Browsing Archive June, 2008

Mets Game 82: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 7 Mets 1

Win one, lose one. Win one, lose one. This, my friends, is the pattern of a .500 team.

After splitting a four-game series with the Yankees, the Mets dropped the opener of another four-game set to the Cardinals in St. Louis.

John Maine was just awful, allowing five runs — three earned — on 7 hits and 3 walks in only 4 innings. Yes, two of those runs were unearned, but he pitched only four frames! One day after seeing Oliver Perez make a transformation for the better, the generally reliable John Maine seemed to make one for the worse.

The bullpen wasn’t much better. Carlos Muniz had another ineffective outing, giving up a two-run homer to Chris Duncan in his two innings of work. Scott Schoeneweis allowed three baserunners in his one frame, yet somehow managed to escape unscathed. Aaron Heilman was the final reliever for the Mets, and he also struggled through a scoreless inning. So much for the young starters pitching deeper into games and the relievers having specific roles, eh? Maybe Willie Randolph was smart to keep his mouth shut about such brilliant ideas.

Meantime, the offense was paralyzed by Kyle “Koufax” Lohse, who allowed just one unearned run in 7 innings. Ron Villone — a guy who I once took deep in high school (and therefore tells you more about his age than his ability) — pitched a scoreless eighth and Mark Mulder tossed a scoreless ninth in the first relief appearance of his career. It was also the first time Mulder appeared in a MLB game since Bill Clinton was President. OK, maybe not that long.

The only run scored by the Mets came in the fifth, when Andy Phillips rapped a single pinch-hitting for Maine, raced to third on a single by Luis Castillo, and scored when Rick Ankiel thought he was on the mound again and air-mailed an unnecessary throw over the third baseman’s head.


This was the fourth time this season that John Maine went only four innings. And we thought Oliver Perez was the guy we needed to worry about. Here’s an interesting fact: while Perez has pitched less than two innings twice this year, he otherwise has always pitched more than four.

Andy Phillips was DFA’d after the game to make room for Tony Armas, Jr., who will start tomorrow’s game vs. Todd Wellemeyer. Glad the Mets came to their senses about Phillips, who was redundant with Fernando Tatis around. Also about time they came to their senses about Armas, who had a 2.50 ERA in the PCL — a notorious hitter’s league.

Endy Chavez had another two hits, the only Met with more than one. Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, and Castillo all went 1-for-3. That was the extent of the excitement.


Mets Game 81: Win Over Yankees

Mets 3 Yankees 1

If only we could get Dr. Perez show up more often than Mr. Hyde.

Oliver Perez was masterful, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball, walking none, striking out 8, and allowing just one run. He couldn’t have been any better, and was the pitcher we saw only one other time in his last seven starts. Ollie got into a rhythm early and totally dominated the vaunted Bronx Bombers lineup.

And it was a good thing, too, because the Mets offense was unable to plate runs despite piling people on the basepaths. The Mets collected 12 hits and 3 walks, but scored only three runs. One came on a bases-loaded infield hit by Luis Castillo, another on a solo homer by Carlos Delgado, and the last on a sacrifice fly by David Wright. It wasn’t like the Yankees had great pitching, either. Darrel Rasner struggled through most of his five innings of work, and reliever David Robertson was far from impressive in his two frames.


The Mets finish the first half of their season 40-41. Interestingly, although they are one game under .500, and the first-place Phillies are five games over .500, the two teams are closer than their records would indicate — because the Mets have only two more losses than the Phillies’ 39.

Who the heck was this particular Perez today? He was pitching like a man possessed, a fearless, nasty S-O-B going right after Alex Rodriguez with 96 MPH heat on the hands. It wasn’t just the velocity, but the ferocity on his face and the confidence that was oozing from every inch of his body. I would love to see more of this psychopath against teams other than the Yankees. Can we safely surmise that Ollie is a guy who gets “up” for certain teams / special games? If he could drop everything from his mind and focus on being a madman against everyone, he’d be a 20-game winner, easy. In fact I would take a focused and intimidating Perez over Johan Santana most days of the week. He was downright scary.

Endy Chavez was 3-for-4 starting in left field. Ryan Church, in his first game back from the DL, picked up where he left off, going 2-for-4. Castillo had three hits and Jose Reyes two.

Billy Wagner made us all toss Tums down our throats en route to his 18th save of the year. Wagner allowed a leadoff single to Derek Jeter, move him to second on a wild pitch, then gave up an A-bomb to A-Rod which luckily fell just short of the left field fence and safely into the glove of Chavez. However, Wagns then settled down to retire Jorge Posada on a popup and struck out Wilson Betemit to end the game.


Mets Game 80: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 3 Mets 2

For the third straight time, Johan Santana has lost with Jerry Manuel as his manager.

It’s probably just a coincidence, but Santana has yet to win under the new leadership. The latest was a bit of a heartbreaker, as Johan didn’t pitch all that bad. Not great, not a Cy Young performance, but not that bad.

Unfortunately, Andy Pettitte was better.

The Mets could muster only five hits and two earned runs in Pettitte’s six innings, and had only one baserunner after he exited. Two solo homers — one by Ramon Castro, the other by David Wright — was the sum total of their offensive production.

Santana went six innings, walked an unusual 4 batters, allowed 4 hits, and struck out 8. But, he gave up three earned runs and that was the difference in the ballgame.


Wright and Damion Easley were the only Mets to draw walks in the game; Easley had two.

Andy Phillips started in left field. I’m not sure what else to say about that, except, you know your team is in deep doo-doo when Andy Phillips is your starting left fielder. I’m still trying to figure out that pickup, and drawing blanks. It’s on par with the “well we couldn’t sign Carlos Delgado so let’s trade for Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base.

Next Game

If the Mets lose on Sunday, it would be akin to a sweep since all three games were at Shea Stadium. Oliver Perez (or Mr. Hyde) goes against Darrell Rasner in a 1:10 pm start.


Mets Game 79: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 9 Mets 0

Talk about a day of opposites.

Hours after the Mets embarrassed the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, the Yanks spanked the Mets in Shea. Even steven.

Strangely enough, each team scored 15 runs by the end of the day. Go figure.

Pedro Martinez was awful, allowing 6 runs on 6 hits and 5 walks in 5 2/3 innings. Scott Schoeneweis didn’t do much to help the situation, giving up another three in his two-third of an inning. However, it didn’t matter, because whatever the Mets hitters were doing in the first game, they didn’t do it in the nightcap, managing only 6 hits — though they did draw 6 walks.


David Wright remained hot, going 2-for-4. Carlos Delgado did not, going 0-for-2, but he did walk twice. Jose Reyes was the only other Met with two hits, and Carlos Beltran hit a double.


Mets Game 78: Win Over Yankees

Mets 15 Yankees 6

Wow. Where to start?

Carlos “MetsToday Can Kiss My Butt” Delgado virtually doubled his run production for the month of June in one day, driving in a club-record 9 runs on three hits, including a double, a three-run homer, and a grand slam. That was more than the Mets would need, but David Wright and Carlos Beltran combined for another 6 RBI. Beltran scored four runs and Luis Castillo crossed the plate five times.

The lengthy lead was helpful to Mike Pelfrey, who struggled in nearly all of his five innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 walks, 4 earned runs and striking out 5. Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Heilman, and Carlos Muniz finished up the last four innings.


Wright was 4-for-5, all singles. Beltran also hit a homerun, his 12th of the year.

Heilman was the only pitcher on either team who did not give up a run; he worked one inning.


Curious Moves

Yesterday I caught wind of changes blowing in Shea, and wrote about it on MetsBlog. Already some of the moves have occurred, but I have to say I’m scratching my head.

For example, the DFA of Claudio Vargas. Yes, we found out why the Brewers let him go — he’s an eternal enigma, a guy with good stuff who may never get it together. However, he’s not on the Oliver Perez level, and in fact outpitched Ollie. Before sending him packing, you’d think Perez would get moved to the long man role and Vargas given a shot to start in his spot. In the four games he started, Vargas pitched into the seventh twice, once into the sixth, and the other only five. He wasn’t great, but he put up fairly solid numbers for a #5 guy.

Instead of flipping Vargas and Perez, Vargas has been DFA’d and Carlos Muniz has been recalled. I do like the move in that I’m assuming Muniz will be given the opportunity to take over the old Aaron Heilman role of 7th inning fireman. I’d like it even more if Heilman were moved into the long man role, with an eye toward pushing him back into the rotation eventually — even if eventually means 2009. It’s clear that Heilman is a much better pitcher when he starts “clean” innings (in other words, no inherited runners).

The second strange move was the acquisition of Andy Phillips, once the fourth-string first baseman for the Yankees (back when the Mets kept 5-6 second basemen on their roster, the Yankees did likewise with first sackers). Phillips doesn’t hit much for average, doesn’t have much power, isn’t too swift on the bases, and, ironically, hits righties better than lefties. What he has going for him is a good glove and versatility — he can play 1B, 3B, and 2B in a pinch. In other words, he’s a lighter-hitting version of Fernando Tatis.

The Phillips move wouldn’t bother me so much except I get the very bad feeling that his presence means the jettison of Trot Nixon — as Ryan Church will be returning this weekend and the Mets don’t need all these lefthanded-hitting outfielders. Now I realize Nixon hasn’t set the world on fire offensively, but he’s only had 27 at-bats and has been an absolute “charlie hustle” all over the field. If you’re going to bring in someone with some swat, OK, I don’t have a problem releasing Nixon. But Andy Phillips? Please. I’ll take Trot’s hardnosed play and all-out hustle over Phillips’s “good glove” any day of the week. The Mets have needed a guy like Nixon to show them how to win for some time, and I think it’s too early to cut bait with him. Let his hustle rub off on some guys first.

But, the writing is on the wall, if the start of Marlon Anderson last night is any indication. I love Marlon and HIS hustle, but his overly aggressive approach at the plate (3 walks in 86 ABs) is disconcerting — particularly for a guy at the Mendoza Line. Nixon has almost twice as many walks in only 25 at-bats. It’s these little things that can make a big difference. And no I’m not campaigning to cut Marlon instead … rather, I’d like to see both Anderson and Nixon stay on the roster for another week or so. The lefty-righty thing means nothing to me — especially when you’re bringing in Phillips, who as a righty is no better against lefties than any LH hitter. You want to cut a lefthanded hitter? Consider the cement-footed guy lumbering around first base. Institute a platoon of Marlon Anderson and Fernando Tatis at first and give Nixon a shot at left field.

Perhaps more confounding is the Mets’ continuing to ignore Val Pascucci, who has a 1.000 OPS in AAA, and Tony Armas, whose 2.50 ERA is a miracle in the PCL. Pascucci might have holes in his swing, and an iron glove, but he might also give the Mets a mild boost. We won’t know until he’s given a fair shot. Again, Andy Phillips instead of this guy? I don’t get it.

More moves had better be on the way. Andy Phillips ain’t exactly what I’d been looking for when I asked Omar Minaya to be “creative”. Get me Nelson Cruz, who is hitting .357 with 23 homers in 250 at-bats, a .437 OBP, and .714 SLG in AAA. Offer the Rangers Claudio Vargas, who can step right in to their starting rotation. Then I’ll feel like the Mets are trying to do something, rather than just spinning their wheels.


Mets Game 77: Win Over Mariners

Mets 8 Mariners 2

I’ll take another serving of that, thank you …

The Mets broke out for eight runs on only five hits — which to some might seem unusual. To me, and likely to you, the intelligent Mets fan, it makes perfect sense. For once, the Mets were patient, forcing a mediocre pitcher to put the ball over the plate. Novelist Miguel Batista could not do that consistently, walking five batters in 2 2/3 innings. It all began with Jose Reyes, who finally did his job as a leadoff hitter and worked the count in the first at-bat of the game. That six-pitch sequence, which culminated in Reyes strolling down to first base, set the tone for the game. Every batter afterward followed his cue and sat back, waiting for Batista to prove he could toss at least two strikes in a single at-bat.

That formula worked perfectly for David Wright, who hit a first-inning solo homer to put the Mets ahead 2-0, then slammed a two-run shot in the second to make it 4-0. After that second dinger, we wondered if he might hit nine before the night was over.

The offense continued to pile on the runs in the third frame, taking advantage of more free passes and defensive miscues to double the lead to 8-0. From there on it was up to John Maine to hold it up, and he breezed through six innings of five-hit ball, allowing two earned runs on the way to his eighth win of the season.


In addition to Wright’s two homers and three RBI, Reyes popped a three-run homer of his own. The other two runs were driven in by Luis Castillo and Marlon Anderson.

Aaron Heilman, Joe Smith, and Duaner Sanchez pitched the last three scoreless frames, allowing only one hit and two walks.

I attended the game at Shea as a guest of SNY — watched from their suite, in fact. Pretty cool, I have to say. Many thanks to Joe Pospisil for hosting me.

Here are some photos from my evening:

Next Game

The Mets have a day off and then host the crosstown Yankees for a four-game set, beginning with a day/night doubleheader. It should be an interesting litmus test for the born-again Mets. Pedro Martinez goes against Dan Giese in the opener at 2:05 pm, and Mike Pelfrey is scheduled to go against Darrel Rasner in the nightcap. Unfortunately I’m heading up to Cape Cod to hang out with the Hit Man, so the postgame recaps may come later than usual.


A True Fighter to Consider

We’ve been talking all year about how the Mets need to show more emotion, more spirit, more “fight”.

Well I believe I’ve found exactly that type of guy: Shawn Chacon.

According to ESPN:

Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely by the team Wednesday for insubordination after reportedly grabbing general manager Ed Wade by the neck and throwing him to the ground.

“I sat down to eat and Ed Wade came to me and very sternly said, ‘You need to come with me to the office,'” Chacon said. “I said ‘for what?’ I said ‘I don’t want to go to the office with you and Cooper.’ And I said, ‘You can tell me whatever you got to tell me right here.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, you want me to tell you right here?’ And I said, ‘yeah.’ I’m not yelling. I’m calm.”

Chacon said things went downhill from there.

“He started yelling and cussing,” Chacon said of Wade, according to a story on the Chronicle’s Web site. “I’m sitting there and I said to him very calmly, ‘Ed, you need to stop yelling at me.’ Then I stood up and said, ‘You better stop yelling at me.’ I stood up. He continued and was basically yelling.”

Chacon said that after Wade told him he needed to “look in the mirror,” it got worse.

“So at that point I lost my cool and I grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. I jumped on top of him,” he said. “Words were exchanged.”

Not since Lenny Randle punched Frank Lucchesi square in the face have the Mets had an opportunity to bring in an all-out, slugging bruiser. And hey, Chacon can fit right into the role left behind by Claudio Vargas.