Mets Game 42: Loss to Pirates
Pirates 5 Mets 4
When you score four runs early against the Pirates, the game is pretty much in the bag. After all, the Bucs are averaging under three runs scored per game, and “The Lumber Company” is specializing in balsa wood toothpicks these days.
But, there’s one way that poor offensive clubs score runs: when they are given more than three outs in an inning.
Mets Game Notes
The Mets had this game won, but unfortunately, there’s a rule in MLB that stipulates your starting nine play the field. The Mets made three errors, and the third turned out to be the game-changer.
In this game, against this woeful offensive team, Johan Santana performance could be described as “good,” or at least, decent. But I bet Johan would be the first one to tell you that he pitched poorly.
Johan’s command on all pitches was inconsistent, and in particular, his location on his fastball was usually too high. But he had the benefit of facing a pitcher and three men who would barely qualify as adequate AAA hitters. Those who should have hit him — Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez — did, and the two who had a modicum of possibility of doing so (Neil Walker, Casey McGehee), didn’t.
McGehee, by the way, appears very different from his career year with the Brewers. He looks tight and tense in his batting stance; I remember him being a little loosey-goosey and relaxed at the plate. Now, he’s squeezing the bat handle as if he’s trying to turn it to sawdust.
Good clue that the Pirates are terrible hitters? Santana had thrown only 76 pitches entering the sixth inning. That’s 13 pitches per inning, which is ridiculously low.
I see truly awful hitters like this and wonder how Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, J.D. Drew, and Edgar Renteria were unemployed on Opening Day. Heck, if I’m the Pirates I’d have considered Livan Hernandez and Jason Jennings for their bats rather than their arms. Similarly, Jason Marquis has been cut loose, and he can hit better than half of the Bucs starting lineup.
The fact that Erik Bedard has a job in MLB reinforces my faith that baseball GMs are idiots. My wife is a National League fan, so she had never seen Bedard before, and asked me who he was. Describing him was an interesting and somewhat enlightening exercise, because when it comes right down to it, Bedard is not much more than an eternal enigma — or is it, an eternal tease? Bedard has always been a guy with “filthy stuff” who — other than one 40-game stretch from 2008 to 2009 — has never been healthy enough to come anywhere close to fulfilling his potential. Yet, because of that brief flash of dominance, teams will give him one opportunity after another, truly believing that there is a chance they’ll catch lightning in a bottle. See: Oliver Perez, Rich Harden, Mark Prior, etc., etc. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? A guy can be physically only a shred of what he was (and I mean that both figuratively and literally), but because he had success once, there will always be someone, somewhere, willing to believe it can happen again. History trumps logic.
Logic exercise: David Wright is to Mets as Andrew McCutchen is to Pirates.
What the HECK was Neil Walker doing bunting in the fourth inning with a man on second, no outs, and down by 2? Has anyone informed him that he is one of only four players in the entire lineup who qualify as MLB hitters — and the other three had already hit? Walker is one of my favorite young players in baseball, but man, that was a truly knucklehead move.
In contrast, Clint Barmes appeared to be the only Buc actively looking change-up first against Johan — though it didn’t help him. He had the right approach, but couldn’t execute.
By the way, when Johan walked Barmes in the fourth, it was only the second time all season that Barmes drew a walk. Wow.
The Pirates had a big opportunity to break open the game in the fourth inning, when they scored two runs and then loaded the bases with one out. The rally was killed by the aforementioned numnut bunt by Walker and, later, a routine double-play grounder. Lightning doesn’t strike twice in Pittsburgh.
In the 8th, with the score tied, none out, Kirk Nieuwenhuis on first, and big Jared Hughes on the mound, Terry Collins called on Ronny Cedeno to bunt. Baffling decision, considering that a) Cedeno was swinging the bat well all evening and b) Hughes was slow and lumbering to the plate, suggesting that Kirk would have been able to steal second base fairly easily. Thanks to a groundout by Cedeno followed by a wild pitch, Kirk found his way to 3B with one out, but still, the process was flawed.
Also baffling to see Mike Nickeas hitting with the game on the line in the 8th and Daniel Murphy sitting on the bench. If it was because Rob Johnson was unavailable to catch multiple innings, then why was Vinny Rottino removed from the game?
During the postgame press conference, Collins explained that Rottino was not very experienced at first base, and that’s why Davis replaced him there and moved Rottino to left field. For the record, Rottino has played 164 games at 1B in the minors, recording over 1250 chances at the position. Just sayin’.
Though, it can be argued that Rottino may not have reached base as Kirk had in his place.
I just noticed that Andres Torres has an OBP of around .340 despite a batting average below .200. That’s quite a feat.