Archive: July 7th, 2009

Mets Game 82: Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 8 Mets 0

This game was so bad for the Mets for so many reasons … I’m not sure where to start.

I’ll try.

To begin, Mike Pelfrey was awful. Big Pelf completed three innings and allowed five runs (four earned) — that’s 3 innings short and one run too many to qualify for a “quality start”, for those who are wondering. The relievers following weren’t much better, but not that it mattered. After all, the offense scored zero runs, and MLB rules dictate that you must score at least one in order to win a ballgame.

The Mets did manage to collect four hits, though I don’t remember any of them. That doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, however.

Notes

The Dodgers did a phenomenal job of forcing Pelfrey to throw strikes. Even with runners in scoring position, most LA batters consistently took a strike from Pelf, and were rewarded by getting into comfortable hitter’s counts as a result.

We talk quite a bit here about “the little things”, and fundamentals, and how the Mets seem to be challenged on those subjects. For those who poo-poo concepts that can’t be measured by the propellerheads and their calculators, witness the fourth inning performance by Manny Ramirez. Immediately prior to his at-bat, Ramirez stood behind home and directed Rafael Furcal to slide on a play at the plate. As a result of Ramirez’s help, Furcal was safe with the Dodgers’ fourth run. Minutes later, with Orlando Hudson on second and none out, Ramirez hit a grounder to the right side that zipped through the infield, enabling Hudson to score the fifth run. Now understand something: Ramirez INTENTIONALLY hit the ball on the ground to the right side (I know this because it was an inside pitch, and Manny purposely took an inside-out swing). The idea behind such intention was to advance Hudson to third base — it was a bonus that he scored. These are just two of the immeasurable, invaluable “little things” that win ballgames. They also happen to be the type of things we rarely see the Mets execute.

I stand by my opinion that even with “the cavalry”, the Mets still would not execute these “little things” often enough to change the outcome of ballgames. This team was built to out-talent everyone, in spite of their fundamental flaws. But hey, keep believing the “woe is us” mantra if it makes you feel better. Whatever it takes to get you through the day.

Mets pitchers approached Rafael Furcal like he was Manny Ramirez. Maybe they got confused by the scouting reports. Furcal walked twice by pitchers who seemed to be pitching around him — in both cases loading the bases — despite the fact he’s hitting around .250 and never a threat to hit the ball over the fence.

Great work by Bill “Wizard” Webb in capturing an extreme close-up of Ramirez’s helmet on the ground just prior to Ramirez getting thrown out of the game for flinging his arm guard. A picture is worth a thousand words.

The Mets have gone 22 consecutive innings without a run, and three games without an extra-base hit. To push it a bit further, there has not been an RBI by a position player since last Friday. So, why haven’t we heard much lately about Jerry Manuel’s opposite-field curveball machine drill from spring training? Hmm …

Manuel says the Mets are in a “team funk”. Guess it’s time to bring in George Clinton and some Atomic Dogs.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Dodgers do it again on Wednesday night at 7:10 PM. Livan Hernandez goes against Met killer Randy Wolf, who will not be in sheep’s clothing. Ooops … actually the scheduled starters are Oliver Perez and Hiroki Kuroda … guess I was wishing away Ollie. And really, does it matter who is pitching any more?

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Mets – Dodgers: Quick Preview

brooklyn-dodgersThe Brooklyn Dodgers of Los Angeles come into Flushing with a 52-30 record, the best in MLB, with their guns a-blazing. They send three starters to the mound with ERAs under four, and none of them can be considered their “ace”. They have scored the third-most runs in the NL — 43 more than the Mets — and lead the league in team batting average (.272, or two points better than the second-place Mets). And they score without the longball — they have 64 HRs, which is 14 more than the Mets but far below average compared to the rest of MLB. Which means they play “small ball”, which happens to be the brand of baseball best suited to the vast expanse of Citi Field.

Oh, and they’ve accomplished all this without Manny Ramirez for three-quarters of their games. And Manny is back.

The only thing going for the Mets is the Dodgers have been “treading water” over their last ten games, with five wins against five losses.

Game 1: Mike Pelfrey (6-3, 4.26 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (5-5, 3.49 ERA)

Big Pelf has really been an enigma this year, mixing in starts like his last against Milwaukee (nearly 8 innings, 6 hits, no runs) with debacles like his June 4th start in Pittsburgh (3 IP, 9 hits, 8 ER). Which version of Pelfrey will show up tonight is anyone’s guess.

Kershaw, in many ways, is the lefthanded version of Pelfrey. The 21-year-old can be absolutely dominating at times, while looking lost at others. He’s induced as many as 12 ground balls in a game, and struck out as many as 13. Rarely does he get past the fifth inning, and he’s often his own worst enemy, particularly when it comes to bases on balls. Could this be any more fitting a matchup?

Game2: Oliver Perez (1-2, 9.97 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (3-4, 3.91 ERA)

The Thirty-Six-Million-Dollar Man returns to a Mets uniform in an attempt to keep his ERA from going into the teens. In four rehab starts covering 17 innings, Ollie allowed 17 hits, 11 walks, 2 homeruns, and 10 runs total (6 earned). However, he did strike out 18, so there’s that.

Perez faces Hiroki Kuroda, who is averaging 6 innings per start and sports a svelte 1.01 WHIP. How good is Kuroda’s control? He’s walked 9 batters in 48 innings. However, he’s been roughed up in four out of his last five starts — though, three of those came against American League teams.

Game 3: Livan Hernandez (5-4, 4.56 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-3, 3.49 ERA)

Can we glaze over Livan’s last start? I think so, considering that he powered through 7 innings in 5 of his 6 starts previous to Philly. Those days are going to happen, and with Hernandez, they’ve happened rarely (4 bad starts out of 16 is pretty OK for a scrap heap reject). In Livan’s last start against LA, he was on the wrong end of a 2-1 ballgame. If Joe Torre checks the stats prior to making out the lineup card, he may consider writing in Brad Ausmus (.323 lifetime vs. Hernandez) and Mark Loretta (.333), who along with Rafael Furcal (.333), Andre Ethier (.375), James Loney (.364), Casey Blake (.400), and Manny Ramirez (.600) are members of the Livan Hernandez Fan Club.

Wolf is the guy that all the Monday morning quarterbacks say the Mets should’ve signed instead of Oliver Perez. Well gee, thanks for that bit of afterward wisdom. Looking back, maybe the Mets should’ve signed him for no reason other than to prevent him from starting against them, as he’s become a Mets killer over the last few years. In his last start vs. the Mets, he held them to two earned runs — and that lineup included Carlos Beltran in the 3-hole and a red-hot Angel Pagan at leadoff.

Final Thoughts

Not much to talk about. The Dodgers are a better team than the Mets on paper, on the field, on the mound, at bat, and fundamentally. That doesn’t mean they can’t be beat. It does, however, suggest that the Mets will have their hands full.

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