Mets Game 126: Loss to Padres

Padres 9 Mets 8

It was a tough loss, but it was a good loss — if there is such a thing. The Mets of June and July — the team that appeared to give up after the score seemed insurmountable — are long gone. Enter the hungry, fighting, never-say-die New York Mets.

Tom Glavine had an awful day, but the offense said, “we got your back”. The bats battled back from a 6-1 deficit, scoring six runs in the sixth inning to take the lead. Billy Wagner had a bad day, and again the offense said, “we got your back”. Unfortunately, there was no charm the third time around — but the Mets didn’t go down without a fight.

The first rally, in the sixth, started with a seemingly harmless single by Luis Castillo, who reached second when David Wright’s grounder to third was mishandled by Kevin Kouzmanoff. Carlos Beltran walked to load the bases. Cla Meredith was brought in to relieve starter Justin Germano at that point, and he induced a popout from Carlos Delgado but walked Moises Alou, forcing in Castillo with the Mets’ second run of the game. Shawn Green followed by ripping a line drive single into right to drive in two, and Sandy Alomar hit a hard line drive himself, but right at second baseman Marcus Giles for the second out. Giles nearly doubled Alou off second on the play, but was a hair late — which proved costly. Because the next hitter was Marlon “Superman” Anderson, who blasted a sinker into the loge level over the rightfield fence to put the Mets ahead 7-6.

Just as important as the offensive outburst were a handful of web gems turned in by the defense. In the second inning, Moises Alou charged a base hit, made a perfect throw to cutoff man Jose Reyes, who made an on-time throw to Sandy Alomar, who reached up to catch the throw and blocked the plate with his log of a left leg to prevent Milton Bradley from scoring. In the seventh, Castillo made an amazing diving play on a grounder for the first out, then teamed with Reyes to turn a key double play to end the inning. In the eighth, David Wright made a leaping grab to spear a line drive to retire Mike Cameron.

Pedro Feliciano came on in the top of the seventh and pitched two hitless innings to secure the lead for Billy Wagner. However, Wagner gave up a leadoff double to Khalil Greene. Pinch-hitter Terrmel Sledge failed to drop a sacrifice bunt and fell behind 1-2, but then fisted a cheap bloop double just over the head of David Wright, scoring Greene and tying the game seven-all. Josh Bard fell behind 0-2, but stroked a single up the middle on the next pitch to score Sledge with the go-ahead run. Marcus Giles followed with a walk, but Wagner struck out the next two batters to end the inning — leaving the mound to a chorus of boos from the Shea Stadium crowd.

Jeff Conine led off the bottom of the ninth with a blast to right-center that was held up by the thick and humid Shea air for the first out, but Reyes followed with a single to left-center to get things going. Luis Castillo flared a two-strike changeup into shallow left, bringing up David Wright. With the count 1-1, Reyes and Castillo pulled a double steal — with no throw from catcher Josh Bard. Wright lifted the next pitch to deep center to score Reyes easily. Carlos Beltran was intentionally walked, and Carlos Delgado followed with another walk to load the bases for Moises Alou. Alou worked the count 2-2 before grounding out to second to end the inning.

In the top of the tenth, Milton Bradley attempted to get on via a bunt, but Aaron Heilman fielded it flawlessly for the first out. Heilman then got ahead of Adrian Gonzalez 0-2, and appeared to have struck him out on at least two of the next three pitches, but all were called balls. Gonzalez drove a foul ball into the rightfield stands, then drove the next pitch over the rightfield fence to put the Padres ahead … again. Heilman retired the next two batters, but became the second Mets relief pitcher booed while walking off the mound in as many innings.

The Mets didn’t go down easily, getting base hits from Sandy Alomar and Jose Reyes in the bottom of the tenth, but didn’t have enough to muster another comeback. Former Met Heath Bell earned his first Major League save by pitching the scoreless tenth.


One very disappointing moment that glared above Wagner’s blown save and beyond Heilman’s gopher ball was Delgado’s at-bat in the ninth. With men on second and third, the game already tied, and an opportunity to redeem himself with a base hit, Delgado worked the count to 3-0. Trevor Hoffman threw a BP fastball over the middle of the plate, and Delgado took it all the way. If the game were not yet tied, I can see taking that pitch. But with a chance to end the game, Delgado didn’t even consider taking the bat off his shoulder. The next pitch was fairly close as well, falling off the outside corner at the last moment, but again Delgado showed no interest in swinging at the pitch. On the one hand, it was good discipline on Delgado’s part, but on the other hand, the look on his face said “I hope he walks me”. In other words, he didn’t want the bat. I understand he had a terrible series, and a terrible game, and his confidence is at a low point, but that is a situation where you can pull yourself out in a big way. Hoffman served him a pitch to hit on a silver platter, and Delgado wouldn’t even sniff it. To me, that right there was the game — not the 10th inning homer by Gonzalez.

Carlos Beltran — who else — drove in Wright with the Mets first run in the first inning on a ground-rule double. Wright was 2-for-3 with an RBI, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. Castillo was 3-for-6 with a run and a stolen base.

Tommy Glavine had a really rough time with the strike zone, and I’m not so sure it was all about the home plate umpire. At least part of it is Sandy Alomar’s catching style, and his inexperience catching Glavine’s pitches. Yes, Alomar was a Gold Glove caliber catcher in his prime, and 99.999% of MLB players, coaches, and executives will tell you he catches a great game. But from the comfort of my living room, watching on TV, I see a guy who tries to pull (and jerk) too many pitches into the zone, and catches many pitches in a way that can make a strike appear to be a ball. If he — and the vast majority of catchers — would simply learn to catch the ball when it’s a strike (a.k.a., “beat the ball to the spot”) and hold it there, rather than try to “frame” every pitch (a.k.a. attempt to fool the umpire by moving the glove over the plate after catching the ball), pitchers would likely get more strike calls on close pitches.

The Padres came into the series as the worst-hitting team in MLB, with the third-lowest total of runs scored in the NL. And they scored 22 runs on 40 hits in the three-game series. So much for using numbers as a predictor of future performance, eh, statheads?

Next Game

The Dodgers come to Shea to play the Mets on Latino Night. Oliver Perez goes against Los Angeles ace Brad Penny in a 7:10 PM start.

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. Brad August 24, 2007 at 11:39 am
    Hey all. I’m a die-hard Padres fan and found myself here in a link from GaslampBall (whom you guys interviewed, a blog I read daily (and I wear the great Gaslampball t-shirt to games!)).

    Anyway, I took the time to register here, though who knows how much I’ll comment in the future, to say two things:

    1) Fantastic blog. Really, on every category from look and feel to performance to content, MetsToday is superb. Your detailed game recaps are great and I appreciate your efforts into researching the opposing team. Theres already too many sports blogs out there that just hate on whoever their team is playing. I’m definitely adding you guys to my reader!

    2) The Mets-Padres series, though I was screaming obscenities at my TV pretty consistently during all three games, was quite a series. Padres pitching, especially our bullpen, sort of fell apart whilst our bats woke up. That is literally the inverse of our first half of the season strategy – “Great pitching, offense totally optional.” The result was lots of hitting and lead changes back and forth, which provided an entertaining game. And who the hell would have predicted that Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner, two of the game’s best closers, would struggle as much as they have. I can’t really recall a series where Trevor has struggled so much. Anyway, fun series – I really, really hope these two teams match up in the playoffs (NLCS, hopefully!), because that will be a hell of a matchup (though I might have to break Carlos Beltran’s legs if the Padres stand any chance).

  2. joe August 24, 2007 at 2:46 pm
    Thanks for the kind words. Yes although were pretty rabid about our Mets, we do occasionally have moments of objectivity in regard to opponents.

    Come by anytime and offer your comments, as it’s always interesting to hear from “the other side”. No one gets trashed or criticized here — unless they deserve it!

    Thanks again … maybe we will be seeing the Mets and Padres playing each other again in 2007 — I sure wouldn’t mind!

  3. Micalpalyn August 24, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    i guess I am the voice of disent: Ok the fight was nice but the 10M closer needs to nail it down..period

    The series was characterized (again) by a shoddy bullpen…starring Mota!!! and now featuring Wagner.

    I cant use the excuse he was overused or pitching multiple innings either. HE BLEW IT. What now? he cant pitch with a one run lead? A one run lead that should have been 3 but for Mota (and now Sosa getting in on the hits).

    Bottom line: there was a sweep here but for some pitching issues.

    now I am not mad. Obviously the phils have cooled too, but we really need ONE arm in that BP. I see Wickman has been DFA’d could he be what Mota was last yr? could he set up/bail out Wags? Persoanally again I’d cut Mota and have Humby do some pen work this last 5 weeks.

  4. joe August 25, 2007 at 8:45 am
    Geez Ed, calm down … I’m supposed to be the ornery, pessimistic one!

    I don’t think we can expect Wagner to be perfect, which is part of the problem here — too many one-run leads to protect. The guy’s blown what? two saves this year?

    In any case, from my view on the couch, Wagner didn’t pitch all that poorly. He gave up one hard-hit ball, one dribbler up the middle, and one ridiculously cheap bloop double — it’s not like he was throwing meatballs over the middle of the plate.

    I’m not concerned, as he’s been lights out all year and had to crack eventually. I’m glad it happened now, and not a month from now.

  5. Brad August 25, 2007 at 12:53 pm
    We had the same problem with Trevor giving up runs. And, as the San Diego TV crew pointed out, that first game it wasn’t like Trevor pitched poorly. Trevor just got hit. It doesn’t happen all that much, but San Diego had to tip it’s hat to the Mets, who simply hit our rock-solid closer. In the third game, I felt Trevor got himself into trouble with walks and poor pitches… but that first game, the Mets just beat him.