Mets Game 99: Win Over Pirates

Mets 8 Pirates 4

Wow … where to start?

John Maine pulled a little league feat, pitching and hitting his team to victory. Lastings Milledge was 3-for-3. Ruben Gotay had two more hits, with an RBI and a run. Paul LoDuca had two hits and two runs. Even Shawn Green was inspiring, with his clutch single and hustle around the bases.

In short, it was a good evening all around — and a great game for a Mets fan.

Maine was the hero, pitching seven solid innings of five-hit ball, allowing two runs, one walk, and striking out 7 en route to his 11th victory. Message to the rest of the National League: he’s back in form. Maine also helped himself with the bat, dropping two perfect sacrifice bunts to advance runners. Oh, and in his one official at-bat of the evening, he sent an Ian Snell fastball about 380 feet into the visitor’s bullpen — his first homer as a professional. The two-run shot put the Mets ahead 6-2, and capped a four-run fourth.

In the first inning, the Pirates got on the board when ex-Met Xavier Nady doubled in Adam LaRoche, who stroked a two-out single. The Mets, however, came right back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to back-to-back doubles by Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay, a single by Carlos Beltran, and a sac fly by David Wright.

That fourth frame began with a Ryan Doumit groundout, but proceeded with the previously slumping Jason Bay crushing a fastball — dropping it over leftfield fence and nearly into the bleachers. Maine settled down after that, though, and didn’t allow another run to the Bucs. With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the inning, Paul LoDuca doubled with one out. Shawn Green jumped on the first pitch he saw and ripped a shot up the middle to score LoDuca easily to put the Mets ahead. Green then advanced to second on a ball that got away from catcher Ronny Paulino. Lastings Milledge then fought off a full-count pitch and hit a bullet through the legs of third baseman Matt Kata’s legs. Kata recovered to chase down the ball, but Green never hesitated rounding third, and was sent home by the perpetual windmill known as Sandy Alomar Sr. Ball and Green arrived at the same time, but Green slid away from Paulino’s tag for the Mets’ fourth run. If Alomar had a crystal ball, he might not have sent Green — but with the light-hitting Maine on deck and one out, it was a fairly justifiable gamble. Maine, however, sent the second pitch he saw — a high fastball — over the fence to make the score 6-2.

The hot-hitting Milledge blasted a two-run tater inside the leftfield foul pole to extend the lead to 8-2. Which was a nice touch, because it meant Billy Wagner could take the day off, and Guillermo Mota had the luxury of allowing two runs in the ninth without anyone getting nervous.

Notes

Gotay is now hitting .342, and Milledge has raised his average to .262 — it was about 100 points lower a few days ago. So much for the idea of relying on old veteran bats, eh?

Gotay also made some slick, athletic plays around the second base bag. I’m still not convinced his glove is “suspect” — regardless of his zone rating.

Maine had a nice sequence vs. Xavier Nady in the third. Nady, who dives into the plate, was dusted by a 2-1 purpose pitch under his chin. That moved his butt a few feet further, and Maine then painted a fastball on the outside edge of the dish that Nady took for strike two. With the count full, Maine threw another good strike, and Nady grounded out to short. I’m really liking this mean streak that Maine’s been showing since his start in Houston — it’s an edge that will help him dominate hitters in the future.

What was great about this game — and the last few games in particular — was seeing the Mets come right back and score immediately after losing the lead. These boys got fight in ’em!

Moises Alou arrived at Shea with a healed quad and damaged shoulder. The MRI says he has tendinitis and some irritation in his rotator cuff — yet, somehow, he’ll be able to play three days from now. Huh. I’ll believe it when I see it. What’s the possibility that Alou was in the dugout just for show, and his coming back by the end of the week is really a bunch of horse manure? Wouldn’t other teams have the upper hand in trade negotiations, knowing the Mets are desperate to for a veteran outfielder?

Next Game

Tommy Glavine goes against Tom Gorzelanny in “Tommy G Night” at Shea (not to be confused with “Ali G Night”, which is later in the summer). Glavine should have a lot of fun with the overaggressive hitters in the Pittsburgh lineup. Game time is 7:10 PM.

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 24, 2007 at 11:30 pm
    I’ve read somehere the Mets brass aren’t big fans of Paul LoDuca and they’ve targeted Ronnie Paulino to his successor next year. I like him as a player but he didn’t look too good tonight. Have you heard anything about this rumor?
  2. joe July 25, 2007 at 12:05 am
    I have not heard the rumor specifically … but … I did hear that the Wilpons were very unhappy with Paulie’s playing around with the teenager last year, and that had something to do with their non-committal re: a contract extension.

    Funny you mention Paulino, because I turned to my friend at Shea tonight and said, “don’t you see Paulino as being a Met some day? he just looks like he’d be a Met for some reason”.

    Personally I like Paulino too — though hard to say he’s better than Ramon Castro.

    I’m not sure why the Pirates would trade Paulino, though. Ryan Doumit doesn’t seem capable enough defensively to be an everyday backstop. Is there someone waiting in the wings in their minor leagues?

  3. isuzudude July 25, 2007 at 1:20 am
    I’ve heard the Paulino rumors, as well. (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/2007/07/01/2007-07-01_lo_ducas_met_days_numbered-4.html) I’m really not too fond of his bat, although his 2006 numbers aren’t horrible. I know nothing of his defensive game. However, if the Mets do acquire him, at the very least he’s an adequate back-up for Castro in ’08, assuming LoDuca is not resigned.

    By the way, is there anybody on this Pittsburgh club you WOULDN’T want to trade for?

    Just to get my 2 cents in…I’d reserve decision for the moment on saying Maine is “back in form” Remember, he’s facing perhaps the worst offense in the NL here and a team that has lost 9 of 10 since the all-star break. Although I never thought Maine was off-track, I’d wait until he puts in an outing like this against the Phillies or Braves to say he’s back in form. If you watched the game on TV, you likely saw Maine get some VERY favorable strike calls at home plate. If he doesn’t get those calls, we could be talking about something entirely different on this blog.

  4. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 7:05 am
    Maine: His 11-5 record is all the support he needs. You sent me scrambling for his stats in which he has a 5-2 win against Phils, as well as wins against A’s and Minn all clutch wins at a time the Mets nedded a stopper. Maine makes adjustments, to the hitters and umpires. He has some pits but I think there more a case of confidence. I agree that aggression is there but smarts is also coming as does success. I see a Greg Maddux coming out.

    I think Paulie is done in NY and it shows in his game. He simply is too expensive for what he brings. I’d like Castro to at least be able to platoon. But then again its probable that a big FA is signed (Victor Martinez) even Posada might get some support.

  5. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 7:08 am
    It is very clear now that Omar reads the blogs. Millz has played regularly and has played his way into a starting job, but is alternating corners. his HR was a big hit. What’s his avg with RISP? (.400).
  6. joe July 25, 2007 at 7:47 am
    Isuzu, let me bask for a day, will ya? I really WANT to believe that Maine is back. All it will take is a no-walk, two-hit effort vs. Gorzelanny to put me back in the dumps!

    lol

    Mic – Omar has it so easy. Back in the day, Frank Cashen, Steve Phillips, etc., had to rely on their scouting network and their own two eyes. Minaya need not even watch the games — all he has to do is get his Exec. Asst. to figure out how to get on the internet and find a few Mets blogs. She can take notes while he plays golf all day.

    if only …

    Yeah it looks like LMillz is the spark we were hoping he’d be. Now we don’t need to overpay for Jermaine Dye, etc. Though I’m still with you re: a nice reserve OF.

  7. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 7:52 am
    Renotes: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7056962
    Omar is a smart man. Heck he reads your blog. I am against a trade for a 2nd baseman. with gotay and Easley the Mets have the best scenario of a L_R combo with avg defense but good complementing hitters with Ahern they have late inning defense. All are cheaper than 1/2 Valentin’s salary this year. Gotay is no worse than Cano, the player he rivaled in minor league ball, and he reminds me of Jeff Kent who had no position as a Met…Dallas Green could not figure out whether he was worse at 2nd or 3rd. Ditto HoJo who was terrible at SS and probably should have tried 2nd.
    Bottom line, it is $$$ that can be used elsewhere.

    I’m off the Mota kool aid. I say get bullpen help and trade him off. Heck I’d try Ryan Cullen, Tim McNabb, and Willie Collazzo.

    Jason Vargas has not exactly shown well at NOLA. I doubt he is a ‘Met’ in 2 weeks.

    Last Rant: It’s a small sample, but Milledge has shown baseball growth EVERY year. Was it so long ago that Reyes debuted and we wondered why he was labelled so high? Milledge has produced at every level and for the USA he certainly adds to the credibility of the organization for developing a stable young nucleus for this team.

  8. joe July 25, 2007 at 10:03 am
    I like the Gotay – Kent comparison — though doubt Gotay will ever hit 30+ homers, of course. Dallas Green was a numbskull … if you remember he was the guy who used to replace Greg Luzinski with Lonnie Smith for defensive purposes (kinda like Grady Little using Matt Kemp in late innings).

    Gosh … Jeff Kent … I remember those days, and wondering why he was getting driven out. At the time I thought, man, this guy could be the next Bobby Grich … guess I was a “little” off …

    I don’t know that we can trade for significant bullpen help (Cordero, Gagne, Dotel) without giving up LM. Who else is a chip for players at that level? Pelfrey? Would a team take Pelfrey as the center of a package?

  9. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 11:05 am
    1. Gotay: I think easily he can be a Robbie Alomar-esque .300/25HR guy. But with jeff Kent defense. Kent was good but I think at 24 Gotay has more upside than Kent….who was an MYP. Besides who saw Reyes as a .320/20HR/80 steal guy this early.

    2. Trades: He might get Dotel but the farm is deep enough to get help. Humber & millz are not tradeable. IBut several guys might be. Including Carp and caleb Stewart. Yes, I think Pelfrey goes. I think he NEEDS a fresh start, philosophy and time to make mistakes. I think KC would be great. Also CWS. They have notoriously taken high ceiling prospects and nutured them…Jon Garland and now Jon Danks. Pel will blossum but I doubt its as a Met. I have said Humber will be the better pitcher. And I still think so.

    3. Quantity and Quality. GMs want prospects that they can look at. Personally I want Damaso Marte and Zach Duke. Another name is Izzy. If colorado folds look for Brian Fuentes who was replaced at closer. Then I expect Mota to get dumped.

    4. My present list as possibible availables: Vargas, Joe Smith Camacho, cullen, Lawrence, Pelfrey, Ahern, (ML ready talent)
    Carp, stewart, Corey Coles, dustin Martin.

  10. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 11:20 am
    http://www.metsblog.com/ On Milledge (8.50 AM): Millz are beating the tar off green and IS hitting .400 with RISP in different line up roles AND is hitting lefty pitching. Pencil him in.
  11. joe July 25, 2007 at 11:43 am
    Wow! You’re higher on Gotay than me, and I thought I was president of his fan club!

    I don’t know that Gotay will have 20-homerun power, or even 15-HR power, but I like your optimism.

    Mike Carp has gone backward this year and Caleb Stewart is a fringe prospect at best. And the Royals already have a young Ryan Shealy at first base, making Carp of no interest to them. Corey Coles? Please, he has no power and not enough speed to excite anyone. I don’t see KC giving away Dotel for those guys, and doubt we’ll get someone of that talent level for our minor league scraps. They’ll want someone among Humber/Pelfrey/Gomez/Milledge.

    Let’s hope LM can keep up the hot streak. It’s a nice showcase, and maybe we can now deal him straight up for Joe Blanton.

  12. isuzudude July 25, 2007 at 1:53 pm
    I have to agree with Joe. A lot of Met fans fall into the trap of wanting to trade away our garbage for other team’s gold (i.e. lawrence, hernandez, coles for dotel, fuentes, or izzy). It’s just not realistic. Think if you were a fan of that team and were offered Anderson Hernandez and Brian Lawrence for Octavio Dotel. You wouldn’t think for more than a second before turning it down.

    I also gotta say we have to cool down on all the Ruben Gotay comparisons. To say Gotay has more upside than a future hall of famer in Jeff Kent after two months is ridiculous. Kent has over 350 career home runs, close to 15-hundred RBI, he’s a career .290 hitter…and now because Gotay has hit .350 over a 2-month span he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame? Let’s not count our eggs before they hatch. Also, what in Gotay’s past has indicated he’s capable of becoming that type of hitter? He was a mediocre .250-something with New Orleans before getting called up, and in 2 seasons with KC he never did anything before getting traded for JEFF KEPPINGER! You actually think a team is dumb enough to trade a guy who has Jeff Kent or Robbie Alomar upside for Jeff keppinger? I’d be happy if he turns out to be a .280 hitter with 10-HR power and can handle his defensive duties well. This reminds me of when we had Victor Diaz and he hit 12 HR for us in ’05. Met fans went crazy thinking he’s the next Manny Ramirez. Now he’s hitting .240 in Texas with one walk and 33 K’s. Please, let’s calm down and take Gotay for what he is: a nice 2B who is likely to return to form by season’s end.

  13. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 3:34 pm
    if my logic/optimism is so flawed then why does joe Mc trade jeff kent away, then john hart does the same,.

    also my logic plays upon the fact teams like KC, tampa, draft high and stock their farm with Uber-prospects. The Vets flee at first chance leaving them to rush players to the majors. The kids either crash, or flourish but are lost in the fact teams have uber prospects right behind. KC ditched Gotay pretty much during his first slump. yes I am optimistic but its not his .350 Avg: its his at bats. He works counts puts the ball in play and ‘has a nice swing from the left side’. anything can happen but I tend toward optimism: AS i said 32yrs ago some fans wanted to trade Reyes for a bag of peanuts while he was healthy. http://www.metsgeek.com/articles/2007/07/25/go-gotay/

    2. Metsblog just posted trade updates. I think as Mets we think just because Duq gave up our best prospects everyone has to. Yes if I were &&&*&*& I’d ask for teveryone’s best. Fact is the will settle if you haggle. The line as I see it is the Mets want a bullpen arm or two but wont overpay, so they will wait for the price to drop, or like Mota last yr wait for a team to DFA some other arm. Again, I think dotel, gagne et al are too expensive. I think St Lou without pressure on them MIGHT look to trade Izzy for some prospects to salary dump. Then build around Wainright, Reyes. Note Carpenter is GONE. and so is Mulder. So its time for them to start fresh.

    3. Victor Diaz has seen a 3 ball count in his life.

  14. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 3:36 pm
    I expressed similar ‘joy’ over the trade for Ollie last yr (and Maine) and was soundly panned.
  15. joe July 25, 2007 at 3:56 pm
    < < He works counts puts the ball in play and ‘has a nice swing from the left side’. >>

    EXACTLY why I was excited about Gotay coming our way and in spring training this year. He’d impressed me with his development over the last few years (I watched him with the Royals and in the Caribbean).

    I also was panned — on MetsBlog — for being excited about Ollie.

    But then, I also was panned for stating that Victor Diaz should have been given the starting job over XNady. I’m still amazed that Nady’s done this well, and Diaz so poorly.

  16. isuzudude July 25, 2007 at 4:18 pm
    If you’re calling Gotay an ‘uber-propect,’ why would the Royals give up on him so easily? And if he was tabbed to be so good, don’t you think they could have gotten something better in return that Jeff Keppinger? KC had no huge prospects waiting in the wings at 2B after Gotay…in fact, they’re play Mark Grudzielanek there right now…so it makes no sense for a team going no where fast to just give up on such a highly touted propect like Gotay, as you allege. That’s why your logic is flawed and why Gotay’s 2007 is most likely a flash in the pan.

    You mention teams trading away such a talent like Jeff Kent, but look at the names that went the other way in those trades. The Mets got Kent after sending David Cone to Toronto. Kent was traded to Cleveland for Carlos Baerga, who the Mets thought would have been much better than he panned out. He was traded to San Francisco for Matt Williams. These are all all-star caliber players. Now, if you want to put Gotay in the same class as Kent, you would figure he’d demand equal value in trades. But again I say, the Royals settled on Keppinger from the Mets, which tells you Gotay was never considered an “uber-prospect.”

    On this perception of Gotay having a “nice swing from the left side”: what does that mean? can you name me a left handed batter in baseball who doesn’t have a nice swing? if you’re in the major leagues, shouldn’t you have a nice looking swing? I think Adam Dunn’s swing is pretty nice…of course, when he’s not striking out 200 times a season. I also think Ichiro Suzuki’s swing is pretty ugly, but that doesn’t stop him from collecting 200 hits a year.

  17. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 7:21 pm
    Well, either Gotay will do well or will not. At which point he will either be an Omar steal or Omar bust.
  18. joe July 25, 2007 at 7:34 pm
    Actually, the Royals DID have a second baseman waiting in the wings behind Gotay — his name was Donnie Murphy. And Murphy was at least part of the reason they felt OK about sending Gotay away.

    Willie Randolph is the one who made the “nice swing” quote. I don’t think AHern has a “nice swing” from the left side, but that’s just my opinion. And since you’re asking, I don’t think David Newhan, Endy Chavez, nor Marlon Anderson have particularly nice-looking swings. Not bad swings, just not what I’d make a point to say “nice”. Again, that’s just me … it’s a subjective opinion.

    Now that doesn’t mean I think Gotay is a sure-fire HOF’er, but I would like to see if he can at least match the production of the second baseman in the Bronx.

  19. Micalpalyn July 25, 2007 at 8:17 pm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Kent

    Isuzu & Joe: Here’s Kent’s Bio. I think alot of Kent’s MVP career is attributable to Sabean and Dusty.

    While again I think its early, note the NUMEROUS Gotay research-stories done in the last few weeks. I have heard very like biases on Gotay and then again I would think robbie Alomar (circa 2002)would have been a .300 hitter for us too. Its just nice to think Omar has uneathed another gem as he has done repeatedly and as Sabean did.

  20. isuzudude July 25, 2007 at 9:36 pm
    Just to set the record straight, i’m not trying to say Gotay is a bum. He’s hitting .350 and no one can take that away from him. And if all he does is hit .280 for the next 4 seasons w/ the Mets and averages 10 HR and 60 RBI a year, it certainly qualifies as a steal deal for Omar considering all he gave up was Keppinger. All I want to say is that Gotay can be successful without being Jeff Kent or Robbie Alomar. And I think it’s unfair, after seeing him for just a few months, to jump to conclusions so quickly that this guy is going to be an all-star 2B over the remainder of his career.
  21. joe July 25, 2007 at 11:42 pm
    duly noted … we have added this to your file, thank you.

    🙂