Hmm … why did the Mets lose this game?
Pretty simple: Tom Glavine had an awful third inning, and the Mets went back to their ill-advised strategy of “swing your way to success.”
In fact, take out that third inning, and the Mets win 2-0.
It took the Mets eight innings to put together a decent at-bat, and it had to happen from the outside — a pinch hitter by the name of Ruben Gotay.
Unlike the batters in the starting lineup, Gotay thought it might be a good idea to take a strike. After all, the Mets were down by six and an unpredictable pitcher was on the mound. (By the way, he most likely drew this golden nugget of an idea from his little league coach — if they have little leagues in Puerto Rico). Lo and behold, the pitcher didn’t throw a strike before throwing two balls. Eventually, the count ran full, and Gotay managed to foul off numerous pitches before shooting a line drive through the hole between shortstop and third. It was a ten-pitch at-bat.
Naturally, the next batter, Jose Reyes, swung at the first pitch he saw. However, he did line it into the outfield for a double, putting men on second and third. Paul LoDuca really, really wanted to swing at the first pitch he saw, but it was out of his reach. He really, really, really wanted to swing at the second, but it bounced in the dirt, got away from the catcher, and scored Gotay for the Mets first run. Paulie couldn’t reach either of the next two pitches, and one was called a ball and the other a strike. He was able to reach the next pitch, thank goodness, otherwise it likely would have been ball four. Instead, he popped it up weakly into shallow right field, doing nothing for the rally and helping out old friend Jorge Julio. The rally pretty much died after that, though Carlos Beltran managed to bounce a run home with the second out of the inning.
LoDuca showed remarkable leadership, veteran guile, and baseball intelligence in this game. After the Mets fell behind six-zip in the bottom of the third, LoDuca led off the top of the fourth by swinging at the first pitch offered by Jason Hirsh and grounding out meekly to short. No one had any idea that LoDuca had the ability to hit a six-run homer. Absolute brilliance.
Is it me, or are Shawn Green, Carlos Gomez, Tom Glavine, and Ruben Gotay the only players on the roster with any baseball smarts whatsoever? How is it that the simplest, most fundamental basics of baseball — stuff learned by eleven-year-olds — escape people who have 5-15 years’ professional experience? When you’re behind in the score, TAKE A STRIKE. It’s so easy, such a simple thing. Yet the Mets just can’t do it. They’re in an incredible hurry to turn the opposing moundsman into Sandy Koufax and end the game as quickly as possible.
Glavine, by the way, was the only Met to draw a walk in this game. Remarkable. Oh, and would you know that Jason Hirsh had walked 41 batters in 95 innings prior to this start? That’s close to four for every nine innings, or nearly one for every two. Jorge Julio is averaging nearly a walk per inning.
Also of note: Glavine’s fastball was consistently clocked at 84 MPH. That had something to do with his inability to sneak one inside on Matt Holliday — an extra 3-4 MPH really does make a difference. Further, he did not throw his curveball once — not even as a “show” pitch.
Hirsh was 1-for-42 (.038) coming into the game, perhaps the worst-hitting pitcher since the immortal Bob Buhl. He proceeded to get two hits in consecutive at-bats in the third and sixth. Huh.
The bobcat on Todd Helton’s chin still looks awful.
In an intelligent move by the Mets, Oliver Perez was put on the disabled list and Jason Vargas promoted to start Tuesday’s game against the Rockies, who will send Aaron Cook to the hill.