Browsing Archive September, 2009

Mets Game 150: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 2

NO ONE sweeps the Mets in THEIR HOUSE!

Those bad-boy gangstas from Flushing weren’t about to let some chumps from DC put them on blast …

John Maine won his first game since Custer’s Last Stand and the Mets offense exploded for four runs in the first three innings to hand the Nationals their 98th loss.

Maine went a full five frames, allowing no runs on two hits and a walk in an encouraging 75-pitch outing.

Daniel Murphy drove in two runs for the second straight game and six different Mets crossed the plate — four against starter and loser Garret Mock.

Notes

Angel Pagan went 3-for-5 from the leadoff spot but didn’t hit a triple. He did hit a double, though.

Wilson Valdez and Murphy DID hit triples though. Murphy also hit a double.

Maine’s fastball hung around 89-91 most of the time, and touched 92 a handful of times. His command wasn’t great but the Nats hitters were fairly aggressive. Lucky for John, the one spot he hits by default — up and in to righties / up and away to LH — is difficult to lay off and even harder to hit cleanly.

Next Mets Game

The Mets remain home to host the Braves for a three-game set beginning on Monday night at 7:10 PM. Pat Misch faces Derek Lowe.

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Mets Game 149: Nationals

Mets 3 Nationals 2

Some days you have it, some days you don’t.

On this particular afternoon, Tim Redding had it — he brought his “A” game.

Spotting his sinker at the knees, on both corners of the plate, and mixing in a sharp slider and occasionally well-behaving curveball, Redding stymied the Nats bats through seven frames, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks — easily his best outing of the season.

However, it nearly wasn’t enough, because Sean Green did not have “it”.

Green was wild from the moment he entered the game, but Jerry Manuel left him on the mound long enough to let the Nationals score a run to tighten the score to 3-2. Luckily, Everyday Pedro Feliciano came on the save the day, however, and Frankie Fantastik finished up for his 32nd save.

Notes

John Lannan nearly matched Redding’s effort, holding the Mets to 3 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings.

Dan Murphy drove in two of the Mets runs and Jeff Francoeur drove in the other. The big “hits” of the game came in the bottom of the seventh, and were actually errors. David Wright led off with a liner to right field that was grossly misplayed by Ian Desmond, a shortstop who was making his first-ever appearance in the outfield. The official ruling was a double, since Desmond didn’t even get a glove on the ball. A few minutes later, Murphy bounced a grounder that Adam Dunn ole’d to score Francoeur with the Mets’ third run of the game. That’s why the coaches say, “just put the ball in play, you never know what might happen”.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PM. John Maine faces Garret Mock.

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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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Mets Game 147: Loss to Braves

Braves 7 Mets 3

You can’t pin this one on Danny Boy.

Daniel Murphy went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, and his 10th homerun of the season, but it wasn’t enough to carry the team to victory.

Since there was no postgame interview with Frankie Rodriguez, I’m not sure who’s to blame for this one. Instead I’ll move right on to the notes …

Notes

Nelson Figueroa had a rough night, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits and a walk in 5 innings — an average of 2 baserunners an inning. Not a good formula for success. He may have felt the game was falling apart from the opening pitch, since Murphy was starting at first base. Though, he didn’t admit that publicly.

On the bright side, Tobi Stoner looked good. Not good by MLB standards, but good compared to what we’ve seen of him thus far. He allowed a run on 4 hits and a walk. You know it’s a bad season when a reliever allows 5 baserunners in 3 innings and it’s called a “good” outing.

Angel Pagan hit another triple – his 10th of the season, and the second-best total in the NL.

Other than Pagan, Murphy, and two hits by Wilson Valdez of all people, the Mets didn’t do much against Jair Jurrjens, who hurled seven stellar frames and allowed one earned run.

The Mets were swept for the second time this September, and have lost five in a row. They’re making a strong run for the #4 pick overall in next June’s draft. Pray for a hot run by the Orioles.

The Braves, meanwhile, are on a seven-game win streak, and narrowed the gap between them and the Wild Card-leading Rockies to 4 1/2.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to New York for a three-game series with the Nationals — before seeing the Braves follow them to Flushing on Monday. Friday night’s opener vs. Washington pits J.D. Martin vs. Mike Pelfrey.

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Mets Game 146: Loss To Braves

Braves 6 Mets 5

Shades of ’62 re-emerge.

Once again, the Mets find a creative way to lose.

The Mets jumped ahead 3-0 in the second inning, but that lead was quickly squandered by Bobby Parnell, who allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Remarkably, the Mets fought back to tie the game and then went ahead 5-4 on a pinch-hit homerun by Omiracle Santos (nickname hat tip to TheRopolitans).

Then, it was up to the bullpen to hold the fort. Brian Stokes got two outs before walking Nate McLouth, which led to Jerry Manuel’s inexplicable decision to bring in Frankie Rodriguez to convert a four-out save. Ask Mike Scioscia how many times he called on K-Rod to get more than three outs in the last three years — and his team was ALWAYS playing “meaningful games” in September.

Anyway, as expected, Frankie Fantastik failed to clean up. He got that last out in the eighth but quickly faltered in the ninth, allowing a leadoff double to Garret Anderson down the right field line (that might have been stopped by a better-fielding first baseman — or not) and hitting Brian McCann to put the tying and winning runs on base. Frankie then misplayed a sac bunt by Yunel Escobar that nearly loaded the bases with none out, but K-Rod recovered in time to get the first out of the inning by a hair. The next batter hit a deep sac fly to score the tying run, and then Ryan Church hit a two-out bouncer to first base that Dan Murphy mishandled three times in Throneberryesque fashion to allow the winning run to score.

Notes

In an incredulous lack of class, K-Rod was quoted by Kevin Burkhardt as saying about Murphy’s error (or possibly the double down the line), “That ball has to be stopped”.

Nice. Seems there’s only one driving school in Venezuela — and the vehicle is a teflon-coated bus.

Hmm … I didn’t see Murphy on the mound when Anderson hit the double, McCann was hit with the pitch, or Gorecki hit the deep fly … but yeah, let’s blame him for the loss. Makes plenty of sense. Not.

This is the sixth blown save of the season for Frankie Fantastik, out of 37 tries. Billy Wagner blew 7 of 34 last year, so K-Rod’s still doing better. But not by much. So much for the “improved bullpen”.

And for all his questionable quotes and public dress-downs of his teammates, I don’t recall Wags ever blaming someone else for a loss. Stay classy, K-Rod.

On the bright side, Parnell lasted longer than Derek Lowe, who left after 2 innings and allowing 3 runs. Both Jeff Francoeur and David Wright went 3-for-5, and Josh Thole went 2-for-4 in the two hole.

The Mets pounded 16 hits, and still couldn’t win — they left 14 on base.

Next Mets Game

The series finale begins at 7:00 PM on Thursday night. Nelson Figueroa faces Jair Jurrjens. If nothing else the Mets will have a standup, respectful guy on the mound, who will take responsibility for his actions. So there’s that.

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