Tag: cole hamels

Mets Game 48: Win Over Phillies

Mets 3 Phillies 0

Run for cover! Do not leave your home! At any moment, frogs and toads are certain to fall from a blue and orange-tinged sky, signifying the rapture! Cataclysm is near!

Or maybe the Mets shutting out the Phillies in three straight is a completely normal event, having nothing to do with the apocalypse. Perhaps it was a staged episode for the return of the Twilight Zone.

Whatever it is, it ain’t normal. But I’ll take it. And revel in it.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey was brilliant (again), shutting out the Phillies through seven frames, allowing only three hits. The five walks were too many, but no baserunners scored, so we’ll glaze over them.

I find it funny — now — that one of the questions posed to me by Bill Baer at Crashburn Alley prior to the series was “How much patience do the Mets have with Jose Reyes? He’s currently sporting a .550 OPS.”. Well, I think it’s safe to say that those questions won’t be coming up again. Reyes went 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Further, he was 8-for-13 with 5 RBI and 5 runs scored in the series, sparking the club from the leadoff spot (note: Reyes was NOT batting third).

Angel Pagan went 2-for-4 with a stolen base, AGAIN. Seems like he goes 2-for-4 with a stolen base every game, doesn’t it?

Cole Hamels didn’t pitch poorly — allowing 3 runs on 9 hits and a walk through 6 1/3 — but the Phillies hitters are in a team-wide, massive funk. The question is: did this three-game sweep say more about the Mets or the Phillies? Meaning, were the Mets pitchers really that spectacular, or are the Phillies hitters in that horrendous a cold streak? Is it a combination of both?

After winning the Yankees series and pasting the Phillies in three straight, the Mets will go into Milwaukee to face a struggling Brewers club. You’ve got to believe that confidence alone will help the Mets to another series win this weekend (don’t even start with the “jinx” thing — if I have that kind of power I’ll use it for something like world peace). A little confidence can go a long way, and in the case of the Mets, it just might jettison them to the top of the NL East come Memorial Day.

At 19-9, the Mets have the best home record in MLB. At 6-14, they have the third-worst road record in MLB. Again I mention the 1987 Minnesota Twins. Look it up.

During the rain delay, SNY showed the press conference announcing the purchase of the Mets by Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon for $21M. This year, the Mets are paying Johan Santana $21M. How times have changed, eh?

Next Mets Game

The Mets move on to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Friday night. Johan Santana faces Yovani Gallardo. Game time is 8:10 PM.

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Mets Game 141: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 4 Mets 2

An uninspiring loss on a gloomy day of sad memories through stormy weather.

Nelson Figueroa wasn’t pretty, but he did the job, holding the Phils to two runs in 5 1/3 innings while scattering 9 hits and 5 walks. He struggled every inning but somehow managed to keep too many runs from scoring. Unfortunately, the Mets offense was completely handcuffed by Cole Hamels, who allowed only one run through 6 2/3 innings.

Hamels earned his first win over the Mets since 2006, and his ninth victory of the season.

Notes

Hamels had an intriguing approach in this game, relying predominantly on his change-up and other soft stuff to set up his fastball, which he used sparingly. Generally you see more fastballs on a windy, rainy day, but the plan worked well for Hamels. The Mets waved weakly at the low-speed hurls and froze when the 90+ heaters entered the zone. In fact it looked as though the umpire was surprised at some of the fastballs, to the point where he might have missed a few calls that should’ve been strikes.

When Angel Pagan made a nice running catch to nab a Carlos Ruiz fly ball in the seventh, Keith Hernandez remarked, “That was ‘Carlos Beltran-esque’. Angel Pagan can go get ’em, he’s an excellent defensive outfielder”. He forgot to add, “when he’s not running into other outfielders, misjudging fly balls, taking bad routes to balls in the gap, and forgetting how many outs there are.” Otherwise, yeah, he’s “excellent” out there.

Jeremy Reed is quietly winning a job as a fourth or fifth outfielder next year — though it may not be for the Mets. He ripped his 15th pinch-hit of the season, which would’ve scored anyone in baseball from second other than Omir Santos or Ramon Castro (unfortunately, Santos was the runner). Having that kind of bat in the late innings is hard to find, and rarely found matched with a plus-plus glove and above-average speed. However, I doubt the Mets will pay the $1M+ he’ll command. Watch him get non-tendered and hook up with someone else next year.

Things are so bad that I caught myself rooting for Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth at certain points in the game. Sorry, but it’s hard for a former player not to appreciate the effort and execution of the Phillies. They’re tough, motivated, unflappable, confident, and polished.

The Mets have now lost four in a row, and are 19 games behind the league-leading Phillies. I’m not certain, but I think one more loss this weekend will mathematically eliminate the Mets from the NL East championship.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 4:05 PM on Saturday afternoon. Eternal enigma Mike Pelfrey faces the ageless Jamie Moyer.

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Mets Game 122: Win Over Phillies

Mets 4 Phillies 2

Take that, Cole Hamels! Who’s the “choke artist” now, huh?

“Fighting for their lives”, as their fearless leader Jerry Manuel proclaimed afterward, the Mets pulled to within 13 1/2 games of the first place Phillies with a hard fought, emotional win over their arch-rival.

Everyone made a contribution of some sort, as the orange and blue executed as a team in front of an electrified hometown crowd that refused to let anything rain on their parade — not even, um, the rain.

Mike Pelfrey pitched well for the second consecutive start, allowing two runs and striking out five in six innings of work. From there the bullpen took over and kept the Phillies bats silent through the final three — including a particularly strong four outs from Aaron Sele Brian Stokes. As usual, Frankie Fantastic kept the fans on the edge of their seats in the ninth, but this time came through with his 27th save of the season.

Notes

It took only 122 games (plus two months at the end of 2008), but Jerry Manuel finally figured out that Brian Stokes needs more “regular work” to be effective. We know this because Manuel admitted as much during the postgame. That information should be very useful in 2010.

Manuel was thrown out of the game for arguing an out call on a botched hit-and-run / attempted steal by Jeff Francoeur. The umpire was definitely out of position and made the wrong call — it wasn’t even close. But the silver lining was that Manuel’s bickering clearly ignited his troops with extra motivation to win.

Jeff Francoeur was the offensive MVP of the game, going 3-for-4 with a solo homerun. Luis Castillo, Dan Murphy, and Angel Pagan all had two hits apiece, and Fernando Tatis hit a triple and scored twice.

Cole Hamels struck Mike Pelfrey with a pitch, which Pelfrey didn’t particularly enjoy and said a few choice words to Hamels (that we can’t repeat here) on his way to first. But he eventually realized it wasn’t intentional and therefore did not retaliate when Hamels came to bat — instead, Pelf chose to strike him out. Good plan.

Pelf came close to allowing the yips to get to him in the sixth, when he nearly threw to an uncovered first base on a safety squeeze. However, he quickly settled down and got out of a tight spot.

Somehow, I could not get nearly as excited about this win as K-Rod was after the final out. I feel kind of bad about that, like I’m a poor fan or something. No jump, no fist pump, no primal scream of elation, no kiss to the sky — nothing. Maybe I was just too tired from a long day. Blame it on the rain and the oppressive humidity.

As of 11:45 PM Friday night, Billy Wagner was still a New York Met. Rumor has it that either the Florida Marlins or the Boston Red Sox claimed him on waivers. We may find out the truth before the end of the weekend.

Prior to the game, both Gary Sheffield and Mushmouth had different stories about what happened between the two in that fateful meeting on Thursday. In other words, everything is now as clear as mud. Yet another great job of public and media relations by the New York Mets.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. Phillie killer Tim Redding goes to the hill against J.A. “It’s Pronounced ‘Jay'” Happ.

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Mets Game 57: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 5 Mets 4

Per the script, the Mets jumped out to a 4-1 lead early. Unfortunately, they didn’t finish with the same exuberance.

It’s not a common occasion to chase Cole Hamels from the game after five innings, 11 hits, and 4 runs, and when you do, you want to put the hammer down and win the game. However, the Mets let this one get away.

Mike Pelfrey pitched six strong innings, but ran into trouble in the seventh, loading the bases without retiring a batter. Sean Green — who had retired the last 14 batters he faced — came on and did his best impersonation of Scott Schoeneweis a righthander could, allowing all three runners to score to tie the game. In his defense, Green got one ground ball that David Wright mishandled, resulting in a run, but still …

The game went eleven innings before the winning run crossed the plate — a Chase Utley solo homer, his second of the game and serving as the other bookend of the Phillies’ scoring.

The winning pitcher was Chan Ho Park. How did this happen?

Notes

The Mets looked like they might win the game in bottom of the tenth with two outs, after Fernando Martinez singled and David Wright drilled a line drive to right that would’ve driven in the winning run. But Jayson Werth pulled a Ron Swoboda, making a miraculous and daring, diving catch to end the inning.

Both Wright and Omir Santos were 3-for-5 on the day, and Mike Pelfrey was 2-for-3, including a double, a run and an RBI.

After pounding Hamels for 11 hits in the first five frames, the Mets managed just five hits in the final six innings against the Phillies bullpen. But, the Phillies had only three hits against the Mets’ bullpen in the final five frames — including Utley’s game-winning homer.

Bobby Parnell gave up Utley’s blast, and the three outs he collected were all very deep fly balls that likely would have been out of any other ballpark. Yikes.

The Mets left 16 runners on base. The Phillies left 5. ’nuff said. If I hear one more time about how Jerry Manuel’s “curveball drill” from spring training is helping the team drive in runs, I’m going to scream. (Never mind, I already did.)

In the sixth inning, Chase Utley stepped out of the batter’s box as Mike Pelfrey was about to pitch, and Big Pelf stared Utley down. Utley returned with a “go pound salt” response, and Pelfrey lost his cool — Utley completely got into his head over something that shouldn’t have been an issue. As a result, Pelf paid no attention to the runner, who took second base on the next pitch easily. It then took another minute before someone from the dugout finally told David Wright to go to the mound and try to calm down Pelf — since it was clear that Omir Santos wasn’t moving from his crouch. A few seconds after Wright began his trot to the mound, Jerry Manuel walked out of the dugout and made a trip. The entire event was painfully embarrassing, from Pelf losing focus, to Santos not walking out there, to Wright needing to be prodded, to Manuel’s do-nothing mumbling when he visited the mound, to the SNY AND WFAN announcers, both of which were clearly reading from talking points and expounding on Wright’s “leadership” and Manuel’s “great way with the players”. Although Pelfrey wound up getting an inning-ending groundout, that doesn’t erase the mishandling of the situation. Right there, it’s the catcher’s job to get off his duff and calm down his pitcher. If the backstop doesn’t move, then the “leader” has to get there immediately and take control of the situation. If only Keith Hernandez could have run down from the broadcast booth, instead of reading from David Howard’s cue cards ….

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Pelfrey getting emotional — but not so emotional that he loses focus. An athlete can learn to transform that energy into sharper focus. Pelf may get there some day.

Next Mets Game

The series finale on Thursday begins at 7:10 PM. Phillies killer Tim Redding faces Knick Knack Paddy Whack Jamie Moyer.

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Put Up or Shut Up

Pitchers and catchers have yet to report … indeed, it’s not even Christmas yet … and the Mets – Phillies verbal rivalry has already begun.

Perhaps ignited by Cole Hamels’ admission that the Mets are “choke artists”, recently signed closer Francisco Rodriguez pronounced that his new Mets are “the team to beat”.

Unfortunately, that phrase was already used by Carlos Beltran, who whispered it last March. Beltran, of course, stole the words from Jimmy Rollins — who originally made the proclamation a year earlier.

The verbal sparring is wonderful for the media and exciting for some fans, as it helps to stoke the rivalry between the Mets and Phillies — which in turn sells tickets and newspapers and drives up the blog comments and website pageviews. A win-win for everyone in this down economy, in fact.

But the crux of the matter is this: for every Mets fan that gets riled up by K-Rod’s quote, there are another ten who wish the players in orange and blue would simply keep their mouth shut. The more the Mets talk, the more pathetic they look in the end, when they can’t close the deal.

Aside from the 1986 Mets, there haven’t been too many Flushing squads (if any) who had both the talent and the fortitude to see through such brazen declarations. Looking back, that cocky bunch spoiled us, and helped open the lid on big mouths in sports.

Today, however, the Mets do not have the talent to steamroll over the rest of baseball. It looks like they’ll have a good team, one that can compete for the NL East title. I’m not saying they won’t run away with the flag next year — I’m saying that right now, they don’t appear to have an exceptionally dominating team.

Further, K-Rod and J.J. Putz by themselves will not drastically change the mentality in the clubhouse. The Mets remain a leaderless team, and devoid of the “killer instinct” necessary to throw their opponents down to the ground and stomp on their necks. Again, it doesn’t mean they can’t win in ’09 — it simply means they don’t have any business making public announcements regarding winning or talking trash. Not yet, anyway.

In retrospect, Beltran’s utterance last spring was all-too-revealing. It was said off the cuff, after taking some BP, with a laugh, and seemed he was half-joking. From the Daily News:

“Let me tell you this: Without Santana, we felt as a team we have a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we’re going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that.

“We’ve got what it takes. We have good chemistry as a team. He fits great because he’s a great guy. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game. Who doesn’t want to have him on any ballclub? Without him last year we did good, until the end of the season. So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.”

With that, Beltran walked off, amused and chuckling as he told unnerved P.R. man Jay Horwitz, “Have a happy day.”

Judging by what happened (again) in the last weeks of September, perhaps Beltran WAS joking.

The irony, of course, is that Beltran’s last at-bat of the 2006 NLCS — the one where an Adam Wainwright yellow hammer froze him and ended the Mets’ season — is symbolic of the team’s reputation as chokers, making Beltran’s quote all the more embarrassing now. More damaging is that not only did the Mets not deliver on Beltran’s preseason boast, but that they choked again.

So when Cole Hamels agreed that the Mets were “choke artists”, we fans really had no response — except to bow our heads and nod in agreement. And when K-Rod comes out and starts the cycle all over again, we Mets fans want to run and hide, cover our faces, muttering “please, not again!”.

It’s kind of like watching a TV show or a movie, and the lead character (Archie Bunker comes to mind) is about to say or do something you know he/she is going to regret — you yell at the screen, “no, don’t SAY IT!”. Or when you’re sitting around the Christmas tree, and conservative Uncle Bob has had too much egg nog, and he’s about to start talking politics with liberal cousin Joan. Some things should just be left unsaid, before everyone is embarrassed.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the idea of a rivalry between the Mets and Phillies. But let’s see it erupt on the field, not in the headlines. Instead of continuing to talk about how great and unbeatable you are, please, New York Mets, take a page from the Nike book and just do it.

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