Brewers 6 Mets 5
This was a game the Mets could not afford to lose, for several reasons.
First off, they had Pedro on the hill. When the back end of your rotation is the crapshoot called Steve Trachsel, Jose Lima, and Jeremi Gonzalez, you need to produce when the sure thing is on the mound. Sixty percent of the time, you have no idea what you might get from your starting pitching, so you have to hope and scrape and pray you can eek out a win at least once or twice. When your number-one guy is out there, and you know you’re going to get a strong 7- or 8-inning performance, you must win. The offense must score, the bullpen must shut down the other team.
Unfortunately, though the Mets’ offense came through (sort of), the bullpen did not. In fact, the bullpen has been faltering quite a bit lately. Could it have anything to do with Mr. Willie’s overuse of the arms? Could my “Shortening the Game” post of less than a week ago already be humming true?
The game went back and forth a few times, not unlike Saturday night’s contest. Pedro uncharacteristically gave up a two-run lead in the second inning, and allowed the Brewers to tack on a fourth run in the fifth. It was not his best performance, but certainly not his worst. When compared to the “effective” starts of Jeremi Gonzalez and Brian Bannister, it was a fairly well-pitched ballgame.
The Mets showed gumption, as they have all year, and fought back to tie the score in the seventh and the ninth (Turnbow blew another save). However, there was only one man on the field who REALLY wanted to win the game: Billy Hall. His heroics came both at shortstop and at bat; he was playing like it was the seventh game of the World Series. In fact, if it was the only game you ever saw of him, you’d think he was on A-Rod’s level.
The Mets, however, had no such player in this particular game — though, remarkably, Jose Valentin was close. Coming of a good Saturday night, Mr. Willie played a Torre hunch and started him again, and he stayed hot, going 4-for-5 (he raised his batting average over 100 points in two days). However, all those hits produced only two runs. We can’t blame it all on Jose, though. The Mets had 15 opportunities to drive in runners, and produced only three times. You can’t do that against guys like Jose Capellan, Brian Shouse, and Danny Kolb.
Luckily, the Mets have an off-day on Monday, so the bullpen gets a rest. But Mr. Willie will have to come up with a better plan of using his pitchers. Either he’s got to find some starters who can get past the fifth (Aaron Heilman !!!), or he’s going to have to carry 10 players and 15 pitchers. This plan of throwing Heilman, Sanchez, and Bradford every single day is already taking its toll.