Archive: May 16th, 2006

Game 37: Loss

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.


Game 36: Win

With a pitching matchup of Jeremi Gonzalez vs. Dana Eveland, one would have to think this would be an unusual game, one where anything might happen. And indeed, nearly anything did happen.

If one would have told you, before the game, that Jose Valentin would be an offensive star of the contest, Duaner Sanchez would pitch like Doug Sisk, and the game would be won on a dinger by Paul LoDuca off of Dennis Turnbow, would you have believed it?

Well that’s pretty much the way things went.

As if the starting pitchers weren’t enough, Mr. Willie compounded the uncertainty of the game by starting Jose Valentin in left field. And guess what? He went 2-4 with four RBI, effectively matching his entire 2006 production in one game. If not for his atrocious play in left field, I would even be inclined to state that he’s finally proven useful.

Maybe more mysterious than Valentin’s effectiveness, was the Mets’ bullpen’s ineffectiveness. Aaron Heilman needed 44 pitches to pitch two innings, and gave up three hits and a run. Not awful, but not the usual Aaron. The other half of the dynamic duo—Duaner Sanchez—however, was miserable, giving up four runs on three hits, including back-to-back horme runs, before being tossed by the ump for throwing a beanball. He managed to do all this in one-third of an inning, taking a page out of Bartolome Fortunato’s handbook on pitching.

Even Billy Wagner gave us a scare, despite striking out three in the ninth. The boxscore makes it look like an easy save, but if you watched the game you know it was anything but. The only Met pitcher who you could say had an easy, effective outing would be the winning pitcher, Chad Bradford, who threw eight pitches, seven for strikes, in two-thirds of an inning.

Naturally, there will be some Met correspondents and officials who believe that Jeremi Gonzalez was also effective in this game. But then, I suppose we’ve really lowered the bar to think that a five-inning start — where one gives up three runs — is quality. Heck, I keep hearing about how great Darren Oliver is doing, and I’ve yet to see him enter and exit a game without giving up a run (and most of his outings are one inning or less).

Thankfully, the Mets had enough offense to make up for the pitching deficiency. Carlos Beltran is borderline hot right now, as he hit another bomb, his ninth of the year. We heard all about LoDuca being a clutch hitter and he certainly fulfilled that moniker with the game-winning blast in the ninth. Xavier Nady continues to make me look dumb, and Jose Reyes stole his 13th base of the year. And though Chris Woodward went 0-2, he seems always to be doing something useful, whether it’s working a walk, running the bases intelligently, or advancing a runner.

It was good to see the Mets win a wild one; these are the type of back-and-forth games that good teams win consistently.


Game 35: Loss

Brewers 9 Mets 6

This game was lost before it started, when the lineups were handed to the umpire and Jose Lima was listed as the starting pitcher.

The Great Lima Experiment must end now. It is ludicrous to believe that the worst pitcher on the worst pitching team in baseball last year will somehow find the magic to be a legitimate #4 or #5 starter.

The Mets already have too many experiments in the pitching laboratory: Pedro Feliciano as LOOGY, Darren Oliver as who-knows-what, Jorge Julio as setup-in-training. Julio and Feliciano, at least, show some promise, and Julio has youth and talent on his side. Oliver and Lima need to go, Lima first.

The bright spots: Carlos Delgado continues to pound the ball, and Endy Chavez continues to make me look stupid by playing remarkably well in all facets of the game. Cliff Floyd had a couple hits and a walk, and seems to be moving out of his slump. Billy Wagner struck out three in a perfect eigthth that meant nothing.

Heath Bell got pounded again, which is really too bad, as Mr. Willie has no confidence in him to begin with. I hope they don’t send him down. It certainly wouldn’t make sense, since Randolph continues to give has-beens and never-wases such as Lima and Oliver chance after chance to fail. I would hope that he’d extend the same length leash to someone with potential, such as Bell.