocking Omar on trading for Putz and claiming he was damaged goods, look back to last year’s 2nd half stats for Putz and tell me he looked like damaged goods then. 33 strikeouts in 27.1 innings with a 2.96 ERA and a .240 opp avg. Amazing how it’s Omar, going off those stats, who’s to blame for Putz, while Jerry dodges criticism YET AGAIN, even though he’s responsible for sending Putz to the mound in 28 out of 50 games (2nd most in the NL), knowing he has a history of elbow trouble. How many of those games was Putz being used ‘just to get some work in,’ or to preserve a 5-run lead or a 3-run defecit, all while Brian Stokes develops rigor mortis from inactivity? So now Putz is once again dealing with some type of mysterious injury and velocity drop, but it’s Omar who’s at fault for not foreseeing the future and knowing Putz would get re-injured in May back in December, and not Jerry’s fault for recklessly overworking Putz. Gotcha.

  5. gary s June 2, 2009 at 10:00 am
    dude, by the way, who hired manuel again??
  6. isuzudude June 2, 2009 at 10:10 am
    So, Gary, it’s Omar’s fault that Jerry is clueless when it comes to bullpen management?
  7. gary s June 2, 2009 at 10:27 am
    bottom line to me is manuel is just a journeyman manager who makes a lot of strange moves.however, omar gave him putz for the 8th inning.since under modern mlb rules,the closer only goes 1 inning, u better have a hold guy with a healthy arm who can pitch in a lot of games.right now, it seems parnell fits that description more than putz.who do u think has final say on the switch, clueless jerry or “we missed the playoffs but i improved the brand” omar??
  8. adrock June 2, 2009 at 10:58 am
    wa-lly back-man, clap clap, clap clap clap!
  9. mic June 2, 2009 at 11:30 am
    And in this corner its Micalpalyn:

    1. I-dude et al. You heard it here first, but my detraction was Putz as a closer would not necessarily transition to set up, his’injury’ issues and salary also did not excite.

    2. I-dude brings up a great point (NOTE to Omar) in SEA when these ‘issues’ flared he was rested..and he came back firing. I have no doubt this is going to be his near term solution. i still think Putz value is highest in trade. there are still suitors who are contending with damaged pens…also note Billy could be available in August.

    3. Meantime As jerry noted someone needs to step up. I hate to say it but elmer might be a part of the solution, shame that kunz is not (yet).

    4. I understand what I-dude is saying but Putz is not a contact pitcher…i would not expect 4-5 straight bleeders off putz period…also no outs recorded. i think Anthony young was shocked.

  10. isuzudude June 2, 2009 at 11:56 am
    Gary: why does there only need to be one, by-the-book 8th inning setup man on the team that the Mets must go to in every hold situation? Putz and Parnell both fit that description and have ever since the first week of the season, yet day in and day out it’s Jerry who continues to march Putz to the mound every time the game is “close and late,” which is to the detriment of Putz’ health. And it’s also Jerry who routinely yanks the starting pitcher at the 95 pitch mark in the 6th inning, forcing Parnell and Feliciano into the game too early, which means an even heavier workload for Putz in the 8th. You can’t just excuse Jerry because he’s a “journeyman manager who makes strange moves.” His actions should have consequences and those consequences are our rightful criticisms. Dumping his criticisms on Omar, though, is entirely misdirected.

    You also make it sound like Jerry is just Omar’s puppet, who was given his 2-year extension to do Omar’s bidding, which includes taking orders to keep with Putz in the 8th regardless of how much he struggles. Do you really think that’s what’s going on here? Because I don’t think Jerry would be anybody’s puppet, and I doubt anyone but Jerry is making all the lamebrain bullpen/pinch-hitting/removing starters too early decisions. Go back to last year or his days with the White Sox and you’ll find him doing all the same dumb stuff. The lamebrain working with a 23/24 man roster decision is on Omar, though.

    Mic: I agree that rest could be what eventually cures Putz. I also think more rest would have been what avoided this situation in the first place. There’s no way Putz needed to be used in all 28 games he’s appeared in so far, especially with guys like Green (21) and Stokes (19) appearing in so few, relatively speaking. If Putz were more around the 23, 24 level, getting more days of rest in between appearances, it’s very likely he wouldn’t be having elbow/neck/velocity/locations issues already.

  11. gary s June 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm
    dude, i never said u had to use the same guy for the eighth.u just need to use an effective guy.that could be a different guy every day.i have no problem with for putz, there is no way for u or me to know if he is hurt.his history indicates he needs the split to be effective.arm problems could prevent him from throwing the split.the mets should have learned from the reyes fiasco.if he has arm problems, put him on the DL for 15 days and hopefully he’ll be better when he comes back.he’s 1-4..that’s not good enough.that said, if santana wins tonite, last nite’s game will just be a bad memory ..
  12. mic June 2, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    My retort is this- then Who pitches? First Green had the green light but he has not been inspiring. Stokes pretty much is the same…FB too straght etc, and if exposed stokes clearly will not excelWe need roster flexibility with young arms…

    Putz ala Bobby P. needs the same atitude – come in and throw gas.