Browsing Archive August, 2007

Mets Game 134: Win Over Braves

Mets 7 Braves 1

Ahhh … that’s much better.

The Mets broke their five-game slide with a big win over the Braves, getting strong performances from several individuals.

In the series preview, I implored John Maine to throw a nine-inning shutout. To his credit, he came damned close.

Maine threw seven sparkling innings, allowing one run on three hits and three walks, striking out eight. I will admit a twinge of hope that he’d stay in for one more frame, but even I have to admit 112 pitches was probably the best you could get out of him.

In support of Maine, the Mets offense — the entire offense, not just D-Wright — finally showed up to the party.

The Mets scored first and kept scoring, with four unanswered runs in the first five innings, thanks to a three-run homer to dead center by Carlos Delgado and capped off by a solo blast over the rightfield fence by Jose Reyes.

The Braves finally broke through in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs on a single and two walks during a John Maine brain fart, and scoring a run on a Maine wild pitch. However, Maine regrouped in time to get harmless popups from Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira and striking out Brian McCann looking. It was the turning point in the game, and a promising performance by Maine.

The score remained 4-1 until the top of the ninth, and with Billy Wagner warming up in the bullpen, the Mets loaded the bases with two outs and Aaron Heilman coming to the plate. Heilman was called back in lieu of Marlon Anderson, who once again stepped into the batter’s box wearing a red cape. He drove the first pitch he saw into the right-center gap, clearing the bases and putting the Mets up 7-1.

At that point, Wags sat down and Scott Schoeneweis closed out the game, allowing only a Brian McCann single.


Nice to see Reyes come out of his slump — he went 2-for-5 with a double in addition to the tater, and stole his 73rd base.

Delgado started to come alive in Philly, and has continued to stroke the ball with confidence — he also added a double to his day. He’s waiting on the ball again, letting it get deep, and driving it to all fields. The Mets need him thumping.

Carlos Beltran had a relatively quiet 2-for-4 day, scoring once.

Next Game

Mike Pelfrey pitches against Chuck James in a 3:55 PM start. As you probably figured out by the start time, it’s going to be televised by FOX. Personally, I was hoping to see Philip Humber get his first start, but maybe the eighth time will be a charm for Pelf. It would be great to see Pelfrey show something — his hard sinker could be very useful coming out of the ‘pen.


The Better Team

As isuzudude remarked:

The Phillies were the better team, so tip your hat and move on.

Unfortunately, ‘dude is right — the Phillies WERE the better team, and they ARE the better team, right now.

Let’s face it — the Mets are hardly the only team in MLB with bullpen issues. Heck, EVERY team in baseball has major issues with middle relief, and most are uncomfortable with their closers. In fact, according to some numbers, the Mets have one of the better bullpens in baseball, if you can believe that. So before we start clamoring for Omar Minaya’s head because he didn’t fix the bullpen before July 31st, remember that EVERYONE was trying to do the same thing.

Indeed, looking back and wondering why Omar didn’t find a way to get Scott Linebrink or Eric Gagne (for example), is akin to complaining that he didn’t get Barry Zito or Jeff Suppan over the winter. As we’ve seen, both Linebrink and Gagne have been busts — as have Zito and Suppan. So if hindsight is 20-20, Omar was correct in not giving up the farm for an arm that might not have made a difference.

Rather than the bullpen, the Mets have much deeper issues — and luckily, they can be fixed in-house. And they’re same problems that plagued them in the postseason of 2006: offense, and focus.

Forget game four in Philly for a moment … what about the first three games? No team can go into Citizens Bank Park scoring two runs a game and think they’re going to win. And when the games become a battle of the bullpens, you can’t not hit the Phillies’ middle relievers. Prior to this season, the Mets’ offense was considered — on paper — to be the strongest in the National League. We’re still waiting for the on-paper predictions to perform on-field. Those supposedly big bats didn’t score in Coors, barely scored in Wrigley, and most recently did nothing in CBP — the three easiest parks to hit in. That same lineup routinely looks overmatched by below-pedestrian (they may as well be called wheelchair-bound) pitchers such as Adam Eaton, Scott Baker, and Hong Chih-Kuo. Facts are facts, and the facts tell us that the Mets offense simply isn’t that good.

In addition to a slightly better than average (but not overpowering) offense, the Mets have suffered from a lack of focus. Throughout the season, their drive and attention span have meandered — here one day, gone the next — and the number of mental errors is flabbergasting for a team that prides itself on sound fundamentals (message to Willie: just because you want the team to be strong fundamentally, doesn’t make it so). What’s the reasoning for the lack of concentration? Is it a problem of motivation? An intrinsic inability to hold attention span? Exhaustion? Probably, a combination of all three, with the last one — fatigue — being the most likely factor recently. After all, Willie Randolph rarely rests his best players, and right now is not the time to give a breather to, say, Jose Reyes.

The bottom line is this: the series in Philadelphia meant way more to the Phillies than it did to the Mets. Randolph and his team did all they could to play down its importance, but they were operating on the assumption that they’d take two games automatically simply by showing up. Over the four games, every single Phillie elevated his game, while David Wright was the only Met to meet the challenge. The Phillies approached these games as do-or-die, with a postseason mentality, and the Mets remained calm, oblivious, and flat. It’s really hard to win when only a few of your players are going all-out on every pitch, and all 25 of the opposition is playing like it’s the last game of their lives. Don’t get me wrong — the Mets didn’t exactly roll over. But the Phillies clearly wanted to win these games more than the Metropolitans.

As a result, the month of September promises to be one of excitement. Let’s hope the Mets can find the “ON” button before it’s too late.


Series Preview: Mets vs. Braves V

The Mets have lost five straight games, and in getting swept in Philly, have now turned a very comfortable first-place lead into a very tight, three-team race. Nice job, boys …

No time to cry over spilt milk, as the Mets move on to Atlanta for another spanking. Here’s how the weekend plays out:

Game 1: Tim Hudson (15-6, 3.23) vs. John Maine (13-8, 3.68)

The Mets are coming off perhaps their most gut-wrenching, spirit-depleting loss since the 2006 NLCS game seven — and their only effective relief pitcher, Billy Wagner, will be unavailable. To make matters worse, the Braves are sending Hudson to the mound, who besides being a Cy Young candidate has beaten the Mets twice this year, riding a 1.93 ERA. However, his season ERA has jumped .30 points in his last four starts. That means one of two things — either he’s starting wear down, and the Mets are facing him at a good time, or he’s due to pitch a lights-out game. Let’s hope for the former.

With the bullpen a complete disaster, and Wagner unavailable, Maine has to go out and pitch a nine-inning shutout. It’s a tall order, and likely an impossible task — after all, Maine hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning in a start since July 24th. Worse, he’s struggled with his pitch count in every one of his last six starts — usually nearing 100 before the fifth inning finishes. I’m not sure he’s capable of suddenly becoming Tom Seaver.

Game 2: Chuck James (9-9, 4.22) vs. Mike Pelfrey (0-7, 5.92) or Philip Humber (0-0, —)
If we have our doubts about game one, game two doesn’t offer much optimism. While it’s true that James has had his problems against the Mets this year, the idea of Pelfrey starting makes the matchup a wash. Pelf is already 0-7 this year, and struggled in AAA. In other words, it looks to be another contest decided by the middle relief — not good. If there’s a ray of hope, it is in the slight possibility that Philip Humber gets the start — but only because Humber is an unknown vs. Pelfrey being a known. Yes, I know Humber has pitched well recently in AAA, but a pitcher’s first MLB start is an absolute crapshoot — he may pitch lights-out, his nerves may jitter him out of the second inning, or he may pitch somewhere in between.

Game 3: John Smoltz (12-6, 3.06) vs. Tom Glavine (11-6, 4.15)

Give it up for Bobby Cox, who threw Smoltzie on three days’ rest earlier in the week so he’d be able to go against the Mets on Labor Day — with full rest, no less. By Monday, the Mets should have a recharged Wagner available for the ninth, and hopefully will have a few extra arms from the farm with the roster expanded. Poor Tommy — the victim of seriously hard luck lately — draws his buddy and future HOFer Smoltz again. The first two times these pals paired up, Tommy lost — heartbreaking losses, no less. If we draw on what’s happened in the last week, the prognosis for this third time isn’t so charming.

Bottom Line

Is it time to panic? No, of course not … after all, the Mets are still in first place, by two games. But, even a realist has to wonder how in the world the Mets are going to pull out ONE win — much less two — in Atlanta this weekend. The Braves are throwing their top three pitchers, two of whom have pitched very well against the Mets this year. Further, it appears that the Mets will have to rely heavily on an already decimated and ineffective bullpen. After seeing the Mets have their butts handed to them in four emotionally draining contests in Philly, the most optimistic view is that the Mets can somehow pull out one win, and still be in first place during their flight to Cincinnati.


Mets Game 133: Loss to Phillies

Phillies Sweep MetsSorry it took so long … Weehawken’s finest are not well-prepared for roof-jumpers. Luckily the FD came by with a net strong enough to withstand my 220-pound frame.

Anyway …

I don’t even know where to start … no point in re-hashing … we’ll go straight to the notes.


El Duque was due to have a bad day, what are you gonna do? Willie made the right move pulling him to keep the rally going … though, you wonder if Duque might have rapped a hit himself in that situation.

For the majority of the contest (the first three hours), it seemed like the only Met who understood he had to elevate his game was David Wright. Endy Chavez tried to provide a spark as well (2-5, 2 runs, 2 RBI), but Wright singlehandedly kept the Mets in the game, going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored and making countless fine plays in the field.

Half of the Mets’ 10 hits came from D-Wright and pinch-hitters. Add in Endy’s two and that’s 7 of the 10.

Willie made another good move, bringing in Billy Wagner to face the heart of the Phillies lineup in the eighth. However, he forgot to remove Wags in the ninth. Had Billy pitched an easy, 1-2-3, 10-pitch inning, then fine — leave him in to close things out. But after seeing him struggle a bit, and throw over 20 pitches … be smart. Once again, the myopic Randolph managing a game like it’s the 7th Game of the World Series, not considering that there are three games with the Braves this weekend. In the end, Wags threw 45 pitches with an already “dead” arm — he’s done till Sunday, at least.

Next Game

John Maine goes against Tim Hudson. If ever there was game that Maine needed to rise to the occasion and pitch a 9-inning shutout, it’s tonight. Game time is 7:35 PM, it will be carried on WPIX / CW-11.


Mets Game 132: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 3 Mets 2

I’m getting really tired of typing that headline — it turns my stomach every time.

Although the Mets have now dropped all three games in Philly, and four in a row, I did see some positives — believe it or not.

First, Oliver Perez, who struggled mightily with his command yet kept the Mets in the ballgame through six innings. He allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks, and struck out 10. There were several situations where Ollie was in a major fix, and/or lost his cool for a moment, but he collected himself and fought through the situation. There’s no way you can fault a guy who allows only three runs in six innings against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. He did his job.

Second, it was nice to see the Mets battle back in the ninth inning and tie the game — though the tying run was disallowed when Marlon Anderson was called for interference. It was an awful way to end the game, but the silver lining is this: the Mets did not give up.

Now, the negatives.

The Mets managed to score only two runs — AGAIN. This two-run output every game is completely and utterly unacceptable in the easiest MLB park to score runs against the worst pitching in MLB. Phillies pitching plus CBP equals runs no matter who you are. More unbelievable is that the Mets have been able to get into the Philadelphia bullpen early — the same bullpen whose collective ERA was around NINE prior to this series. It’s understandable, and slightly excusable to have one off day, MAYBE even two — after all, once in a while an opposing pitcher will have a great night. But three nights in a row? Sorry, but I’m sending up a red flag. Make that several, big red flags.

The boxscore claims the Mets had ten hits, but I swear I only remember three or four. The most memorable was David Wright’s homerun in the first, with no one on. Carlos Delgado had a run-scoring single to drive in Carlos Beltran in the fourth — and that was it, the complete scoring for the Mets’ offense. Against AARP-card-carrier Jamie Moyer no less.

People keep saying there’s no reason to panic, why the pessimism, hey the Mets are still in first. Meantime the Phillies are making a mockery of the first-place team from Flushing, and about to close out a sweep, which will put them two measly games away from the leaders. Oh, do you really think the Mets are going to pull out a victory on Thursday? It’s an afternoon game, remember — and those are the ones that Willie Randolph traditionally puts out his “B” team and makes little effort to win. If their top talent can’t score against the worst pitching in the NL, in the most comfortable hitter’s park, why would the scrubs? Though, maybe a change in personnel is exactly what’s needed — sometimes a new set of eyes (and arms and bats and legs) is what can reverse bad happenings.


The two Carloses went a combined 4-for-8, and Wright was 2-for-3. Jose Reyes reached base twice and both times was picked off first.

Jorge Sosa threw two scoreless innings of relief.

Next Game

Orlando Hernandez pitches another day game, this time against Kyle Lohse in a 1:05 PM start. The way the Mets offense has been sputtering, El Duque will need to throw a nine-inning no-hitter if he hopes to pull out a victory. Let’s hope he’s only on pitch #90 when the ninth inning begins.


10 Hates On the Phillies

Philadelphia baseball mascot the Phillie PhanaticIt’s completely normal for New York area fans to dislike Philadelphia sports teams. In fact, it’s a birthright — and my guess is that the feeling is mutual (Philly fans and NY sports teams). However, it used to be that the only team I really hated — with a passion — was the Braves. They won every stinking year, and did it so easily, without dramatics, and seemingly without effort. The Braves would collect maybe four hits in a game but somehow come away with a 6-2 victory, and the whole time we had to endure the condescending smiles of Larry and Andruw Jones, Bobby Cox, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux … the list goes on and on.

Though I still hate the Braves, they’re not as much a threat recently as the Phillies. Each day there’s another Phillie to hate a little bit more. Here’s my personal list.

I hate …

1. Shane Victorino, aka “the flyin’ Hawaiian”. He reminds me of David Eckstein — a tiny, overachieving pest who always seems to be in the middle of a rally.

2. Chase Utley – because he’s so damned … perfect. Yeah, it’s jealousy, but jealousy and hatred go hand-in-hand. And that smirk when he’s beating you … reminds me of Greg Maddux and the Jones boys.

3. Adam Eaton – because it’s frustrating as heck to be dominated by the worst starting pitcher in National League history.

4. Ryan Howard, because a.) like Utley, I’m jealous; and b.) he’s so hard to hate.

5. Charlie Manuel – the Lt. Columbo of managers, a disheveled, dumpy character who appears to be a moron but somehow wins in the end.

6. Jimmy Rollins – I’d love this guy if he couldn’t walk the walk, but he can. His squawking and reprehensible confidence level (what have the Phillies ever won, anyway?) is annoying enough, but the fact he backs up his words … well, it’s unnerving.

7. Antonio Alfonseca – because I have a prejudice against polydactyls with pot bellies … so sue me.

8. J.C. Romero – because a middle reliever who gets released outright, in this day and age, has no business pitching as effectively as he is right now. (Unless that pitcher is Guillermo Mota, the year is 2006, and he’s on steroids.)

9. Pat Burrell – 38 career homers and 97 RBI against the Mets. Do I need another reason?

10 The Phillie Phanatic – because he is the ugliest and most annoying mascot in the history of sport. We need John Stearns to come back to the coaching staff to tackle that atrocious thing, in the same way he brought down and pummeled Chief Noc-A-Homa way back when.

Honorable Mention:
Cole Hamels – because a punk kid with 23 career wins shouldn’t have the audacity to be so cocky. Pitch a complete year without visiting the DL, or win 20 games in a season, before walking around like you’re the second coming.

Who are your hates from Philly? List ’em in the comments.


The Fatal Flaw

William Randolph ShakespeareAs a person, we like Willie Randolph. We respect the way he played the game, we admire his ability to motivate players and teach the youngsters, and the way he handles the media. He’s a good guy, a first-class individual. Personally, I’d like to see him remain the manager of the Mets for a long time. However, his managerial career plays out like a Shakespearian tragedy, in that he has one fatal flaw that is his ultimate downfall: he has no idea how to manage a pitching staff.

It’s not his fault, really — he was a second baseman during his playing career, and what the heck does a middle infielder know about pitching? (That’s why catchers make such great managers — they know how to handle the most important aspect of the game.) As a coach with the Yankees, he was kept far away from mound, as his strength was in teaching and relating to the position players. The only bit of education he has regarding pitching management is from the king of reliever burnout, Joe Torre. So we can’t be too harsh on Willie — he’s ignorant, and never had the opportunity to learn the ropes in regard to managing a pitching staff. In many ways, he’s learning on the job.

How Rick Peterson fits in to this is anybody’s guess. It appears that The Jacket is more like Willie — he can relate to pitchers (they’re a different breed), and he can teach. But, also like Willie, he might not be the best at pitching management — because we’re assuming that Randolph leans on him a bit for advice. You may think this is a crazy idea — isn’t Peterson one of the best pitching coaches in baseball? Sure, but he’s never had a bat in his hands, and faced a Major League pitcher — so his knowledge is all one way. He may know all there is to know about pitching mechanics, and changing speeds, and grips, and the mental game, etc., but he doesn’t know squat when it comes to a batter facing a pitcher — and that’s part of in-game management.

A glaring example came in last night’s contest. Tom Glavine is cruising through seven innings of shutout ball. He’s thrown a fairly efficient 102 pitches in the process, and showing no signs of tiring. His seventh inning was one of his strongest — a 12-pitch, perfect frame. In his last win — 11 days before — he threw 116 pitches without a problem, so he’d gone that far before, and recently. Considering the disastrous efforts of the bullpen recently, Glavine’s gem of a performance was a sight for sore eyes — for once, a game could pass over the middle relief and go straight to closer Billy Wagner.

Except, for some reason, Glavine was removed before the 8th inning.

Now, it may have been Glavine asking out. If it was, shame on him — but shame on Willie also for not saying, “Tommy, we need you to go one more”. This is the end of the season, a game against the second-place team, and it’s a win you really want to get. Champions such as Tom Glavine rise to the occasion and muster the strength to continue on — he’s done it before, he’ll do it again.

My guess is that Willie and/or Peterson were either “going by the book”, or out-thinking the situation. “The book”, of course, stipulates that you remove your starter after 100 pitches, and that you go to a fresh arm to bridge the gap from starter to closer. “The book” also states that a lineup will start hitting a pitcher the third or fourth time around, so you want to remove your guy before that hitting starts. However, “the book” has to be thrown away in certain situations — such as when your starting pitcher is your BEST OPTION at that moment.

Rick Peterson may have whispered in Willie’s ear, “the Phillies are due to start hitting Tommy, they have the top of the lineup coming up … let’s get him out of there and get him a win for his effort.” That’s a great plan, IF you have a setup man you can count on. Unfortunately, the Mets do not have that pitcher, and haven’t had him in quite some time — possibly because Randolph has completely burned out and exposed the few quality arms he has in the ‘pen. Another thing Peterson doesn’t get — but Willie should. When a pitcher like Glavine is throwing 82-MPH slop up at the plate, and putting up zeroes, it gets to the opposing team. The batters look up and say, “how the heck are we not hitting this guy?”. It becomes a mental thing. This is how Glavine has won over 300 games in his career — guile, smarts, and dominating the mental aspect of a contest. He may not blow a batter away with his fastball, but he’ll hammer his psyche. Think back to the NLCS, when Glavine threw a gem against the Cardinals. Remember mighty Albert Pujols pissing and whining that Glavine “wasn’t that great” ? That’s how Tommy has been winning ballgames for twenty years — getting inside the head of batters, and letting them beat themselves.

So when Glavine is crusing with one of his “vintage” games, you let him go as long as he can go, because he’s dominated the other team, mentally. When the Phillies saw Pedro Feliciano throwing warmups before the 8th, the entire dugout nearly jumped out of its shoes. The smiles on their faces could not be missed — they were completely smitten that Glavine was out of the game, and were knocking each other over on their way to the bat rack. “Thank goodness, we don’t have to deal with Glavine for the rest of the night” — was no doubt said by at least one person in the Philly dugout at that time. It was the turning point of the game.

Now let’s pretend that removing Glavine was the right move. We can go round and round with theories on who should have come in, which matchups should have been made, etc. But it all comes down to this: the Mets do not have a setup man. This team was built by Omar Minaya around the concept of shortening the game, of getting the ball into Billy Wagner’s left hand. The concept falls to pieces without an 8th inning guy. At one time, the Mets had a fairly reliable setup man in Aaron Heilman. He wasn’t perfect, but if he was, then he’d be the closer and not the setup guy, right? They also had a fairly reliable second option in Feliciano — again, not perfect, but who is? Lately, though, neither of those two can be counted on to close the door in a tight game. Why?

It goes back to the mismanagement of the pitching staff. Willie’s in-game management is bad enough, but is exacerbated by his inability to manage arms over the course of a 162-game season. It’s been stated here and other places before — you can’t treat every single game of the year like it’s the seventh game of the World Series. If you do, eventually, something has to give. Randolph has trotted out Heilman 63 times in 130 games; nearly every other day. Feliciano is right behind him at 61 appearances. Both are on pace to finish the year somewhere between 75-80 games apiece. That’s too many. Anyone who watched the Mets last year knows that Heilman is not built for this kind of workload — mentally nor physically. He pitched too often last year (74 games), and had absolutely nothing left come October. His mechanics became a mess when he was overused early in 2006, and at the end of the year needed elbow surgery as a result of pitching too often. So what does Randolph do in 2007? Pitch him even more frequently, of course! If I was Heilman’s agent, I’d have Randolph shot — the guy’s arm is going to be jelly by the time he has a chance to cash out in free agency, at this rate.

Similarly, Feliciano went from being a reliable LOOGY to a full-core setup man sometime around June of this year. That’s great, as he was effective, but again — you can’t expect him to pitch four games in a row and not suffer negative consequences. Feliciano set a career high by pitching in 64 games last year — as mentioned he’s already been in 61 this year (before then he’d never thrown in more than 22). And last year, he was more of a matchup guy, pitching to one or two batters. This year, he routinely pitches one or two innings. That’s a big difference. I’m not sure how anyone can look at the increase in frequency for these two pitchers and be surprised by their recent breakdown in performance. It’s simple logic — also known as The Joe Torre Method of Destroying a Relief Pitcher (see: Proctor, Scott; Gordon, Tom; Quantrill, Paul; Karsay, Steve; the list goes on and on).

How could Willie have avoided the burnout of his two most reliable setup men? Many ways, beginning with allowing the starting pitchers to go longer in games. Just because a guy is approaching, or at, 100 pitches, doesn’t mean you have to take him out. The 100-pitch count is the biggest load of crap going in MLB. Any grown man who throws a ball professionally should be able to safely throw 120-140 pitches once every five days, with proper training. That’s not to say he has to get up to 140 every single time out, but rather, it’s OK if he averages around 115-125. That’s at least one to three extra innings every game, depending on how efficient he is with his pitches. But the current mentality in MLB is to use the quick hook when your starter gives up a single in the sixth inning. It’s ridiculous — that’s postseason, must win at all costs strategy. Shortening the game to that extent over the course of the season puts you in the situation Willie is in now. And just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean Randolph has to do it. Be a maverick, and do something crazy — like let a starter complete a game once a week. Nuts, I know.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much the Mets can do about the situation at this late stage in the season. However, Randolph and Peterson need to face the facts: the bullpen is tired, exposed, and ineffective at this point. Therefore, they’ll have to push the starters an extra inning here and there while the relievers lick their wounds, and hope they can recover in a week or two. And by god if a starter has a shutout through seven, LEAVE HIM IN THE GODDAMN GAME — at least until the ninth. A tired but effective starter is a much better option than any alternative currently available from the bullpen (other than Billy Wagner).


Mets Game 131: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 4 Mets 2

Albert Einstein once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If we agree that is true, is there anyone who disagrees that Willie Randolph must be committed?

All I want to know is why, why, why was Tom Glavine removed from the game … AGAIN? Have we not learned that pitch counts mean nothing to a man who throws 83 MPH? Have we not figured out that Glavine in a groove but tiring is still much better than anyone from the bullpen other than Billy Wagner? How many times does Tom Glavine have to pitch lights out only to come out with a no-decision because the bullpen blows his masterpiece, before Randolph tries something different? What stroke of genius is going through his head when he makes the decision to take Glavine out? Is he thinking that Glavine is about to tire on the 103rd pitch? Does he think that the Phillies — who couldn’t figure out what to do with Glavine for seven innings, would suddenly figure it out in the eighth? Why does Willie think he’s so damn smart?

I absolutely refuse to say that the Mets bullpen blew this game, even though they did. All of the blame — 100 percent — goes to Randolph for removing Glavine. And if Glavine took himself out, then the blame shifts to him. There is absolutely no logic in removing a guy who is dominating the opposing team, and replacing him with gas-can carriers such as Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Heilman, and Guillermo Mota. Shame on Willie for wasting yet another grand effort by Glavine, who might be vying for Cy Young consideration if not for the stupidity of his manager.

Oh, do you want to read about the game? Fine. The Mets got on the board first thanks to a two-run homer crushed by Carlos Delgado in the top of the second (Moises Alou led off with a hard-hit single to left). That was it for the mighty Mets, batting against the worst starting pitcher in the National League in about a hundred years (in this case, that’s not an exaggeration). And they couldn’t do anything against Geoff Geary, J.C. Romero, nor Brett Myers, either. Pack it up, fans, this is the beginning of the end. If the Mets ain’t scoring against these schleps, they ain’t scoring against nobody.

The Phillies were shut out by Glavine for seven full innings, mustering eight hits and no walks. Feliciano was brought in and gave up a solo homer to Jimmy Rollins to start the game. He got into more trouble as the inning continued and eventually gave way to Heilman, leaving the game with two outs and Shane Victorino on first base. Victorino stole second and advanced to third when rag-armed Paul LoDuca’s throw bounced into the outfield. Aaron Rowand followed by smashing a pitch into a poor worm in front of home plate, and the ball bounced about 33 times hugging the third base line before falling at rest about 35 feet from the plate, two inches inside the line — an infield hit, scoring Victorino with the tying run. The drunken Philadelphia crowd exploded, and the momentum had shifted. There was no way the Mets had a chance in the world to win the game after that crap.

But since you’re still reading, I’ll let you know that the game went into extras, and Mota was brought in to surrender the game-winning homerun off the bat of Ryan Howard — scoring himself and, guess who, Victorino again.


Endy Chavez didn’t do much at the plate, but he definitely made an impact in right field. He made a good catch on a Chase Utley liner in the first, played the ball perfectly in the third to hold Ryan Howard to a single, and made another great running catch in the sixth with one out and a runner on third to save a run. His defense saved at least one run, possibly two or three.

I really hate when Jose Reyes swings at the first pitch of a game and pops up weakly — particularly against a schmuck like Adam Eaton. You want to guess that Roy Oswalt or John Smoltz is going to give you a meatball to start off the game, fine. Adam Eaton? Please. If Eaton gets ahead 0-1, there’s nothing to fear — he tops out at 89 MPH and has no dominating “out” pitch. He’s the kind of guy you force to beat himself, and to force into giving you a pitch to hit. Too often, Reyes starts a game with the Mickey Rivers mentality — swing at the first pitch, no matter where it is. Yes, Reyes had some success earlier in the year looking to jack that initial pitch, but by now every pitcher in the NL sees that on the scouting report and gives him nothing good to drive in the first pitch of the game. It may seem like a petty issue, but it’s a major downer for the offense to give the pitcher an out on the first pitch of the game. First of all, you’re almost automatically putting Luis Castillo in a hole, because he has to take a strike after that occurs. Secondly, you give the pitcher what could turn out to be an extra inning — which is one less inning the opposing bullpen has to cover. The worst pitchers on any team are the middle relievers, and so you want to do everything possible to get to them. I’d really like to see a stat showing Reyes’ batting average when swinging at the first pitch of a game, so if someone knows where to find it, please comment or drop me an email. OK, off the soapbox … it wasn’t Jose’s fault the Mets lost, after all.

In the top of the sixth, Adam Eaton hit Carlos Beltran with a pitch, and then Joe West issued warnings to both teams. Ridiculous. Eaton did not hit Beltran on purpose, and even if he did, by issuing a warning you penalize Beltran’s team because the Mets pitchers have to worry about throwing the ball too far inside. This is one rule that absolutely must be reviewed and tossed during the offseason.

Keith Hernandez quote of the night: ” … looks like a little Archie Bell and the Drells with not being able to throw inside … ” in reference to Eaton walking Alou after hitting Beltran and getting the warning. For those too young to remember, Archie Bell & the Drells performed the top-40 hit “Tighten Up”. Classic.

Delgado, Moises Alou, and Tom Glavine were the only Mets to reach base safely after striking the ball with their bats. Each had two hits. Everyone else went oh-fer.

Delgado missed a second homer by less than ten feet on a towering fly ball to the rightfield wall in the sixth.

Next Game

Oliver Perez vs. Jamie Moyer in another 7:05 PM start. While the Mets will likely lose again to the red-hot Phillies, it might be interesting to see how they blow it this time. I plan to have a 1.5-liter bottle of whiskey next to me during the game.