Mets Game 160: Win Over Astros

Mets 7 Astros 1

A chance to go out with a bang.

After getting swept four times in their seven September series, the Mets won the opener of their final series of the season — guaranteeing, at least, they won’t go oh-fer-October.

John Maine was brilliant, pitching perhaps his best game all season. Maine went a full seven frames, allowing only one run on five hits, walking none and striking out seven.

Meantime Wandy Rodriguez’s magic against the Mets continues to occur only in Houston — though his six-inning, 3-runs-allowed effort was respectable. It was reliever Doug Brocail who got whacked for four runs in the ninth inning and swelled the final score — making the game seem less close than it really was. (Was that a Yogi-ism?)


For one of the few times since 2007, Maine had sharp command of his fastball. His velocity was encouraging, as well, reaching 93 on occasion. He had the ‘stros batters jumping out of their shoes on his slider, as well, which he mixed in expertly. Though, I’d still like to see him throw his change-up more often, especially early in counts, rather than use the slider as his change of pace.

If nothing else, this outing pretty much cemented a 2010 contract for Maine.

Both David Wright and Jeff Francoeur went 3-for-4, Frenchy with 2 RBI.

Daniel Murphy hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer, his 12th of the season.

Nick Evans shook off the mothballs and appeared as a pinch-hitter as well — and blasted a triple.

What in the world was Michael Bourn doing attempting to steal third in the first inning with none out and Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee following him in the lineup? I haven’t watched enough of the ‘stros to know what went wrong for them this year, but boneheaded decisions like that are a clue.

Equally strange, in the fifth frame, Wandy Rodriguez sacrifice bunted with a man on second and one out.

Nice conversation among Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ralph Kiner about the enormous number of strikeouts in this day and age. The idea of cutting down the swing and protecting the plate with two strikes has completely left the game since teams pay more millions for more homeruns and Beanehead math said that the risk of swinging for homers and missing on strike three outweighed the negatives. But now that steroids are less prevalent — and in turn homerun totals are dropping — I wonder if two-strike strategy will go back to the old-school philosophy.

Next Mets Game

The next-to-last game of the season occurs on Saturday afternoon at 1 PM. Pat Misch faces Yorman Bazardo.

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 October 3, 2009 at 12:03 pm
    This was perhaps the most fun game to watch in weeks. But we’ve seen these flashes of brilliance before, and they’re ususally quite short lived.

    I’m not getting as excited by Maine’s final start of the year as others. It was fantastic, no doubt, and it shows what Maine is capable of. But we would be remiss if we didn’t note the connotations of last night’s game. The Astros are a team playing out the season with nothing to strive for. They’re in the midst of wrapping up their season on a 7-game roadtrip, and did not have the benefit of a day off while traveling from Philly to Queens. They’re currently being led by interim manager Dave Clark, who the team knows is a lame duck. The players seem more interested in compiling personal stats than winning games, as evidenced by Michael Bourn’s attempt to steal third. Add to the mix that the Astros are a warm weather team playing on a cold, damp night, and John Maine had all the ingredients for a stellar outing. I just wouldn’t go guarenteeing Maine a 2010 contract because he beat the Astros in October. Remember it was just a start ago Maine looked hapless against the Marlins, so I think that outing needs to be factored in just as strongly, if not more so, than his performance last night. I know the Mets are desperate for pitching, and I know Maine can be a very helpful pitcher if healthy. But raise your hand if you feel confident he can start 25+ games next year, or if you believe he’ll have more starts like last night as opposed to starts like last week in Florida. You won’t see my hand raised. Though he may *only* cost somewhere around $4-5 million after arbitration for 2010, in these penny pinching days, that may be too much for my taste for a guy who is becoming infamous for inconsistency and injury.

  2. gary s. October 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm
    dude, could not agree with u more.maine is a 5-6 inning pitcher at best, inconsistent and injured for 2 years.we went down this road with ollie and got fried.if they give him a contract they are out of their minds.let him walk!!!
  3. joejanish October 3, 2009 at 7:20 pm
    ‘dude, good points on Maine’s performance. It did appear as though the ‘stros were “playing out the string” and/or looking to pad their stats via some big swings.

    Personally I don’t think Maine will ever be as effective as he was in the first half of ’07 but also don’t believe the Mets think they can NOT re-sign him. Remember the Mets make decisions based more on public perception than on logic — and by “finishing strong” (at least, on paper), the Mets have the built-in excuse if he flops again.

    Further, I don’t know that there are going to be many better arms available as free agents this winter — sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.