Archive: August 1st, 2007

Game 107: Win Over Brewers

Mets 8 Brewers 5

Willie’s played about a hundred hunches this year, and, finally, one paid off.

Instead of penciling Lastings Milledge into the “8” hole — both on the field and in the lineup — he instead wrote “Marlon Anderson” in the sixth spot of the order, and “CF” next to his name. Anderson repaid the insanity by driving in four runs in his first two at-bats, including a three-run homer that put the Mets ahead 7-5 in the third and chased starter Claudio Vargas from the ballgame.

Anderson had singled in Carlos Delgado the inning before, and Ramon Castro followed with a two-run bomb that put the Mets ahead 4-3. Milwaukee answered by jumping ahead to a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the second via a walk, two singles, and an atrocious error by Shawn “Flipper” Green, who inexplicably dove for a blooper he had no chance of catching and let it bounce over his head and to the outfield wall behind him.

Green made up for the gaffe — sort of — by blasting a solo homer over the right-centerfield wall in the sixth to extend the lead to 8-5.

Oliver Perez had a strong performance, despite allowing five runs. He pitched six innings, threw 115 pitches, and gave up five hits, three walks, one homer, four earned runs, and struck out 11. If you watched the game, he was a lot more dominating than the boxscore might suggest. I’m still not sure how those five runs scored … though I vaguely remember a three-run homer by the Pillsbury Doughboy in the first inning.

After blowing Tom Glavine’s shot at his 300th career victory, Guillermo Mota came on in relief to pitch two perfect innings. Maybe Willie should put him out there to start innings more often — he seems fine as long as there aren’t any runners on base.

Billy Wagner struggled in the ninth, allowing two singles and throwing 24 pitches, but grinded out his 25th save in 26 chances.

Notes

Good thing Marlon hit that bomb in the third. I was throwing things at the TV when third base umpire Chad Fairchild (huh … same schmuck with the tiny strike zone) called Carlos Delgado out on the swing in the previous at-bat. In case you missed it, the count was 2-2, and an inside pitch looked like it grazed Delgado’s forearm as he started to swing, then stopped and tried to get out of the way of the ball. While he was getting out of the way, he dropped the bat behind him before his hands came forward — it looked like it might have dropped right on top of the catcher’s foot. If anything, it should have been called a hit-by-pitch, at the very least a ball. However, the plate umpire asked Fairchild for help and he was only too happy to punch him out. That guy must have grown up a Braves fan. Interestingly, Willie Randolph remained on the bench, and didn’t bother to argue. A minute later, Moises Alou grounded out to third (a fantastic play by Ryan Braun, BTW), so within sixty seconds the Mets went from possibly having bases loaded and none out to two out and men on second and third.

Guillermo Mota was working much more quickly than normal in this game. Perhaps a suggestion by Rick Peterson to pick up the tempo forces Mota to think less and just throw? With the kind of talent Mota has, his lack of success can be due only to whatever is going on in his head. If speeding up his rhythm helps him to be more effective, I say, “zip, zip, my friend!”

Gary Cohen has pointed a few times in the last few games, the fact that batters watch the ball on the ground as they run down the first base line after a bunt. It’s a valid point — what the heck are these guys doing? After the ball comes off the bat, put your head down and run like there’s a rabid pitbull on your butt until you’re two steps past the first base bag. End of story.

Am I crazy, or did I hear “Hava Nagila” played sporadically in Miller Park during the game? It was never played when Shawn Green — or any other Jewish player — was at-bat, though it seemed to be played at least twice when Oliver Perez came to bat (a coincidence, I’m sure). Now I know that the Brewers ownership — the Seligs — are Jewish, but I wonder how many Milwaukee fans are wearing yarmulkes under their cheeseheads? (That can’t be kosher.) Personally, I’d like to hear “Hava Nagila” played at Shea when Green comes to bat — much the way “Volare” is played when LoDuca’s up — and am not being critical of it being played in Milwaukee. Rather, I’m curious, as I thought the city was at least 95% Christian.

Julio Franco was DFA’d by the Braves to make room for Octavio Dotel, so the Mets have a chance to claim him on waivers and return him to the role of “big-mouth cranky useless ancient guy”. My guess is they’ll pass.

Next Game

The series finale pits newly promoted Brian Lawrence against Chris Capuano in a 2:05 PM start. Catch it on MLB.com while at work or feign sickness from bad meatloaf at the caf and rush home to see it on SNY. (Or, record it with your DVR / Tivo.)

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Thursday’s Pitching Options

If you stayed up long enough last night, you witnessed two innings of fine relief by Jorge Sosa. Since he was scheduled to be the starting pitcher in the series finale tomorrow afternoon, it’s safe to assume the Mets will be promoting someone from the minors to take his place. (Aaron Sele pitched two innings as well, so he’s not an option.)

Here are the candidates:

1. Mike Pelfrey
Pelfrey finally pitched a “decent” outing, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs in 6 innings of work this past Saturday — which may have earned him another shot. Yes, the Mets sent him down to the minors immediately after the game, which means he normally has to wait ten days before he can return. However, according to MLB rules, he CAN return — so long as he replaces a player who is placed on the Disabled List. Now you know why Paul LoDuca remains on the active roster — he’ll likely be placed on the DL today and tomorrow, congruent with the recall of Pelfrey.

2. Orlando Hernandez

With the off day on Monday, El Duque would be pitching on his customary four days’ rest. However, at his age, you want to get him as much extra rest as you can, whenever the opportunity arises.

3. Jason Vargas
The little lefty has had two tough starts in the Majors this year, and the last one was bad enough to elicit death threats from diehard Mets fans. He has two things going for him, though. First, he’s already on the 40-man, so there needn’t be any roster shuffling to get him to the big club. Second, he last pitched on Saturday, so he’s on schedule to throw on Thursday. However, he was unable to get through the fourth inning in his last big league start, and his 5.59 ERA in AAA does not help the Mets’ confidence in him.

4. Brian Lawrence
Lawrence last pitched on July 26th, and should be well-rested and ready. However, he is not part of the 40-man roster at the moment, so some shuffling may have to take place to make room (one possibility: move Ambiorix Burgos from the 15-day to 60-day DL — but that’s assuming the Mets are certain he won’t return this year). Additionally, it’s kind of a “one-shot deal” with Lawrence; if he pitches well, the Mets will likely have to keep him up with the big club, as he’s out of options. If he doesn’t pitch well, they might be safe DFA’ing him the way they did Dave Williams, and send him back down to New Orleans. Of course, you want him to pitch well, and if does, then what? My guess is you put him in the rotation and move Jorge Sosa to the bullpen — which isn’t the worst idea in the world, considering the current state of the Mets’ relievers.

5. Dave Williams
Williams last pitched on July 29th, and would be going on three days’ rest. He’s also still nowhere near MLB-ready. Safe to say he’ll be staying in AAA for a few more weeks.

6. Philip Humber
Humber’s scheduled to pitch tonight, after missing his turn twice due to food poisoning. If he’s held out again, then either he legitimately is sick (and it wasn’t a ploy to keep him safe for the trade deadline), or they’re going to give him a shot to make his first MLB start. My guess is, if he really was sick, they’re not going to take a chance on him pitching tomorrow at less than 100 percent. Pitching against big leaguers is tough enough, and the Mets won’t make him do it when he’s at less than full strength.

7. Kevin Mulvey

It’s a long, long, longshot. But you never know. However, like Williams, Mulvey pitched on July 29th, so he won’t be forced to go on three days’ rest.

Final Verdict

If the Mets feel an extra day of rest is vital to keeping El Duque healthy, they’re most likely to start Pelfrey and put LoDuca on the DL. However, if LoDuca is really as healthy as he says he is, and able to play in a few days, my best guess is we see Lawrence in a Mets uniform for the first time. Personally, I’d like to see Lawrence either way — he might be exactly the right fit at the back of the rotation, and the timing is perfect for Sosa to move to the ‘pen. We’ll find out soon enough.

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Six People to Blame

Last night’s game is still irking me, mostly because Tom Glavine pitched his heart out and deserved to get his 300th win. It was the first time in a long time we witnessed Glavine getting squeezed by an umpire, yet finding a way to succeed in spite of it.

Although there were a number of incidents — especially as the game wore on — that could have won the game for Glavine, let’s focus on the six major culprits, and their actions that prevented Tommy from earning his 300th career victory.

1. Tom Glavine. Tommy came out of the game an inning too early. He could have sucked it up and induced that double play — the baseball gods were on his side last night. Yeah, hindsight is 20-20, but I think every Met fan was trying to read the lips of Willie and Tommy on the mound in the sixth, and hoping against hope that the discussion would turn out differently.

2. Sandy Alomar. Why “The Windmill Man” thought it logical to send a huffing and puffing Carlos Delgado home when Tony Graffanino was studying the stitches of the ball about 100 feet from home plate as Delgado jogged around third is beyond comprehension. If Delgado stays put, you have men on second and third with hot-hitting Ramon Castro at the plate and Jeff Suppan in a meatball-throwing funk. SHAWN GREEN hit the ball to the wall off of Suppan — that should have been enough of a message that Suppan was due to allow another hard line drive. If it were any other runner than Delgado (OK, or Castro), then maybe you send him. But not Delgado.

3. Carlos Delgado. With two outs and the first baseman playing behind him, Delgado has to get a better lead off of first and a better jump on contact. Shawn Green’s blast was both deep and high, and gave Delgado enough time to score. However, Delgado a) did not get a good lead; b) did not get a good secondary lead; c) did not get going at the crack of the bat; d) began to slow down as he reached third; and e) was completely winded as he rounded third. The last one may be the most infuriating issue — he didn’t score because he’s out of shape. I understand that Delgado is not a fast man, and is a big man, but that’s no excuse to be out of breath after running less than 200 feet. It doesn’t matter what size you are, you can get your lungs in shape to run 100 yards at full sprint without significantly slowing down at the finish line. Delgado was petered out before 60 yards — a disgrace for a man getting paid $14.5M to be an athlete, and who has plenty of time during the day to get his rhino-like body into shape. If Delgado’s in shape, and gets both an average lead and average jump, he scores on Green’s double, the Mets have a third run, and the game never goes to extras.

4. Guillermo Mota and Ramon Castro. I’m not sure who’s more at fault for the first-pitch changeup to Bill Hall, so they both get the blame. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a change-up to start off a hitter — AFTER you’ve already established your fastball in the inning. If Mota shook off the sign, then it’s Castro’s fault for not being more adamant about the stupidity of Mota’s selection. If both Mota and Castro felt the change-up was really the best idea entering the game — even though Mota throws a 97-MPH, sinking fastball — then it’s Mota’s fault for not concentrating intensely on getting that pitch down and away. In that situation, with a 2-1 game and the tying run in scoring position, the first pitch to a batter is the most important. If you can’t focus on making it an excellent pitch, you can’t be in the big leagues. And if you are trying to get it where it should have been — low and away — and it ends up where it did (up and middle-in), then again, you can’t pitch in the big leagues (or it’s NOT your best pitch and therefore shouldn’t be thrown in that situation).

5. Willie Randolph. Randolph made three poor decisions with the pitching changes. First, taking Glavine out when he did. Second, for taking out Heilman in the eighth, when Heilman has been the most effective reliever this side of Billy Wagner. Third, for bringing in the Mets’ least effective reliever of late — Guillermo Mota — to put out the fire. Mota has recently proven incapable of getting out of difficult situations, and it wasn’t fair of Willie to put him into that spot. I ALMOST would have rather seen Scott — dare I say — Schoeneweis (though, not really). Either you stick with Feliciano there, or tell Billy he’s got to get an old-school five-out save for his pal Tommy.

6. Tom Glavine’s kid. For wearing a David Wright jersey. Bad karma, kid.

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