Mets Game 156: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 8 Cardinals 6

It took 156 games, but finally, the Mets accomplished THE MOST UNLIKELY VICTORY OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!! (So said Gary Cohen.)

I would not want to be in the home-team clubhouse with Tony LaRussa after this ballgame. I might prefer Chinese water torture, or peeling off my fingernails with a pair of pliers.

But, the St. Louis fans were very pleased with the effort that their boys put out.

Mets Game Notes

The Mets slept through 8 innings, then woke up to win the game in dramatic fashion in the top of the ninth, carried on the unlikely shoulders of Willie Harris and Ruben Tejada. And then Bobby Parnell of all people closed out the ninth with a clean inning to preserve the victory. Who’da thunk it?

There was mention of the Mets being “spoilers”, but I have to say that it is tough, as a Mets fan, to be happy about the Mets helping the Braves get into the playoffs — or in helping the Cardinals get there. It’s like choosing whether you want to die by electrocution or hanging — either way, you’re dead. Similarly, either way, a team that we as Mets fans absolutely abhor makes the playoffs. Yech.

Chris Capuano did a little less than his usual thing, going only 4 2/3 and allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. He didn’t look terrible, he was just really hittable — especially in the fifth inning, when the Cards were making solid contact no matter where he threw the ball.

The Mets had trouble getting hits off of St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook, but Westbrook completely lost his command in the fifth, walking Ruben Tejada on five pitches — four of which were awful — to force in a run. Westbrook really looked like he had a throwing disease similar to what was experienced by Steve Sax, Mackey Sasser, Rick Ankiel, and others — though, Westbrook’s appears to be a mild, temporary throwing insanity.

While on the subject of Westbrook, it may be fun to throw in this anecdote: Westbrook was originally drafted by the Rockies, who traded him to the Expos for Mike Lansing, who eventually traded him, Ted Lilly, and Christian Parker to the Yankees for Hideki Irabu (!). In 2000, the Yankees traded Westbrook along with Zach Day and Ricky Ledee to the Indians for David Justice. Interesting road of transactions, no?

The Mets’ inability to sacrifice bunt continued, as Capuano failed miserably in his attempt in the fifth. To be fair, Cardinals hurler Jake Westbrook also failed miserably to bunt a few innings earlier. But, Westbrook spent most of his career in the AL, while Cappy has been in the NL exclusively — and therefore should be adept at putting a piece of wood in the way of a rawhide-covered ball.

What the Mets were able to do, and have been able to do all year, is draw the bases on balls. It was like a walk-a-thon, especially in the ninth when Cardinals pitchers refused to put baseballs in the strike zone — forcing one run in with the bases loaded and setting up a heroic double for Ruben Tejada. BTW, when are Major League pitchers going to understand that Tejada can hit waist-high fastballs over the middle of the plate?

Josh Stinson pitched 2/3 of an inning of relief and was hit hard. His stuff and velocity look ordinary. However, as I suggested about Chris Schwinden, maybe Stinson is out of gas, since he’s already pitched a full minor league season. Fatigue can take 3-4 MPH away from a pitcher, and that’s enough to change stuff from challenging to easily hittable.

Josh Thole struggled with balls in the dirt but wasn’t hurt by them. His pitch-calling was also questionable, though it’s difficult to explain why and how without going on for several pages, so I’ll just leave it at that.

The usually solid Yadier Molina had difficulty catching Octavio Dotel; he allowed a wild pitch that should have been blocked and a passed ball on consecutive pitches, allowing Ruben Tejada to score from second base. I think Molina’s problem had much to do with an unfamiliarity with Dotel, who was acquired in late July. Yes, it’s been almost two months since the trade, and Dotel has appeared in two dozen games, but there are two elements at play: first, Dotel has lots of movement and still-good velocity on his fastball and slider — it’s not as unhittable as it once was, but it’s still pretty filthy, and can be difficult to catch if one is not used to it. Second, I wonder if Dotel misunderstood the signal on the pitch that resulted in a passed ball, because to me it appeared as though Molina was expecting the pitch to do something else. Maybe Molina was using some kind of an altered sequence that threw off Dotel. My point is that just because two balls got past Molina, doesn’t necessarily mean it was his “fault”. There are many other issues that need to be considered.

Jason Motte kind of looks like a cross between Bruce Sutter and Jeff Reardon — right? BTW I kinda root for Motte since he is a product of my alma mater’s conference, the MAAC; Motte was a catcher for one of our arch-rivals, Iona (a.k.a., “Idiots On North Avenue”). Not that you care. But you have to love the MAAC for the nicknames — my St. Peter’s teams are called the Peacocks; Iona is the Gaels; Manhattan is the Jaspers; Fairfield is the Stags; Siena is the Saints; Canisius is the Golden Griffins; Loyola (MD) is the Greyhounds; Marist is the Red Foxes; Rider is the Broncs. But I digress …

Next Mets Game

The Mets come back to Flushing for the final series of the season. Game one against the Phillies begins at 7:10 PM on Friday night. R.A. Dickey goes to the hill against Mets non-killer Cole Hamels.

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. Joe September 23, 2011 at 9:11 am
    Calm down Gary. Also, if you have a catcher on second with one out with Reyes coming up, it is not really a horrible move, Gary, to have the guy bunt. A slow running catcher (especially Paulino) very well might not score on a single.

    The bunting thing is strange. They weren’t this bad last year. Any reason? Bad coaching? Gnomes?

  2. Pulled Hammy September 23, 2011 at 11:00 am
    “His pitch-calling was also questionable, though it’s difficult to explain why and how without going on for several pages, so I’ll just leave it at that.”
    I, for one, would appreciate it if you would put down a few pages on this. At least in the offseason, maybe.
    • Joe Janish September 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm
      Hopefully that day will come. I’ve been working on a book titled “How to Call a Game” for a few years now. There’s quite a bit to the process, though much of it has to do with knowing your pitcher, knowing your pitcher ON THAT DAY, knowing the batter, understanding the situation, and having a feel for the the flow of the game. Thole is incomplete in all of those areas — though, it doesn’t mean he can’t improve. Most of the improvement can come with experience.
      • Jimmy Prinzler September 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm
        I think I find Cohen’s comment very funny! Didnt he see the whole thing in 9th inning? Cards helped Mets to win the game with an error and walks. If they turned it to double play then the score will be 6-2 with 2 outs with no one on instead of 2 on with no outs. Big difference when they couldnt turn it to double play or not even a force out at 2nd??
        • Joe Janish September 24, 2011 at 1:55 am
          I was thinking the same thing. Watching the game, I saw a Cardinals pitching staff that lost their composure, choked, and shat the bed. I guess you can give the Mets credit for not swinging at balls two feet off the plate and nearly hitting them in the neck, but it seemed more of a game given away by the Cards than taken by the Mets.
  3. Jimmy Prinzler September 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    Gotta love a spoiler teams!! It’s nice way to spoil St Louis team for a wild-card spot. I guess it’s sweet revenge from a loss to Cards in playoffs. I will never forget that game for 2 main reasons; Chavez robbed a home run by a leap-catch over the fence and C-Belt froze on a MEATBALL pitch!
    • Joe September 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm
      Heilman giving up the losing run & the other Mets not scoring … well, memory is selective. Heck, what about that starter? Got to love that guy!
    • Joe Janish September 24, 2011 at 2:31 am
      Only one problem with being the “spoiler” vs. Cards: it helps the Braves.

      Just can’t win.