Archive: May 2nd, 2007

Game 26: Win over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 3

Thank goodness. For a minute there, it looked like the Mets were going to get swept by the Fish in Shea — something that absolutely, positively, cannot happen. Ever.

Oliver Perez pitching for the New York MetsAfter giving up a quick run in the first inning, Oliver Perez kept his composure and pitched masterfully before running out of gas late in the sixth. He struck out 2 batters in each of the first five innings, finishing with 10 while walking 3 and allowing 3 hits. For a four-inning stretch, he was in a groove and downright dominating, retiring nine in a row at one point.

In an encouraging contrast to the last week and a half, the Mets offense showed some signs of production. In response to falling behind 1-zip early, the Mets quickly evened the score, courtesy of a leadoff double by Shawn Green and Ruben Gotay’s first hit as a Met. The offense had Anibal Sanchez on the ropes in that second inning, loading the bases, but not until after depleting two outs, and Carlos Beltran popped up to end the inning.

In the fourth inning, Oliver Perez helped himself by bouncing a leadoff single past a diving Dan Uggla and into right field. Anibal Sanchez flaked out and made a pickoff attempt with first baseman Aaron Boone playing back, sending Perez to second. Moments later, Jose Reyes lashed a line-drive double to left field, driving in Perez with the go-ahead run. The Marlins continued their circus-like play, as Endy Chavez bunted back to Sanchez, who had a shot at getting Reyes at third but couldn’t wait for Miguel Cabrera to get there (Cabrera’s strained oblique isn’t helping his already lackluster defensive efforts), and as a result nearly threw the ball away in getting Chavez by a step at first. Carlos Beltran followed with a Texas Leaguer in front of rightfielder Joe Borchard to score Reyes and expand the lead to 3-1.

Ringling Brothers returned in the fifth, as Perez blooped another single, then made it safely to second when Dan Uggla played hackey-sack with the baseball on a routine double-play grounder by Jose Reyes. With both runners safe, pitcher then threw a wild pitch to advance them to second and third for Endy Chavez, who came through again with a two-run single. (Someone put a tent on that circus!) Carlos Beltran grounded out, moving Chavez to second base, and the Marlins walked Carlos Delgado intentionally. David Wright followed with a single to drive in Endy. It turned out to be the end of the Mets’ scoring for the day, and all they’d need to win the game.


Though they won the game, still problematic was the fact that the Mets left ten runners on base in the first four innings, scoring just three runs in the process. With that many people on, you have to find a way to push a few more runners home.

Shawn Green continues to stroke, stroke, stroke, burying any doubt about his abilities with the bat. He’s now hit in ten straight games, and is spraying the ball all over the field. The way he’s swinging the bat, I really would have liked to see him tee off on a 3-0 pitch with two outs and two runners on in the fourth — but he was taking all the way and eventually walked to load the bases. While, it would be wonderful if he could recapture the power that made him a 40-homer threat, but if he can continue getting good at-bats and poking line drives, he’ll be extremely valuable in the #6 or #7 spot in the order. He’s being very smart, understanding that he’s playing in a big, pitcher’s park, getting into batter’s counts, and hitting the ball where it’s pitched — rather than trying to force the ball over the fence. Let’s hope he can keep it up the Tony Gwynn impersonation over the next five months.

David Wright had two more hits, and nearly a third, and appears to be out of his slump. However, he made two errors in the game, including on in the sixth that allowed two runners to score.

Oliver Perez went 2-for-2 with 2 runs scored and a sacrifice bunt.

Ruben Gotay had a nice debut, driving in the tying run in the first and taking charge on popups in no-mans-land in short right-center.

Mighty Joe Smith came on with two out and two on in the sixth to strike out Mike Jacobs on four pitches to end the Marlins threat and preserve Ollie’s win. This guy is unbelievable. Smith also had his first Major League at-bat, and though he didn’t look great, he took a healthy hack on the first pitch. He got into a bit of trouble in the 8th, but it was to be expected — he’s been pitching nearly every day for the last two weeks, and threw 37 pitches in this game. He’ll likely get a day or two off after this lengthy appearance.

Interesting that in a “must win” game, Willie Randolph hung with the rookie Smith as long as he did, with veterans Scott Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano well rested. An unusual, strong vote of confidence from Randolph, who tends to be wary of trusting rookies in tight situations.

It took Billy Wagner 11 pitches — 9 for strikes — to close out the game.

Mets pitchers retired the leadoff batter in every inning. That’s one way for a pitcher to make his life easy.

Next Game

The Mets travel cross-country to begin a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.

Tom Glavine goes against Micah Owings in a 9:40 PM (Eastern Time) start.


MetsBlog on TalkRadio

Matt Cerrone of MetsBlogMatt Cerrone is going big time!

Our #1 source for Mets news — — is taking on talk radio … well, sort of.

You won’t find the MetsBlog radio show anywhere on your AM dial — nor FM, XM, or Sirius, for that matter. Rather, you can listen in on, which is something of an internet radio channel, but specifically for blogs.

Matt Cerrone has been testing the platform for a couple weeks now, and is about to execute a show that has a legitimate, “big league” lineup. His guests tonight include Buster Olney from, Gary Cohen from SNY, and Brian Moritz of the Press & Sun Bulletin.

If you are a transplanted Mets fan, and don’t have XM, this is a landmark event. You now have a chance to listen to Mets chatter for a full hour, as well as try to call in — just like “regular” talk radio.

Further, if you are a Mets fan living in the Tri-state Area, there’s finally a legitimate, passionate alternative to choosing between Fat Mike and the Yap Dog or the Michael Kay Show — and you can listen to the show anytime you want.

Not sure about you, but for me, this is a major breakthrough. It is astonishing that “the official radio station of the New York Mets” employs two ignorant, obnoxious, Mets-hating personalities for their signature afternoon show. It’s the “Mets Station”, yet Mets fans have to listen to the maniacal barking of a San Francisco Giants fan and a Yankee fan who once said “They keep talking about David Wright. I don’t even know who David Wright is.”

Isn’t is shameful that the best NY Mets radio coverage comes from Yankee announcer Michael Kay?

This is exactly the reason that platforms such as BlogTalkRadio will succeed, and run over radio the same way blogs are killing newspapers — because the choice is now in the hands of the people, rather than some ignorant executives who can’t see beyond the Arbitron ratings.

If WFAN won’t fire Francesa and Russo, then the listeners will fire WFAN.

If you can, tune in to MetsBlog on TalkRadio tonight at 6:00 PM, and call in at 718-664-6795 to voice your support and talk Mets baseball. If you can’t tune in at 6pm tonight — no problem! You can visit the same link anytime after that to download the show and listen on your PC, iPod, etc. — at YOUR convenience (another thing I love about this platform).


Milledge for Harden?

Oakland A's Pitcher Rich HardenRumor has it that the A’s are shopping Rich Harden.

Since we haven’t heard the Mets as part of the ploy to gauge interest in the enigmatic righthander, my guess is that there is an excellent chance of a trade taking place between Omar Minaya and Billy Beane. After all, Minaya’s — and Beane’s — deals seem to come out of thin air. Both organizations are tigther than a nun’s …. er …. tigther than a frog’s …. um …. let’s just say they subscribe to the theory that “loose lips sink ships”.

Taking a look at the current status of the Oakland A’s and the New York Mets, a Lastings Milledge – for – Rich Harden deal makes a lot of sense for both teams. The A’s have been decimated by several injuries to their outfielders, and recently made a desperation move to install Braves’ reserve OF Ryan Langerhans as their starting centerfielder. They’re tired of Harden’s myriad injuries, and want to unload him before his value drops considerably. The Mets have just lost Orlando Hernandez for an indefnite period, and despite Mike Pelfrey’s recent strong start are still in the market for a starting pitcher.

Of course it’s a gamble to obtain Harden, who is currently on the DL with a sore shoulder, but he is a rare talent — the kind of guy you feel good about starting in the first game of a playoff series, for instance. With his injury problems, compounded by the A’s desperation to shore up their outfield situation — both for the present and the future — a Milledge-Harden deal could be more realistic now than it ever was this past winter. We know that Beane is high on Milledge, and if he really believes Harden is on a Mark Prior-like path, he might be willing to do such a deal straight up.

Considering Harden’s age and upside, and the fact that Carlos Gomez could be ready sooner than we think, it would be a no-brainer for the Mets to pull the trigger. Yes, it’s a gamble, but so is thinking that Milledge will some day be the next Gary Sheffield. At least Harden has proven success — dominating, in fact — in the Major Leagues. Milledge, on the other hand, has yet to impress at the AAA level.


Mets Recruiting Cabrera?

Omar MinayaIn what could develop into a ridiculous controversy — but is more likely a writer grasping for straws in chasing a story, Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Juan C. Rodriguez exposed the fact that Omar Minaya was chatting with Miguel Cabrera prior to Tuesday night’s game between the Mets and Marlins.

Rodriguez reported:

“Marlins President David Samson and General Manager Larry Beinfest could not have been pleased at what they observed from the Shea Stadium visitors’ dugout Tuesday.

While the Mets were taking batting practice and the Marlins were stretching, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya engaged third baseman Miguel Cabrera in about a 10-minute conversation.

Per Major League Baseball directive, it was tampering. Was Minaya recruiting Cabrera, a free agent after the 2009 season? Of course not, but the subject matter is irrelevant.”

C’mon, Juan … Omar Minaya is simply a friendly fellow, and in fact was seen sitting in the visitor’s dugout before Monday night’s game chatting it up with Beinfest himself.

Perfect example of a writer trying to stir the pot, instead of reporting the news.

(The article had no mention of the condition of Cabrera’s oblique, by the way.)


Mets Game 25: loss to Marlins

Marlins 5 Mets 2

It’s time to invite Mo Vaughn and Eddie Kranepool back to Shea to compete with Carlos Delgado in a 30-yard dash to see who is the slowest first baseman in Mets history.

You wouldn’t mind the fact that Carlos carries a piano on his back around the bases, but does he have to stop and play it, as well?

OK, it’s not fair to blame the game on Delgado’s lack of speed. His getting thrown out at home to kill a 4th-inning rally was only a symptom of the Mets’ most glaring problem lately: lack of offense.

What on paper is the National League’s most powerful offense is losing to the scissors in the baseball version of ro-sham-bo. The 2007 Mets looked more like the 1977 Mets against the second-worst pitching staff in the NL — the Nationals — over the past weekend. In a grand stroke of luck, the Shea-men had the chance to change their luck against the WORST pitching team in the NL, the Marlins. You would think the Mets hitters would have been licking their chops looking at who would be on the mound against them: Scott Olsen (6.24 ERA), Ricky Nolasco (0-3, 19.72 ERA vs. Mets in 2006), and Anibal Sanchez (averaging 5 innings per start). On Monday afternoon, one would think the Mets would make quick work of of Olsen and Nolasco, and maybe be challenged against Sanchez. A sweep seemed likely.

Well here we are two games later and the Mets offense is a fuming, stinking pile, and a sweep sure does seem likely — but with the Mets as the dirt. There’s really no other way to describe it. They’re not moving runners, not drawing walks, not building rallies, not getting clutch hits, and running the bases poorly. It seems like every time they get a runner into scoring position, it’s when there are two outs or the pitcher coming to the plate — or they hit into a double play to squash the rally.

Too bad, because Mike Pelfrey finally seemed to make a breakthrough. I for one am not sure that Pelfrey should be at the big league level right now, but with El Duque down the Mets don’t have much choice but to forcefeed the big righty. After a shaky first inning, Pelfrey settled down and pitched 5 1/3 excellent frames before yielding the game to Joe Smith. It wasn’t a dominating performance, but it was encouraging in that he didn’t panic, found his composure, and stayed focused on the task at hand (hopefully Chan Ho Park was taking notes). I still don’t think he has enough weapons to compete as a starting pitcher, but he did show the courage and gumption necessary to succeed at this level — and heart can take you a long way in this game.

Pelfrey left the game with one out and runners on first and second, but Mighty Joe did his usual thing — 7 pitches, four for strikes, resulting in a strikeout (victim: Hanley Ramirez), a ground ball, no harm done. When is this guy going to break?

Aaron Heilman, on the other hand, was not nearly as effective. He gave up two hits in the 8th, including a two-run homer. He continues to push the ball — his body is way ahead of his arm and he has a frighteningly low elbow at release — and the result is that his pitches are flat, up, and without downward movement. If it’s a simple mechanical issue, OK, but I have great fear that it is a symptom of a physical problem.

The Mets (lack of) Offense

Carlos Delgado took advantage of the shift and poked two soft liners through the left side hole vacated by the third baseman. However, when it takes four hits and a blind catcher to score Delgado from first, the singles don’t help very much.

On a positive note, David Wright finally broke out, blasting his first homerun of the season and adding a double in going 3-for-4. Willie Randolph had him in the #2 slot, which may have been partly to get him more fastballs and to force him to focus on going the other way. Whatever the reason, it worked, though if he’s going to start hitting it makes good sense to switch him back to #5 and get Paulie back in the second spot.

LoDuca, by the way, went 2-for-4 and was extremely angry with himself for popping up in his two hitless at-bats. He also seems to be out of his slump.

Shawn Green had one hit, extending his streak to nine games. His single came in the fourth, the result of an excellent at-bat where he worked the count to 3-2, fouled off a pitch, then drove a tough pitcher’s pitch into the hole between short and third.

A few moments after Green’s single — which put Delgado on second with two outs — LoDuca followed with a line drive to center. Delgado rounded third and then inexplicably turned around to watch the throw coming in from centerfielder Alfredo Amezaga. The throw was up the line, and had Delgado not slowed down by turning around, he likely would have passed catcher Miguel Olivo before the ball was caught. As it was, Olivo caught the ball about 15 feet up the line from home plate as Delgado was two steps away. Delgado might have had an opportunity to barrel Olivo, but again, because of turning around, didn’t have enough of a head of steam to make any kind of impact. Instead, he tried to dance around the tag, failed miserably, and ended the inning. Again, with the offense struggling, you can’t completely blame third-base coach Sandy Alomar for being aggressive in sending Delgado — many times you force the defense to make a mistake. But the Marlins, again, executed well, and Delgado didn’t add any difficulty.

Jose Reyes was a disappointing 1-for-5, striking out three times. The Marlins pitchers offered a steady feed of overhand curveballs to get him to swing and miss. Reyes also was thrown out attempting to steal home on a strikeout by Carlos Delgado and steal attempt of second by David Wright. The throw went through to second base, but Hanley Ramirez received the ball in front of the bag and quickly zipped a return throw to Miguel Olivo to nab Reyes. With the Mets struggling offensively, it wasn’t a bad idea, because a lot could go wrong defensively. You have to tip your cap to Olivo and Ramirez for perfect execution.


Pelfrey had a lot of trouble spotting his off-speed pitches again, and threw too many balls, but started to get some sink on the fastball as the innings wore on. A big, big issue is with runners on base — he simply does not keep them close. His move to first is only adequate, and has no secondary (or “good”) moves to mix in. Additionally, he doesn’t mix up the timing of his delivery from the stretch; for example, pausing a few extra beats before starting. Further, his high leg kick and long arm arc make him very slow to the plate. (A slide step might be something to incorporate on occasion, if he’s not going to shorten his knee lift.) Add all these factors up, and smart opposing teams will run at will. In effect this eliminates Pelfrey’s greatest strength: the ability to get ground balls that turn into double plays. Holding runners seems like a small thing, but it can mean a lot to a pitcher’s effectiveness, and Pelfrey sorely needs to improve in this area.

The Mets began to mount a rally with two outs in the ninth and a hard rain falling, but it was too little, too late. Had it still been a 3-2 game, it might have been a different story, but Josh Willingham’s 2-run homer in the 8th gave inexperienced closer Henry Owens plenty of room for error and the ability to remain relaxed.

Next Game

The Mets face the Marlins at 1:10 PM on Wednesday and hope to avoid a sweep at home. Oliver Perez faces Anibal Sanchez. This early in the season, it’s difficult to say there’s such a thing as a “must win”, and it’s no time to panic. However, the Mets are already making a habit of losing series (it took three months before they lost one in 2006), and don’t want to start getting swept — especially at home.