Archive: June 2nd, 2008

Mets Game 56: Loss to Giants

Giants 10 Mets 2

Oliver Perez received a standing ovation from the AT&T Park crowd in San Francisco when he exited the game. Unfortunately, he managed only one out and left a 6-0 deficit behind him as he walked into the dugout in the first inning.

While I have been very pleased with the spirit, energy, and play of our Mets recently, and I have newfound confidence in their ability to come back before “calling it in” … falling behind by six runs in the first inning is an awfully tough mountain to climb.

Let’s just scratch this one off and move on to Tuesday.

Notes

Is Carlos Delgado injured? I’m serious. Is it possible he has an artificial leg? I’m only half-serious. He ripped a ball to the wall in right leading off the second, which Randy Winn didn’t even react to because he thought it was going over the fence. A good five seconds later, Winn entered the TV camera’s line of vision, and Delgado was barely halfway to second base. I didn’t expect him to get a triple, but a morning-jog pace is a little ridiculous there. Later in the inning, Jose Reyes smoked a ball down the leftfield line for a double, and you could have timed Delgado from second to home with a sun dial. I was seriously concerned that Delgado might not reach home plate before passing out — he was going even slower than the morning jog pace; it was more like, “Sunday stroll”. With two outs, and crazy Reyes zipping around the bases, a runner HAS TO HUSTLE and make sure his foot touches home plate as soon as possible, in case Jose (or any runner) overslides a bag or gets caught trying to take an extra base. If Delgado is not nursing an injury, then maybe his pants are too heavy.

Speaking of slow-poke, he’s right back to his first-pitch swinging. He did it in the third with men on first and second, which is acceptable if he thought he could put the ball over the fence (he popped up to shortstop). However, he did it again leading off the eighth, against Billy Sadler — a pitcher he’d never faced before — with the score 10-2. Again, he popped up to shortstop. Please, someone tell me, what exactly was Delgado’s plan in that at-bat? To pad his stats with a solo homer? Did someone tell him a ball in McCovey Cove was worth two grand slams? Is he that selfish, or just plain dumb? It may seem a small, meaningless detail in a game long lost, but it is these little things that when left alone can fester and infiltrate an entire team. Willie, please sit this guy before he starts re-spreading the poison!

In the very next inning, Jose Reyes followed Delgado’s “lead”, hacking at the first pitch offered by Sadler and sending it into the leftfielder’s glove. Again, I know the game was lost a long time before the ninth, but that doesn’t mean you stop playing correctly. Playing smart, fundamental baseball is not something you turn on and off — it is a habit, and something you do all the time, regardless of the score.

Claudio Vargas did an outstanding job after taking the ball with one out in the first. He pitched four and two-thirds scoreless innings, allowing only three hits, no walks, and striking out four.

On the other hand, Carlos Muniz pitched not so outstanding, constantly falling behind hitters and allowing four runs in his one and two-thirds. It has to be difficult going from AAA, one-inning closer to MLB mop-up guy.

Next Game

The Mets will regroup and try again at 10:10 pm EST. Pedro Martinez makes his long-awaited return to the mound against Barry “Big Bust” Zito.

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Turning a Corner?

I’m afraid to say it, because the last few “signals” were bluffs, but …

… are the Mets finally turning the corner?

The immediate response to “The Meeting” between the Wilpons and Willie Randolph was a lifeless, lackluster loss to the Marlins — after gaining a 3-2 lead, no less. Since that game, however, it’s as if a new set of individuals has put on the orange and blue uniforms. Or, rather, the individuals have exited, and the team has formed.

For the past week, the Mets have played with obvious spirit and fire. They have played fairly sound baseball, save for a few physical errors. They have worked the count as a team for the first time in a year. The struggling veterans are being benched in favor of anxious, hustling reserves. Those same veterans are working with the hitting coach on improving their performances. The bullpen has been spotless, except for five unfortunate minutes of an Aaron Heilman appearance. Bunts are being placed. Runners are stealing and taking extra bases. Come-from-behind wins have become routine, rather than a rarity. For the first time all year, it is the Mets jumping ahead of, and burying, an opponent early on in the game.

Willie Randolph is smiling, and joking around.

A week ago, there was tension, and from my perspective, frustration in watching the Marlins, the Braves, and the Phillies all pass by the Mets in the standings. I’d see the scoreboard and mentally calculate the space between them and the Mets, who were spiraling downward. Today, though, I don’t care at all about anyone other than the Mets. It doesn’t matter — right now — their place in the standings. I’m watching the Mets and enjoying myself, and getting fully “caught up in the moment”. I’m focused on the Mets and the Mets only because I know if they continue to play the way they’re playing, it’ll “all come out in the wash”.

But for a moment, let’s crawl out of our microcosm — Metsocosm? — and look at the schedule ahead.

Right now, the Mets have momentum, and are going into a three-game series with the Giants followed by a four-game set in San Diego. Those two clubs are struggling mightily, and fighting each other to stay above the Rockies, who are in the cellar. In other words, there couldn’t be a more opportune time for the Mets to turn around their season and make up for the first two months of the season.

That’s not to say the Mets can just show up in San Francisco and San Diego and expect those teams to roll over — quite the contrary. If they can keep up the energy and the consistent execution they displayed over the last six days, they could come home looking down at the rest of the NL East, instead of up at them.

Let’s hope Oliver Perez and not Mr. Hyde shows up tonight, and keep that momentum going for Pedro’s first start since the cruel joke played on him on April Fools’ Day.

That light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible.

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Mets Game 55: Dodgers

Mets 6 Dodgers 1

This time, the Mets didn’t need to come from behind late in the game. Instead, they took an early lead and held it.

The Dodgers got on the board first, as Juan Pierre led off the game with a bloop double and scampered home a few moments later on a Matt Kemp single. However, that turned out to be the last time a Dodger crossed home plate, as Johan Santana threw up zeroes the rest of the way.

The Mets evened the score in the bottom of the first, then exploded for another five runs in the third off starter Hiroki Kuroda. David Wright drove in Jose Reyes for the second time in three innings to take the lead, and both Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church blasted homers to put the game away.

Santana didn’t have his best stuff, and seemed to labor through most of the contest. But when it was all said and done, he pitched 7 2/3 innings, gave up one run on 6 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 6. He left the game in the eighth with two outs and the bases loaded, but Scott Schoeneweis came on and retired James Loney to end the threat and the inning. Pedro Feliciano pitched a perfect ninth to close out the win.

Notes

I can’t wait until the summer heats up and we see the real Johan Santana. He’s nowhere near the top of his game yet, and he’s still pretty darn good.

Ryan Church picked up right where he left off before his head injury, enjoying a three-hit game. He ripped a single, tomahawed a high fastball over the rightfield fence and blasted a double over Matt Kemp’s head in centerfield.

David Wright has officially caught fire. He was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and is now batting .293. He was 7-for-15 in this four-game series with 2 HR, 2 doubles, 6 RBI, and 5 runs scored.

Wright and Luis Castillo pulled off a spectacular double play in the top of the sixth. I can’t explain it, you have to see it.

Next Game

This is my least-favorite week of the year — the West Coast swing, with games starting around the time I’d rather be tucking myself into bed. The Mets jumped on a flight after this game and headed to San Francisco to begin a three-game series against the Giants. Oliver Perez pitches against Jonathan Sanchez in a 10:15 pm EST (yawn!) start. Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start Tuesday night’s contest.

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