Mets Game 120: Loss to Pirates

Pirates 10 Mets 7

The Mets gave away the “gimme” game — the game they were supposed to win.

On paper, before the game, the Mets were expected to win. Never mind Tony Armas Jr.’s recent two starts, which were both above average. He was going to get hit by the Mets’ offense, and no one truly thought he’d survive beyond the fifth inning. As it turned out, he never got out of the third.

Similarly, it didn’t matter that Brian Lawrence was the starter. All he needed to do was squeak through five innings, after which he’d likely have a healthy lead, and the Mets’ bullpen would take it from there.

All went exactly according to plan … until the sixth inning.

The Mets put together a five-zip lead in the first three innings, but allowed the Pirates to score in every inning from the fourth frame on. While Lawrence kept the team in the game, he was far from effective: five innings, 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 runs, 3 strikeouts. You can probably blame the bullpen for blowing this game, but you can’t ignore the fact that Lawrence pitched only five innings, nor the fact that he gave up a leadoff walk in the fourth while supported with a five-run lead (Adam LaRoche followed that walk with a two-run homer).

Another thing that can’t be ignored was Willie Randolph’s complete ineptitude in managing the bullpen from innings six through nine. He brought in Guillermo Mota to pitch the sixth, and Mota was clearly not having a good day — his confidence was waning and he was hittable, evident by two doubles in the inning that scored a run to tighten the score to 7-5. Strangely, Randolph had Mota start the seventh, giving him one batter to face. Mota responded by walking the leadoff batter Freddy Sanchez. Now, Sanchez is a decent punch-and-judy hitter, but there is no excuse for walking him with a two-run lead. Willie immediately summoned Pedro Feliciano, who went 0-2 to Adam LaRoche before giving up a single. Willie then hooked Pedro and brought in Aaron Heilman with men on first and second and none out. Heilman gave up a single to Jason Bay to score a run, then botched a sac bunt attempt, loading the bases with none out. Jose Castillo followed with another hit, tying the score. Heilman struck out Ronny Paulino and induced a double play from Xavier Nady to end the inning.

In the 8th, Heilman got two quick outs but a David Wright error gave Freddy Sanchez (again) second base. The Pirates then pounded three straight singles to take the lead and extend it to 10-7. How do they score three runs on three singles? Easy! because the numnut Mets outfielders throw home — despite having no chance to get the runner — and allow the hitter to take second base. Outstanding fundamentals from Willie’s “fundamentally sound” club!

Too bad … this was a game the Mets should have won, seemed to have won, but just gave it away. This is one of those contests that we may look back on in October and say, “darn, that could have made a difference”.


Despite the loss, there were bright spots. Most notably, Carlos Beltran had a big day, going 3-for-5 with a stunning homerun, a double, and two RBI. The Mets NEED Beltran to get hot and stay hot for the next two weeks. In addition, Jose Reyes reached base four times, scored twice, and stole a pair of bases.

I’m not sure why Willie makes relievers start innings when he clearly isn’t allowing them to finish. He really needs to forget about the whole lefty-righty crap and commit to a guy to take an inning. For instance, Mota should never have started the 7th if Willie was ready to go all the way to Heilman. And why was he going to Heilman that early, anyway? Why not Schoeneweis, or Feliciano? Why remove Feliciano after one batter? Willie has got to stop this style of managing like it’s the seventh game of the World Series, as if there’s no tomorrow. You can do it once in a while, but not every single day as a basic strategy. Certainly not against the last-place Pirates.

The way things look now, Randolph does not have confidence in Aaron Sele, The Show, Feliciano, nor Mota. Well if that’s the case — if four members of your bullpen are useless, then it’s time to make changes, dontcha think? For example, if Feliciano has a “dead arm” or whatever the issue is, then find a reason to put him on the DL and try out someone else (Willie Collazo?). The Sele and Show thing is ridiculous — you can’t hog two roster spots with mopup men. Shed one and pick up someone you think might be able to give you a quality inning here or there (Fernando Cabrera? Scott Strickland? Joel Pineiro … oh crap he’s been taken).

Next Game

El Duque vs. Matt Chico in Washington.

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. isuzudude August 17, 2007 at 1:21 am
    I’ll do the right thing here and call Mota a big bum. For some reason his splits look good, as do his numbers on the radar gun, but he just can’t get outs. The problem with the Mets bullpen is that everyone is slumping at once. And you can’t cut ties with them all and start all over again in August. What to do, what to do…

    I say do the same thing we did at the trade deadline (with the exception of Castillo): NOTHING. Obviously, all our guys have the capability and past rapport to get outs and the major league level. If they’re all slumping now and showing no signs of injury, eventually things will even out and they’ll start pitching the way they’re capable. And really, what other options do we have? Calling up a Collazo or Humber or grabbing somone else’s garbage from the aiver wire could provide us with a different name and fresh set of new hopes, but ultimately they’re not going to be much better than what we already have.

    BTW – Fernando Cabrera was taken off waivers by the team where pitchers go to die, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, so it’s time to cross him off the ol’ wish list. BY Kim was DFA by ‘Zona…could he serve as a Chad Bradford type and replace Mota?

  2. Micalpalyn August 17, 2007 at 9:17 am
    I’m in knee jerk mode. Mota helped greatly at the same point last yr, so I think there is possibly help to had.

    Mota is at risk. And I agree Omar has to looking at Kim. Fossum was also DFA’d.

    On the farm I have lobbied for Humby, but little Joe seems to have re-found his arm slot. too.

    BTW: Glass half full, looking at last nights lines could Collazzo, Humber or Cullen
    be much worse ? I might consider the DL for feliciano right now and bring someone else up. Last nights game highlighted (flourecently) how BAD this pen is (outside of Wags and Sosa) right now.

  3. joe August 17, 2007 at 9:47 am
    I think the Mets might be smart to acquire or promote someone who has not been seen by the NL, using the theory that an unknown with some talent can perform a bit above his head simply because he’s an unknown (i.e., Joe Smith in the first two months of the season). Which is a reason why I threw out the name Collazzo — and would feel similarly about Carlos Muniz or the return of Steve Schmoll (who hasn’t pitched in MLB in a few years). No scouting reports on these guys, so with a little luck and a lot of strike throwing, one of them might have temporary effectiveness while Feliciano works out whatever his issue is, and Joe Smith works his way back to the bigs.

    Sure, it’s a longshot that one of those unknowns can buy some time and eat some innings, but the alternative is to pitch Aaron Heilman two innings at a time five nights a week until his arm falls off, while Willie uses everyone else for one batter only.

    Sure would be nice to have Heath Bell and Royce Ring right about now, eh?

  4. isuzudude August 17, 2007 at 10:47 am
    not to mention matt lidstrom and henry owens
  5. Micalpalyn August 17, 2007 at 11:28 am

    1. Collazzo might be worth a try in Willie world. I suspect tired arm has hit PF.
    2. Remember when Heilman was logging frequent flyer miles on the Norfolk turnpike there was an issue with his delivery? I wonder if he is there again?
    3. Heath Bell was in Willie’s dog house and probably has not left. HO, ML, RR, et al never figured in Willie’s world. I gushed when HO came up last yr but he was another gasoline carrier. No doubt the lack of spotlight has helped himto grow.
    4. BK seems like the best bet for an infusion.
    5. The Philly BP sucked!! But Alfonseca, Romera and Myers have been plugged in and now they are water tight.
    Conversely Heilman, Mota and Scho are the equivalent of an achilles heel, ruptured knee, and herniated disc.

  6. Micalpalyn August 17, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    have a look at this list, Mike Myers and joe Kennedy could represent a bullpen upgrade.

  7. joe August 17, 2007 at 1:58 pm
    thanks for the tip … and good timing as those names are helpful to wrap up the next article, coming in the next ten minutes