Tag: joe blanton

Mets Game 153: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 3 Mets 2

So I blinked, and missed the game.

The Phillies disposed of the Mets in short order, cruising to their 93rd win of the season in a mere 2 hours, 10 minutes. That’s pretty impressive, considering:

– a knuckleballer pitched 6 innings for the Mets
– there were 5 pitching changes in the ballgame
– only two double plays were turned
– the game was played in the 21st century

Game Notes

R.A. Dickey was pretty good, but not good enough to beat the Phillies. He knuckled down for 6 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks. He also ripped a double.

Unfortunately for Dickey, Joe Blanton was a touch better — allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk in 7 frames, expending just 74 pitches.

Ike Davis went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Angel Pagan hit his 11th homer to drive himself and Davis in. And that was the scoring for the Mets, folks.

Davis’ double looked like it might be a game-tying homer in the top of the ninth, but it bounced off the middle of the left-field wall. He was stranded on third base when Jesus Feliciano struck out to end the game.

The bottom of the fifth ended with a double play turned on the Phillies on a Wright-Tejada-Davis relay. Chase Utley went in aggressively and upended Tejada on the play. It was an absolutely clean play, but it was a hard-nosed slide that you don’t see very often in these days of the pretty-boy sissy buddies. You DO see it often from Utley and others on the Phils. Now understand: the Phillies are more or less guaranteed to be in the postseason, and therefore this game means relatively nothing. Yet Utley still went in hard. Only minutes later in the top of the sixth, Jayson Werth went full-force into the right-field wall in an attempt to catch a fly ball, and Raul Ibanez ended the inning with a sliding catch in left field. It is late September, the Phillies may clinch before the weekend is over, and yet they are playing like it is the 7th game of the World Series. An inning after that, Joe Blanton fell flat on his face scrambling to field a drag bunt and retire Angel Pagan. That kind of display makes one consider buying a Phillies cap.

That’s not to say the Mets don’t hustle as well. There are a number of players — particularly some of the younger ones who are trying to make an impression — who play hard most if not all the time. But for whatever reason, playing hard and aggressively all the time — LOOKING like a team that will do whatever they need to do to win — has not been something one would identify with the Mets. They show up, most of them usually play hard, and sometimes, if the score seems out of reach, they look like they’ve given up. That’s what their overall body language shows, to me, anyway — and it’s something that’s been apparent since 2007, even when they won more games than they lost.

Speaking of the Phillies and their current record, their “magic number” is 2. In other words, a combination of Phillies wins and Braves losses that equal 2 will result in the Phillies clinching the NL East. For example, if the Phillies beat the Mets on Saturday and the Braves lose to the Nationals. So there’s a very good chance that the Mets will be party to a Phillies celebration this weekend. Oh joy.

This was the Phillies’ 11th consecutive win.

The Mets are now five games under .500 and have a firm hold on fourth place.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies play again on Saturday night at 7:05 PM. Dillon Gee faces Kyle Kendrick.


Mets Game 109: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 7 Mets 5

Jonathon Niese had his big curveball working, the home plate umpire had a huge, pitcher-friendly strike zone, and the Phillies were without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino.

In other words, a sure-fire formula for success.

But, something went wrong on the way toward fulfilling that formula — I blame the scientist in the lab.

Game Notes

Niese allowed 4 hits and 1 run in 7 innings of work. The bullpen allowed 7 hits and 6 runs in the 8th inning alone. That, in a nutshell, was the ballgame.

On a positive note, Niese had his big overhand curveball working really well — as well as we’ve seen it all year. Why was it so good? Mainly because he was staying more “over the top” with his arm action, staying on top of the ball with a consistently high release point. In other words, he was doing all the things we’ve been saying he needed to do right here at MetsToday (check the archives). With that nice overhand delivery, Niese gets good 11-5 bite on the curve and a mild sink on the fastball. He does not get as much sideways movement on the slider that he calls a cutter, but in my humble opinion that is generally an ineffective pitch that should be used only as a “show” pitch — something to throw maybe 4-5 times a game just to keep the batters thinking of something else. Having a great curve working as he did in this contest is the ultimate equalizer, as we saw through seven formidable innings.

Mike Sweeney had two hits, a run, and an RBI in his debut as a Phillie. Sweeney is one of my all-time favorite players, and if you’ve been visiting for a while you know I’ve advocated the Mets acquiring him several times in the past. It’s remarkable that when the Phillies lose a player like Ryan Howard they are able to pick up a solid veteran such as Sweeney, but when the Mets had all those injuries last year, the best acquisitions they could muster were Wilson Valdez and Anderson Hernandez.

As well as Niese was pitching, there was this eerie feeling throughout that the Phillies were just waiting for the opportunity to explode and take the game. Or maybe it was just me.

Ike Davis went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Jeff Francoeur very quietly went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Mike Hessman very loudly hit a pinch-hit, 3-run homer in the top of the ninth that chased J.C. Romero from the game.

Is a New York Met EVER going to slide hard and aggressively into second base to break up a double play? Just throwing that out there, because it seems like they’re always doing their best to get out of the way and make sure the second baseman or shortstop has a clear, unobstructed path to throw the relay to first.

Next Mets Game

Game two in this three-game set begins at 7:05 PM on Saturday night. Johan Santana faces Cole Hamels and the bullpen binoculars.


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.


Mets Game 81: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 2 Mets 0

Sweepstakes are great, especially if you win. Sweeps week is cool. The book series “Sweep” is supposedly entertaining, particularly if you’re into witches. Hiring a chimney sweeper is a fine idea.

Getting swept in Philadelphia, however, is not so wonderful.

Johan Santana was very good, but not good enough. He allowed only three hits in seven innings of work — as did opposing pitcher Joe Blanton. However, two of the three hits Santana allowed were solo homers, while two of the three hits Blanton allowed were to Luis Castillo.


Nothing. I have nothing. I’m clean out of thoughts, ideas, analysis. This team stinks, plain and simple.

The Mets are now 39-42, and have fallen to third place, in a tie with the Braves, four games behind the leading Phillies and three behind the second-place Marlins.

Jerry Manuel said this sweep was not demoralizing. Perhaps because the Mets have already been demoralized, and cannot be demoralized any further?

OK, I’ve got one thought. Did you notice anything about the first-place Phillies, in particular something that had nothing to do with their offense? (Hint: it is in regard to their defense.) Compare that “thing” to that “thing” the Mets do when they’re not up at the plate hitting (or, attempting to hit). You know, when they’re all spread out around the ballfield, and wearing leather gloves. It seems — to me, anyway — that the Phillies react differently to that little white sphere moving around the park. Am I right?

Next Mets Game

We fans have Monday off; hopefully the indigestion will ease as a result. The Mets start the second half of their 162-game season on Tuesday in Flushing against Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers. Mike Pelfrey throws the first pitch at 7:10 PM. Clayton Kershaw starts for LA.