Archive: June 9th, 2009

Mets Game 56: Win Over Phillies

Mets 6 Phillies 5

Johan Santana tried to give this game away three times, took it back once (with his bat!), and in the end wound up a winner.

Fresh off the harsh criticism of Larry Jones, who termed the park “a joke”, Citi Field played like Fenway Park on Tuesday night, as seven big flies found the seats.

The Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the game thanks to homers by David Wright and Carlos Beltran, but the Phillies fought back with four of their own on “taters” by Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Jimmy Rollins.

However, the Mets rallied in the sixth, with Johan Santana delivering the key hit, a two-run double to right that tied the game (it was an old-school “slash” / “butcher-boy” show-bunt-but-swing play). Moments later Alex Cora ripped a single up the middle to score Omir Santos with the go-ahead run.

Ryan Church blasted a solo shot into the homerun apple beyond the centerfield fence to provide an insurance run, and Santana cashed in that policy immediately, yielding a homer to Chase Utley to lead off the top of the eighth.

Bobby Parnell came in relief of Santana and gave up a single to set the stage for Pedro Feliciano, whose first pitch resulted in a double play and fourth pitch finalized the inning. Talk about efficiency.

As usual, K-Rod kept things interesting but ultimately earned his 16th save of the season.


Johan was none too happy about being removed from the game in the 8th after giving up a homer to Chase Utley. He held the ball up to Jerry Manuel’s face and expressed his protest, though I’m not a lip reader and couldn’t make out what he said. ** UPDATE ** Apparently, Santana said to Manuel, “I am a man!”, though Jerry wasn’t sure what exactly that meant. Maybe Johan said it in Spanish, and really meant “mensch“, but something was lost in the translation?

Rollins came into the game hitting .222, but collected three hits and two RBI. This combined with a two-hit game on Sunday suggests he might be coming out of his season-long slump. Great timing, J-Roll … you couldn’t wait a few more days?

Everyone in the Mets lineup had a hit except leadoff man Luis Castillo. David Wright and Alex Cora were the only Mets with more than one (they each had two).

Is K-Rod earning his salary? Sixteen saves and only two earned runs in 28 innings pitched.

Next Mets Game

Game two begins at 7:10 PM on Wednesday evening. Mike Pelfrey faces Cole Hamels.


Brad Lidge Placed on Disabled List

brad-lidgeThe report is that Phillies closer Brad Lidge has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained knee.

Catcher Paul Bako has been promoted to replace Lidge on the 25-man roster.

I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the Mets. On the one hand, the Phillies are without their closer. On the other hand, their closer was blowing games for them, and seemed on the brink of a complete breakdown. I would have felt a lot better about the Mets’ chances down three runs going into the ninth with Lidge looming on the mound, as opposed to Ryan Madson. Madson is no Mo Rivera, but right now he’s a heckuva lot more reliable than Lidge.

If anything, it pushes Madson into the ninth, and out of the “bridge” from innings 6-8. Though, the men left on the bridge have been performing well — Scott Eyre, JC Romero, and Clay Condrey all have ERAs below three. The weak links that could become exposed in the sixth or seventh frames are Chad Durbin, Jack Taschner, and Chan Ho Park, who was recently demoted to the bullpen after failing in the starting rotation.


Quick Preview: Mets vs. Phillies

phillies-oldlogoNote: this series has importance.

Game One: Johan Santana (7-3, 2.00 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (4-0, 2.47 ERA)

Santana has looked more like a mere mortal over his past few starts, but still has been stellar. J.A. / JA Happ still refuses to put a “y” at the end of his first name, but is much improved in comparison to the rookie the Mets saw last year. His WHIP is a Santana-like 0.98 and he has a 1.16 ERA away from Citizens Bank Park. If Happ can keep his cool, this could turn out to be a pitchers’ duel.

Game Two: Mike Pelfrey (4-2, 4.85 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.40 ERA)

Big Pelf is coming off the worst start of his career, but I’m not worried — I’m chalking it up to the unusual start time (12:30 PM) and being due for a bad game. Hamels has struggled all spring with a nagging injuries to his ankle and arm, and is not the lights-out guy he was last year. That said, and with Pelfrey looking great prior to his last outing, suggests that this will be a more even matchup than one might expect.

Game Three: Tim Redding (0-2, 6.97 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (4-5, 6.27 ERA)

The finale pits two struggling veterans who offer no clue as to how this game might turn out. Redding is coming off one of his two best performances of the season, but nonetheless seemed ever on the brink of disaster. Moyer was awful in April and May, but was very good in his last two outings, allowing a combined 3 runs on 7 hits and no walks in 13 innings against the Dodgers and Nationals. What worries me is Moyer’s remarkable ability to pull a gem of a game out of nowhere … one of those games that has a quick but uneventful rhythm, where before you know it, it’s the 8th inning and the Mets are down 2-1. The expanse of Citi Field will contain the fly balls of Howard, Utley, etc., but what concerns me more is the Phillies’ ability to put the bat on the ball against Redding, who has not been hurt by the long ball but rather a multitude of line drives and grounders that find holes.

Closing Thoughts

Much is being made of the fact that the Phils are sending three lefties to the mound in this series, but I don’t see it as a major issue one way or the other — if anything, it means that Gary Sheffield will be somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and that’s a good thing for the Mets.

The Phillies are coming off a four-game split Los Angeles, one that could have been a sweep for Philly had closer Brad Lidge not blown the middle two games in heartbreaking, emotionally draining fashion. Lidge’s confidence is visibly shaken, and he’s leaving fat, flat sliders over middle of the plate, and his ERA has swelled to 7.27. In many ways, he resembles the pitcher Houston couldn’t wait to get rid of in 20006-2007, and Charlie Manuel may elect to defer to Ryan Madson in a ninth-inning save situation. If Lidge does remain the closer, this series could be a turning point one way or another for veteran righthander.

More good news for the Mets is that Jimmy Rollins is still struggling — mightily. He’s hitting only .222 with a .261 OBP and is sinking further and further down the lineup. It’s gotten to the point that Eric Bruntlett is taking at-bats from him.

Thus far this year, the Phillies’ success has been due to solid starting pitching, but Brad Lidge has singlehandedly removed that factor from the equation recently. The pitching matchups look pretty even on paper, and if Lidge continues to struggle, the Mets have a definite edge, particularly if these games are as low-scoring as I suspect. Considering the players missing from Mets’ roster, they’re running into the Phillies at a good time, in the right place.


Mr. Magoo is a Mets Fan Too

Actually, he’s not. But Metsilverman cites Mr. Magoo while breaking down the Ramon Castro – Lance Broadway trade. He also notes that Keith Hernandez will be on the “Leonard Lopate Show” on WNYC-AM (820 AM) today at noon.

Bob Raissman calls out Keith Hernandez for not calling out Carlos Beltran’s lack of hustle. (Hmm … where did I read that before?) As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

TheRopolitans puts an end to the David Wright Homerun Myth. For now, at least.

Future Mets manager Wally Backman is interviewed on Jorge Says No!