Tag: astros

Mets Game 97: Win Over Astros

Mets 8 Astros 3

Who needs Gary Sheffield’s “power bat”, anyway?

For the second time in as many games, the Mets proved that they do indeed have Major League Players on their roster, and enough of them to win Major League Games — handily.

The streaking Mets offense was out of this world against the Astros, pounding Houston pitching for 13 hits, including three triples. Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez shook off a rough first frame and solidified his spot in the rotation with his second consecutive seven-inning start, allowing only three runs on eight hits and striking out a season-high of seven.

Sean Green earned a most unusual save for his 1 1/3 innings of work.

If the Mets can continue to play like this, they’ll be in line for meaningful games in September.

Notes

Why are people so surprised to see Livan pitch well or pitch poorly? There isn’t much mystery involved — basically, Hernandez eats up overly aggressive hitters such as those on the Astros, and generally gets into trouble with more patient teams such as the Yankees. So if Livan has a few bad starts in a row, it’s probably because he’s facing lineups that have what’s called a “team approach”. This isn’t rocket science.

Luis Castillo went 2-for-4 with a triple, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He’s now hitting .301, and sporting a .398 OBP.

Jeff Francoeur had only one hit but drove in two. He now has 14 RBI in 12 games as a Met. Say what you want about his over-aggressive approach, but so far he’s producing.

It’s great that the Mets are finally scoring runs and winning ballgames. Unfortunately, they have not gained any ground on the Phillies throughout this two-game winning streak, and remain 11 games behind the leaders (in the loss column). They can keep putting W’s in the left column, but unfortunately they can’t lose less.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to Flushing to begin a four-game series against the rejuvenated Colorado Rockies. Oliver Perez throws the first pitch at 7:05 PM on Monday night, while Ubaldo Jimenez takes the hill for the Rockies.

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Mets Game 96: Win Over Astros

Mets 10 Astros 3

Who said the Mets couldn’t win MLB games sending out a lineup like that?

For once, everything that could go right, went right. Heck, even David Wright was finally, right — right over the fence, that is.

The Mets offense exploded for 9 runs in the first six innings, and tacked on another one in the final frame to annilihate the Astros in front of a capacity crowd.

In addition to the offensive output, the defense was equally stellar, highlighted by outstanding plays from Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo that kept the Astros grounded.

Also inspiring was the performance of young Jonathan Niese, who allowed one measly run on four hits and two walks over seven solid innings. Other than a shaky first inning — likely due to nerves — Niese was masterful.

Notes

When I said everything went right, I meant everything. By blowing out the Astros with an offensive onslaught, the implausible DL’ing of Gary Sheffield was completely forgotten. Had the Mets lost 1-0, you can bet that move would have been the focus of the postgame interviews.

Dan Murphy hit two doubles and drove in a run out of the cleanup spot. Dan Murphy, in the cleanup spot. Yeah.

No less than five Mets had two hits apiece; they rapped a dozen all told.

Angel Pagan is a man on fire, and seems determined to prove that he belongs in the big leagues as an everyday player. Maybe the Mets should trade him while he’s on this hot streak and his value is higher than it will ever be.

In addition to his sixth homerun, David Wright saw 30 pitches in five plate appearances, walking twice. That was three times as many pitches seen by the usually patient Danny Murphy.

Jeff Francoeur is delivering everything the Mets expected and then some. If only they had his homerun bat from the beginning of the season, they might be ten games back instead of eleven.

Omir Santos and Cory Sullivan did an outstanding job of executing a hit-and-run in the top of the fourth, leading to Sullivan scoring on a DP ball a few moments later. Strangely enough, I’ve seen the about as many hit-and-runs this month from the Mets as I’ve seen homeruns.

Also interesting, Santos is providing both small ball and the long ball lately — he hit his second homerun in as many nights, and is now tied for team lead for homers in July. Dollars to donuts says he sits on Sunday, though, since it’s a day game and Brian Schneider’s getting rusty.

Jon Niese in the postgame interview reminded me of Jamie Don Weeks of Long Gone (which was an AWESOME baseball movie, btw).

Very bizarre to see John Franco relieving Bobby Ojeda in the SNY postgame show; it was kind of like time travel or a Strat-O-Matic game. Note to John: your preparation is appreciated. However, we know that “good pitching, good fielding, and good offense wins games”, and we know that a pitcher needs to throw strikes to keep the defense alert, and we can see how many batters Jon Niese retired in a row, and we know how many games out of the wild card the Mets are, etc. What we want from you is the MLB player’s perspective. For example, what does an MLB pitcher think about with a big lead? How does he keep from getting too complacent? What is it like for a young kid to have a game like this after coming back from the minors? How might a young pitcher attack a lineup like the Astros’, which has a number of aggressive hitters? That kind of thing. Leave the details and numbers to Gary Apple.

Next Mets Game

The series finale occurs at 2:05 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. Livan Hernandez faces Brian Moehler. Wow … Hampton, Ortiz, and Moehler in the rotation, and the ‘stros are in third place, four games over .500, and one game out of first.

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Mets Game 95: Loss to Astros

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.

Notes

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?

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Mets Acquire Fernando Nieve

Hot off the heels of shutting down Tim Redding, the New York Mets have claimed Fernando Nieve off waivers.

Nieve, a 26-year-old righthander, was vying for a spot of the Houston Astros’ rotation. The hard-throwing Venezuelan has struggled in his young career with injuries, and posted an 8.44 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the Astros last year. He had been competing for one of the last two slots on the Houston staff against MLB veterans Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz, and Jose Capellan.

In 4 2-3 innings this spring, Nieve has allowed eight hits, seven runs and walked six. Astros manager Cecil Cooper acknowledged that Nieve had been a disappointment.

“Nieve needs to step up because he hasn’t pitched the way I’d hoped,” Cooper said. “He’s lost some ground.

“It’s imperative that he pitches well,” Cooper said. “He has a great arm; right now I’m just not seeing it.”

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Astros Sign Mike Hampton

The Houston Astros signed Mike Hampton to a one-year, $2M contract.

Reportedly, the deal includes performance incentives.

Hampton’s injury-riddled career is well documented, and he’s appeared in only 25 ballgames in the last two years. However, I like this signing immensely. One year for two million? That’s a bargain for a guy who, when healthy, is a solid starting pitcher and a fierce competitor. Especially if you compare the deal to the $6.5M that similarly fragile Orlando Hernandez received last season.

Of course, the Mets could not have signed Hampton — he more or less burned the Tri-Boro Bridge on his way out of Flushing. In Houston, where he is still beloved, and has little pressure, Hampton has an ideal opportunity for a comeback. Win-win for both sides.

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