Astros 5 Mets 4
Billy blew another one.
Handed a two-run lead to protect, Billy Wagner was tagged with his seventh blown game of the season after giving up a two-run single to Geoff Blum to make it four-all.
Johan Santana allowed one run on 3 hits and 2 walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out 3 and hitting 2 batters. It was a valiant effort, but he walked away with another no-decision.
The bullpen, however, couldn’t hold down the fort. In addition to Billy Wagner’s blown save, Scott Schoeneweis allowed a solo homer in the eighth, and Duaner Sanchez was darn lucky to escape the seventh inning without giving up a run.
The two runs scored in the bottom of the ninth came almost simultaneously. Mark Loretta misread the hit by Blum and retreated to third base, while Hunter Pence was racing around from second at the crack of the bat. Pence was only inches behind Loretta as the throw came home, and scored a millisecond after Loretta crossed the plate. Loretta plowed into catcher Ramon Castro in an ugly half-slide, half fall that knocked the ball out of Castro’s glove and Castro out of the game.
Castro was diagnosed with a “mild ankle sprain” by the crack medical staff of the NY Mets.
Jose Reyes went 2-for-5, marking his fourth straight multiple-hit game. The only other Met with more than one hit was Damion Easley, who was 2-for-3 with a walk and 2 RBI.
Rookie Dan Murphy started in left field — only the fifth time in his life he played the position — and batted sixth, sandwiched between Fernando Tatis and Damion Easley. He rapped a base hit in first MLB at-bat, and scored moments later when Damion Easley knocked one over the fence. Later, Murphy make a spectacular, jumping catch on a fly ball deep to left and then doubled up Pence on second with a perfect throw to save Duaner Sanchez from a big inning.
Murphy’s stance and stride remind me a bit of George Brett. Wouldn’t it be spectacular if he can come close to Brett’s career? He doesn’t swing like Brett though … Murphy hits more off his back foot, and tends to move his hands forward too quickly, whereas Brett kept his hands back longer and had a full weight shift (a la Hank Aaron), often making contact with all of his weight on his front foot.
Sanchez continues to look uncomfortable and lacking confidence — not to mention his lack of both speed and command. His changeup was either way off the plate or high in the zone, and he seems afraid to challenge hitters. Gary Cohen mentioned that Sanchez is still suffering from a bruise on his right leg, the result of line drive a while back. I’m sure he’s also affected by not pitching for two years — his endurance is sure to be an issue through the end of the season.
Kaz Matsui continues to destroy the Mets — he hit a homerun and a triple in this game and a homer the night before. He’s now hitting .480 since he shed the orange and blue. Not sure what he feels he needs to prove to the Mets, they did after all give him every chance in the world to succeed. Maybe the Mets should reacquire Kaz and Jeff Keppinger to platoon at second base.
What a surprise, Aaron Heilman was used again — and was nailed with his second loss in as many nights. He looked exhausted from the first pitch he threw, and it was no surprise that he gave up a walk to Lance Berkman and a hit to Carlos Lee. Yes, his velocity was fine (96 MPH), but he was reaching that speed through compromised mechanics that affected his command. Heilman has appeared in 6 of the last 9 games and 10 of the Mets’ 15 since the All-Star break. But then, the rest of the relivers have been asked to shoulder a similar load — and we’re wondering why the bullpen is breaking down?
The Mets need to add at least one if not two arms to the roster right away — maybe they can DL John Maine and Sanchez.
I’ll never understand the “logic” behind walking the bases loaded against the home team in extra innings of a tie ballgame. But then, I rarely agree with ANY intentional walks. Pedro Feliciano was ordered to walk the righthanded-hitting Hunter Pence with one out and runners on the corners. Why not pitch to him? A ground ball might produce a double play to end the inning. Pence is hitting .282 vs. lefties, which means there’s at least a 72% chance he’ll make an out. Loading the bases only puts more pressure on the pitcher to make perfect pitches to the next batter. Feliciano had no room for error once he got to three balls on Darin Erstad, who fouled off a few pitches before delivering the game-winning sac fly.
The Mets try to avoid the sweep by sending Oliver Perez to the mound against newly acquired Randy Wolf. Perez subs for the ailing John Maine, who is recovering from a “mild strain of the rotator cuff”. Game time is 2:05 pm.