Archive: July 27th, 2007

Mets Game 102: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 2

Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Washington Nationals that they were supposed to roll over and lose to the Mets amicably.

The worst-hitting team in MLB — the one that’s averaging less than four runs per game — crossed the plate six times against the Mets in gaining their 44th win of the season. Crafty lefty Mike Bacsik threw pus-balls for seven innings, scattering eight hits and allowing only two runs. The only Met to accumulate more than one hit was Carlos Delgado, who blasted two singles.

Jorge Sosa pitched six non-solid innings, allowing nine hits, three walks, two homers, and five runs. With each start, he is looking more and more like the 2006 version that went 3-13.

Sosa got through the first inning OK, then was the victim of a Doublemint commercial in the second, as the punchless Nationals found the strength to hit four two-baggers in five minutes, scoring three runs. The Mets came roaring back with a run when Lastings Milledge bounced into a double play, but Ryan Church hit a solo homer in the third to make the score 4-1.

The Mets scored again, and for the last time, in the fifth when Shawn Green doubled and scored on a Damion Easley single. However, the Nats came back in the sixth with another homer — this of the leadoff variety — by Austin Kearns. They scored their sixth run in the eighth off the previously invincible Pedro Feliciano.


Hmmm … bright spot, bright spot … there had to be one somewhere … ah yes, just-promoted Jon Adkins pitched a perfect seventh inning, retiring three batters on nine pitches. Aaron Heilman also pitched a nearly perfect inning (scoreless), the ninth, but finally allowed a hit.

Next Game

Day / night doubleheader on Saturday, with game one starting at 12:10 PM and game two commencing at 7:10 PM. El Duque vs. Tim Redding in the first game, then Mike Pelfrey tries not to lose against Billy Traber in the nightcap.


Series Preview: Mets vs. Nationals II

Washington Nationals baseball logoThe soft part of the Mets’ schedule continues as the Nationals come into Shea for a four-game set, including a day / night doubleheader on Saturday.

The Nats are expected to send four journeymen to the mound, as their already awful pitching staff has been recently decimated by injuries. Which poses a problem for the New York Mets, who have a hard time hitting mediocre pitching.

Here are the matchups:

Game 1: Jorge Sosa vs. Mike Bacsik

Since beginning the season with six wins in his first seven starts, Jorge Sosa has fallen back to earth, going 1-4 after June 8th. He was most recently rocked for 8 hits and 6 runs in 4 innings in Los Angeles, and has given up 23 earned runs in his last 30 innings pitched. Not good. It appears that batters have caught on to the fact that he throws one speed, and relies almost exclusively on his slider. However, he does have the benefit of facing the Nationals, which is both the lowest-scoring team in MLB (their 385 runs are 24 less than the next-worst Pirates), and the MLB team with the lowest batting average (.248).

Mike Bacsik is a soft-tosser that might be considered a “poor man’s Tom Glavine”. I disagree. He’s more like a “destitute’s Glavine”, or perhaps, a “homeless man’s Tom Glavine”. He tops out around 84 MPH, throws a change-up in the 70s, and keeps the ball in the strike zone. Sounds like BP, right? Except, he has one huge advantage: he’s never before started against the Mets. Can you say “Wandy Rodriguez Effect”? Further, in his last outing — against the Rockies — he pitched into the seventh inning and gave up only three hits and no runs. So he is capable of getting batters out. Also, let’s not forget the Mets once gave up Matt Lawton and four top prospects for his services, so he’s got some skills (there was another guy the Indians threw into the deal, don’t remember the name … some forgettable infielder).

Game 2: Orlando Hernandez vs. Tim Redding

El Duque has been a mixed bag of lights-out, so-so, and shaky performances, but for the most part has kept the Mets in the game. His last outing could be termed “so-so” by the stat line, but if you watched the game you saw that he really only made two or three mistakes — but every one he made bit him in the butt. In his last start against the Nats, he had one of his “shaky” performances, giving up three homers and six runs in five innings. Hopefully he can improve upon that this time around.

Yes fans, Tim Redding is still being paid to be a professional pitcher. What’s more, he currently holds a sparkling 2.92 ERA. Apparently he hasn’t been tested yet. Like Bacsik, he shut out Colorado through 6 2/3 innings in his last start, which must mean it had more to do with the Rockies than the skill of the Nationals moundsmen (perhaps the Colorado batters were having a hard time adjusting to the thick air in DC?). Mets batters have to watch out for his sneaky fastball, sharp curve, and the bobcat he stole from Todd Helton to paste onto his chin.

Game 3: Mike Pelfrey vs. Billy Traber

Mike Pelfrey looks to stay winless in the bottom end of a day / night doubleheader. Well, you know what they say — “the ninth time’s a charm”. The Mets hope to coax five mildly effective innings out of Pelfrey in this latest showcase of his talents — directly in the face of his potential suitors (part of a package for Chad Cordero?).

Meantime, Billy Traber takes the mound to show the Mets one more time why they never should have traded him for Mike Bacsik. Though it all seems so pointless now that they’re teammates.

Traber has made only one start this year, and has yet to pitch more than four innings in a game in 2007. However, he is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA career against the Mets in four games (one start). On a good day, Traber doesn’t have much velocity-wise, but his command can be very good, and he’s hell on lefthanded hitters. Righties, however, pound him — to the tune of .350 this year, .312 over the last three years.

Game 4: John Maine vs. Jason Bergmann or Joel Hanrahan

After two straight poor outings to begin the second have, John Maine rebounded with a fine performance against Pittsburgh, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Granted, it was the Pirates, but his next victim is the Nationals — and, well, he’s expected to dominate them as well.

The Nats may or may not have Bergmann starting, as he left his last start due to a hamstring injury. The former Rutgers ace gave the Mets fits in his start against them in April, but much has changed since then — most significantly, an elbow injury that sidelined him for a month. Since the injury, he hasn’t been the same. In two June starts, he pitched a total of 8 innings and sported a 7.88 ERA, with opponents hitting .375 against him. He’s been pounded in July as well, with his ERA increasing with every outing. With the hamstring injury added to his decreased performance, it may make sense for the Nats to give him a break.

Should that be the case, Joel Hanrahan will come up from AAA to make a start. The Nats picked the 25-year-old off the scrap heap in February, and has gone 5-4 with a 3.90 ERA in the AAA International League. He’s a 6’3″ righthander once touted as a jewel prospect in the overzealous Dodgers organization. He doesn’t throw overpowering stuff, but rather relies on throwing strikes and pitching to contact. As Ryan Moore of Distinguished Senators stated, the Mets ” … shouldn’t lose to this guy … “.

Mets Bats

Let’s hope the Lastings Milledge show stays in town through the weekend — LM has been a one-man wrecking crew since his promotion, driving in 12 runs in 12 games. Paul LoDuca is also swinging a hot bat, and for power too — though if the Pirates stationed a legitimate centerfielder in the middle of Shea’s outfield grass, he might not have hit two doubles against the Bucs. David Wright continues his steady pace, and methinks Jose Reyes is about to explode. Rumor has it we’ll see Moises Alou in uniform (don’t hold your breath).

The Mets can be beaten if the offense strays from its recent strategy of taking pitches and working deep counts. None of the Nationals pitchers have any type of stuff to be concerned about, but their effectiveness can be multiplied by aggressive batters with poor pitch selection. Stay the course!

Nationals Bats

Dmitri Young — affectionately known as “Da Meathook” — is the only bat the Mets need to be concerned with, and he’s really not more than a singles hitter these days. Imagine Mo Vaughn without homerun power and there you have Dmitri; he’s currently hitting over .330. Ronny Belliard is batting .301 and is a threat to hit a bloop double at any time. Ryan Zimmerman is having a terrible year, batting only .257. The Nationals as a team are hitting .248 and on pace to finish the season with less than 100 homeruns. Get the picture?

Bottom Line

The Nationals are bottom feeders, and after this series the Mets must travel to Milwaukee to play a first-place team, then travel to Chicago to play the second-place Cubs, and then they’ll face the Braves. That said, the Mets must take at least three out of four from the Nats, and if they have it in them, a sweep would be nice. Will they? We’ll see.


Inside Look: Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals baseball logoGosh, has it really been almost three months since the last time we saw Manny Acta and the Nationals? Yup — there it is: the last game against the Nats was April 29th. Huh.

Since it’s been so long, we’re counting on Ryan Moore of Distinguished Senators to jog our collective memories and give us the update on one of our favorite NL East rivals.


Greetings, Mets fans! In the interest of friendly discourse, I’ll try not to mention Jesus Flores any more than I absolutely have to.

Grrrrr … did you HAVE TO mention Flores? Good gawd … anyway, on to the questions …

1. The Nationals’ pitching has had its struggles, and now the staff is being hit with a rash of injuries. Is it a blessing in disguise, as you can get a look at some youngsters, or do Nats fans really want to see the likes of Jason Simontacchi and Tim Redding taking the hill?

It’s certainly a blessing in disguise for you guys, as injuries handed Thursday’s start to John Lannan, who proceeded to alter singlehandedly the handicapping of the NL East race by breaking Chase Utley’s hand. So you’re welcome for that one.

To answer the question, it’s absolutely a blessing. This team’s hard enough to watch even without Jerome Williams tossing walks and sweating butter.

2. Lannan’s a good man, he follows orders precisely. Speaking of injuries, Jason Bergmann is the latest to go down, and is questionable for his Sunday start. Word on the street is that Joel Hanrahan may be his replacement. What’s the scoop on Hanrahan?

Hanrahan isn’t the kind of guy who attracts scoops. He was signed as part of one the Nats’ comprehensive “sign everybody and see who can play” procedures. He’s only 25, which gives him a leg up on Jerome “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Williams or whoever, but that ain’t much. You shouldn’t lose to this guy is what I’m saying.

3. Dmitri Young has been reborn in DC. Do the fans like him? Do you want to see him sign a contract extension?

They do, and it’s kind of pathetic. There’s no Alfonso Soriano this year, and Ryan Zimmerman – the guy we’re all supposed to like – hasn’t done a lot. So fans are clinging to the only thing that’s going right. It’s understandable – he’s a big jolly fat guy who’s “redeemed” himself, and that’s fun if you don’t think too much about why he needed redemption.

They’re going to sign him, and it’s a terrible idea. Fat 33-year-olds who can barely play first base are not good long-term investments. And I don’t know if you guys have heard about this, but the Nats allegedly have a Plan, something so intricate and important that it always gets capitalized. The Plan is all about acquiring stopgaps and flipping them for prospects or draft picks until it’s time to compete (shortly before the end of the decade, if things go well). If management is letting foolish human sentiment interfere with The Plan, then we’re in trouble. Nats fans, I mean. You suckers’ll be sitting pretty.

4. Wow, Ryan, Dmitri sounds an awful lot like Mo Vau… oh, never mind. Stay the course. Next question. Your thoughts on the Ron Belliard extension — and how it may affect the Young situation.

I like it. He’s a nice, versatile little player. He’s good enough that it frees the Nats to trade Felipe Lopez, but not so much money that they have to.

I don’t think affects Young, except insofar as it betrays an organizational enthusiasm for fat guys.

5. Hey now, fat guys are people too. Speaking of, didn’t you guys have a guy named Nick Johnson? Broke his leg about three years ago? When’s he coming back?

Poor Nick. Dude heals slow. Of all the Nats whose femurs Austin Kearns could have busted with his mighty bionic knee, Nick was the one who was going to stay out the longest. He won’t play until next year, so we get two more years of Dmitri.

6. Keep Chad Cordero or trade him? If the Nats trade him, what do they want in return?

They’re in a nice position with Cordero. There’s no urgency to trade him, so they can wait until his value’s at its highest and they can get more in return. But I have a suspicion that’s been sneaking around since the start that Chad’s going to fall off a cliff quickly and completely one of these days, in a fashion reminiscent of your Roberto Alomar. So yes trade him, and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

7. Other than Cordero, who else could go before the trading deadline?

A shorter list would be who couldn’t go. Felipe Lopez is expensive and playing terribly. Ryan Church and Austin Kearns are there if anyone wants them. And so on and so on. I can probably get you a volume discount if you’re interested.

8. Um, we’ll pass on the blue light special. But thanks. How do you feel about Manny Acta as an in-game manager, and manager of personnel? Do you think he is the right man for the rebuilding Nationals?

I’m a fan. You can quibble with his personnel decisions – more Jesus Flores, please – but he’s the best manager the Nationals have ever had. I mean that: ever. The Frank Robinson years were characterized by losing, in-fighting, and crankiness. Now all that remains is the losing. Manny Acta is a credit to his profession.

9. Hey, you made a promise about Flores. Now for that I’m through with the softball questions. Tie game, ninth inning, two out, man on third. What Nationals hitter do you want at the plate?

I gotta go with Da Meathook (that’s Dmitri, in case you didn’t know). Zimmerman has a weird propensity for the walk-off, but Young’s the only guy who’s hitting.

10. Da Meathook, I love it. Same situation, but the Mets are hitting. What Met would you least like to see up?

I used to be a Cardinals fan, and I remember Carlos Beltran almost dragging the Astros to the Series all by himself back in ’04. Sacred the hell out of me. Cold sweat, therapists, the whole thing.

Congratulations, Ryan — you’re the first blogger who didn’t answer that last question with “Jose Reyes”. Love to see someone with an “out of the box” answer.

Thanks again to Ryan, and be sure to check out his Distinguished Senators blog — which, unfortunately, does not cover the Senators of yesteryear. So no talk of Harmon Killebrew, Jim Lemon, Earl Battey, and Camilo Pascual. Heck, he’s not even covering the “faux Senators” of the seventies (the one that made Frank Howard and Mike Epstein famous, and gave birth to the Texas Rangers). No, Ryan blogs about the Nationals. A good idea, though, using the Senators name to pique interest.