Tag: hisanori takahashi

Mets Game 62: Win Over Orioles

Mets 3 Orioles 1

Two down, one to go …

The Mets beat Baltimore for the second straight night, behind the brilliant pitching of Hisanori Takahashi and the general lack of interest by the Orioles.

To me, the O’s resemble the Mets of late August 2009 — a team waiting for the season to end. Unfortunately for the Orioles and their fans, there are a hundred games left. That’s a long time to be wallowing.

Game Notes

Hisanori Takahashi hurled 7 frames of one-run, 6-hit ball, walking only one and striking out 2. Before you get all excited that Tak has “re-discovered” his form, temper the enthusiasm and realize that a) the Orioles are a bad offensive team — 29th out of 30 in MLB in runs scored; b) the O’s are completely unmotivated and disinterested; c) the O’s never saw Takahashi before. All three of those factors played significantly into Tak’s success. That doesn’t mean he won’t pitch well again five days from now, but it does mean you shouldn’t be surprised if he gives up 5 runs and 10 hits in a five-inning stint. Sorry to be a downer, but that’s my style.

Jose Reyes led off the game with a homer, the 15th time he’s done that in his career. He also hit a single, sacrificed, and was picked off.

Jeff Francoeur continued his hot hitting, blasting a solo homer to provide an insurance run in the 8th.

Reyes and Francoeur accounted for over half the Mets’ hits — they managed only 5 all told against Brian Matusz, who pitched 8 brilliant innings in a tough loss.

Ruben Tejada scored the Mets’ second run, but really shouldn’t have. He misread an Angel Pagan hit and therefore didn’t score from second base, and eventually scored on a double play that should’ve been off the bat of David Wright — but first-base ump Ron Kulpa blew the call and called Wright safe, thereby giving the Mets a run instead of ending the inning. A small thing, and Frenchy’s homer would’ve been the difference anyway, but it is these small things that eventually catch up to a club. Again, you’re probably wondering why I’m being a Debbie Downer, but I’m a bit miffed that the Mets are only barely beating the worst team MLB has seen in ten years — maybe closer to 50 years, considering that the O’s current record compares to the 1962 Mets over the same number of games.

As predicted, Pedro Feliciano pitched again, tossing 16 pitches in his MLB-leading 37th appearance. Again, I’m a bit miffed that Jerry Manuel felt forced to “go to the well” for his lefty specialist yet again, to make sure the Mets beat the worst team in baseball. What happens in August when the Mets play the Phillies and Braves a dozen times? Will Feliciano’s left arm still be attached to his body?

Next Mets Game

The Mets go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 PM. Mike Pelfrey goes for his 9th win against Kevin Millwood, who has yet to earn a win and has lost seven.


Mets Game 57: Win Over Marlins

Mets 7 Marlins 6


The Mets were down 1-0 in the fourth, then fell behind 5-0 as they came to bat in the sixth. It was looking like one of those lazy Sunday losses. Then, out of nowhere, the Mets offense woke from their slumber and scored seven runs over the final three innings to come back and win the ballgame — and sweep their weekend series against the Marlins.

Game Notes

Sorry for the late postgame. I missed the live broadcast of the game to attend my (not so) little brother’s high school graduation from Seton Hall Prep. Christopher Janish sung the Star-Spangled Banner to start the commencement exercises and sang “The Prep” alma mater to end the ceremonies. Yeah, I’m proud of him — it’s OK to be proud of my younger brother, right, Mr. Francesa?

Ken Hisanori Takahashi zipped through the Marlins lineup once, then struggled afterward, beginning with Dan Uggla’s solo homer in the fourth frame. Tak shook it off but then allowed four more runs in the sixth inning — the highlight being a three-run homer by Cody Ross. His final line was 5 1/3 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.

We shouldn’t really be surprised that the league is starting to figure out Takahashi after his hot start. After all, he tops out at 90 MPH, but usually is around 87 with his fastball, and as a result can be very hittable if his control isn’t absolutely pinpoint — he doesn’t have much margin for error. I think the mystery of being unknown was partly the reason for his great beginning, and he’s now struggling because NL hitters are more familiar with him and the scouts are building reports on him. We’ll see if he can adjust to the league now that the league has adjusted to him. Though, my guess is the “unknown factor” will work in his favor when the Mets enter interleague play next week.

All of the Marlins runs came off of Japanese imports; their sixth score came off of Ryota Igarashi, who continues to exhibit lackluster body language and questionable command. He’s been a completely different pitcher since returning from the DL, so you must wonder if he’s still hurting.

David Wright was 3-for-5 with a double but scored only once and had no RBI.

Jeff Francoeur was more or less the star of the game for the Mets, hitting a double and a three-run homer that tied the game 6-6.

Chris Carter — remember him? — drove in the Mets’ first run, scoring Wright with a bloop single off Ricky Nolasco in the sixth. He’s now 4-for-13 (.307) as a pinch-hitter.

Remarkably, Nolasco was removed immediately after that lucky bloop, having thrown only 82 pitches. He left the game with the bases loaded, and Tim Wood allowed two of those runners to score (on a laser up the middle by Angel Pagan) — as well as another three of his own when Frenchy went yard. Not sure what Fredi Gonzalez was thinking, because Nolasco was throwing fairly well and Wood has to be one of the worst pitchers on his staff. Thanks Fredi!

Pagan was — you guessed it — 2-for-4, with a stolen base. Where have I seen that before? He’s now hitting .291.

Next Mets Game

The Mets have a day off at home on Monday night, then stay in Flushing to host the Padres (didn’t the Mets just get back from San Diego?). Tuesday night’s game begins at 7:10 PM, and pits Mike Pelfrey vs. Clayton Richard.


Mets Game 52: Loss to Padres

Padres 18 Mets 6

You know things aren’t going well when Oliver Perez’s presence on the mound is a sight for sore eyes.

But that in fact was the case, after watching Hisanori Takahashi allow 6 runs in 4 innings, Raul Valdes allow 4 runs (half of which came on bases-loaded walks) without registering an out, and Ryota Igarashi give up 6 runs in 1/3 of an inning.

That’s right — Takahashi, Valdes, and Igarashi all shat the bed. Meantime, a pumpkin waited in the Petco Park parking lot to take the three of them home.

Game Notes

The only positive to be taken away is that the Mets offense scored 6 runs against a team that has pitched very well this season.

Oh, wait, there’s another: the Mets turned four double plays. Funny, I don’t remember any of them.

To put this embarrassing laugher in perspective: coming into the contest, the Padres were averaging 4 runs per game — and were 24th in MLB in runs scored (204 in 50 games). Did that not hit home? OK, consider that Nick Hundley and Chris Denorfia bat 5th and 6th in the lineup.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Padres face each other again at 10:05 PM EST on Tuesday night. Mike Pelfrey faces Wade LeBlanc.


Mets Game 47: Win Over Phillies

Mets 5 Phillies 0

Who are these Mets? Who are those Phillies?

The Mets won their fourth in a row — beating the Yankees and Phillies — and their fifth of their last six. They’ve shut out the Phillies in back-to-back games using fill-in starters. Is it because they’re that good? Is it because Jerry Manuel knows exactly what buttons to press, and when? Now that they’ve crawled out of the cellar, should we expect the Mets to start mashing their way to the top of the division?

Time will tell.

Game Notes

Hisanori “Don’t Call Me Ken” Takahashi spun another brilliant start, stupefying the Phillies through six innings of shutout ball. He allowed 5 hits, walked none, and struck out 6. The Phillies truly looked befuddled against him — I guess that’s what happens when they aren’t told what’s coming.

Takahashi is now tied with Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey for the team lead in wins (4). He’s posted a 0.81 ERA over his last 8 appearances, going back to Cinco de Mayo.

Is it a coincidence that Takahashi, Raul Valdes, Jennry Mejia, and R.A. Dickey have been the biggest surprises on the staff, and none were exposed to Dan Warthen until very recently? Probably.

Jose Reyes blasted his first homer of the year, a 400-foot laser over the right field wall. He’s just getting warmed up, folks.

Rod Barajas — a.k.a., “Lord of the (High) Flies” — drove in 3 more runs with a double and a long fly. He’s hitting .533 with 8 RBI in 4 games vs. the Phillies this year. Clearly, NL teams do not archive their scouting reports, or Hot Rod would not continually get pitches low and in — pretty much the only spot his bat swings through. Let’s hope no one catches on.

Similarly, I hope the Mets continue to throw pitches — of any variety — down and away to Ryan Howard. Change-ups, fastballs, breaking pitches — it doesn’t matter what — if the pitch is below his knees, and off the outside corner, he’s swinging and missing. Those breezes must have been welcome in the 95+ degree heat during the game.

Angel Pagan was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored, and his push bunt in the sixth helped ignite a three-run rally. He’s quietly turning into a solid offensive force at the bottom half of the lineup. Carlos Who?

Speaking of steals, the Mets are 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts in this series, and are second in the NL in both total steals (43) and SB percentage (83%).

Fernando Nieve did make an appearance, tossing 14 pitches in a perfect ninth. But this outing was PLANNED, as he was “getting his work in” in preparation for a spot start this coming weekend. Really? He needs to get work in? It will take a minor miracle to keep his right arm from detaching from his body before the end of the season.

The Mets are now 18-9 at home, and beginning to resemble the 1987 Twins, minus the dome.

The Phillies have scored a scant 15 runs in their past 8 games. The’ve scored 4 runs in their last 45 innings. The pitchers on the end of the Mets depth chart have shut them out through 18 consecutive innings. WTF?

This was the first time the Mets shut out the Phillies in back-to-back games since July 17-18, 1998, when Al Leiter and Hideo Nomo pulled the trick (back then pitchers still occasionally finished what they started).

The Phillies, by the way, have been shut out four times this year — three of those times in their last three games.

Next Mets Game

The Mets go for the sweep on Thursday night, sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound against Cole Hamels. Game time is 7:10 PM.


Game 43: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 2, Mets 1

Did you ever see a movie that you were REALLY excited to see? A movie that was REALLY interesting and totally lived up to its expectations for about 90 minutes, until something totally unbelievable and ridiculous happened that it totally took you out of the movie? You were suddenly aware that you were watching a movie and not just any movie, but a REALLY BAD movie?

Yeah, tonight’s game was like that. And Elmer Dessens was that unbelievable and ridiculous moment.

On a personal note, Dessens destroyed my fantasy team once and I wrote him off as a guy that really had no business on a Major League team since then.

That was in 2003.

Sorry for the tangent, but really, the Mets were lucky to get out of the 7th inning down 2-0. Say what you want about John Maine’s weird exit last night – but Maine deserves a spot on a team that employs Dessens in the bullpen.

Ugh. I digress (again).

Howie Rumberg of the Associated Press summed up this game in a paragraph:

Javier Vazquez pitched one-hit ball for six innings before becoming the latest pinstriped player to leave with an injury and the Yankees took advantage of more inept Mets play to win the opener of the Subway Series 2-1 on Friday night.

The only other thing you need to know is exactly how the scoring occured and Rumber has that covered, concisely:

Kevin Russo got his first hit of the season and first two big league RBIs and Mariano Rivera struggled to earn his first save after two subpar outings, helping the makeshift Yankees win their fourth straight game at Citi Field after sweeping the series last year.

Rivera gave up consecutive two-out doubles to Jason Bay and Ike Davis in the ninth inning, bringing a record Citi Field crowd of 41,382 to life before getting David Wright grounding to second for his eighth save in nine chances.

With both teams struggling – the Yankees because of injuries to several key players, and the Mets because of an anemic offense and a rotation in disarray – Vazquez and spot starter Hisanori Takahashi engaged in a fantastic pitchers’ duel for six innings.

The two big bright spots here are obvious – Takahashi continues to impress and Ike Davis is just… well, let’s not jinx it, although it does appear that second base is made out of kryptonite – or whatever Ike is allergic to.

Next Game

Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02) takes the mound for the Mets on Saturday. Phil Hughes (5-0, 2.25) will start for the Yankees. First pitch at 7:10pm.

Enjoy this video of Opening Day at Shea Stadium, circa 1982. Sorry, I’m on a nostalgia kick:


Mets Game 21: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 10 Dodgers 5

Break up the Mets!

By taking the second game of their doubleheader with the Dodgers, the Mets have won their third consecutive series, and are now threatening to take the lead in the NL East.

I urge you to bask in this current glory, because one can never know what the future brings. Live in the present, and be happy!

Game Notes

Oliver Perez was his usual awful self. The numbers he put on paper in the first three innings seemed innocent enough — no runs, one hit, one walk — but your eyes should have told you a different story. From his very first pitch of the game and throughout his short stint, Ollie was consistently missing his target by a foot and a half or more. A FOOT AND A HALF. I’m talking about his intended target, not the strike zone — there is a difference. You can miss your intended target and still get lucky enough to have the ball pass over the plate on occasion. Additionally, his velocity was topping out in the high 80s. With that combination, it was only a matter of time before the roof caved in — as it did in the fourth.

Ollie’s issues stem from his inconsistent mechanics, which often are sending his momentum side-to-side rather than toward the plate, and in turn cause his release point to be all over the place. A pitcher can get away — for a while — with bad mechanics if his release point is relatively consistent. Perez has no consistency with anything he does from the moment he toes the rubber.

The fourth inning that sent Ollie to the showers could have been much worse. Hisanori Takahashi — who otherwise provided another admirable job in long relief — had walked the bases loaded, walked Reed Johnson to force in a run, and might have walked James Loney to force in another, but was saved by some questionable strike calls by home plate umpire Angel Campos. Takahashi was struggling mightily in his initial inning (maybe he wasn’t completely warmed up?) and who knows what might’ve happened if Loney walked to force in another run and bring up Blake DeWitt with the bases still loaded? The Dodgers could have broken the game wide open there and set the momentum in another direction. It’s nice to see the Mets getting breaks like this, after watching them on the short end so often the last three years.

Jason Bay followed up his first homer as a Met in game one with a first-inning triple and a spectacular diving catch in the second inning to steal a hit from Jamey Carroll. Who said he couldn’t play defense?

David Wright had a huge day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk and 4 RBI. His bases-clearing triple in the sixth cemented the win. Guess I can shelve my “Whats Wrong with Wright” article.

Hisanori Takahashi was better than Perez in 3+ innings of relief, but nothing to write home about. He’s following in the 2010 Mets tradition of inefficiency, using 75 pitches to get 10 outs.

Jennry Mejia got one inning of work in the 8th. So glad he’s up in MLB for these garbage innings, rather in the minors honing his craft for a possible future as a starting pitcher. The Mets can’t trust Jack Egbert or Pat Misch with a six-run lead?

Timing is everything; the Mets caught the Dodgers at just the right time, and took advantage. Los Angeles is currently without Manny Ramirez, Vicente Padilla, Cory Wade, and Jeff Weaver, didn’t have Rafael Furcal due to a tight hamstring, and for all intents and purposes didn’t have Ronald Belisario nor Hong Chih Kuo available (both recently returned to the roster and are being handled carefully by Joe Torre). James Loney exacerbated the situation by getting ejected in the fourth inning. Again, nice to see the Mets take advantage, since they likely will face a much different Dodger team the next time the two teams meet for four games in late July.

Next Mets Game

The Mets hope to finish the sweep on Thursday afternoon with John Maine taking the mound against a mystery pitcher who is most likely to be Josh Towers (who is currently in AAA). Game time is 1:10 PM.


Mets Game 17: Win Over Braves

Mets 5 Braves 2

Jerry Manuel is a genius.

Manuel finally followed through with his brilliant plan of batting Jose Reyes in the third spot of the lineup, Reyes had a great day at the plate, and the Mets won.

It’s all smooth sailing from here on in.

Game Notes

Jose Reyes went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his debut as the three hitter, rapping his third double and second triple of the season. He had no RBI and scored once.

Ike Davis smashed his first MLB homerun, a high, deep blast that fell just short of Shea Bridge.

Jason Bay and David Wright continued to break out of their respective slumps, both delivering RBI hits. Bay hit a triple immediately after Reyes’ — the first time this year the Mets hit back-to-back three baggers.

John Maine left the game with spasms and pain in his left elbow. Yes, that’s his non-throwing elbow. From Adam Rubin’s blog:

“I couldn’t bring my arm down,” Maine said. “It’d lock up and get kind of stuck. I was able to throw. I went out there and threw in the fourth inning — I don’t know how effective. Like I said, it’s just one thing after another.”

The left side and the right side work together to throw the ball — the left side pulls down to help drive the right side around, kind of like a wheel. I wonder if Maine’s over-rotation issue — which looked somewhat improved at times during his short stint — puts more of a strain on his left side than other pitchers, and contributed to the spasm? Thinking more along those lines, now I’m thinking that the reason he wasn’t over-rotating as much was because the pain was preventing him from doing so.

In any case, I’m not sure what others were seeing — the people who said and wrote that Maine looked pretty good before leaving the game. His velocity was sitting around 84-86 (other than one 89-MPH strike three fastball to Jason Heyward) and his command was inconsistent as usual. My guess is he started experiencing the pain and/or spasms early on.

Hisanori Takahashi did a good job in relief of Maine, allowing two hits, a walk, and one run in three innings of work and striking out 7. Others used more superfluous adjectives to describe the outing, but I’ll remain grounded and stick with “good”. You can call me negative or responsible, it’s up to you. My concern is that when a Mets pitcher actually DOES display an “outstanding” performance, I will be out of appropriate words to describe it (“these go to 11”).

As usual, K-Rod kept the game interesting in the 9th, bringing the tying run to the plate, but closed things out successfully for his second save of the season.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 1:10 PM on Saturday afternoon. Jon Niese goes to the hill against Jair Jurrjens.


Final Cuts: Analysis

My apologies for not posting this earlier, but like most of the news out of Port St. Lucie this spring, it took me a long time to understand and extract the logic.

Let’s just run through specific personnel.

Nelson Figueroa (cut) – He’s not a Cy Young candidate. He’s barely an MLB-quality 5th starter. However, he had a spectacular spring, he had a great winter campaign, he had an outstanding