Mets Game 35: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 2 Mets 1

Another close one, and this time the Mets came up short.

It was a battle of the aces, and both Josh Johnson and Johan Santana lived up to their billing, trading zeroes through seven frames. Each ace gave up one run, and each made an error. Both received stellar defense from their teammates.

In the end, it was a battle of the bullpens — and the Mets’ most-used reliever gave up a walk, a hit, and a wild pitch to give the Fish the ballgame.

Game Notes

Johan Santana didn’t have his best stuff, but … I promised not to write this any more. He is who he is — a crafty pitcher who pitches backward, relying on an array of changeups and sliders to set up an occasional 89-90 MPH fastball. In other words, a younger version of Jamie Moyer.

Santana went a full 7 innings, allowing one unearned run on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 5 and tossing 98 pitches. The one unearned run came as a result of Santana throwing the ball too high to second base after a sacrifice bunt attempt by Johnson.

Josh Johnson matched Santana pitch-for-pitch, and then some. The Mets managed only 3 hits and 1 run, striking out 7 times and drawing zero walks in 7 innings against him. I don’t know how anyone can hit his 96 MPH, knee-high fastball.

Gaby Sanchez was the only batter from either side to have a good day, going 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored. He also made a leaping, snazzy snare of a bullet of a line drive off the bat of Santana in the second that ended the innng and prevented at least one run from scoring.

Jerry Manuel made some head-scratching moves in this game, that were magnified due to the final score. First, why are you asking Jose Reyes to bunt in the 9th with Luis Castillo on second base and no outs? Mind you, I’m an old-school guy and believe there is room in the game for a sac bunt now and then. This was neither now nor then. Why? Because by writing Reyes into the #3 spot in the order, you are effectively stating that he is your BEST hitter. If you are tied late in the game, and there is a runner on second base, you want your BEST hitter at the plate to drive the run in. You do not make your best hitter give away one of your precious 27 outs in that situation. The purpose of the sacrifice bunt is to push a runner into scoring position so that one of your best hitters can drive that runner home. So when you already HAVE a runner in scoring position, and your best hitter is at the plate, there is no need to do anything other than sit back and give that hitter the opportunity to drive the run home.

And never mind the argument that Reyes has been struggling lately — it’s an obvious point. But if he is struggling, to the point where you’d rather he make an out than take a shot at driving in a run, then why is he in the #3 spot in the first place?

The second head-scratcher was leaving Fernando Nieve in for a second inning, after he successfully threw a scoreless 8th without having his arm fall off. Nieve has appeared in 22 games thus far (on pace for 102 by season’s end), and has been looking increasingly tired as the month of May has wore on. Managing in a vacuum, where yesterday is forgotten and tomorrow may never come, keeping Nieve in for a second inning makes sense. But in reality, where you have to consider a pitcher’s past and what you hope to accomplish in the future, asking him to pitch multiple innings is both irresponsible and akin to playing with dynamite. As a result, the decision blew up in Manuel’s face.

The Mets have now lost 8 of their last 12, have fallen to third place, and could allow the Fish to join them in third if they lose on Friday. Oh, and guess who’s pitching tomorrow? See below.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Friday night. Oliver Perez takes the mound against Anibal Sanchez. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

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 May 14, 2010 at 7:15 am
    You can feel the bottom beginning to fall out. You can see the ship beginning to sink. You can start to see now what type of team the Mets really are. The offense isn’t hitting. The bullpen is showing signs of overuse. Jerry can’t manage. What we get is a team that has lost 4 out of its last 5 games, with nothing but stiff competition staring them in the face through the end of the month. By June I think there’s a high probability this team will have sunk back to the bottom of the division (to stay) and will be well below .500. And that’s when things are going to get really interesting in Metsland.
  2. Walnutz15 May 14, 2010 at 8:34 am
    For Chrissakes!

    – You’ve got a runner at 2nd with no outs,

    – You just watched Jose Reyes attempt to sacrifice. unsuccessfully, 2 TIMES the previous afternoon.

    What in the Helen of Troy is going on in that dugout?

    Moreover, what kind of “faith” is this showing in Jose Reyes…..especially in “sticking with him” in the 3-hole?

    (Granted, he just as easily could have popped whatever was thrown to him up…..regardless.)

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Jerry Manuel, but this kind of stuff makes you REALLY wonder what kind of stuff he’s got goin’ on upstairs.

    I haven’t even touched the Nieve subject yet.

    In addition to the bewildering decision to “pitch around” Uggla, in lieu of just putting him on [setting up force/double play opportunities] – he had Nieve going multiple innings again last night.

    Big Bats keep on K’-in’…..
    Proud Jerry keep on burnin’ (the bullpen)…….

    We’re rollin’ down the river, alright fellas.

  3. Mic May 14, 2010 at 8:37 am
    I go with ‘Jerry cant manage’ . Just take the 1-run losses and dissect the BP moves, poor PH execution, late inning moves and I can see why BV is continual remembered.

    – BV was a person who rotated players, kept everyone fresh. THIS is NOT a LOSING team. Why is everyone in Blogsville rearranging the lineup as if that would help? The Reyes at#3 expt is over…just like Piazza at 1st base or Todd Hundley in LF, or D-Murph in LF.