Mets Game 72: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 9 Mets 1

Not a great evening for Mike Pelfrey, nor the Mets.

Focusing on going the other way, the Yankees pounced on Pelfrey in the second frame, and the defense behind him resembled the Keystone Cops, as four runs — two unearned — crossed the plate in an inning that was one hit away from complete disaster.

Pelfrey allowed four hits and a walk in the frame, while David Wright, Alex Cora, and Nick Evans all made key errors to give the Yankees a lead that would never be threatened.

Pelf did settle down after the second, retiring nine of the last ten batters he faced, but the damage was done. Down by four with C.C. Sabathia on top of his game, the Mets had little chance to mount a comeback.

Sabathia did not allow a hit until the fifth frame, when Gary Sheffield led off with a line drive bullet into the left field stands. By the time he left the mound, Sabathia threw seven stellar innings, allowing only three hits, one run, no walks, and striking out eight.


Although only four runs crossed the plate, the Mets were completely devastated in the second inning. Pelfrey in particular lost his cool, and the team as a whole looked tense, confused, or beaten for the remainder of the game.

During that fateful second inning, Mark Teixeira ripped a rocket of a ground ball right at Nick Evans, which Evans mishandled, allowing Brett Gardner to score and Teixeira to reach first safely. What’s interesting is that even though the ball was hit so hard and directly to Evans, Teixeira nonetheless busted it out of the box. Since the ball only bounced a few feet away from the bag, there’s no way Teixeira would have been safe had he not hustle all the way. So in two straight series, he demonstrated to Mets fans what good can occur when players go all out, all the time.

In the top of the seventh, with Alex Rodriguez on first base, Robbie Cano hit a liner to left field that was stretched into a double when Fernando Tatis did not make a direct throw to second base. The SNY crew couldn’t figure out why Tatis didn’t throw to second base, but had we seen a wider view of the field, we would have seen that cutoff man Alex Cora had positioned himself between Tatis and third base, as A-Rod was going from first to third. So I would guess that Tatis was somewhat confused about where to go with the ball, since he doesn’t play left field very often and in that split second decided to get the ball to the cutoff man.

Elmer Dessens and Sean Green combined to allow 5 runs out of the bullpen.

No one in the NL East won this evening, so the standings remain status quo. Does anyone want to take this division?

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Yankees do it again at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. Tim Redding faces A.J. Burnett. Those outside the NY-Metro area can see the game on the MLB Network or listen on XM 183, while us locals have the choice among WPIX, YES and WFAN.

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. isuzudude June 27, 2009 at 9:17 am
    There’s just no way Pelfrey deserves any blame for this loss. The only inning in which he gave up runs was the 2nd, and for all intensive purposes there shouldn’t have been more than 2 runs scored in that inning. Yes, Pelfrey gave up some hits, but examine the type of hits he gave up:
    1. Cabrera led off with a swinging bunt to Wright. With a great play Cabrera would have been out, but Wright threw the ball away and not only was Cabrera safe, he wound up on second. Pelfrey gets a groundball and the defense turns it into a double. Not his fault.
    2. Next up is Cervelli, who Pelfrey fans on five pitches. One out.
    3. Next up is Pena, who serves a bloop double down the opposite field line for an RBI. Not hard hit at all, and if not for Wright’s error, it’s runners on 2nd and 3rd instead of 1-0.
    4. Next up is Sabathia, who hits a trickler up the middle just out of Cora’s range. Pelfrey produces a ground ball, and if not for Wright’s error (with a runner now on 3rd) the infield may be playing in, allowing Cora to make the play and keep the runner from advancing home. He throws out Sabathia for 2 outs. But instead, CC’s single plates another run, and it’s 2-0.
    5. Next up is Gardner, who follows Pena’s act and bloops a cheap single to the opposite field. No matter how you slice it, with 2 outs and runners in motion, that hit is likely producing 2 runs on Tatis’ throwing arm, so even in a perfect world it’s 2-0 Yankees. However, there should be 2 outs and just a runner on 1st, but in reality there’s only 1 out and runners on 1st and 2nd. But take note how Pelfrey is still not getting knocked around.
    6. Next up is Damon, who hits a grounder to Cora that in the perfet world would have ended the inning with a force out at 2nd. Even in reality, there’s a chance for a double play to get out of the jam, or at the least get the force out at 2nd and get 2 outs with runners on the corners. Instead, Cora throws it away, another run scores, and the inning is getting out of control. Still, I see that Pelfrey has remained in control, producing yet another ground ball that could have ended the inning with the score 2-0. And then Nick Evans’ error never happens, and Sheffield’s homer makes it a 1-run game. And who knows what could have been. I know it’s hard to live in the land of the hypothetical, but with the plays made behind him I think it’s clear to see that Pelfrey could have escaped the inning with far less damage being done than what actually happened.

    Pelfrey went on to pitch 3 scoreless innings after the 2nd, allowing just 1 more hit. And though expending 93 pitches in 5 innings is anything but economical, the fact is Pelfrey had put the Mets in a good position to try and win, holding the Yankees to just 2 earned runs. And since Sabathia + Tomko limited the Mets to just 1 run (it would have taken a shutout to beat CC last night), I’d say Pelfrey qualifies much more for the ‘hard luck loser’ title than “losing his cool.” It also didn’t help that the bullpen dumped gasoline on the fire and made the final score look all the more disasterous.

    But hey, the Mets suffered one of their most uninspirational losses this past Tuesday and responded with a rout of their own on Wednesday, so I suppose anything can happen today. If nothing else, last night’s loss demonstrates once again that the Mets are the most bipolar team in all of baseball.

  2. joejanish June 27, 2009 at 11:23 am
    ‘dude, the blame for the loss goes to the entire team, Pelf included. And while I agree with the “hard luck loser” description “losing his cool” is not a title, it’s what he did, it was his reaction to the troubles around him. You could see the frustration on his face and in his body language, and at first, it affected his command.

    I do understand that it isn’t easy to deal with three errors in an inning, but successful pitchers learn to either turn that negatively induced energy into something positive, or learn to remain calm and in control of their emotions. In Pelf’s case, he appears to be learning how to accomplish the former, as his initial and immediate response was a lack of focus but eventually he flipped into a highly focused mode — as evidenced by his next three innings.

    I believe that over time, Pelf will learn to flip that switch immediately, and evolve into a top-of-the-rotation starter.