Mets Game 60: Loss to Tigers
Tigers 8 Mets 7
Tough game for the Mets, in many ways.
Jeremy Bonderman had good, hard-sinking stuff that kept the Mets batters befuddled for much of his six innings of work. The only hitter who seemed to have a clue early in the game was Carlos Beltran, who was very patient in his first at-bat. He watched several sinkers dive down and outside the strike zone, worked the count full, and forced Bonderman to elevate his pitches. As a result, he got a nice waist-high fastball to drive into right for a hard single. Later, he stole second, the throw from Pudge Rodriguez went wide and bounced off Beltran and into leftfield, which allowed Carlos to scamper all the way home with the Mets’ first run.
In the bottom of the first, Oliver Perez seemed to have a handle on things, getting two of the first three batters out (Placido Polanco hit a single). However, he had a hard time getting his breaking pitches over the plate, missing up and out to the righties. One of those righties — Magglio Ordonez — worked a two-out walk to put men on second and third, and Carlos Guillen followed with a three-run homer. Actually, he hit two — the first one was only about fifty feet inside the leftfield foul pole. Both blasts came on flat sliders that hung over the middle of the plate.
Perez had similar trouble with his command the entire game — missing with a flat slider, and unable to spot the fastball where he wanted it. He appeared to be rushing his body forward a bit, and leaving his throwing hand just a bit behind. That’s the problem with Perez: his mechanics are so unorthodox, that if one element is just a hair out of sync, his effectiveness is gone. He’s a tough-enough competitor to fight through, but is nowhere near the same pitcher as when he’s “on”. But, when he’s “on”, he may be the toughest lefty in all of baseball.
Ollie pitched five innings, allowing five runs on five walks and seven hits, but left the game within striking distance — a 5-3 Detroit lead. Unfortunately, Guillermo Mota could do no better in relief of Perez. I’m not certain what the issue was with Mota, but from his first pitch he appeared to have a confidence problem — he simply did not look like his smooth, swaggering, cocky self. Maybe he was having flashbacks from his time in Cleveland, or perhaps he has a mental block when it comes to the American League Central. Whatever the case, he was pitching with fear for the first time since becoming a Met, missing all over the place with his fastball or laying pitches chest-high over the middle of the plate. Before he could be rescued, Mota was battered for four hits, a walk, and three runs in one-third of an inning.
At the time, with the way Bonderman was dominating, it seemed like an insurmountable lead, but the Mets fought back with three runs in the seventh and another in the eighth to close the gap to one run — both rallies instigated by David Wright.
In the seventh, Wright led off with a base hit off Bonderman, and Paul LoDuca did the same. Ricky Luh-DEE then ripped a line-drive double into the rightfield corner to score D-Wright and chase Paulie to third. Yorman Bazardo came on in relief and gave up a sacrifice fly to Ramon Castro, scoring LoDuca. MetsToday’s favorite second baseman Ruben Gotay then pinch-hit for Carlos Gomez, and rapped an infield hit off Bazardo’s glove to score Ledee and cut the Tiger lead to 8-6. David Wright hit a solo homer in the following inning, but that was the end of the Mets scoring for the day.
When I watched Gotay play for Kansas City and in the Caribbean Series over this winter, he seemed to be a wild swinger, a sucker for off-speed stuff and sliders in the dirt. It appeared — to me, anyway — that he guessed a lot and swung for the fences, which seemed a strange strategy for a player his size. However, what he’s shown this year is good-to-excellent discipline, and controlled, fluid swing from both sides of the plate. Is it possible that he’s maturing? Will anybody with the last name Randolph notice and give the kid some starts already?
The Mota meltdown was incredibly disturbing, mostly because of his body language and the frightened look on his face. He hadn’t pitched that poorly against the Tigers in the past — he had a 3.60 ERA against them before the outing — so it couldn’t have been something specific to Detroit. In contrast, the Tigers batters looked like they couldn’t wait to get into the box to face him, from the beginning of the inning — it was like watching a hungry crowd of wolves turning a pig on a spit. Maybe Mota was hurt, or not feeling right, or something else on his mind? It was all very strange, bordering on the surreal.
Beltran, Wright, LoDuca, and Ledee all went 2-for-4 on the day. It’s nice to see the Mets finally hitting, and scoring in ways that don’t include the longball. Hope the Phillies had fun with their little spurt, because once the Mets sticks start supporting the spectacular starting pitching, it’s all over for everyone else in the NL East.
The rubber match in Detroit pits 41-year-old Tom Glavine vs. 22-year-old Andrew Miller. Glavine throws puss, Miller throws gas — it couldn’t be a more different matchup. Let’s hope Tommy can finally grab career win #296. Game time is 1:05 EST and will be carried on CW11 (so instead of interesting postgame interviews and highlights, you get “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns … ugh).