Mets 6 Padres 5
Maybe Fernando Tatis IS the answer in the outfield after all.
Tatis blasted two homeruns, driving in the Mets’ first four runs, in leading the Mets to a much-needed victory over the Padres.
On the mound, Mike Pelfrey allowed only 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings, spreading out nine Padres hits and one walk. The runs scored on two solo homers — one by Kevin Kouzmanoff and the other by Adrian Gonzalez.
Luckily, the Mets were able to tack on two extra runs from sources other than Tatis — ironically, both from deep doubles off the bats of the “other” corner outfielders, Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. It would figure, since I publicly announced my lack of confidence in all three on MetsBlog about 24 hours before the game. But hey, if that’s what it takes, I’ll be happy to look the fool.
The ninth inning was an adventure, as Aaron Heilman began the frame with a 6-2 lead but exited the game with the score 6-5 and only one out on the board. He wasn’t helped by a poorly played Texas Leaguer behind second base that set up a three-run homer off the bat of Jody Gerut. However, Joe Smith and Scott Schoeneweis came to the rescue, getting the last two outs to save the win.
While we knew Billy Wagner was unavailable (he was put on the 15-day DL prior to the game), I would imagine that he would NOT have been called upon to start the ninth inning, since it wasn’t a save situation. That said, it’s curious that Heilman — anointed the “interim closer” by “interim manager” Jerry Manuel — was called upon to start the frame. If he’s the “closer”, why is he pitching in a non-save situation? Once again an inconsistency in Manuel’s supposed bullpen roles has been identified.
Regardless, Heilman did not pitch effectively, and nearly blew the game. Looking at his face after the Gerut blast, his confidence is shot. This has happened too many times, to the point where we must consider that late-inning relief is something he cannot handle — emotionally nor physically. This is not an indictment on Heilman’s character — not everyone has the gumption, thick skin, and “rubber arm” necessary to succeed as a setup man and/or closer. At the same time, he has great stuff that shouldn’t be wasted. So hopefully the Mets will smarten up and move him back to starting after this season.
Speaking of late-inning relief, my wife had an outstanding point: why wasn’t Eddie Kunz brought in to start the ninth? Since it wasn’t a save situation, the Mets had a four-run lead, and there were plenty of arms to rescue him, it appeared to be an ideal spot to give Kunz a shot. Remarkably, Kunz was warming up at the very end of the game, with Schoeneweis on the mound with two outs and a one-run lead. Presumably, Kunz would have come in to relieve Scho if Scho did not retire either Brian Giles or Adrian Gonzalez to end the game. Are you kidding me? So, you don’t bring in Kunz to start the inning with a cushy lead, but you’ll have him come in with the go-ahead run on base? Wild, crazy stuff.
In the third inning, the Mets had a chance to put a toll on Chris Young, as Mike Pelfrey led off with a 9-pitch at-bat before grounding out to second. Two batters later, rookie Daniel Murphy saw 9 pitches as well before walking. That’s 18 pitches between two batters. Unfortunately, the two veterans who hit in the inning — Jose Reyes and David Wright — both popped out swinging on the first pitch they saw. So what could have easily been a 25-30+ pitch inning, instead turned out to be Young getting very lucky after wasting a number of pitches and effort on the two least-experienced batters in the Mets’ lineup. In other words, the Mets let him off the hook. Little things like this are often the difference between a win and a loss, particularly in close ballgames.
In case you missed it, Nick Hundley is not related to Todd nor Randy, despite the fact he’s a backstop. And for the record, former MLB catcher Eric Munson is not related to Thurman Munson, either.
The Mets host the Friars for another 7:10 pm game on Wednesday night. Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start against Cha Seung Baek.