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.

Mets 2011 Games

About the Author

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.

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