Mets Game 66: Loss to Yankees
If only the Mets had relieved Tom Glavine in, say, the second inning, they may have had a chance to win.
Because by then it was apparent that Tommy was not going to get a corner on either end of the plate. In fact, he wasn’t going to get pitches that had a good 2-3 inches on either side of the plate — not with Bruce Froemming behind the plate. Unfortunately, Froemming’s advanced age, combined with too many foul tips to the noggin, has severely affected his peripheral vision, and he’s unable to see pitches as strikes unless they are within a three-inch zone smack dab in the middle of home plate, and at a height between the bottom and top of the batter’s belt buckle. That size strike zone makes life very difficult for a 40-year-old pitcher who can barely reach 85 MPH with his fastball, and doesn’t throw a breaking pitch.
Yankee youngster Tyler Clippard had the same shrunken zone — the actual size was similar to a matchbook — but the Mets hitters were not as cognizant of that fact as the Yankees. Only three Mets batters seemed to have a clue as to what was going on — Jose Reyes, Ruben Gotay, and Shawn Green — and they were the only three to draw walks (two each, in fact, though one of Green’s was intentional). The remainder of the lineup held to their typically aggressive approach, not realizing they could sit back and wait for the Yankee hurler to serve a fat one over the middle.
By contrast, the Yankee hitters kept their eyes closed until the on-deck batter informed them that the count was 2-0, and sat on meatball after meatball from various Mets pitchers.
OK, maybe that wasn’t exactly the way it went, but it sure seemed that way from where I was standing.
The Mets scored first — again — but lost the lead quickly. David Wright singled in Jose Reyes in the top of the first to start the scoring, and Ruben Gotay smashed a solo homer in the second to put the Mets up two-zip. But the Yankees came back in the bottom of the frame, scratching out two runs on a conglomeration of walks, cheap singles, sacrifices, and groundouts. In the third, the Mets went back on top when Jose Reyes enticed Clippard to balk him home from third base, but Glavine gave away the lead again in the bottom of the inning on a two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez. And so it went for the remainder of the game — the Mets would score one, the Yankees score two; the Mets score two, the Yankees score three. Do the math over the course of nine innings, and you can figure out who won.
It may have been a tough loss to swallow, but it was an exciting game to watch — in fact the back-and-forth scoring was more prolific and interesting than the recent basketball contests labeled on TV as the “NBA Championship”. Even in the ninth inning, with the Mets down by five and peerless closer Mariano Rivera on the mound, it remained a winnable game, as the Mets rallied to within three and left the bases loaded. Had Willie Randolph sent Julio Franco in to pinch-hit for Carlos Beltran in that final inning, this game might still be going.
Ruben Gotay went 2-for-3 with 2 walks, the homerun, and a single that was almost a double — he blistered the ball to the right-center wall but hit it so hard he couldn’t get to second, and wisely remained at first. He struck out looking in the ninth, when Froemming suddenly realized the plate was in fact 17 inches wide, rather than three. However, Froemming did not alert Gotay to this epiphany, and Ruben allowed strike three to graze the outside edge of the plate. Too bad, as had Gotay been perfect on the day, Willie Randolph likely would have rewarded him with a seat on the bench closer to the water cooler for Sunday night’s game — and possibly another start sometime in July. Instead, he’ll have to remain content with his current splintered seat, and likely will still have to warm up the pitchers in between innings.
Carlos Gomez had three hits, an RBI, and a stolen base. He has a five-game hit streak and is now hitting .275 with 7 steals in the bigs. While everyone keeps saying how raw he is, the 21-year-old Gomez looks far more polished — all around — than Lastings Milledge did at age 22 last year. Though L Millz is reportedly returning to baseball activities in the next week or so, he may have a hard time finding his way back to the 25-man roster. It looks as though Gomez will continue to get starts while Moises Alou remains missing, and he’s starting to get the hang of this Major League pitching thing.
Jose Reyes had only one hit, but walked twice and stole two more bases, bringing his MLB-leading SB total to 37.
Paul LoDuca was 3-for-5 in the DH role, bringing his average back to .300. OK, so maybe he had a clue up there, too.
Derek Jeter went 4-for-5, and is now hitting almost .500 (10-for-21) against the Mets this year. Is he motivated by everyone saying Reyes is the best shortstop in New York?
The fact that the Mets came back against Rivera in the ninth shows that their spirit has returned, after a two-week hiatus. That slump thing is so over.
Orlando Hernandez goes against Chien-Ming Wang in the rubber match at 8:05 PM. El Duque will need to pitch a gem, as Wang will likely keep the Mets bats in check.
Personally, I’m rooting for Reyes and Gomez to continue laying down bunts and running wild on the bases — as it’s doubtful Wang will give up many long fly balls and the Mets will need to scratch out runs where they can. If Willie starts Ricky Luh-dee instead of Gomez, I may have a coronary.