Cubs 9 Mets 5
Jon Niese was spectacular through his first inning and two-thirds, showing exactly why he was an “untouchable” at the trade deadline. However, he started to falter soon after, and the bullpen couldn’t get into the game quickly enough to keep it close.
Niese allowed 6 earned runs and was removed after allowing a grand slam homer to opposing pitcher Jason Marquis in the fourth (I think Marquis pulled similar two-way feats playing in the Staten Island little league). Nelson Figueroa didn’t fare much better — I’m guessing he didn’t have enough time to properly warm up — and by the time the inning ended the Cubs were up 7-2 and the Mets lost their enthusiasm.
But, our boys from Flushing did garner a bit of energy in the bottom of the ninth, rallying against lights-out reliever Carlos Marmol. It was nice to see, but too little, too late.
Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and Ryan Church each had two hits apiece. Church and Delgado also walked twice each. However, for their combined eight times on base, only one run was scored, by Delgado on a wild pitch.
The Mets left a total of 11 runners on base.
Not sure why Ramon Castro didn’t start against Marquis, considering his .455 career average against him (Schneider was 1-for-17 against Marquis going into the game). I guess the Mets’ firewall blocks Jerry Manuel’s PC from sites like ESPN, which make stats like this readily available 24 hours a day. Who knows, maybe Castro would have driven in four or five runs.
Luis Castillo may keep Aaron Heilman alive … the Shea fans certainly would like to murder Castillo before they hang Heilman. Luis grounded into a DP, almost grounded into a second one, and made the last out during the Mets’ ninth-inning rally. Not sure why a pinch-hitter wasn’t brought in for Castillo in the ninth. I guess the desperation that causes all the relief pitching changes doesn’t necessarily apply to the offense.
Kind of funny to see Joe Smith warming up in the bullpen with two outs in the ninth, down by five. Surprised Scott Schoeneweis wasn’t tossing next to him.
If there was a silver lining in this game, it was the fact that the Mets got to Marmol, and forced an appearance by Kerry Wood. Chances are we won’t see either of those relievers on Tuesday.
Tottenville alum Jason Marquis wasn’t the only local boy who done good in this game — former Bergen Catholic standout Mark DeRosa went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. DeRosa would have had a fourth hit if not for a Gold Glove caliber catch by Carlos Beltran.
The Mets and Cubs do it again at 7:10 pm on Tuesday. Ace Johan Santana takes the mound for the Mets against Sean Marshall. Originally, Rich Harden was supposed to make this start but Cubs manager Lou Piniella moved things around. On the bright side, it appears to be a “gimme” for the Mets. On the other hand, Harden will now start against Pedro Martinez in the series finale. Ouch.