Mets Game 95: Loss to Astros

Astros 5 Mets 4

The Mets finally got some offense, and had their ace on the mound. But their ace did not pitch like an ace.

Johan Santana was removed from the game after allowing five runs on a career-high 12 hits and 3 walks in 6 2/3 innings. He was bitten by the long ball in the fourth frame, allowing a two-run homer to opposing pitcher Mike Hampton and a near-homer to Jeff Keppinger only moments before Hampton’s blast.

Yet, it could’ve been worse, as Santana was constantly in trouble — it seemed that every inning the Astros loaded the bases, but one way or another, Johan got out of trouble. It’s never a good idea to skate on thin ice in a hot town like Houston.

Notes

Omir Santos went 3-for-4 and hit the Mets’ fifth homerun of the month. With a week left, there’s still an outside chance the team gets into double digits. My money is on the under.

Luis Castillo had four hits in his first four at-bats, but couldn’t get a fifth with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the 8th. That’s the way it goes for the Mets in 2009.

Both teams struggled to push home runs — the Mets left 10 on base, the Astros, 11.

The AT&T high speed pitch of the day (as of the 6th inning) was 93 MPH — both Santana and Hampton reached that figure. Is it me or is it bothersome that Johan Santana’s fastest pitch was equal to that of the broken-down, 36-year-old, nearly washed up Hampton?

For the young catchers out there, I hope you saw the high tag applied by Pudge Rodriguez to Jeff Francoeur’s face in the top of the seventh. The reason you aim for the face in that situation is because a) the body goes where head goes, so you can’t miss him / he can’t get around you; and b) by tagging in the face, there’s next-to-zero chance of the runner barreling you over. Unless you are a boxer, it’s a natural immediate reaction to be defensive, rather than aggressive, when something is coming into your face. Keith Hernandez (and Bob Ojeda in the postgame) neglected that factor when he suggested that Francoeur might have “made the wrong decision” by not trying to plow over Pudge — in reality, Pudge removed that option. Understand, however, that such a tag only works when timed right — you can’t stand there with the glove high for a few seconds, because then you remove the surprise and the runner has time to react; it has to be applied just before potential contact. Pudge played it perfectly.

Speaking of perfection, Angel Berroa is quickly showing why he’s been released 18 times in the last two months. He can’t field, he can’t hit, he can’t bunt, he can’t run, and he appears barely awake. I think he might be able to throw, but I’m not sure. He is the MLB equivalent of a lazy employee that clocks in, surfs the internet all morning, takes a long lunch, browses eBay all afternoon, and leaves five minutes before 5 PM.

Another note on Pudge: the propellerheads can talk all they want about OBP, OPS, BABIP, and every other number that makes the future HOFer look bad. But there is NO question who is in charge when he is on the field. Case in point: the 8th inning, when Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson visited the mound, and Pudge took over the conversation. The Mets, of course, don’t need such leadership — they need OPS. Good thing they passed on him in the offseason.

Is it me, or is Jose Valverde slowly evolving into Jose Mesa?

During the postgame, Bob Ojeda mentioned that the Mets have been losing games due to a failure of executing “the little things” since the BEGINNING OF THE SEASON. In other words, since the team was whole and healthy. We’ve been saying as much here, haven’t we? The only difference is that now, those little things are more glaring because you don’t have Carlos Delgado to bail you out with a three-run homer. But either way, it’s still bad baseball — the brand of ball the Mets have been playing for now three years running.

Despite the close score, my attention continually drifted out the window, where a mild lightning storm was occurring. I remember having better focus in the past … is it age, or this team?

Next Mets Game

Mets and Astros do it again at 7:05 PM. Young lefty Jonathan Niese makes a reappearance against Russ Ortiz. Russ Ortiz? First Mike Hampton and now Ortiz … who’s pitching on Sunday for the ‘stros, Freddy Garcia? Carl Pavano? Wayne Garland?

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. Chris in Japan July 25, 2009 at 12:46 am
    Santana’s fastest pitch may have been 93, but watching the replays of the highlights of the game, it looked like Santana’s FB was sitting right around 90 mph with zero movement. No matter how good his change is, that’s a recipe for disaster.
  2. Kenny July 25, 2009 at 4:24 am
    great description of berroa.

    does that make tony bernazard like the assistant regional sales manager who rips off his shirt and challenges the sales staff to an arm wrestling match to see who really has what it takes to handle the prestigious Davidson account?

    and is jeff wilpon like the son of the company founder who fell into the business even though he grew up at a boarding school somewhere in the midwest and he never really expressed any interest in the manufacture and sale of domestic auto parts but he shows up to his corner office sometime between 11am and 2pm everyday for no reason other than to look out over the city and tell his secretary that someday he’s gonna own this town – all of it – and yet he is so clueless that he thinks the elevator door opens and shuts when he claps twice, just like the lights in the master bedroom on daddy’s yacht?

  3. sincekindergarten July 25, 2009 at 5:32 am
    So, will the Wilpons finally sell the team already, so the new owners can get rid of some of the deadwood? It’s a damned good thing for me that I didn’t watch, as I may have thrown something through the TV.
  4. isuzudude July 25, 2009 at 8:57 am
    I’m taking wagers on a few things:
    1. Before the year is out we’ll learn that Johan is pitching hurt and will need “exploratory surgery” in the offseason
    2. Russ Ortiz will have a no-hitter in tact thru 5 innings
    3. Gary Sheffield will end up on the DL, but not until rotting away on the bench for another week and a half
    4. By season’s end, opposing pitchers will have collected more RBI against the Mets than all of the firstbasemen have collected for the Mets
    5. Roy Halladay is going to be a Phillie, and will go 7-0 against the Mets from the time he’s acquired until the end of 2010
    6. Tony Bernazard is going to replace Omar Minaya as GM this winter

    Anyone want some action?

  5. John Fitzgerald July 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm
    ‘Dude… great observations.

    #4 is very interesting and i’d love to see the current totals for RBIs…