Browsing Archive September, 2007

Mets Game 137: Win Over Reds

Mets 10 Reds 4

Perhaps more important than the final score of this game was the status of Pedro Martinez. And though he may not have been dominating, he was masterful — and apparently healthy.

Pedro went five innings and 76 pitches before tiring, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks, striking out four. He relied almost exclusively on an assortment of changeups, including a hard sinking version, but did reach 90 MPH on the gun with his fastball. His backward strategy of using a bevy of off-speed pitches to set up the speedball was successful, and led to eight fly ball outs.

And though he allowed three runs, two of them came via bad luck in the first and the third was due to a rare error by Carlos Beltran in the fourth. To lead off the game, Josh Hamilton hit a swinging bunt that the Mets hoped would roll foul but stopped dead on the line for a cheap single. Alex Gonzalez then hit a liner to left that Moises Alou grossly misjudged by coming in for it, and the ball flew over his head for a double to put men on second and third. A sac fly by Junior Griffey drove in the first run of the game and single by Brandon Phillips scored the second.

A few minutes later, Alou made up for the gaffe by blasting a solo homer, making the score 2-1. An inning later, Luis Castillo bunted his way on and David Wright ripped a ball over the rightfield wall to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The Mets scored for the third straight inning when Paul LoDuca lifted a deep fly to the leftfield fence that scored Alou with a sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Adam Dunn walked and Scott Hatteberg hit a routine single up the middle with Dunn running on the pitch. Beltran charged hard for the ball and it skipped off him, allowing Dunn to score and pulling the Reds to within a run. Meantime, both Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo were asleep on the play, with neither covering second as Beltran’s throw sailed over the bag and was eventually stopped by Pedro backing up the play. Hatteberg took second on the overthrow but was stranded there when Pedro struck out Aaron Harang fort he second time of the day.

After Pedro left the game, the Mets busted it open. After Carlos Delgado led off the sixth with a strikeout, Alou hit a popup that landed between Griffey and Phillips in shallow right — Alou alertly hustled to second by the time the ball hit the ground. Shawn Green — who was robbed of an RBI single in the first thanks to a diving play by Hatteberg — drove a double to left to score Alou. Green moved to third on a grounder by LoDuca, and scored on yet another pinch-hit single by Ruben Gotay. That made the score 6-3 and chased Harang from the game. Gary Majewski came on to retire Reyes with a fly ball to center.

The Mets tacked on two more runs in the 7th when Beltran singled in Luis Castillo, then scored himself on an infield chopper by Green. The ninth run came in the 8th after Reyes chopped an infield single and scored on a double by Castillo. Carlos Delgado blasted his 22nd homer of the season in the top of the ninth for the tenth Mets run.

Notes

If there was anything about Pedro’s outing that had me concerned, it was his arm angle — which seems to be a shade below where it should be. This is a concern on two fronts; first, it means the ball will tend to be flat, and secondly, the angle could put a strain on his elbow (just ask Aaron Heilman). That arm angle was part of his problem with the curveball — he wasn’t getting on top of it. After coming all the way back from a shoulder injury, it would really stink to suffer an elbow problem next.

When Pedro struck out Aaron Harang in the second, it was his 3000th career strikeout. The classy Cincinnati crowd respectfully gave him an appropriate ovation.

David Wright had three hits including the homerun and is now around .320 for the year. If he keeps up this late-season tirade on NL pitching, he’ll have built a strong case for the MVP.

Alou also had three hits — all for extra bases and all against Harang — and scored three runs.

Carlos Beltran had a somewhat frustrating game early on, and expressed his frustration. After booting the ball in centerfield in the bottom of the fourth, allowing Adam Dunn to score all the way from first, he struck out swinging in the top of the fifth. In a rare expression of anger, he reared the bat behind his right shoulder and slammed it down hard onto home plate after the K.

I feel bad for Reds reliever Jon Coutlangus, who must endure a substantial amount of abuse for that last name — it sounds a lot like a bedroom favor.

The Braves beat the Phillies, sending Philadelphia down to five back and the magic number to 22.

Next Game

The Mets and Reds do it again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Oliver Perez pitches for the Mets against Matt Belisle.

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Pedro’s Road Back

Pedro Martinez awaits the call

Pedro’s first start of 2007 takes place in Cincinnati on Monday afternoon amidst excitement all around — from the media, opposing teams, Mets fans, Mets management, and the Mets players themselves. We’ve heard reports on nearly every Pedro action (other than his bowel movements) since he began his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery a few months ago. Will he have enough velocity? Will he have his command? Will he be able to battle, and get by on his wits? Will he re-injure himself? What if he doesn’t do well? What if he DOES do well? The questions are endless, and many of them may be answered by tomorrow evening.

While you wait for the first Pedro appearance of the season, check out an insightful article about Pedro’s emotional rollercoaster in a recent edition of New York magazine. Follow this link:

Pedro’s Late Innings

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Mets Game 136: Win Over Braves

Mets 3 Braves 2

Mets fan in Atlanta asks his team to sweep the BravesHow sweep it is !

After getting schooled by the Phillies, the Mets at least took something with them from Philadelphia — How to Sweep 101.

Tom Glavine pitched six innings, allowing only one run on five hits and three walks. He probably could have gone at least one more frame, but manager Willie Randolph pulled him after allowing a leadoff single to Kelly Johnson on his 100th pitch of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Glavine was clearly irritated with being taken out — nice to see, in my opinion. For once he wanted the fate of the victory in his hands and not the bullpen. (And can you blame him? He’d probably be a Cy Young candidate if not for ‘pen blowing several of his leads.)

Glavine struggled a bit in the first, loading the bases with one out, but wiggled out of it allowing only one run. That proved to be vital, looking at the final score.

Not one to escape from his offensive responsibility, Glavine tied up the game a few minutes later, driving a fly ball to center that scored Moises Alou. The game remained tied until the fifth, when Jose Reyes reached first on a popup that Yunel Escobar lost in the sun, and was driven in by a David Wright blast over the centerfield wall. That was one of the only mistakes Atlanta starter John Smoltz made all day, but it was the most damaging.

Jorge Sosa and Aaron Heilman each tossed scoreless innings, bridging the gap to Billy Wagner, who despite allowing a run, eventually closed things out to earn his 30th save.

Notes

Kind of sad to hear a louder ovation from the Atlanta crowd when Julio Franco stepped in to pinch-hit, than when Tommy Glavine left the mound for what could turn out to be the last time he ever appears as a pitcher in Atlanta. Maybe Tommy shouldn’t be kissing the butts of the Braves and their fans every chance he gets.

Wright and Alou had two hits apiece, the only Mets with more than one hit. Carlos Beltran smacked a double and also walked.

The Phillies lost in extra innings to the Marlins, dropping them back to four games again and sending the Mets’ magic number to 23. Time is running out for the phightin’ Phillthies … and with the Braves seven games behind, it’s time for Bobby Cox to start auditioning youngsters for 2008 — though it would be nice if they could take a few from Philly this week upcoming.

Next Game

The Mets go to Cincinnati for a three-game series to end their road trip. Pedro Martinez makes his 2007 debut against Aaron Harang in a 1:15 PM start.

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Mets Game 135: Win Over Braves

The Mets Mike Pelfrey delivers a pitch against the Braves in Atlanta

Mets 5 Braves 1

Mike Pelfrey got mad … and then he got even.

After unintentionally hitting Jeff Francoeur leading off the fifth, Pelfrey walked toward and stared down Francoeur, who barked about the plunking. The jawing match nearly set off a melee, as the Braves bullpen began making a move toward the playing field. It would have made an interesting fight — the 6’4″, 220-lb. Francoeur against the 6’7″, 200-lb. Pelfrey — but the Brooklyn fireplug Paul LoDuca buffered himself between them. It was awesome to see Pelfrey stand up to Francoeur, but the altercation clearly unsettled him, as he completely lost his command, walking Andruw Jones and going 3-1 to Chris Woodward. Woodward, however, was inexplicably bunting — Bobby Cox was the only one in the stadium who didn’t see Pelfrey struggling to get the ball over the plate — and popped out to David Wright. Pelfrey proceeded to walk the next batter, Scott Thorman, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to Willie Harris, but finally settled down to strike out Kelly Johnson — getting out of the mess with only one run scoring.

The Mets jumped on the board first, thanks to a second-inning double play hit into by Carlos Delgado that scored Carlos Beltran. In the top of the fifth, Delgado extended it to 2-zip by mashing a line drive into the rightfield seats that might have maimed someone had they not ducked. Two batters later, Lastings Milledge sent a second ball to the same section, extending the lead to 3-0. The fracas with Francoeur followed a few minutes later.

After Pelfrey set down the Braves in order in the bottom of the sixth — retiring two via strikeout — Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the frame with a solo homer over the wall in dead center. Beltran followed that up with a triple in the top of the ninth, scoring on a shallow sac fly by Delgado that finalized the scoring.

The bullpen supported and saved Pelfrey’s first win of the year in fine fashion. Guillermo Mota threw a scoreless seventh — his changeup floating all over the place, and Pedro Feliciano became a strike machine. Feliciano pitched two perfect innings, striking out five in earning his second save of the year. The final tally: 23 pitches, 18 strikes.

Notes

While the fifth inning was tough, Pelfrey also did a nice job working out of a fourth-inning jam — with two outs, men on first and third, and a full count on Brian McCann, Pelf threw a diving slider off the inside part of the plate, getting McCann to fish after it. It wasn’t the action of the pitch so much as the speed that caused the swing and miss — suggesting that if Pelfrey can ever consistently command his straight changeup, he might develop into a decent starting pitcher.

For the umpteenth time, we heard the play-by-play announcer state “… and no argument by Willie Randolph … ” After Delgado’s homer in the fifth, Paul LoDuca ripped a drive to left and was thrown out by Willie Harris in a close play that could have gone either way. LoDuca, obviously, thought it should have gone his way, and let the umpire know it — but Randolph never so much as leaned out of the dugout. That’s one thing I’ll never get about Willie — he rarely runs out to support his players. Even if he agreed with the ump’s call, you have to get out there and show the player you have his back. You also have to make sure one of your two catchers doesn’t get tossed halfway through the contest.

If you want to include LoDuca’s out, the Mets were unnecessarily retired three times for the second out in an inning at second base. Jose Reyes was picked off second in the sixth, and Ruben Gotay in the eighth.

Unless I wasn’t paying attention to his mechanics earlier in the season, Feliciano seems to have made a slight adjustment — breaking his hands slightly earlier in his delivery. I’m guessing this gets his hand out and back a fraction earlier as well, which in turn better synchronizes his release point with his stride. During his “slump”, Feliciano’s arm was dragging behind a bit, causing his arm angle to drop and his release point to drop as well. The result was his fingers were often on the side or underneath the ball at release — which causes breaking pitches to stay flat and the fastball to stay up. He looked much better today, staying on top of the ball and getting good downward action on his pitches.

Interesting aside by Joe Girardi during the FOX broadcast, commenting on Julio Franco’s greeting his old teammates in the visitor’s clubhouse prior to the game. Girardi noted that with the Braves and Mets trying to beat each other, it was a meeting that should have occurred after the game. On the one hand, I agree with Girardi. On the other, hard to hear it coming from a guy who gave helpful advice to the division rival Phillies’ Jon Lieber while managing the Marlins.

Jeff Francoeur is a big effing pu**y. To have the audacity to say something to Pelfrey after getting hit by a pitch was ludicrous — and an invitation to REALLY get hit on purpose in the future. Of course, that won’t happen, but “Frenchy” would find himself eating dust again if I were either Pelfrey or Pelf’s manager. Just take your base and shut your mouth, jackass. Pelfrey’s too erratic to be plunking people on purpose — and Francoeur is good, but not so important that he’d be the target of headhunting.

Braveheart

Anyone else annoyed and sickened by the Tom Glavine – John Smoltz lovefest perpetrated by FOX during the game? The first five minutes were mildly entertaining, but continuing the thing through both halves of an inning was ridiculous. Sunday’s matchup will be the third between the two pals, but FOX treated the affair like it would be the first. Also didn’t need to hear — again — how Tommy just adores Atlanta, and loved being a Brave, and blah blah blah. I half-expected the dual interview to end with Glavine and “Smoltzie” meeting on the pitcher’s mound and engaging in a long, deep, wet kiss. Hey FOX, since you’re late to the game on these things anyway, why not focus on the best-friendship between Delgado and Shawn Green? I’d much rather hear about the “good old days” in Toronto than in Atlanta.

Next Game

The Mets and Braves meet in the finale at 1:05 PM on Sunday. In case you missed the announcement by FOX, it will be Tom Glavine going against his Atlanta neighbor, longtime best friend forever and former teammate with the Braves when the Braves were great John Smoltz.

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