Mets Game 119: Win Over Pirates

Mets 10 Pirates 8

The Mets went seven innings without scoring a run. Luckily, they managed five runs on each of the bookends of the game to get past the Pirates.

The Mets exploded for a five-run first, thanks to doubles by David Wright and Carlos Delgado and another homerun by red-hot Moises Alou. But that was the extent of the offense for the next seven innings, and in the meantime the Bucs chipped away to eventually make it a 5-4 game in the sixth.

New York starter John Maine had another shaky outing, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in only five innings of work. By the time he was lifted, he had thrown 117 pitches — mostly because he had trouble putting away the Pittsburgh hitters. That may seem like a strange statement, considering he struck out eight in the five innings. However, the Bucs batters fouled off several pitches after falling behind, driving up the count. It didn’t help that Maine walked three, two after going to full count. Maine did not have good command of his slider, which was breaking too early and too far off the plate to entice swings and misses.

The game remained 5-4 until the top of the ninth, and then the Mets offense woke up again. Lastings Milledge started the excitement with a seemingly harmless leadoff single, and was sacrificed to second by Jose Reyes and then stole third. Luis Castillo then hit a high chopper back through the box, which reliever Shawn Chacon threw away — scoring Milledge and giving Castillo first base. Wright then singled, chasing Castillo to third, and Chacon was replaced by lefty Damaso Marte, who gave up a two-run double to Carlos Beltran. Pinch-hitter Damion Easley hit another double to score Beltran, and Alou followed with another near-double, scoring Easley but getting thrown out at second. Marte, obviously frustrated, then hit Shawn Green on purpose — a dumb decision, considering Green’s anemic average against lefties and his 0-for-4 night — before striking out Mike DiFelice to end the onslaught.

With the score 10-4 going into the ninth, Aaron Sele came in for what should have been an easy end to the game. Instead, he gave up two quick singles then hit the next batter to load the bases for Adam LaRoche, who grounded to first to score the Bucs’ fifth run. No big deal, except Jason Bay then blasted a two-run double to put the Pirates within three. At this point, the game again became a save situation and Willie Randolph called on his closer Billy Wagner to put out the fire. Wagner gave up an RBI single to Jose Castillo before striking out Xavier Nady to save the game.

Notes

Originally, “Country Time” had gotten up during the top of the ninth to be ready to come in and close out a one-run game. However, once the Mets started scoring runs, Willie sat down Wags and summoned Sele to get warm. My guess is that Sele — who still is not the type of guy who can get warmed up quickly — wasn’t ready at the start of his appearance, and that’s why he was so ineffective. My guess is he had about five minutes of preparation, and he’s still on a starting pitcher’s clock of needing closer to ten or fifteen minutes.

Alou was 3-for-5 with 3 RBI. He is on fire.

Milledge’s hit in the ninth and steal of third both gave the team a spark, and with Green going 0-for-4 it’s looking like LMillz is taking the rightfield job away from the veteran.

Next Game

The finale pits Brian Lawrence vs. Tony Armas, Jr. After taking the first two, the Mets must put the hammer down and take this “gimme” game. Hopefully Lawrence can use his black magic for another five or six innings. Armas is only slightly better than a BP pitcher at this point, so the offense should tee off. If they don’t, a PI must be hired to find out if their breakfast was tainted or their coffee was doped. Game time is 7:05 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. Micalpalyn August 16, 2007 at 10:36 am
    Willie’s statement on Millz is in my interpretation, Millz has TAKEN the job already. But he will keep giving Green oppurtunities.

    MISSED in your synopsis is that that the Mets had Morris knocked out but for Green giving him a big reprieve.

    You hit the nail on Maine but his 117 pitch effort was huge in light of not having his breaking pitches and the 34 foul balls. He needs another potential out pitch.

    I also did not cooment on the LoHud blog article in whicjh Millz had a game saving catch the previous night. to preserve the 5-4 win.

  2. joe August 16, 2007 at 11:19 am
    Millz has not taken the job, as far as Willie wants to say (though, to anyone not believing Willie’s mumbo jumbo, I agree he has taken the job). I think Willie is doing a very nice job of pushing Green to the side, in about as classy a way as can be done. There are many who think Green doesn’t deserve the respect Willie is giving him, but those are people who never really saw the “real” Shawn Green (pre-2006). He was for a long time a player with a skillset you build a team around. Now, his skills are eroded but he remains a team-first, winning ballplayer that every manager would love to have on his roster — off the bench.

    Maine doesn’t need another out pitch — he needs to have a more consistent slider that breaks off the plate. Let’s remember he’s only been throwing the slider in game situations for about a year. Sounds like a long time but it really isn’t — not at the MLB level. In due time — assuming he sticks to the plan of using the slider as a 2-strike pitch — it should develop into a fine out pitch.

    I didn’t see and can’t find the LoHud article to which you are referring. I don’t remember seeing an LMillz game saving catch, but I do remember him misjudging and nearly dropping a fly in the last inning.

  3. Micalpalyn August 16, 2007 at 11:37 am
    I agree on green. I have for years. His persona and professionalism would have fit nicely several years ago when we were chasing Burnitz.

    I lauded his acquisition a year ago, now I applaud him as a platoon player and lefty power bat off the bench.

    I strongly disagree on Maine. The Mets have become a FB-slider club. Very few (good) curve balls definately no splitters/cutters.
    When Ollie and Maine dont have the good slider or are getting squeezed- the game gets longer. Thats what I see. We always talk about pitchers having 3-4 plus pitches, but that is not evident. Note Wags in ST showcased a curve to go with his slider and FB. And itit made his FB that much faster. Also on maine I remember RP having him abandon his (bad) curve.

    Interesting side note is that the royals resurected Bannisters curve and now attribute THAT pitch to his improved performance.

  4. joe August 16, 2007 at 1:01 pm
    I strongly agree with you on the Mets/Peterson strategem of using the slider the way they do. I’ve been a pitching coach for 15 years and absolutely HATE seeing MLBers using the slider as their “breaking pitch”. This is the lone Leo Mazzone theory I disagree with, but won’t rant on this blog because I already did here: http://www.onbaseball.com/2006/pitching/the-slider/

    Anyway …

    If Maine uses his slider as an “out pitch” — meaning a dozen times a game or less, and only off the plate (for swinging strikes) — it should help him get more strikeouts and avoid the foul ball marathons. And I agree with you in that Maine — as well as most of the Mets staff — needs to continue developing the straight change as well as an overhand curve.

    The problem is that at the MLB level, coaches don’t have time to teach an overhand curve and allow it to develop — but a slider can be taught in five minutes and be effective enough for game use relatively quickly. And dumb ass managers at every level love seeing their pitchers throw sliders because when they were hitters, they couldn’t hit a good one (no one can). What they don’t realize is that this shortcut to “success” comes with pitfalls. Namely, the fact that for every good slider, there are 3-4 flat ones (we’re generalizing this to include the average MLBer) — and any of those flat ones are easy pickings for home run derby. Compounding the issue are insane pitchers (and pitching coaches) who think it’s OK to throw a slider into the strike zone. That MIGHT work once in a while, but it should only happen by accident. Sliders left above the knees stay flat and fat and their path is in line with an uppercut (homerun) swing).

    All of these points are the main reason I think Pelfrey’s ceiling is middle relief. Had the Mets given him a full year at AAA to perfect a true overhand curve and changeup, he’d have the tools to compete in MLB next year. This bullshit of accelerating his path by giving him the slider shortcut might have helped him be effective for a few innings at a time in the bigs, but over the long haul it limits his potential.

    Thanks for opening this can of worms … it’s been a peeve of mine for a long time.

  5. isuzudude August 17, 2007 at 1:08 am
    Why are we over-analyzing this? Maine struck out 8 guys on Wednesday, so what’s the need for another out pitch? He’s already got it. The problem with Maine lately is that he’s hit a brick wall. “Tired arm.” He’s never thrown this many innings in the bigs, and now it’s catching up to him. He’s still got the stuff, just not for as long as a starting pitcher needs to have it for.