Mets Game 30: Win Over Phillies

Mets 7 Phillies 4

Come-from-behind victory for the Mets as they set up for a sweep in Philadelphia. Who’da thunk it?

Mets Game Notes

Just when you were ready to cross off Miguel Batista, he goes and gives the Mets 5 1/3 innings of yeoman’s work that can’t be sneezed at. Yes, he gave up the usual two baserunners per inning (8 hits, 2 walks). But, he did about all one can expect from a spot starter — he gave his team a chance to win.

Following up was the rollercoaster known as Manny Acosta, who after two consecutive evenings of nailing extremely important outs is at the top of the track. This was a battle of the bullpens, and the Mets won the war.

Before the bullpen battle, however, Joe Blanton was on his way to what was looking like an easy victory. The Mets could do nothing with his array of well-mixed but otherwise mediocre stuff until the seventh inning — a.k.a., “when all hell broke loose.” As soon as Blanton fell behind 2-0 to Valdespin in that inning, I knew he was in trouble and had an inkling that it might be the door opening for the Mets. Why? Because up to that point Blanton was cruising, and when a pitcher is doing that well, and has a three-run lead, he doesn’t fall behind a leadoff batter who has all of 9 MLB at-bats — unless something is wrong, such as fatigue. As it was, Blanton walked Valdespin, and my first thought was, “it’s time for Blanton to hit the showers.” However, I forgot to take into consideration that the Phillies relievers are the polar opposites of the team’s starters. That said, Charlie Manuel was going to ride and whip his horse until it could no longer walk. Once Blanton left and the firestarters entered, we knew why.

Speaking of Jordany Valdespin, he made a few mistakes in the second that led to runs scoring. Well, he isn’t a shortstop so he can be excused. But, what is the Mets alternative while they wait for Ronny Cedeno to come off the DL? Still, the prospect of seeing Valdespin and Murphy up the middle in the interim makes the hairs on my neck bristle.

This Phillies team is very different from the one I remember from 2007-2011. If you are a loyal MetsToday reader you know I pay attention to body language. In the past, I saw Phillies players who had intensity from the first pitch of a game through the 27th out. On this evening, I saw faces that expressed resignation after falling behind — and indifference when they were ahead by three. It’s not something that can be measured; it can only be seen with the eyes and interpreted via years of experience watching athletes in competition. I’m not sure if it has something to do with the absences of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, or if it’s a change in team culture, but I had no fear of these Phils coming back once the Mets went on top. Even the fiery Shane Victorino appeared to be going through the motions in his last at-bat, and Jimmy Rollins half-assed it down the line on his grounder to first base. Disappointing, as I do remember the days of Rollins tearing down the line as if it was the last time he ever would.

Overall, the Phillies look kind of like an aging AAA club, don’t they? Have to wonder how long they’re going to “tread water” waiting around for Utley and Howard to save them; it reminds me of the Mets in 2009, when they waited — and waited — for Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (among others) to get healthy.

Before that crazy seventh, the Mets mustered only one run and three hits against Sgt. Blanton. By the end of the game, that hit total swelled to nine.

Next Mets Game

Mets go for the sweep in Philly in a game that begins at 7:05 p.m. The pitching matchup is Gee vs. Lee; Dillon vs. Clifton.

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. Joe May 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm
    So, the Mets’ aren’t horrible and Murphy is playing credible defense. Torres is doing his job. etc.

    There are always injuries and other stuff to get riled up about. Thole, e.g., is going to be out longer than 7 days.

  2. norme May 9, 2012 at 12:14 am
    I think that the Mets’ MVP, so far, is Terry Collins (I guess it should be MVM). Not so much for his bench strategy, but for
    the enthusiasm and professionalism he has brought to the team—a far cry from the “gangsta” pose of Jerry Manuel.
    The Mets’ may struggle to stay above .500 this season, but
    TC will get them to play hard.
    • HobieLandrith May 9, 2012 at 8:52 am
      So, a month from now when the Mets are back under .500, can we blame Terry Collins for the slide?
      • norme May 9, 2012 at 11:44 am
        Hobie,
        They probably will begin to lose more as the season goes on because a manager is not as important as the players. My point is that, even while losing, TC will get them to play hard.

        TC may not be a genius as a bench strategist but he is a professional who knows how to motivate his players. A far
        cry from his earlier, less experienced years as a manager.

        When Alderson first hired him, many thought that TC was
        just warming the manager’s seat until Backman was ready
        to take over. Unless he reverts to the TC of previous managing gigs it’s hard to see him being in the job for a short time.

        • HobieLandrith May 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm
          First of all, a team should play hard regardless, it’s their job. Some managers can get their players to give an above and beyond effort – the cliche is “run through a brick wall” – but I’m not seeing that from this Mets team. Yes, they’re playing hard, but nothing out of the ordinary compared to most pro teams. And even if they are, I think the motivation is more of a reflection of a bunch of young kids and borderline MLBers looking to prove themselves than anything that Collins is doing.

          BTW, many continue to believe that Collins is still keeping the seat warm for Wally.

  3. gary s. May 9, 2012 at 9:25 am
    They are winning games because they are getting good starting pitching and cluch hitting.To me, playing hard is something every player should do.If the starting pitching goes south for a month, “playing hard” will not equate into wins.Could also be a direct result of Jason K not playing.Kirk N and Torres and Duda are doing well.I hope mister. ground ball to short for a doupleplay with runners on base never returns to the line up
    • Joe May 9, 2012 at 9:35 am
      They won yesterday with Batista on the mound and the Phils spotted a couple runs on errors. Teams can win with one or more things missing.
  4. Izzy May 9, 2012 at 10:08 am
    Didn’t anyone enjoy that sweet sound of the someone else’s team being booed?
    As for Janish’s comments about the different Phillie team from the past several years, a very astute comment. Even the very obnoxious Philly announcer Chris Wheeler commented several times BEFORE the Phillies lost the lead, that they looked like a team waiting to lose.