Archive: August 30th, 2008

Mets Game 136: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 4 Mets 3

As usual, the Mets jumped out to an early lead, then slumbered. They scored two runs in the first, another one in the third, then went right to bed. Meantime, Mike Pelfrey pitched another gem, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. He left with a 3-2 lead, which we all knew would not last.

Naturally, the bullpen blew the one-run lead. Duaner Sanchez gave up a solo homer to Mike Jacobs to make it 3-3, and Jerry Manuel set up Aaron Heilman to fail in the ninth.


Go ahead, blame Aaron Heilman if you’re a “Heilman hater”. I blame Jerry Manuel, the “genius” who demanded on back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases. Tell me again why that’s such a brilliant idea? Oh yeah, it’s not — because when there’s a ground ball hit to a drawn-in infield without a force, it is just as easy to nail the runner at home via tag play as it is via force play. Loading the bases intentionally is one of the most illogical and senseless recent trends in baseball management — all it does is create a situation where the pitcher has no room for error. Completely idiotic.

I’m not saying Heilman would have gotten out of that jam. However, I don’t see the point in making his job more difficult by creating a situation where he CANNOT walk a batter. With the winning run on third base, the pitcher’s goal more than any other time is to make the batter hit a “pitcher’s pitch”. It’s difficult — close to impossible — to succeed in getting three outs that way with no margin for error.

I’m amazed at the stupidity of postgame reporters who were asking why Aaron Heilman threw so many balls, wondering if perhaps there was something wrong with his mechanics. Did you watch the game? Some of Heilman’s pitches missed by a lot, but some of the others were damn close. In fact I thought ball four to Hanley Ramirez could easily have gone either way — home plate umpire Jim Wolf was squeezing both sides all night.

Will some sabermetrician please remind Manuel and all the other “genius” managers out there that even the very best hitters FAIL 7 out of 10 times?

While the talking heads and knee-jerk pundits continue to berate the bullpen, how about we go back to my theory: score more runs! Yes, the Mets bullpen blows a lot of games. But they’re also handed too many opportunities to blow games. Again, I call for a math geek — please tell us how many times the bullpen was given a one-run lead or less? These games would be much easier to win if the offense would provide a few runs of cushion.

Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy were the only two Mets in the lineup with more than one hit.

Pelfrey hit Cody Ross in the bottom of the second, and Ross took issue with the action, sparking a bench-clearing non-brawl. It was clearly a mistake, so not sure why Ross was going crazy. Someone needs to check him for greenies. A few minutes after the teams returned to their dugouts, Pelf picked off Ross at first.

My vote for 2009 Mets manager: Lee Mazzilli. He’s the only guy who seems to understand how a bullpen works.

Next Game

The rubber match will be played at 1:10 pm. Pedro Martinez goes against Scott Olsen. Coverage will be on CW11, WFAN, and XM 183.


Mets Game 135: Win Over Marlins

Mets 5 Marlins 4

Wow … talk about dramatic.

As usual, the Mets scored first, but the Fish fought back to go ahead 2-1 in the third, and that’s the way the game remained until the final frame.

Then, Florida closer Kevin Gregg did anything but close. Gregg got two quick outs before allowing a single up the middle to Luis Castillo. David Wright followed with a single to left, and then Gregg hit Carlos Delgado to load the bases for Carlos Beltran. At this point I have to admit I was expecting Beltran to pop up or wave at three breaking balls. Instead, Beltran came through with his biggest late-inning clutch hit of the year, blasting a hanging slider into the right field seats for a super-clutch grand slam to put the Mets ahead 5-2.

At that point, you would think the Marlins would have rolled over like, um, dead fish. Instead, the dramatics continued.

Mets interim closer Luis Ayala began the ninth retiring two of the first three batters he faced, allowing a single to Jeremy Hermida. Hanley Ramirez then pushed Hermida to second on an infield single, and pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs singled in Hermida. Jorge Cantu followed with a 9-pitch, 5-minute at-bat that included a near three-run homer (it went foul) but concluded with a double that scored Ramirez. Surprisingly, pinch-runner Alfredo Amezaga was held up at third as Dan Murphy rushed the ball back in to the infield — and stranded there as the potential tying run when Wes Helms grounded out to Jose Reyes to end the ballgame.


Third inning, 1-1 game, David Wright on first with one out and Carlos Delgado hitting. Marlins have the shift on. Why in the world is Wright NOT stealing against Volstad/LoDuca on one of the first two pitches in that situation? As it was, he didn’t steal, Delgado bounced a grounder to Dan Uggla to force out Wright, and Carlos Beltran followed by ripping a single that would have scored Wright easily. LoDuca can’t throw out the garbage at this stage of his career, and should have been exposed at every opportunity.

Later in the game, Beltran was on first with Arthur Rhodes pitching and Matt Treanor catching — a better catcher but not a difficult lefty to get a jump off. Beltran stayed put, and Daniel Murphy stroked a single that sent him to third, where he was left stranded. Again, why not attempt a steal in that situation? After Murphy was Brian Schneider and then the pitcher, so it’s not as if you’re sitting back waiting for a homer. Little things like this win and lose ballgames — and if I hear Keith Hernandez say one more time that he likes the “aggressiveness” of Jerry Manuel’s team I’m going to puke.

Beltran is now five for his last nine, and 9-for-21 in the past five games. Is he finally going to put this team on his shoulders and carry them through a stretch run? He just might. Keep it going, Carlos!

Strange the way Luis Ayala is anointed the “closer” and then is allowed to work out of his own mess in the ninth. The other “interim closers” were pulled from the game at the first evidence of trouble. Glad to see a change in strategy — I’m tired of seeing five pitchers used in an inning to get three outs.

By the way, Ayala threw 32 pitches in that ninth inning. That said, who’s the Saturday night closer?

Oliver Perez allowed only one earned run and three hits over six innings, but he didn’t look good. His mechanics were atrocious, his release point all over the place, and the only thing consistent about his pitching was leaving the ball up and away against the righties (cause: opening up too early, dragging arm behind). Ollie walked five and was helped by an overly aggressive Marlins lineup. Hopefully it was just a bad day, and he’ll get himself back on track. If not, it might not be a big deal — his next start will be against the similarly free-swinging Brewers.

Next Game

Another 7:10 pm start on Saturday. A pair of 13-game winners — Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco — are pitted against each other.