Mets Game 59: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 9 Mets 8

castillo-oopsJust pack it in, Mets fans.

The score went back and forth all night, and in the end it was a combination of poor fundamentals / bad baseball vs. all-out hustle that was the difference.

After going ahead 8-7 in the top of the eighth — against the immortal Mariano Rivera no less — the Mets appeared poised to take the game, with their perfect closer Francisco Rodriguez heading to the mound.

Indeed, K-Rod dispatched of Brett Gardner to get the initial out of the ninth, gave up a single to Derek Jeter, then struck out Johnny Damon for the second out of the inning. However, Jeter stole second on the strikeout, putting himself in scoring position and leaving first base open — giving Rodriguez the luxury of pitching around Mark Teixeira, which he did. That brought up Alex Rodriguez, who was ahead of the count 3-1 when he popped a routine fly ball to short right field. It appeared to be an easy out, but Luis Castillo stumbled a bit, lost sight of the ball, and the horsehide bounced off the side of his glove, falling safely on the outfield grass. Meantime, Mark Teixeira took nothing for granted, and was busting it full tilt on contact, and scored easily from first base on the dropped ball. Just like that, game over, Yanks win. Ouch.


What a shame … Luis Castillo seemed to have finally found his way back into the hearts of Mets fans with his slick glove work and much-improved offense. But all that has been erased thanks to one little popup. Honestly, he should be traded as soon as possible — not because he’s a bad ballplayer, but because the fans will never, ever forgive him for this one.

BTW, where was Ryan Church on that popup? He should have been nearby, maybe close enough to back up the play. Instead, he assumed — like the rest of us — that the game was over and thus he was jogging toward the dugout. Maybe, just maybe, had he continued charging in and been nearby when Castillo dropped the ball, he would’ve been in position to pick it up and keep Teixeira at third base. Then, who knows?

People wonder why I get on certain Mets for dogging it on occasion, and make such a big deal about hustling 100%, all the time. Well, Teixeira showed you why — because although 99% of the time it may not make a difference, at least 1% of the time it wins you a game (in truth, the percentage is much higher than that).

Yes, Castillo is clearly and obviously the most visible goat of this game. However, I had a major problem with intentionally walking Teixeira, who represented the winning run, particularly with Alex Rodriguez coming to bat. It’s just bad baseball to put the winning run on base. Let the guy beat you with a two-run homer — the odds are in your favor if you make him swing.

Speaking of other goats grazing in the pasture, new LOOGY Jon Switzer allowed a three-run homer to Hideki Matsui on the third pitch he threw as a Met to give up a two-run lead. Switzer threw six balls total — three were balls, three were hit into play. Next!

Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth made it tough on all hitters and all pitchers, for both sides, with his remarkably inconsistent strike zone. Pitches in particular spots that were called strikes one minute were called balls the next, and vice-versa.

Strange move by Joe Girardi to bring in Mo Rivera with two outs in the eighth inning of a tie game. Obviously he wanted the matchup of Rivera’s cutter against Beltran from the left side, but it backfired when Beltran walked, setting up David Wright to drive a double to put the Mets ahead. Talk about managing for your job.

Another strange move by Girardi was allowing Brett Gardner to lead off the bottom of the ninth, rather than replace him with veteran Johnny Damon — who came in two batters later as a pinch-hitter for Nick Swisher. Personally, I’d have preferred to have the two veterans — Swisher AND Damon — face K-Rod in that situation. Further, I’ll take Damon any day of the week, against any pitcher, to lead off an inning in a game where I absolutely need a baserunner. The guy has been and remains an on-base machine.

Early in the game, Joba Chamberlain seemed to be giving away the contest — and boring everyone to sleep — with his inability to throw strikes to the least-dangerous hitters in the Mets lineup. I don’t know what was going through that young man’s head, but he wasn’t focused on making his pitches. How in the world do you walk Alex Cora twice in consecutive innings without coming near the strike zone once — knowing full well that the two best hitters in the NL are looming on double-deck? If I were Jorge Posada, I might have choked Chamberlain.

All told, Yankees pitchers handed nine free passes to the Mets. From that standpoint, the Bronx Bombers had no business winning the game. But they did.

The Mets left nine runners on base, the Yankees left five.

Ryan Church had only one hit but drove in three runs and stole a base. Wright had two more hits and a walk, lifting his average to .364 and his OBP to .461.

You can’t keep saying, “well the Mets would’ve won if only … (fill in the blank: so-and-so didn’t make an error, did make a play, didn’t allow a hit, was called safe / out, etc. etc.)” Because here’s the bottom line: whereas winning teams seem to find ways to win night in and night out, losing teams seem to find ways to lose. Guess which side of the fence the Mets are on this year?

Next Mets Game

Somehow, some way, the Mets will suit up again on Saturday in the Bronx to face the Yanks. Fernando Nieve makes his first start as a Met against Andy Pettitte. First pitch is at 4:10 PM and will be broadcast on FOX. Could it get any worse?

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. gary s June 12, 2009 at 11:57 pm
    the game ended 45 minutes ago and i still can’t believe that stiff castillo dropped the popup.than he made things worse by throwing to second, allowing texiera 2 score.i’ll always be a met fan, but i’m going on sabatical for awhile.i’ve hit the wall for the 2009 season.i can’t watch anymore.the mets are a joke.if manuel doesn’t bust up a few things in the lockerroom or call guys out, he should be on the first bus out of town with fact, if castillo is moved, that would be the one bright spot from tonight’s debacle..
  2. CatchDog June 13, 2009 at 8:04 am
    Basic fundamentals taught at the Tee-Ball level.

    Murphy, Sheffield, Church, Delgado, Castro and Castillo (we’ll give Beltran a pass from the other night). This is a list of Met players that have missed easy fly balls this season. All clearly catchable balls but these major leaguers failed to follow the basic fundamentals of catching a baseball which are taught to four and five year old children.

    If my kids get lazy and catch a ball with one hand, they owe me a lap after practice or after the game. They have been taught to catch a fly ball “thumb to thumb”. The outfielders have been taught to catch the ball just below eye level moving forward (if possible) and then “crow hop” and fire the ball to either the cutoff man or to the base that they have already identified BEFORE the pitch was thrown.

    Anyone ever watch Reyes or Wright “snap their mitts down” after catching a pop up? Showboating at its finest and an error waiting to happen. Miscues this team can ill afford to give up but has waaay too many times this season.

  3. TheDZA June 13, 2009 at 8:36 am
    If the Mets had a Kangeroo court for all these mess-ups they could single-handedly put a stop to the world recession.
    Last week at softball I caught a pop-fly (using a baseball glove not a softball glove) at 3rd base with TWO-HANDS. Inning over.
    These constant mistakes: baserunning errors/not running hard out the box/dropping fieldable balls are inexcusable. If Manuel can’t motivate these guys to pull their arms out the dark place then time for a new hard-ass who can. This laid back nature seems to be contagious, bar a select few whose names I’m sure we pretty much agree on.

    I don’t think I’m going to check any more Mets stuff till next week…

  4. isuzudude June 13, 2009 at 9:05 am
    I hate to join the suicide-watch parade, but this was the worst loss I’ve seen in a very long time. And it’s only compounded by the fact that it came against the damn Yankees. I’m one of the biggest Castillo supporters, but something about him just screams “loser.” He’s like a bad luck jinx personified.

    Also, take note of how the Mets are now 3-7 in June. And in 5 of those 7 losses, the Mets held a lead at some point in the game. In 3 of those 5 games, the lead was at least 3 runs. Just like last year, the Mets are becoming infamous for scoring early, then coasting the rest of the game and losing late. Nothing has changed. The Mets are baseball’s biggest choke artist, with absolutely no understanding of what it takes to finish off opponents.

    Fans and Omar alike should not be fooled by this team’s winning record and ability to lose close games. They are losers, and adding another bat would not eliminate that label. Hell, they scored 8 runs last night and still found a way to make it not enough to win. They could have scored 30 and still found a way to lose. That is this team, and people need to start realizing that.

  5. gary s June 13, 2009 at 9:27 am
    dude, remember that stat from last year showing the mets would have won the nl east by 11 games if mlb played 6 inning games??well, it looks like we need to find a 6 inning league.we’d be world beaters in that league.time for a fire sale.everyone but santana and krod should be priced to move..won’t happen.THE WILPONS PRIORITIES ARE 1)NEW STADIUM, 2) NEW ROTUNDA HONORING BROOKLYN DODGERS 3)NO METS HISTORY ANYWHERE INSIDE NEW BALLPARK.. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. wohjr June 13, 2009 at 10:00 am
    Put me down in the suicide column. Really, truly and honestly an awful awful loss. Much more so in person…
  7. micalpalyn June 13, 2009 at 11:30 am
    after i watched the highlights two things still stand out…the interview with A-rod….who was elated…..And the lass of Jeter.

    – Arod had just choked only to be reprieved.

    – But jeter simply said every baseball has dropped a pop up…

    – Believe me I am not a Castillo fan but i am not going to crucify him for this, if anyone should it would be Krod (his homey), I just hope Castillo goes 5-5 today with 15 stolen bases.

    – And i am not seeing the resemblance btw the titanic and citifield. I simply hope Omar stops overstating the capabilities of the ‘Jon switzers’ and look for legit MLB players to help. Also i hope this further galvanizes this team and they rattle off a streak. There is NO reason why they cant.

    -It might betime to bring rickey back.

  8. gary s June 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm
    i have an idea how to best utilize castillo’s talents at citifield the rest of the year.use him to throw balls at in the water dunk tank out by the food court restaurants..i’ll donate a buck to charity for every ball they let me throw at him.
  9. Hary June 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm
    The most amazing part of the Amazins is the fact that no one has caught on that this IS DAVID WRIGHTS team. The team hustles like him (never busts it out of the box unless the cameras are on; never picks up the coach at first or third but watches the ball the whole way and makes his own decision), hits like him (RARELY in the clutch–last night one of the signs the apocolypse may be near; swings on stupid counts…hey David, it was 2-0 two nights ago and the guy threw you an outside slider AND not with runners on base…a .380 average in the number 4/5 hole with 36 RBIs–how many LOB? It is a team focused on their image…The Cardinals and Phillies are focused on grit–can’t we import some. By the way, you ever notice that NONE of the Mets players (Santana, Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, Pelfrey, Rodriguez) ever talk about Wright…never a he’s a leader…it’s always management that does it! David Wright = Frank Thomas…glorified personal stats–no leadership/clutchness–will need to be a role player on a championship team with balls. Just my opinion.
  10. Jeff Wilpon June 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    You are a loyal subject and – I presume – a paying customer, par excellence.

    That said, you should know that our management staff has already identified the problems you cite with David Wright (Employee Ref ID #2009-05-12-20-1982).

    We have taken steps to remedy this sitution. You will notice – if you haven’t already – that Mets broadcasters are dropping references to David’s leadership abilities. Why, just a couple of days ago, David went to the mound to settle down Michael Pelfrey (Employee Ref ID#209-34-01-14-84) when that insufferable ne’er-do-well Chase Utley attempted to give Michael a dreadful case of the “yips.” Wayne Hagin and Gary Cohen were on the ball with that one. By my assistant’s count, the words “leader,” “leadership,” and “all growed up,” were used a total of 7 times in both broadcasts. Please note that I am not counting the Spanish language broadcast because I don’t deal in that language.

    Anyway, cheery-oh!

    Jeffrey Wilpon
    Chief Operating Officer

  11. wlaadair June 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm
    Wright hustled his butt off last night getting home on Church’s double, the ball actually hit him in the chest and bounced away.

    Even looked like he injured his leg on the slide, but won’t complain about it, unlike a lot of his teammates who are afraid to be agressive for fear of getting injured.

    Wright is a terrific leader, and not a hot dog any more than anyone else, he’s having fun, its a game, people seem to lose sight of that these days.

  12. adrock June 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm
    wall-y back-man!!
  13. gary s June 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm
    wright has averaged over 100 ribbies and a .300 ba since he came to the mets.he never takes days off and plays a pretty decent 3rd base..he also didn’t blow 29 saves last year..he’s also not the general manager.yeah, he’s definitely the problem..
  14. Hary June 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm
    Gary and wlaadair:

    You guys miss the point (although seem to be first in line for the cool-aid). When you know there is going to be a play….that’s not hustle. Hustle is when you think it’s routine…and still bust butt. Castillo (who I admire for the reprieve and courage he showed today) did it again today in the ninth. He’s on first and a routine fly up to center and he’s coasting to second thinking its the third out…only to have to bust butt to get to third when Mickey Mantle slips on the wet grass. David Wright pops a ball off the wall in left that you could’ve had a double on coasts around first and then has to bust it to second…granted Ibanez makes a perfect throw but it is a stand up double to someone busting it. WATCH A CARDINAL GAME..EVERYONE busts it..did you see Jeter bust it to first to beat Castillo’s throw today. EFFORT buddy. David Wright, the FACE OF THE METS, doesn’t play like a leader. Pray we trade for some leadership–or else let Johan play 1st base every day…GARY–numbers are a special part of baseball…but they don’t tell you worth–but if you must, check out Mr. Popularity’s OPS (compare to the elite), GWRBI (compared to my mother), SB% (compared to my grandmother and, importantly, RANGE FACTOR at 3B (compared to Dave Kingman)…he is a VERY GOOD PLAYER in the NL…not a great one. Great ones work at their craft and lead. At 3B in the NL hel slots in behind Chipper and Zimmerman…very good, but not elite. Maybe if he hustled all the time, hit like a team player (see strikeouts with less than two outs and runner at third).

  15. Eli From Brooklyn June 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm
    Joe, mind me.

    I quoted you a few times in a recent post and I figured you might wanna take a look at my rebuttal.


    (Just click on my name to get to the link)…. 🙂