Archive: September 13th, 2009

Mets Game 144: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 1 Mets 0

Well, at least they weren’t swept. Though, they were mathematically eliminated from winning the NL East (the Mets are now 20 games behind the Phillies with 18 games left to play).

Tim Redding continued his remarkable ability to mystify the most powerful offense in the National League, holding the Phillies to one measly run on three hits in six innings. However, Pedro Martinez was just a little better, shutting out the Mets through eight frames — allowing six hits, two walks, and striking out seven in an inspiring and emotional 130-pitch effort.

You remember Pedro — the guy who insisted he was finally healthy and practically begged the Mets to give him one more year of pitching in New York?

With Brad Lidge remaining on the bench, the Mets had little chance of coming back in the ninth. Instead, Ryan Madson came on to earn his eighth save of the season.

Notes

The Mets scattered seven hits, more than doubling the Phillies’ three. But hits are irrelevant if they don’t score runs.

Pedro’s change-up was thrown as slow as 75 MPH and as fast as 87 MPH. He was 90-91 on most of his fastballs. His 125th and 126th pitches of the night were clocked at 91 MPH.

Pedro is now 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA and has yet to “disrupt” the Phillies clubhouse with his “poisonous” personality — which was predicted by such “experts” as Seth Everett and Don LaGreca. (The Phillies are 7-0 in his starts.)

Once Jeremy Reed replaced Fernando Tatis in left, joining Carlos Beltran in center and Cory Sullivan in right, the Mets fielded perhaps the best defensive outfield combination in their history.

Did anyone else see Kevin Burkhardt competing against Roger Federer between games? The commute would’ve been a lot easier if the Mets were playing at home.

Today’s Baseball Lesson

With two outs and Pedro on pitch #130, Dan Murphy broke for third on a ball in the dirt, only to be thrown out by Carlos Ruiz. Youngster, take heed of this baseball absolute: NEVER, EVER make the first out or the third out at third base. EVER. The reason you don’t make the last out at third is because you are already in scoring position at second base, and with two outs you can only score on a hit. OK, if you’re on third base there is a chance you can score on a wild pitch, but those are fairly rare (except at the very low levels) and they don’t occur often enough to make it worth the gamble of advancing to third — it’s a low-percentage play. In contrast, with less than two outs, it’s OK to be more aggressive in advancing to third because you can score on an out (i.e., sacrifice fly or ground out) — your options are greatly broadened. Dan Murphy standing on second base with two outs and standing on third base with two outs is essentially the same situation — in either case your most likely chance of scoring is on a ball hit to the outfield that falls safely.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have Monday off, and will travel to Atlanta to begin a three-game set with the Braves. Game one begins at 7:00 PM and pits Pat Misch against Tommy Hanson.

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Mets Game 143: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 5 Mets 4

The Mets magic number is down to one; that is, any combination of one Mets loss or one Phillies win mathematically eliminates them from the NL East Championship. Though, my calculations may be incorrect.

Despite another ninth-inning rally against the Phillies bullpen, it was too little, too late for the Mets.

John Maine made his long-awaited return, and gave up one run on two hits and a walk in three innings; he threw 57 pitches. Not a terrible outing, but unfortunately bad enough to be saddled with the loss.

Tobi Stoner relieved Maine but was hammered by the Phillies, who blasted two homers and scored three runs in his three-inning stint. Lance Broadway allowed the fifth Phillie run, but it could’ve been a lot worse — he wiggled his way out of a bases-loaded situation in the seventh without yielding a run.

The Mets, however, couldn’t do much against starter and winner Kyle Kendrick, reaching him for two runs in his 7 1/3 innings of work. Their best chance to win the game came when Brad Lidge entered the ninth; they scored another two off the Phillies’ closer but he escaped with his 29th save.

Notes

In the second inning, John Maine threw four straight balls to Pedro Feliz, but Feliz remained at the plate. I watched the replay on DVR three times to confirm — four straight balls, no walk. On ball four, Ben Francisco “stole” second base, which may have confused things. The fifth pitch was called a strike, and Feliz hacked at the next several pitches before flying out to left field. Big difference between no outs, men on first and second, and one out, man on second. Though, the next batter, Paul Bako, hit a grounder to second that would’ve been a DP ball. Of course, we don’t know for sure if the pitch sequence and outcome would’ve been exactly the same.

Maine threw as fast as 91 MPH, but, as usual, had a difficult time throwing strikes to the outside part of the plate to RH hitters / inside to lefties. That’s a function of his mechanical flaw.

Citizens Bank Park makes power hitters out of everybody. David Wright broke out with two bombs yesterday after going homerless for over a month, Anderson Hernandez hit a dinger to dead center this afternoon, and punch-and-judy Josh Thole hit a ball to the base of the right field wall.

Thole, by the way, went 4-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, and caught another solid game. Jeff Francoeur was 3-for-4. Those two hitters more than doubled the output of the rest of the team, which combined for three hits total.

A return to the Fall Classic by the Phillies would seem to be dependent on whether they can find someone to close out the ninth inning. However, their 20 blown saves thus far this year has had little impact on their ability to remain at the top of the standings. Remember last year, when everyone blamed the Mets’ bullpen for their second-place finish?

The biggest differences I see in Brad Lidge compared to his successful times are: a) inability to get ahead of hitters 0-1; and b) a few MPH shaved from his fastball and slider. Those two factors probably go hand-in-hand, since in the past he got more swinging strikes on sliders that had a bit more oomph, and froze batters with faster fastballs. I seem to remember his fastball being in the 96-97 range, occasionally touching 98, and the slider running in around 93-94. Now his fastball is 92-94 and slider in the low 90s.

Lance Broadway has nice run and sink on his sinker, but has problems placing it inside the strike zone. If he can find a slightly higher release point, many of those balls at the ankles will turn into strikes at the knees.

Next Mets Game

Different bat time, different bat channel, but the Mets and Phillies are playing again later this evening — 8 PM, on ESPN. Tim Redding faces Pedro Martinez.

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