Astros 5 Mets 4
The Mets finally got some offense, and had their ace on the mound. But their ace did not pitch like an ace.
Johan Santana was removed from the game after allowing five runs on a career-high 12 hits and 3 walks in 6 2/3 innings. He was bitten by the long ball in the fourth frame, allowing a two-run homer to opposing pitcher Mike Hampton and a near-homer to Jeff Keppinger only moments before Hampton’s blast.
Yet, it could’ve been worse, as Santana was constantly in trouble — it seemed that every inning the Astros loaded the bases, but one way or another, Johan got out of trouble. It’s never a good idea to skate on thin ice in a hot town like Houston.
Omir Santos went 3-for-4 and hit the Mets’ fifth homerun of the month. With a week left, there’s still an outside chance the team gets into double digits. My money is on the under.
Luis Castillo had four hits in his first four at-bats, but couldn’t get a fifth with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the 8th. That’s the way it goes for the Mets in 2009.
Both teams struggled to push home runs — the Mets left 10 on base, the Astros, 11.
The AT&T high speed pitch of the day (as of the 6th inning) was 93 MPH — both Santana and Hampton reached that figure. Is it me or is it bothersome that Johan Santana’s fastest pitch was equal to that of the broken-down, 36-year-old, nearly washed up Hampton?
For the young catchers out there, I hope you saw the high tag applied by Pudge Rodriguez to Jeff Francoeur’s face in the top of the seventh. The reason you aim for the face in that situation is because a) the body goes where head goes, so you can’t miss him / he can’t get around you; and b) by tagging in the face, there’s next-to-zero chance of the runner barreling you over. Unless you are a boxer, it’s a natural immediate reaction to be defensive, rather than aggressive, when something is coming into your face. Keith Hernandez (and Bob Ojeda in the postgame) neglected that factor when he suggested that Francoeur might have “made the wrong decision” by not trying to plow over Pudge — in reality, Pudge removed that option. Understand, however, that such a tag only works when timed right — you can’t stand there with the glove high for a few seconds, because then you remove the surprise and the runner has time to react; it has to be applied just before potential contact. Pudge played it perfectly.
Speaking of perfection, Angel Berroa is quickly showing why he’s been released 18 times in the last two months. He can’t field, he can’t hit, he can’t bunt, he can’t run, and he appears barely awake. I think he might be able to throw, but I’m not sure. He is the MLB equivalent of a lazy employee that clocks in, surfs the internet all morning, takes a long lunch, browses eBay all afternoon, and leaves five minutes before 5 PM.
Another note on Pudge: the propellerheads can talk all they want about OBP, OPS, BABIP, and every other number that makes the future HOFer look bad. But there is NO question who is in charge when he is on the field. Case in point: the 8th inning, when Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson visited the mound, and Pudge took over the conversation. The Mets, of course, don’t need such leadership — they need OPS. Good thing they passed on him in the offseason.
Is it me, or is Jose Valverde slowly evolving into Jose Mesa?
During the postgame, Bob Ojeda mentioned that the Mets have been losing games due to a failure of executing “the little things” since the BEGINNING OF THE SEASON. In other words, since the team was whole and healthy. We’ve been saying as much here, haven’t we? The only difference is that now, those little things are more glaring because you don’t have Carlos Delgado to bail you out with a three-run homer. But either way, it’s still bad baseball — the brand of ball the Mets have been playing for now three years running.
Despite the close score, my attention continually drifted out the window, where a mild lightning storm was occurring. I remember having better focus in the past … is it age, or this team?
Next Mets Game
Mets and Astros do it again at 7:05 PM. Young lefty Jonathan Niese makes a reappearance against Russ Ortiz. Russ Ortiz? First Mike Hampton and now Ortiz … who’s pitching on Sunday for the ‘stros, Freddy Garcia? Carl Pavano? Wayne Garland?