Archive: September 18th, 2009

Mets Game 148: Loss to Nationals

Nationals 6 Mets 5

Nationals closer Mike MacDougal did everything in his power to give the Mets an exciting, come-from-behind victory in the ninth inning, but eventually stumbled into his 16th save in Inspector Clouseau style.

Mike Pelfrey pitched seven innings, which was a positive. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and no walks, which was neither positive nor negative. Nice outing in terms of innings-eating, but not much else.

On the other side, J.D. Martin held the Mets to two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 frames. The Mets best chance to score runs came after MacDougal entered the game. The fireballing righthander nailed down the final out of the 8th but walked two in the ninth with a four-run lead to set up a three-run rally that ended with a comebacker off the bat of Jeff Francoeur with the winning run on second base. Oh well.

Notes

Francoeur had three hits, using a nice inside-out swing to dump base hits into right-center. He might’ve had four if MacDougal didn’t knock down the ball in his last at-bat. The ball, by the way, knocked off MacDougal’s glove — it was a hard smash.

Pelfrey’s efficiency was good — he threw only 90 pitches in his seven frames, walking no one. His curveball looked pretty good, and he threw it at a nice change of pace velocity — around 76-78 MPH. If he would throw that instead of the slider early in the count, and learn to mix in a change-up, he’d turn into the frontline starting pitcher we’ve been waiting to see. His biggest issue — other than lack of a reliable offspeed pitch — is that batters can tee off on the fastball when he falls behind in the count. A good changeup and/or curveball would counteract that problem.

This is the Mets’ first six-game losing streak since 2005

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Nats do it again at 1:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Rochester’s Tim Redding faces Long Beach’s John Lannan in a matchup of New York natives. I’ll be here participating in a golf outing for this former teammate and will watch the replay on DVR, so don’t expect a post until late tomorrow night.

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Manuel Perpetuates Blame Game

manuel-ghandi-smAh, now it’s all clear. Perhaps I was too harsh on Frankie Rodriguez, Johan Santana, and Carlos Beltran. By blaming others, finger-pointing, and driving the bus over their teammates, they were merely carrying out the ethos set in place by their field general.

Because yet again, Jerry Manuel does his own finger-pointing to explain the Mets’ miserable season. When asked about the possibility of losing 90+ games this season, Manuel was quoted last night during the SNY postgame (and recorded on MLB.com):

“You have to go back to the health issue,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “If you don’t have those pieces in place, it’s difficult to do anything, and do anything well and do it consistently.”

(hat tip to TheRopolitans)

See? Blame game. It fits nicely. I absolves Teflon Jerry from responsibility. He can blame the circumstances around him for the Mets’ dismal record, as if he is somehow separate from it. How can he possibly win baseball games when he doesn’t have the “pieces” ?

Funny, though, that this time last year the media and much of the fanbase couldn’t congratulate Manuel enough for leading the Mets into the Promised Land (well, they never guessed ANOTHER collapse would occur in the final days). He was some kind of Zen wizard, regaling journalists with his koan-like bits of wisdom, and managing the Mets with a measured balance of father-like encouragement and stern discipline.

Heck, one journalist referred to Manuel as a magician, and suggested he could win “Manager of the Year”.

Carlos Delgado was a one-man wrecking crew because Jerry motivated him to do so. Fernando Tatis hit like Ted Williams for a month because Jerry gave him the chance. Daniel Murphy looked like the next Wade Boggs because Jerry “worked so well with youngsters”. Jose Reyes was fulfilling his superstar promise because Jerry knew how to keep him focused. Carlos Beltran and David Wright were MVP candidates because Jerry was giving them just the right amount of rest. Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez turned their seasons around because Jerry had them working with Dan Warthen.

And if by some miracle the Mets did NOT make it to the postseason, everyone knew exactly why — because the bullpen would fail.

Huh … sound familiar?

Even amidst all the miracles Manuel was spinning on his way to sainthood, there was a built-in excuse. It would be the fault of the men in the bullpen — not the man managing it — if things turned sour. Jerry’s irresponsible abuse of arms from June through August would be forgotten when the relief crew collectively and colossally collapsed. It would be the fault of Joe Smith, Aaron Heilman, Scott Schoeneweis, or the injury to Billy Wagner, if the Mets blew it again. Anyone but Jerry.

This is the culture that Jerry Manuel created — one where the team learns to find reasons why they lose, rather than creating solutions to win.

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This Time Last Year

On September 18th, 2008 — exactly one year ago — the Mets had a record of 85-67, and were a half-game behind the league-leading Phillies (86-67).

What a difference a year makes.

The Mets were also at the top of the Wild Card standings, a game and a half ahead of the Brewers and a full five over the Astros.

Despite being armed with deadline pickup C.C. Sabathia, the Brewers were in a tailspin and fading fast. Things were so desperate in Milwaukee that they fired manager Ned Yost two days earlier, with only a dozen games left in the season, as a last-ditch effort to spark the team. The move shocked the baseball world, and despite some issues with the bullpen, things were looking good for the Mets.

In fact, the very next day — September 19th, 2008 — the Mets and Phillies flip-flopped in the standings, with the Mets in the lead of the NL East once again. The Mets in first place, the Brewers were dead, and eleven games to play. You could taste the Champagne.

Ah … but for the second straight year, that cork would not be popped. We had no idea.

So what’s worse? Being over 20 games out of first place right now, with the postseason an impossibility and next year looking similarly dismal? Or sitting on a rollercoaster that’s about to go off the tracks?

(Interesting coincidence … today, the Mets play the Nationals. Last year on this day, they played the Nationals. 40 years ago today, they played the Expos – as the Nats used to be called. Do the Mets always play the Nats/Expos on September 18th?)

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