Mets 11 Phillies 5
Big Mouth Rollins Boots the Ball
It was Jimmy Rollins who shot off his mouth early in spring training, claiming that his Phillies were the “team to beat” in the NL East.
And, it was Jimmy Rollins who botched a routine double-play ball in the bottom of the 8th to allow the tying run to score.
Though the Mets entered the inning down 5-4, the game became a laugher within about ten minutes. The Phillies — and Geoff Geary in particular — lost their sh*t in that 8th inning, succumbing to the pressure that is New York. With runners on first and second and one out, Geary walked Julio Franco on four pitches — the fourth a 3-0 curveball. With the bases loaded, Rollins misplayed a Jose Reyes grounder to allow the tying run to score. Then Geary uncorked a wild pitch to Paul LoDuca to score the go-ahead run. LoDuca eventually walked and Geary was finally replaced by Jon Lieber, who proceeded to give up a sac fly to Carlos Beltran, a walk to Delgado, a monstrous double to David Wright, and a single to Moises Alou. By the time the inning ended, eleven batters came to the plate and the Mets were up 11-5.
As with the Mets’ first four wins, though, the final score was not representative of the closeness of the ballgame`
John Maine started well but struggled with his control as the game wore on. He threw 104 pitches in only four and two-thirds innings of work. Maine cruised through the first and second innings, offering mixed array of speeds, locations, and pitches — change-up and breaking ball are much improved, great command of change-up. After that, though, he struggled.
Johnny showed gumption, fighting out of a bases loaded, no-out situation in the third inning with chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell coming up. Maine narrowly escaped a potentially monstrous inning, allowing only one run on an Utley sacrifice fly, striking out Howard, and inducing Burrell to popup to LoDuca on 3-2 pitch.
In the top of the fourth, Maine struggled again, to the point where the bullpen became busy. However, he continued to fight and induced an inning-ending double play to thwart the threat. He hit the ninth of his lives in the fifth inning, when he gave up an Utley homerun and couldn’t finish the inning. Ambiorix Burgos came in with two out and the bases loaded and coolly eliminated Abraham Nunez on a ground ball to end the threat and the inning.
Burgos ran into some trouble himself in the sixth, as he hit Jimmy Rollins and then allowed a single to Shane Victorino. Victorino stole second and so Chase Utley was at the plate with runners on second and third and one out. Burgos managed to strike out Utley in a 12-pitch at-bat, and seemed about to get out of the inning as he had Ryan Howard behind 1-2. However, Paul LoDuca fell in love with the forkball, and when Burgos hung one, Howard sat on it and deposited it deep beyond the right-field fence.
Two glaring questions. First, why did Burgos face Howard when Pedro Feliciano and Scott Schoeneweis were both available? Aren’t guys like Howard and Utley the specific reason we gave Schoeneweis 3 years and many millions of dollars? I do realize he pitched in the previous two ballgames, but it was only 1 1/3 innings and the Mets have Tuesday off. He only would have faced one batter and left the game. Secondly, after seeing Howard sit back and foul off two forkballs, why not come inside with the heater? Isn’t Burgos the guy who hits triple digits? And isn’t it the overpowering fastball that makes him so valuable? Sheesh.
Joe Smith had an appropriately quiet Shea Stadium debut: three batters, three outs (one strikeout and two ground balls), 12 pitches (8 for strikes). Pedro Feliciano pitched a nearly perfect 8th inning to earn the win.
On the Offensive
Carlos Delgado took a page out of Rod Carew’s book by ending his slump with a well-placed bunt into the third base hole vacated as a result of “the shift”. Nice to see him finally take advantage of the overshift, and hope to see more bunts from him in the future — it’s like a free single. Delgado had another base hit in his next time up, a legitimate line drive into the outfield, and eventually scored on a remarkably creative head-first slide into home plate.
Delgado, in fact, broke out in a big way. In addition to the push bunt, he hit a hard line-drive single in the fourth, a deep sacrifice fly to center that scored Jose Reyes with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth, and another line-drive RBI single in the seventh to score Paul LoDuca.
Watch Your Wallet
David Wright needs to check his back pocket, because he’s been getting robbed quite a bit lately. With two out and two on in the seventh, Wright stroked a line drive to right field that would have scored the tying run, but Shane Victorino made a fabulous, diving grab to end the inning. Wright — who had some struggles hitting the ball hard early on — was the victim of similar defensive web gems in the Atlanta series. Ever since he started swinging the bat well, the opposition has turned its defensive game up a notch.
One of the few things I liked seeing from John Maine in this contest was his going up and in to a few Phillie batters. For a guy who usually is around the plate, it’s a good idea to buzz a chin here and there to keep batters from getting too comfortable.
The Mets have the day off on Tuesday, and will come back with Oliver Perez on Wednesday in a 7:10pm ballgame. Adam Eaton starts for the Phillies.