Padres 2 Mets 1
So much for last week. The Mets are back to … well, I try not to use expletives, as this is a family-friendly blog.
The Mets blew another one, making Randy Wolf look like Sandy Koufax. Wolf is not that good — the Mets’ hitters “approach” is godawful. Witness: second inning, when Carlos Beltran swung at the first pitch of the inning and hit a lazy fly ball to right for the first out, and Fernando Tatis swung at the first pitch of his at-bat to ground out weakly to short for the third out. In between the usually aggressive Damion Easley was smart enough to take a few pitches, and had a ten-pitch at-bat. All for naught, though, since Wolf still got out of the inning expending only a dozen pitches. Example two, fifth inning: the Mets are retired on four pitches. FOUR PITCHES! You can’t let a schlep like Wolf off the hook like that — make him work!
That’s exactly what the Padres did to the usually efficient Johan Santana, who unfortunately is NOT Sandy Koufax and therefore mortal. The Friars worked Santana for 100 pitches in six innings — by contrast, Wolf was only on pitch 89 with one out in the seventh. Remarkably, the Mets got nothing resembling a rally against Wolf until they FINALLY started taking some pitches in the sixth and seventh. Huh.
Unfortunately, in the big leagues, you can’t wait until the sixth inning to start using an intelligent plan of attack. Because by then your ace pitcher has been knocked out and you are down by a run.
Luis Castillo sat back on his heels and lollygagged a routine grounder in the first inning, and hustling Scott Hairston beat out the throw to earn an infield hit. It was an atrocious, sickening, inexcusable non-effort by Castillo. Luckily, it didn’t turn into a run, but it caused Johan Santana to work just a little bit harder to get out of first inning. After the inning, Santana sat right next to Castillo, gave him a glare and a few chosen words. Good for Santana, and shame on Castillo, who was extending the Carlos Delgado poison we talked about yesterday. Once again: WINNING IS NOT A SOMETIME THING, IT IS AN ALL-TIME THING. YOU DON’T DO THINGS RIGHT ONCE IN A WHILE, YOU DO THEM RIGHT ALL THE TIME. Thank you Vince Lombardi.
Toward the same point, interesting to see manager Charlie Manuel bench MVP Jimmy Rollins for jogging on a routine fly ball. Delgado and others have gotten away with such garbage all year, and all last year, without so much as a second look. Why can the reigning MVP be benched but not an overaged, underperforming hasbeen?
In this particular ballgame, did anyone wearing orange and blue play nearly as hard as Scott Hairston? Yeah, didn’t think so. Some guys really want to win, others go through the motions and expect to win.
Scary moment in the game came in the sixth when Johan Santana attempted a bunt and was hit in the left shoulder. To add insult to injury, because he offered at the pitch, it was called a strike.
Another scary moment came in the bottom of the eighth, when a fly ball nearly dropped on Fernando Tatis’ foot. Had that ball landed just a few inches closer, he would have had a fractured toe for sure. OK, I don’t mean to get on Tatis, as he’s one of the few Mets busting his butt all over the field. Shame, though, that he has to be playing out of position. Why is it so hard for the Mets to find legitimate outfielders?
In the seventh inning, with men on first and second and down 2-1, the best the Mets could send to the plate as a pinch-hitter was Robinson Cancel, who was making his first MLB at-bat. Do I need to repeat that last sentence? Nothing against Cancel, who worked hard in spring training and seems like a nice guy, but this is the best you can put up there in that situation? Where is Ramon Castro? Why are both Cancel and Abraham Nunez on the 25-man roster? These are the best bench bats available?
Speaking of taking pitches, I HATE when Luis Castillo shows bunt on pitches he’s taking all the way. Totally bush league … little league, in fact.
Aaron Heilman needs a sabbatical … and this coming from his biggest fan on the planet. When you come into a game and walk the .214-hitting Michael Barrett on five pitches, it’s time to take a break from the game. Send him to AAA and make him a starter already. He’s so screwed up, physically and mentally, that the only way he can be valuable is through reinvention.
And reinventing Heilman, by the way, is not turning him into Joe Smith. Whoever suggested he start purposely throwing from that crazy low arm slot should be shot.
In the ninth inning, Gary Cohen commented that “if the Mets come up short, they’ll look to the missed opportunities in the sixth and seventh innings, when they had the bases loaded.” Au contraire, mon frere … if they had any intelligence at all, the Mets would look to innings one through five, when all they did was swing recklessly early in the count, in making Randy Wolf look like a world-beater. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Final tally: Mets made the Padres throw 121 pitches. That’s what — a typical five and a third innings of Mike Pelfrey?
Funny how the last-place Padres win thanks mainly to outstanding, hustling, diving defensive plays, and aggressive defensive plays that were perfectly executed. This remains the difference between the Mets and their opponents — the levels of energy and effort and aggressiveness.
The Mets will attempt to not lose this series by sending former Padre Oliver Perez to the mound on Saturday against Cha Seung Baek. I hate to be pessimistic, but I’m not feeling good about Ollie, and feeling even worse about the Mets facing a guy they’ve never seen before — especially with their currently lousy lack of a game plan on offense. There’s a very real chance that the Mets get swept in San Diego this weekend — and they have only themselves to blame. You can’t “turn on” and “turn off” your effort — this is the big leagues, and 100% effort, focus, and intelligence is necessary 162 times per year. It’s getting very near time for a housecleaning — players and management included.