Archive: June 10th, 2009

Mets Game 57: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 5 Mets 4

Per the script, the Mets jumped out to a 4-1 lead early. Unfortunately, they didn’t finish with the same exuberance.

It’s not a common occasion to chase Cole Hamels from the game after five innings, 11 hits, and 4 runs, and when you do, you want to put the hammer down and win the game. However, the Mets let this one get away.

Mike Pelfrey pitched six strong innings, but ran into trouble in the seventh, loading the bases without retiring a batter. Sean Green — who had retired the last 14 batters he faced — came on and did his best impersonation of Scott Schoeneweis a righthander could, allowing all three runners to score to tie the game. In his defense, Green got one ground ball that David Wright mishandled, resulting in a run, but still …

The game went eleven innings before the winning run crossed the plate — a Chase Utley solo homer, his second of the game and serving as the other bookend of the Phillies’ scoring.

The winning pitcher was Chan Ho Park. How did this happen?


The Mets looked like they might win the game in bottom of the tenth with two outs, after Fernando Martinez singled and David Wright drilled a line drive to right that would’ve driven in the winning run. But Jayson Werth pulled a Ron Swoboda, making a miraculous and daring, diving catch to end the inning.

Both Wright and Omir Santos were 3-for-5 on the day, and Mike Pelfrey was 2-for-3, including a double, a run and an RBI.

After pounding Hamels for 11 hits in the first five frames, the Mets managed just five hits in the final six innings against the Phillies bullpen. But, the Phillies had only three hits against the Mets’ bullpen in the final five frames — including Utley’s game-winning homer.

Bobby Parnell gave up Utley’s blast, and the three outs he collected were all very deep fly balls that likely would have been out of any other ballpark. Yikes.

The Mets left 16 runners on base. The Phillies left 5. ’nuff said. If I hear one more time about how Jerry Manuel’s “curveball drill” from spring training is helping the team drive in runs, I’m going to scream. (Never mind, I already did.)

In the sixth inning, Chase Utley stepped out of the batter’s box as Mike Pelfrey was about to pitch, and Big Pelf stared Utley down. Utley returned with a “go pound salt” response, and Pelfrey lost his cool — Utley completely got into his head over something that shouldn’t have been an issue. As a result, Pelf paid no attention to the runner, who took second base on the next pitch easily. It then took another minute before someone from the dugout finally told David Wright to go to the mound and try to calm down Pelf — since it was clear that Omir Santos wasn’t moving from his crouch. A few seconds after Wright began his trot to the mound, Jerry Manuel walked out of the dugout and made a trip. The entire event was painfully embarrassing, from Pelf losing focus, to Santos not walking out there, to Wright needing to be prodded, to Manuel’s do-nothing mumbling when he visited the mound, to the SNY AND WFAN announcers, both of which were clearly reading from talking points and expounding on Wright’s “leadership” and Manuel’s “great way with the players”. Although Pelfrey wound up getting an inning-ending groundout, that doesn’t erase the mishandling of the situation. Right there, it’s the catcher’s job to get off his duff and calm down his pitcher. If the backstop doesn’t move, then the “leader” has to get there immediately and take control of the situation. If only Keith Hernandez could have run down from the broadcast booth, instead of reading from David Howard’s cue cards ….

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Pelfrey getting emotional — but not so emotional that he loses focus. An athlete can learn to transform that energy into sharper focus. Pelf may get there some day.

Next Mets Game

The series finale on Thursday begins at 7:10 PM. Phillies killer Tim Redding faces Knick Knack Paddy Whack Jamie Moyer.


Keith: Latin Players Reason for Willie Randolph’s Firing

In case you missed it, Keith Hernandez was a guest on the Leonard Lopate Show yesterday afternoon, talking baseball and promoting a book he wrote with Matt Silverman called Shea Good Bye: The Untold Inside Story of the Historic 2008 Season.

The entire interview was enjoyable, and I recommend you give it a listen, as Keith spoke honestly on a variety of subjects. Two of them, specifically, caught my attention …


Mets Draft Steven Matz of Ward Melville

steven-matz-melvilleThe Mets did not own a first-round pick in this year’s amateur draft, having surrendered it to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in return for signing Francisco Rodriguez. However, they drafted a first-round talent with their late second-round (72nd overall) choice: local boy Steven Matz of East Setauket, NY.

Matz is a rangy, 6’3″, lefthanded pitcher with a 90-MPH fastball and good rotation on an overhand curve. He dominated while hurling for Ward Melville High School, striking out 81 in 44 innings, allowing just 11 hits. And so the legend begins … or will it?

How could a southpaw with those stats fall all the way to the 72nd choice? Signability, of course. The 18-year-old is committed to Coastal Carolina, where coach Gary Gilmore believes Matz “can do for this program and maybe more than what Kirt Manwaring did for it.”

That’s a telling statement. If you don’t know / remember Kirt Manwaring, he was a longtime MLB catcher from 1987-1999 and a one-time Gold Glove winner, and his MLB status put the CC baseball program on the map. (Ironically, Manwaring is also a New York native, from Elmira.) In other words, Matz is already being counted on to be “the face of the program”, and will need to be overwhelmed to renounce his commitment to Coastal Carolina — to the tune of one million dollars.

Will the Mets be willing to go that high? You’d have to think so, considering that, if they had a first-round pick, they’d have to spend at least that much. But, they’ve traditionally played the role of good soldier and followed Herr Selig’s slotting system, and the commissioner / MCP has reportedly cut the “recommended” bonuses by ten percent this year. A million bucks is probably above the “slot” for a late second round pick — will the Mets be so bold as to buck the Budsystem and shell out the dough to sign their next Scott Kazmir?

Considering that the Mets have been harshly criticized by several media pundits for their steadfast refusal to go against the slotting guidelines, they may break the rules this year for no other reason than to quiet the critics (not unlike last year’s media-driven play of promoting Nick Evans and Dan Murphy from AA as a response to Baseball America’s negative analysis of the Mets’ farm system). Hey, if that’s what it takes to sign a lanky local lefty with a promising future, so be it. The Mets need all the young arms they can find, and Steven Matz would provide both a legit talent and a good story to follow.