Archive: May 7th, 2010

Mets Game 29: Win Over Giants

Mets 6 Giants 4

The Mets upended the NL West first-place team, and now own sole possession of second place in the NL East.

By all accounts, it was the most thrilling and fulfilling game of 2010.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey returned to the “pre-Phillies” form that made him one of the best pitchers in baseball in April, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and no walks over 7 1/3 innings. Fernando Nieve retired two batters in the eighth to hold the lead, but Frank “The Vulture” Rodriguez gave up a game-tying homer to pinch-hitter John Bowker to set up a dramatic finish.

Despite two long homeruns and nosedive into the Mets dugout to snare a foul fly ball by favorite son Ike Davis, the hero of the game was Rod Barajas. Like Davis, Barajas also blasted two taters, but Rod’s second came in the bottom of the ninth to give the Mets the victory. Barajas has now hit 7 homers in his last 11 games, and is on pace to hit about 50 this season.

Beyond Davis and Barajas carrying the club from the #7 and #8 spots at the bottom of the lineup, the Mets did just about nothing offensively. Jose Reyes was a soft 2-for-4, flailing and failing with runners in scoring position. The other two hits in the game came from Jason Bay — who hit a double — and David Wright, who also stole his 8th base.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Giants meet again at 1:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Johan Santana faces Todd Wellemeyer. I don’t care what Johan did in Philly — it’s time for him to step up and give the Mets a series win before sundown Saturday.


Inside Look: San Francisco Giants

The Mets – Giants weekend series is underway, and there are a few new faces on the San Francisco club.

Additionally, if you haven’t been paying attention to the NL West, you may be mildly surprised to discover that the Giants are in first place — a half-game over the surprising Padres and a full 3.5+ over the rest of the division.

How are they doing it? Can they keep it up?

Don’t ask me. Instead, refer to Chris Quick of Bay City Ball — the ESPN SweetSpot blogger for the San Francisco Giants.

1. It’s early May and the Giants are atop the NL West. How did this happen and do you see the Giants remaining on top for the long term?

The Giants had a pretty forgiving schedule to start the year (Houston, Pittsburgh, a Chipper-less Braves) but they’ve also taken some series against some really good teams (St. Louis, Philadelphia, Colorado). The Giants have a major strength in their pitching, the rotation looks good from top to bottom and bullpen should shape up a little. Whether or not the team will consistently play this well for the rest of the year is anyone’s guess, but you have to expect that our offense will come back to earth a little at some point. The Giant should be able to hang around as long as the pitching stays healthy and productive.

2. The Giants brought in a few new faces during the offseason. Are they performing as expected?

New first baseman, Aubrey Huff, has played decently posting a line of: .278/.366/.485. In particular, his willingness to take a walk has been nice. Meanwhile, LF Mark DeRosa is only hitting .205/.298/.277. You’ve got to wonder how much of DeRosa’s struggles are related to bad luck or to his healing wrist.

3. Over the winter, a lot of Giants fans were expecting / hoping to see Buster Posey behind the plate in 2010 — while many Mets fans felt the same way about Bengie Molina in New York. As it turned out, Bengie stayed in San Francisco, is enjoying a hot start, and Posey remains blocked. How does the current catching situation sit with you, and do you see Posey playing regularly before the end of the year?

I think with Bengie’s start, the Giants will leave Posey be for now. But Posey is doing his best in AAA to show that he’s major league ready. The young catcher is currently hitting: .343/.436/.525 while getting the occasional start at 1B. It’s no secret that before the season I preferred Posey as the starting catcher, but Molina has been fine so far. The Giants will most likely call Posey up sooner than later, maybe even before June. It’s going to depend on how the team is performing and what they want to do.

4. What is Barry Zito doing differently this year, and do you see him remaining effective through 30+ starts?

Honestly, I wish I knew. Zito really started to use a slider in 2009 and has carried that into 2010. I think it gives batters an extra pitch to look for when they’re hitting against him. Other than that, his fastball velocity is around 86-88 mph these days instead of the 82-84 mph that he was throwing from during 2007-2008. He’s yet to give up a HR this year in 40+ innings and that will obviously change at some point. He has looked good this year, but there’s a lot of season left. I think the Giants would be very, very happy if he pitched somewhere between 2009 and his 2010 so far.

5. We know the Giants have pitching quality and depth, and the offense is currently hitting above the expectations of the “experts”. What do you, as a regular evaluator of the team, see as their true strengths and weaknesses?

The Giants are pretty straight forward. Our strengths being our fantastic pitching, the weakness being the hitting, and maybe the infield defense, too. The pitching will have to carry this team if they want to make a playoff run.

6. We Mets fans don’t get to see much of the West Coast clubs. Tell us about a Giant or Giants we may not know much about, who could have an impact on this weekend’s series.

Keep an eye out for RF Nate Schierhotlz. After years of putting up somewhat decent numbers in the minor leagues and playing sparingly in the majors, he’s off to a hot start hitting: .381/.458/.587. He’s got underrated speed and he plays a fantastic RF.

Good stuff. Many thanks again to Chris Quick. Be sure to check out his blog Bay City Ball for the all the scoop on the San Francisco Giants.


A Giant Weekend

The rollercoaster ride returns to Flushing, and we can only wonder what turn it will take this weekend against the San Francisco Giants.

After a week of scoreboard watching and a return to disappointing play, the once-first-place Mets find themselves again on par with the Washington Nationals. This time, though, it’s in a tie for second place, rather than dwelling in the NL East basement.

The Washington Nationals? How the heck did that happen?

Yes, somehow, some way, both the Braves and the Marlins have sunk to the bottom of the division, while the Nats have risen near the top (sporting a 15-13 record that is identical to the Mets’). As a result, losing four out of their last five didn’t matter much to the Mets — they’re still “in the hunt”.

Lady Luck strikes again — and she could be hanging around for a few more days.

The Giants currently sit atop the the NL West, buoyed by stellar pitching and surprisingly strong hitting. Everyone knew that San Francisco would have among the best arms in the league, but no one would have guessed they’d have 5 players in the lineup hitting over .300. So on the surface it would seem the Mets have a tough job ahead of them.

However, the pitching matchups may favor the home team — depending on your level of optimism and faith in Mike Pelfrey. If you believe Big Pelf’s last start was an aberration, then you might also have faith that the Mets have the advantage tonight as Pelfrey faces Jonathan Sanchez. The lefthanded Sanchez continues to be an enigma, with a 2-2 and averaging a shade less than 6 IP per start despite a sparkling 2.48 ERA.

Tonight’s game is the key to the series, because Saturday’s matchup is Johan Santana vs. Todd Wellemeyer and Sunday pits Tim Lincecum vs. Oliver Perez. You can’t assume that the aces are definitely going to carry their team to victory, but the odds favor a split after Friday.

Meanwhile, the 15-13 Nationals fight it out with the 13-15 Fish over the next three days, and the 17-11 Phillies take on the 12-16 Braves. So regardless of what happens this weekend, the Mets are pretty much guaranteed to either stand still or gain ground on someone in the NL East by virtue of intradivisional cannibalism.

But beyond the math of this weekend is the confidence factor, which seems to be a crucial component to this rollercoaster club. A series win over the mighty Giants puts the Mets in a good position — mentally and emotionally — as they go into a three-game set vs. the Nationals beginning Monday. In contrast, losing two (or more) against the Giants — with their top two starters on the hill — could send the Mets into an extended tailspin, depending on what the rising Nats do against the Marlins. Momentum and confidence can carry a club for a while, and what happens this weekend will set the tone for the next two weeks — in fact, for the entire month of May. Why? Because after this weekend, the Mets play only NL East clubs from May 10 to May 20, then play the Yankees, followed by the Phillies, before closing out the month with the Brewers.

Suddenly, this weekend takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

Let’s hope Lady Luck is booked for an extended stay in Flushing.