Mets Game 158: Phillies Beat Braves
Phillies 5 Braves 2
The Mets’ strategy of waiting for the Phillies to lose backfired, as the Braves fell to Philadelphia 5-2. Tim Hudson’s solid outing was marred by a crucial Chipper Jones error (way to go, Larry — even when you’re playing against other teams, you kill the Mets), and the Braves bats were no match for the mighty Kyle Lohse — a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer of the future.
Nationals 9 Mets 6
Meantime, the Mets held the Nationals to less than ten runs for only the third time this month, but couldn’t get their passing game going after the fourth inning. After jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first four, the offense stopped. You can’t really blame them, though — the guys coming out of the Washington ‘pen resembled Koufax, Gibson, and Feller. When you have lights-out arms like that coming at you, combined with Brooks Robinson at third base, you may as well pack it in and call it a night.
Philip Humber — the first true starting pitcher in history to make his first MLB start for a team in the midst of a pennant race in the last week of the season — pitched much better than his 4-inning, 5-run stat line would indicate. Truth was, he pitched well through the first three, then completely forgot how to throw a fastball — which can be detrimental against big league hitters. He left the game with a 6-3 lead, but also with runners on second and third. Joe Smith did an outstanding job of making sure those runners made it all the way home, and exited the game without recording an out. Because he also left a couple runners on, the next reliever, Pedro Feliciano, felt obliged to jack up Smith’s ERA the same way he did Humber’s. Eventually, Feliciano found a way to record three outs before the Nationals could score an eighth run.
The Nats batters were so tired from all that swinging and running around the bases, they chose to take a nap the next three innings, as Scott Schoeneweis, Orlando Hernandez, and Aaron Heilman tossed up zeroes. However, the nap was a refreshing one, as they battered closer Billy Wagner for another two. But Wags would not allow a tenth run to cross the plate — he was too proud, and reached way down inside of himself to limit the Nats to single digits. A most valiant effort.
Carlos Beltran clubbed two homers from the right side, and drove in three runs. Moises Alou extended his hitting streak to 30 games, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. No one else in the lineup did anything of consequence.
As if it weren’t bad enough that the Phillies are now one measly game behind, putting the Mets’ postseason hopes in jeopardy, the lovely Yankees clinched a playoff berth. Yee ha.
At this point, it’s hard to point the finger at Willie Randolph. It doesn’t matter who he sends to the mound, they give up walks, hits, and runs by the bushelful. No manager in the history of baseball — not LaRussa, not Stengel, not Lasorda, not McGraw — no one can lead a team to victory when you’re giving up seven to ten runs a game. And that’s exactly what the Mets have done over the past two weeks.
It’s getting harder every day to even LIKE this Mets team. Looking at their long, beaten faces, tensed-up bodies, and fearful play is depressing.
The Braves send John Smoltz to the mound against Adam Eaton in a last-ditch effort to reduce the Mets’ magic number to three. Luckily, the only team that can’t score against Eaton is the Mets, so the Braves have half a chance.
Unfortunately, the Mets will also have to show up on the field for a contest of their own, a makeup game against the Cardinals. Pedro “The Savior” Martinez goes against Joel Pineiro — a guy the Mets didn’t bother picking up off the scrap heap because their pitching was too deep and high quality to warrant such a gamble. Game time is 7:10 PM; heavy drinking of copious amounts of the strongest alcoholic beverages available begins at 5:05 PM (except for those under the age of 21, of course). Go Braves.