Mets Game 79: Loss to Nationals
Nationals 2 Mets 1
There is this idea — supported to a degree by Beaneheads — that a manager has very little to no influence on the won-loss record of a team.
A game like this would beg one to differ.
As usual, Johan Santana didn’t have his “best stuff”, but it was somewhat better than most of his outings in 2010. Kind of. His fastball velocity was a whopping 90-91, which was up from his usual 88-89. His command was somewhat better than its been, and his efficiency was good. Though, his low pitch count could have been more of a function of the ridiculously aggressive and planless Nationals hitters. Outside of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, that lineup is full of clueless Joes.
But, Santana was stellar through seven innings, allowing one run on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7. Unfortunately for Johan, the Mets offense could not give him ample support to win the game. Which was surprising, considering the big bats Jerry Manuel packed into the lineup — such as Alex Cora, Jesus Feliciano, Henry Blanco, and Ruben Tejada. Granted, it wasn’t all Jerry’s fault, since Jose Reyes was suffering from back spasms, and Rod Barajas has been having some back problems himself, and Angel Pagan (who did eventually get into the game) was just getting off a torso issue. Despite the unavailability of these three regulars, Manuel saw it fit to rest Jason Bay. Go figure.
In fairness, Blanco and Feliciano combined to go 4-for-7 with a run scored in the ballgame. But, that only makes the decision correct after the fact. I contend it is the overall process that matters more than the result — and in this case, both the process and the result were bad, even if those two players happened to have good days. You can argue this all you want, but my point is that when you make MANY bad decisions, eventually they catch up to you and in the end you get burned. It follows with the strategy of throwing many cans of paint at the wall to see what sticks — yes, you will get a few paints to stick to make you look brilliant, but at the expense of how many cans that drip to the floor? At some point, smart decisions have to be made, or you are relying completely on luck.
And yes, I’m one of the people who has been wondering why Chris Carter hasn’t been given more chances, and he was playing in Bay’s place, but … hmm … this wasn’t the spot where I’d be giving Carter that opportunity. Bay needs to be in the lineup with so many others out.
You may be wondering why Carter played in Bay’s spot instead of Jeff Francoeur’s. Well, Francoeur had a .438 career average vs. Livan Hernandez — so give props to Jerry if that’s why he left Frenchy in the lineup.
After the game started, Manuel’s in-game strategy also was open to criticism — particularly in his decision to pull Johan Santana after 97 pitches. On the one hand, it wasn’t a terrible decision, since Santana had looked brilliant up until his last inning, when the Nats finally “broke the seal”. But Manuel replaced Santana with Elmer Dessens, and then followed Dessens with Pedro Feliciano — who pitched a full inning — and then followed up Feliciano with Ryota Igarashi.
Dessens has pitched way over his head, so I get that part. And Feliciano has been the closest thing to a “setup man” thus far, so I sort of get why Manuel left him in for a full three outs. Though, as you know, I’ve questioned the (over)use of Feliciano for some time now. What was troubling to me was why Manuel left Dessens in until there was a crisis before bringing in Feliciano — who perhaps could have faced Adam Dunn in the 8th. Then, with the game on the line, Ryota Igarashi was the pitcher who was ready, rather than Francisco Rodriguez — because it was not a save situation, and it was a game on the road. OK, if you must go by “the book”, I guess that’s the right move. Except, other than against a few batters in Puerto Rico, Igarashi has been less than good for the past month, and this was an effort by Santana you do not want to waste — especially considering that you have your worst three starters finishing this series.
By the time Feliciano loaded the bases with one out, it probably didn’t matter who came in relief. But you have to wonder why a game would end this way with your top relief pitcher sitting idly in the bullpen. Can he ONLY pitch if it’s a save situation, or a tie game in the ninth at home?
Next Mets Game
The Mets and Nationals do it again at 7:05 PM on Friday in DC. Jon Niese goes against Luis Atilano.