Mets Game 140: Win Over Astros

Mets 11 Astros 3

Ah, yes … that’s how we roll around here …

After falling behind 2-0, the Mets rallied for three runs in the third, highlighted by a game-tying two-run double by David Wright (who received MVP! chants upon stepping on second base) and capped by a run-scoring, go-ahead single by Carlos Beltran. They tacked on another two in the fifth via a Beltran blast far beyond the leftfield wall and an opposite-field RBI single by Jeff Conine that scored Moises Alou (who had doubled).

Their 5-2 lead wasn’t enough, though, so the Mets offense exploded for six runs in the sixth. It all started with a leadoff triple by Jose Reyes, who appeared a step faster after two days of rest. Reyes came home when Luis Castillo blistered a ball through the drawn-in infield, and D-Wright walked to put runners on first and second. After Beltran struck out, Alou hit his second double in two innings, scoring Castillo. Conine was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Paul LoDuca lifted a 2-0 pitch into right field to score Wright with a sac fly. With men on second and third, “Blastings” Milledge drilled the first pitch he saw into the leftfield seats. I had a view from the loge section in shallow left, and can tell you that thing went out like a bullet — it was a clothesline drive that left the park so quickly it didn’t have time to elevate. The three-run blast put the Mets up 11-2, and came a half inning after Milledge made a miraculous diving catch in right with the bases loaded to save at least one run (a play which earned him a standing ovation). He was clearly the hero of the inning — both halves.

Meantime, Mike Pelfrey pitched a second straight solid start. He went five and a third, and though he allowed ten hits and two walks, only two runners came around to score. The Astros loaded the bases twice in the first three innings, then again in the sixth, but each time were foiled by defensive wizardry. An unusual double play thwarted the Astros’ second-inning rally (Reyes booted the ball, but it landed right in Castillo’s glove), Pelfrey squirmed out of the jam in the third, and Milledge and Jorge Sosa bailed Pelfrey out in the sixth.

Sosa gave up a run-scoring double to former Met and fan favorite Ty Wigginton in the seventh, but by that time it hardly mattered. Guillermo Mota pitched a perfect eighth using only ten pitches, and Willie Collazo finished up with a scoreless ninth.

Notes

The Astros’ first run came on a ball off the bat of Lance Berkman that just barely made it over the centerfield wall. However, Beltran made a leaping grab and snowconed the ball, but couldn’t hold on. That’s why they call it a game of inches.

Strangely enough, the Astros out-hit the Mets, 13-12.

If David Eckstein were 6′ 4″ tall, he’d be Hunter Pence.

Beltran, Alou, and Milledge were all 2-for-4, and Castillo, Alou, and Wright scored three times each.

Ruben Gotay came into the game late for David Wright and made two fine plays at the hot corner. He also hit a double in his only at-bat — hitting from the right side.

Carlos Gomez replaced Beltran in center, his first MLB game since breaking his hand on July 5th.

Endy Chavez, who came in for Alou in the top of the seventh, made a great running catch of a hard liner to rob Carlos Lee of a double. Hard night for the ‘stros … if I’m Lee, behind by nine, hitting the ball on the screws like that and having Endy come out of nowhere to make a web gem … I dunno, I might just pack it in for the evening.

In the second inning, Astros catcher Humberto Quintero was hit by a pitch that he was taking a swing at, and was awarded first base. I was stunned from the stands, and further stunned watching the DVR replay when no one in the booth even suggested that he remain in the batter’s box. Since when is an HBP awarded to a hitter who swings into the pitch? I keep reading the MLB rule book, over and over, and the words remain the same:

MLB Rule 6.08(b) The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when — He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;

In Quintero’s case, he began to take a swing, held up, was hit in the elbow by the ball. Why bother printing the rule if no umpire will ever adhere to it?

People wonder why there are so many HBPs these days … it’s because NO ONE learns to get out of the way, and ALL umpires give them first despite breaking the rules and not getting out of the way.

Hmm … 3 runs in the 3rd … 5-2 score in the 5th … 6 runs in the 6th … is there a pattern here?

The Phillies lost to the Marlins, and their hopes are fading fast. Their loss plus the Mets’ win drops the magic number to 17 with 22 games to play.

Next Game

Bring your AARP card to Shea, as it’s Oldtimers Day (how come they don’t do that anymore?). The Mets’ 41-year-old Tom Glavine drags his bones up on the hill (the mound’s uphill both ways, FYI) against 41-year-old Woody Williams in a 1:10 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. isuzudude September 8, 2007 at 12:27 am
    Great victory and leaves us with very little to nitpick about (although, Joe, you always find something :p). According to the rules, yes, Quintero should not have been given first base on the HBP. But it’s not like he fully swung and was hanging completely over the plate and got hit. It was an inside pitch that probably would have clipped him even if he hadn’t check-swang. And like you say, umpires award HBP’s like they’re going out of style, whether legitimate or not. But look at all the other “rules” umpires break on a game by game basis:

    1. The “Neighborhood” play at 2B during a force out
    2. Batters remaining in the batter’s box during an at-bat
    3. Batters keeping their feet fully in the batters box during an at-bat
    4. Runners not being called out for running out of the baselines

    If you want to be a stickler for the rules, you better get on the umps’ case for all of the above.

    Anyway, nice to see Wandy Rodriguez return to form against the Mets. He, like almost every other Astros pitcher, is simply atrocious on the road…funny considering Houston is considered such a hitters’ ballpark.

    A blurb on rotoworld.com called Pelfrey “hardly on top of his game,” citing the 10 hits in 5.2 innings. Apparently, they didn’t catch the game, just the boxscore, because it seemed like everything other than Berkman’s HR was a blooper are grounder that found the hole.

    There was another scoring play in the game I didn’t understand. Reyes booted a grounder, but had it kick to Castillo, who then turned a DP. However, the official scorer didn’t credit Reyes with an assist. Not that it’s a big deal, but why not? When ground balls deflect off the pitcher and another fielder picks it up and gets an out, the pitcher is credited with an assist. Why not Reyes in this instance?

    And finally, just for fun, I’ll keep this running tally:
    Record with Delgado out with injury: 1-0.
    Let’s see where this goes.

  2. joe September 8, 2007 at 1:14 am
    As for the non-assist ruling, I can’t speak for the official scorer, but I’m going to guess that he was interpreting MLB rule 10.10(b) …
    “(b) The official scorer shall not credit an assist to … (3) … A play that follows a misplay (whether or not the misplay is an error) is a new play, and the fielder making any misplay shall not be credited with an assist unless such fielder takes part in the new play.”

    As for the HBP incident, I know there are a lot of rules that are bent or ignored. The HBP one galls me, though, because (a) it’s a recent phenomena, as far as the high rate of incidence; (b) it completely changes the game, by taking away the inside part of the plate from the pitcher; and (c) it endangers all batters, because no one is taught to get out of the way.

    Because batters — from Little League — are no longer taught to get out of the way, one day someone is going to get killed, and the blame will be on the pitcher for throwing the ball, rather than the batter for not getting out of the way (or the coaches for never teaching it).

    For about 75 years, MLB hitters got out of the way and DID NOT WEAR HELMETS. So no one can tell me that the players today don’t have the time to move their feet. Bottom line is that getting hit is the last thing in their mind, so all hitters stride into the ball without concern for what could potentially be a very dangerous situation. If that’s the way you want the game played, then change the rules — and while you’re at it, you may as well go back to the 1870s, and have the batter request that the pitcher put the ball in a specific location. And outlaw curveballs and sliders, too.

    (stepped off soap box)

  3. isuzudude September 8, 2007 at 11:12 am
    Your concern is certainly valid, Joe. And I’m sure no batter wants to get hit. They all want to get out of the way. I just don’t think it’s that easy. Sure, back in the early days of the game when pitchers threw 80 MPH batters could step aside in time. But now, with 95 MPH fastballs and curveballs that look like fastballs until the last second, the game is designed where batters HAVE to stay in one place and wait out a pitch if they want to be successful. If every batter was ducking when they thought a pitch was aimed for their noggin then you’d see nothing but curveballs and strikeouts. And the game has evolved to protect the batter more, with helmets and protective gear on the arms and feet and what not. So I wouldn’t necesarily say batters are being BRED or TAUGHT to take a HBP, it’s just become the nature of the game. Also, no one’s telling pitchers they can’t come inside on hitters. It may result in a few additional HBPs, but I’m sure batters will get the message to step off the plate if they get drilled a couple of times.

    Thanks for the clarification on the assist rule. I guess you get an assist if you deflect the ball and didn’t mean for the ball to hit you, but you don’t get an assist if it deflects of you and you meant to do something else with it. Make sense?

  4. joe September 8, 2007 at 1:22 pm
    I have no idea why a fielder gets an assist on deflected balls … it’s all a very strange gray area … but your interpretation does make sense of a weird issue.

    As for the HBP, I have to completely disagree on a few things. First of all, pitchers didn’t throw 80 MPH in the 1920s-1970s. They threw just as hard as they do now. Ask anyone who saw Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, or Sandy Koufax pitch. And it wasn’t like there were just those few freaks and everyone else threw in the 80s … if there’s a difference now, it’s that guys who get it up around 95 are in MLB regardless of whether they can throw strikes, while back in the day a guy like Steve Dalkowski (who some say threw 110) never came up because he walked as many batters as he struck out.

    Further, when I started playing little league ball — in the late 1970s — one of the first things we were taught was the proper procedure of getting out of the way. It was something put in your head: the ball may hit you. We received the same instruction in PONY league, HS, and college.

    Sometime in the past 20 years, that part of the batting instruction went by the wayside (along with bunting … but that’s another can of worms). Remarkably, some coaches teach the technique of diving in toward the plate as you swing — exacerbating the issue. But, the attitude of baseball in recent years made that possible — go ahead and dive over the plate, no big deal, because the pitchers aren’t going to throw inside. Then you run into the handful of pitchers who throw inside (Pedro, Clemens, etc.) and everyone is up in arms and calling them “headhunters” — it’s ridiculous.

    But, that’s the game today … MLB wants lots of homeruns, because that’s what brings out the pedestrian fans who spend lots of money. And as long as batters can stand in the box without fear, homeruns will continue to be hit by the bushel.