Mets Game 88: Win over Reds

Lastings Milledge slaps the plate ahead of the tag to score the winning run for the Mets

Mets 3 Reds 2

It was a good way to start off the second half of the season — in many respects.

First of all, Orlando Hernandez pitched a masterful ballgame, going six complete innings and allowing only two runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out seven. Truth is, the Reds would not have scored at all if El Duque had not suddenly and inexplicably lost the strike zone for about a ten-minute period.

After Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay hit back-to-back homeruns to lead off the bottom half of the first and put the Mets ahead 2-zip, El Duque walked Adam Dunn, struck out Edwin Encarnacion, allowed a single to Alex Gonzalez, then struck out catcher David Ross and appeared to be out of the inning as opposing pitcher Bronson Arroyo (batting .081) stepped to the plate. However, he walked Arroyo to load the bases, and then fell behind 2-0 to Scott Hatteberg as his fastball continued to veer far from the strike zone. Eventually, Hatteberg drove a liner to right that Shawn Green dove for, but could not come up with, driving in Dunn and Gonzalez and sending Arroyo to third. Hernandez regrouped to get Ryan Freel to popup to David Wright to end the inning, and then retired 12 of the next 13 Cincinnati batters — with only Ken Griffey reaching base on a walk in the third.

The game remained tied at two until the bottom of the fifth. Lastings Milledge — promoted earlier in the day — led off the inning with a sharp basehit to right. El Duque could not get the sacrifice down and struck out, and Jose Reyes lined out to left. With two outs and Milledge still on first base, Ruben Gotay stepped to the plate. Gotay worked the count to 2-2, fouled off a few pitches, and then hit a low liner to shallow center while Milledge was in motion. Centerfielder Ryan Freel made a valiant stab, but could not catch the ball on a fly and it rolled under his body. Milledge never broke stride rounding second, and was waved around third as Freel fumbled for the ball. The hustling Lastings and the ball reached the plate at the same time, but Milledge made a leaping slide/dive over and around catcher David Ross, and slapped the plate just before the tag to score the go-ahead — and eventually, winning — run.

Joe Smith pitched a perfect seventh, Pedro Feliciano threw a seven-pitch, perfect eighth, and Billy Wagner closed out the ninth to earn his 18th save.


In case you missed it:

  • Lastings Milledge was recalled
  • Julio Franco was DFA’d
  • Hitting coach Rick Down was fired
  • Rickey Henderson was hired — though not necessarily as batting coach
  • Jose Valentin hurt his finger during an “altercation” over the break

But nothing else of note occurred yesterday.

Ruben Gotay — playing only because of Valentin’s finger injury — went 2-for-4 with a homerun and two RBI, and is now hitting over .340. That said, odds are 5-to-1 he starts in Friday night’s game.

There were two balls that Shawn Green didn’t catch, but Carlos Gomez might have. In the first, Griffey lined the ball into right-center, and Green got a good jump, dove, but could only trap the ball and smother it, holding Griffey to a single. In truth, it was probably a ball Carlos Beltran should have had — but since the Cameron incident, he’s pretty shy around hard-charging rightfielders. In the second inning, with two out and the bases loaded, Hatteberg’s line drive to right was just out of the reach of an again-diving Green. He didn’t get a great jump on the ball — its low altitude seemed to throw him off at first, and by the time he realized he might be able to snare it, it was a second too late. Granted, El Duque shouldn’t have been that far in the inning — he walked the pitcher preceding Hatteberg — but the ball might have been catchable by a young and fleet Gomez (or Endy Chavez). If Green doesn’t start hitting soon, he could find himself on the bench if and when Moises Alou ever reappears.

In the second inning, El Duque hit a single up the middle, then stole second without drawing a throw, and found his way to third on a wild pitch. He was stranded there when Jose Reyes was picked off first by Bronson Arroyo.

Next Game

John Maine goes for his eleventh win of the season against Matt Belisle in another 7:10 PM start. Rickey Henderson says that Rickey will be in New York and in uniform and right by Will-o’s side.

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. JIMMYJ723 July 13, 2007 at 12:40 am
    “In truth, it was probably a ball Carlos Beltran should have had — but since the Cameron incident, he’s pretty shy around hard-charging rightfielders.”

    Exactly what I was thinking on that play.

  2. JIMMYJ723 July 13, 2007 at 2:03 am
    Scott Williamson was released today by the Orioles. I hope Omar Minaya picks him up. He could be a nice addition to the bullpen.

    I wish he had taken a shot on Troy Percival when he had the chance.

  3. sincekindergarten July 13, 2007 at 4:40 am
    Jimmy, if Williamson comes in, who goes? Mota?
  4. joe July 13, 2007 at 7:38 am
    Strange that they released Williamson — didn’t they sign him to a big contract?

    He’d be a nice pickup, if willing to go to N’awlins. Somehow I doubt it.

    Not sure he’d be worth putting on the 25-man right away — the Mets already have enough questionable middle relievers.

  5. Micalpalyn July 13, 2007 at 8:58 am

    If you know me, you know I am pretty controversial in my opinions.

    a. Rick Down: I was one that did not think he should be fired. HOWEVER, I had barbs aimed at Willie. Anyone that blogs the Mets can see we were appalled by the Reyes benching as he IS the ONE guy that hustles on this team. While Willie probably WANTED to bench Beltran, Wright, Delgado he could not so he picked on Reyes. Well Omar reached and Benched Willie (indirectly), and sent a message in DFA’ing Julio who I thought should have been disabled. BUT if you DL him you have to bring him back. When? Sept?
    But then would he play in sept? Omar ANSWERED that in Marlon Anderson, a better pinch hitter ()lefty with more pop and versatility.

    b. Gotay: The fact Easley did not start is a statement too. Willie had said Easley was the better hitter from the right side. That changed within hours.

  6. JIMMYJ723 July 13, 2007 at 10:50 am
    I was hoping Omar would sign Williamson to a minor league contract and give him a shot if Mota continues to have days like he did in Colorado. I know Mota has been pitching better recently, other than the aforementioned game in Colorado. But I would still rather have Williamson than Mota, but that’s just me.

    Note: My bias againt Mota does have a lot to do with our history playing against him.

  7. joe July 14, 2007 at 12:03 am
    Ed, I think you are absolutely right re: the Rick Down firing being a message from Omar to Willie. The Julio Franco deal confused me, as I always thought he was more Omar’s choice than anything else. Unless Omar is sending another message to the players — that no one is safe?

    I’m also wondering if Omar had a pauw-wow with Willie re: Gotay. It seemed that Randolph was the only one on the planet who didn’t realize Gotay deserved more playing time. And as recently as the night before the break, Randolph reiterated on WFAN that Gotay would “get mixed in” but not be played regularly. His tune changed pretty darn quick, eh?

    Jimmy — I used to have something against Mota for throwing at Piazza and then running out of the stadium. However, after seeing the life on his fastball with that nasty change, I let bygones be bygones.

  8. Micalpalyn July 14, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    rewinding on Willie: He got a 10M extension this past off season. If he does not get that he is a lame duck manager with no power. But i still think he could go back to the Yanks. As Met manager he was brought in to mentor reyes, DW Heilman, Humber as the Mets rebuild. A stark contrast to his FIRST interview (when BV was fired) in which the core was Roberto alomar, Mo Vaughn, al Leiter, John Franco…a senior unit.

    BUT…What did he do? He give excess playing time to zambrano (over Heilman/Seo), He favored Migel cairo, Marlon anderson, and Gerald Williams.
    so why is the Gotay, milledge, gomez, Pelfrey situation different?

    SO: back to the Yanks. Mariano is done (as a Yank), Arod could walk as a FA. Sorry bombers but the Yanks despite the $200M payroll are rebuilding. THE EVIDENCE: the trade away of RJ for Prospects, trading Sheff for a gem (humberto sanchez) . Next is Abreu.
    With sanchez, They have Cabrera, Clippard, Hughes and Cano.

    Julio: That was hard. julio was out of line with his statements and that was why he was released. Otherwise I am sure the conversation started with ‘We will DL you for a month to get your kness right, and Julio refused. But as we have seen we NEED a bat off the bench. Endy has often been that hero. So has Marlon.

  9. joe July 14, 2007 at 6:41 pm
    So you think Willie goes back to the Yanks to help rebuild? Interesting.

    I think the Yanks dumped RJ because they thought he was not coming back from the back issues and they really wanted to pave the way — financially and socially — for Clemens. George may not have much say anymore, but he has some, and between the two, George will take his “warrior” Clemens over Randy in a heartbeat. He also would not be able to let Clemens go to Boston.

    The Sheffield trade was a head-scratcher. I think they really missed in their analysis of Abreu. You are probably right, Abreu’s gone, to the most desperate team in search of a bat (Angels? Dodgers?).

    It was a shame about Julio. I’m still miffed that Todd Walker never came this way … perhaps he really is done with baseball, or had no interest coming to NYC. Too bad, he’d have been the ideal bat off the bench. But Marlon will be nice to see — I never understood why they wouldn’t give him a 2-year deal but handed one to Franco.