Tag: livan hernandez

Mets Game 102: Loss to Diamondbacks

Rockies 3 Mets 2

At the start it was a skirmish between soft-tossers, but in the end, a battle of the bullpens.

Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis matched each other slow curve for slow curve through six innings and each exited the game with the score tied and no chance for a decision. The soft-tossers hurled nearly identical outings, with both going 6 innings and allowing 4 hits and 2 runs — with all runs scoring on solo homers.

But in the end, it was the Arizona bullpen that prevailed, as they held the Mets hitless over the final three frames while Sean Green imploded, allowing a runner inherited from Pedro Feliciano to score the winning run.

Notes

Ironically, the loss was tagged on Feliciano, even though it was Green who shat the bed. Sometimes there is no justice in baseball scoring. Note: Feliciano was charged with the loss on the MLB official boxscore posted 10 minutes after the game; it has since been amended.

The 8th inning was a prime example of why the Diamondbacks are in second-to-last place and going nowhere this year. After Sean Green hit Justin Upton, walked Mark Reynolds on four pitches to load the bases, and was clearly struggling to keep the ball within six feet of home plate (seriously, not an exaggeration), genius Miguel Montero swung at a 1-0 pitch to bounce into a tailor-made DP started by Dan Murphy. Minutes later Green bounced a ball to the backstop to allow a run anyway, but it could’ve been much worse. If I’m manager A.J. Hinch (meh), I have the take sign on until Green shows he can throw two balls near the plate. If it were Miguel Cabrera at the plate instead of Miguel Montero, I might think differently … though it would be tough. After Green bounced in the run, Ryan Roberts swung at the very next pitch and eventually grounded out to end the inning. Again, you see a pitcher struggling mightily, don’t help him! Green was darn lucky to get out of there with only one run — any decent-hitting team would have scored 3-4 runs at minimum.

And while we’re on the subject of fundamentals, Ron Darling mentioned during the ninth that a hitter in a sacrifice situation should start the bat at the top of the strike zone — this way, if the pitch is above the bat, you know to let it go. I personally do not like this approach, because when the bat is up high, it means you have to move it down for strikes — and when you move a bat down to the ball, the ball tends to go up. Obviously, bunts should go down, toward the ground, which is why I’ve always preferred to start the bat low, at the bottom of the strike zone, and move it UP to the ball — which tends to impart an overspin on the ball, and sends the ball downward. Simple physics.

Frankie Rodriguez has not been in a save situation since the All-Star break. Wow.

The first two runs of the game came on homeruns hit on hanging curveballs. Mark Reynolds blasted a Livan curve a good 430 feet over the centerfield fence, while Dan Murphy jumped on a Davis deuce and bounced it off the rightfield foul pole, exactly 330 feet from home plate.

The two teams COMBINED for nine hits in the game. Miraculously, the Mets walked seven times — and not one of those baserunners scored. Davis issued six of those walks, and nearly all of them were of the “unintentional intentional” variety — he clearly picks and chooses who he wants to pitch to.

Angel Berroa pinch-hit for Livan Hernandez with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. Have to say, if Berroa is the best you can do in that situation, I prefer to take my chances with Livan.

For the record, Jerry Manuel — the guy who admittedly “doesn’t put much into stats” — explained the decision by stating “Berroa’s had some success in the past against Arizona”. Um … hmmm … not sure how that’s a factor — does Berroa respond to the uniform rather than an individual’s stuff? In his career, Berroa has a .218 average vs. Arizona. Yes, last year Berroa hit .308 vs. the D’Backs, and against Doug Davis he was hitting .500 — but it was 1-for-2. Again, I may take my chances with Livan right there.

Angel Pagan and Luis Castillo are a combined 1-for-15 in the last two games heading the top of the lineup.

So with the Giants leading in the Wild Card standings, we have to root for the Phillies this weekend. Awesome.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Rockies do it again at 7:10 PM at Citi Field. Oliver Perez faces Max Scherzer in an intriguing contest of talented enigmas. Both pitchers have the stuff to throw a no-hitter on the right night, and either could also disappear from the game before the fourth inning. No matter what, the crowd surely will be refreshed by cool breezes from the swings and misses siphoned from both lineups by these fireballers.

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Mets Fire Sale

firesaleIt was only a week ago that Omar Minaya claimed the Mets to be “buyers” rather than “sellers” but that was as much hogwash then as it is now. The Mets have 11 more losses than the NL East-leading Phillies and are 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card with 65 games to play. Mathmetically, yes, they have a chance to reach the postseason. Realistically, though, it’s not likely.

With four days before the trading deadline, it’s time to see where the Mets can cut their losses and bring in some talent for 2010. Unfortunately, the list of trade bait is pretty short.

Pedro Feliciano

“Pedro Lite” is one of the most sought-after lefthanded relievers right now, in a mix with Joe Beimel, George Sherrill, and John Grabow. But how much will a pennant-starved team give up for a LOOGY? Would it be more than an A-ball suspect or AA filler material? The Mets may be better off holding on to Feliciano, who is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sean Green

Teams need pitching, and are willing to part with talent in return for quality arms. The question is, do other teams consider Green a quality arm? His stock has fallen due to a terrible first half and the fact that his performace drops considerably with overuse. The White Sox recently gave up a slugging first base prospect to pry Tony Pena from the Diamondbacks, and Pena was in the midst of a similarly down season. But, Pena is 27 and has a better track record. Can the Mets obtain a decent player for the 30-year-old Green? It’s worth trying.

Luis Castillo

After a horrible 2008, Castillo is in line for Comeback Player of the Year, and currently sizzling at the plate. There are a few pennant-contending clubs who might be in the market for a second baseman, most notably the White Sox, Twins, and Cubs. The Rockies and Giants might also have room for Castillo’s .400 OBP. However, there is the issue of Castillo’s unbearable contract, which still has two years and $12M remaining after this season. The Mets would certainly have to eat all or most of that money to get anything of value in return — much like the Red Sox’ dumping of Julio Lugo for Chris Duncan.

If the Mets are willing to continue paying Castillo, they might be able to get a prospect or two. For example, the Giants have a switch-hitting second baseman in AA named Brock Bond who is an on-base machine like Castillo, but is already 24 and has no power and only average speed — though, Mets fans would get excited over his currently .350 batting average (he’s projected to be a Jeff Keppinger / Brendan Ryan utility type of guy). The White Sox have some intriguing pitchers at AA and a big young catcher named Tyler Flowers, who was caught with PEDs in 2007 but has done well without them — whether they’d give him up for Castillo, though, is another story. Most likely, the Mets can get a mix of A and AA borderline prospects — similar to what they gave up to get him back in 2007.

Livan Hernandez

In two weeks, Livan went from nearly getting booted from the rotation to emerging as their second-best starter. Everyone always needs pitching, but would anyone give up anything of value for Hernandez — particularly since he projects as a #5 on any contending club?

Angel Pagan

I know, I know — he’s one of the few exciting and dependable players the Mets have in the lineup right now. But he’s also most likely playing the best baseball he’ll ever play in his life — so it may be a good time to “sell high” (i.e., like when the Mets traded Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Desi Relaford). With Carlos Beltran presumably coming back for 2010 and 2011, Pagan’s value to the Mets is diminished. The Tigers and White Sox could be trolling for an outfielder with Pagan’s skillset, and if he can bring back something of value, it’s worth exploring. On the other hand, if you believe Beltran’s knee woes are only beginning, then it makes sense to hold on tight to Pagan, and pencil him into centerfield for next season — because there are no centerfield prospects in the Mets’ minor league system ready to step in.

Brian Schneider

I’m not seeing it. Schneider is a fairly solid defensive catcher with occasional pop, but what is a contending team going to give up for two-month rental who can’t beat out Omir Santos for a starting job? The Mets would get MAYBE an A-ball suspect, and then we’d have Robinson Cancel back in Flushing.

Gary Sheffield

He can’t go anywhere as long as he’s on the DL. If he passes through waivers in August, maybe the Mets can get a AAA guy who was once a prospect but now a suspect.

Conclusion

I keep looking at the Mets’ roster and seeing nothing of value to other teams — a frightening parallel to their minor league system. Veterans not mentioned, such as Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Alex Cora, Cory Sullivan, Brian Stokes, and Jeremy Reed are all key contributors on this fourth-place team, but to a contending club they are basically worthless — other organizations have similar talent stocked at AAA, so why trade for it?

More disconcerting, even if the Mets are able to pull off a few trades, will they get anything worthwhile in return?

Consider this: the last time the Mets held a fire sale was July 2003, when they unloaded Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar, Rey Sanchez, Graeme Lloyd, and Armando Benitez — you can argue that those players were as or more more valuable then, than what the Mets have to offer now. The total return on those trades? Jeremy Hill, Jason Anderson, Kenny Kelly, Royce Ring, Victor Diaz, Kole Strayhorn, Joselo Diaz, Edwin Almonte, Andrew Salvo, Anderson Garcia and Ryan Bicondoa. Victor Diaz and Ring made minor contributions, and the rest never made it to Flushing.

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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 92: Win Over Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 2

The Comeback has begun.

On the shoulders of Livan Hernandez and behind the bat of Jeff Francoeur, the new new new Mets started their second-half assault on the rest of the NL East by beating the cellar-dwelling Nationals.

Hernandez threw seven stellar innings, allowing only two runs on five hits and two walks against the mighty Nats. Hernandez kept the DC sluggers guessing by mixing a variety of pitches, speeds, and angles in a performance that guaranteed his spot in the rotation for at least another five days.

Meantime, Jeff Francoeur showed the world why Omar Minaya was right and the rest of MLB wrong, blasting an RBI double in the second and a solo homer in the ninth, powering a Mets offense that pummeled Washington pitching for nine hits. Similarly, Dan Murphy rewarded the patience of Jerry Manuel and solidified his spot as the #3 hitter with a two-hit, two-RBI evening. Shame on all of you who wondered why the .238-hitting Murphy was penciled into the three-hole … he’s Daniel Murphy, and He Hits Third!

In addition to Livan’s high-quality start, the bullpen was stupendous, capped by Frankie Rodriguez’s 12-pitch, perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

Notes

Francoeur was 3-for-4 on the day and saw 18 pitches — more than any other Met. Now that he’s gotten over the emotional hump of returning to his hometown, there’s no stopping “Jeff the Juggernaut”.

Francoeur became the third Met to hit a homerun this month! The last time the Mets had three different players hit a four-bagger in a single month was May of 1906, when Roland Agni, Luke Gofannon, and John Baal each pulled the trick. Of course, back then the Mets played in parks three times the size of Citi Field and the ball was “dead”, so I imagine all three of those “quadruples” were inside-the-park jobs, the result of line drives sneaking between the outfielders and rolling a quarter-mile to the fence.

Angel Pagan continues to blister the ball, burn up the basepaths, and sweep up centerfield — he went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI from the leadoff spot. I can’t decide whether he’s making me forget Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, or both.

Jeremy Reed went 0-for-4, sinking his average to a season-low .250, and I imagine the newly promoted Cory Sullivan will be given a shot to take away his half of the LF platoon. After all, Reed is no Danny Murphy.

Since the Phillies routed the Cubs 10-1, the Mets didn’t gain any ground in the standings. But that’s neither here nor there — the turning point we’ve been waiting for all season has finally occurred. I can taste it! (Or is that whiskey on my lips?)

Next Mets Game

The Mets demolish the Nationals on Tuesday night at 7:05 PM. Oliver Perez hurls for the Metropolitans while John Lannan plays the role of sacrificial lamb for the Nationals. Be sure to tune in early or you may miss the game-winning hit.

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Mets Game 84: Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 11 Mets 2

So much for building on a big win over the best team in baseball.

The Dodgers shrugged off a 5-4 loss on Wednesday night to demolish the Mets, reminding them of their place in the world.

Orlando Hudson wrapped a three-run double in the first frame, putting the Dodgers up by four, and from there it was just a long, painful, dreary wait for the game to end. I’ve had two root canals, and the agony did not compare to what had to be endured through the final 8 1/2 innings of this dreadful contest.

By the time Livan Hernandez was mercifully removed, he had allowed 8 earned runs on 11 hits and 4 walks in 4 frames. Pat Misch and Brian Stokes were passable in relief, but Tim Redding was Livanlike in his two innings, allowing another 3 runs on 6 hits and a walk.

Notes

What is there to say? Livan Hernandez put the team in a hole, and this team — with or without “the cavalry” — does not have the gumption to come back from such a deficit. There’s no way you can convince me that Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes would’ve made a difference in this game.

On a positive note, David Wright was 2-for-3. Gary Sheffield showed a modicum of interest, showing enough emotion to get himself tossed from the game. I’m not saying it’s good to get thrown out, but, it’s nice to see that someone on this team gives a crap.

The score could’ve been worse when you consider that the Dodgers left 13 men on base. Thirteen. Wow.

Jerry Manuel finally came to his senses in penciling in Luis Castillo and his .380 OBP at the top of the lineup. Though, I can’t explain Nick Evans in the two-hole, the insistence of forcing Fernando Tatis into the lineup, nor the decision to sit Dan Murphy after a two-double day. Is the lefty-lefty thing really THAT big a deal? And how can that be, when Manuel openly admits that he doesn’t pay much attention to the numbers?

Speaking of the numbers, Fernando Tatis is now 3-for-31 lifetime vs. Randy Wolf.

Manny Ramirez was 5-for-11 with 3 runs scored and 6 RBI in this series. Good thing I sat him on my fantasy team. I left Randy Wolf on the bench, too. This is why I finish last every year.

Next Mets Game

The Mets navigate their way to the All-Star Break via a three-game weekend series hosting the Cincinnati Redlegs. Fernando Nieve faces Bronson Arroyo in the opener at 7:10 PM on Friday night in Flushing.

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Mets Game 79: Loss to Phillies

Phillies 7 Mets 2

The Phillies racked up seven runs in the first three innings against Livan Hernandez, and never looked back.

Hernandez was mercifully excused from his duties with no outs and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, at which point he had allowed 7 earned runs on 10 hits and 4 walks through three. It could’ve been an even uglier line, but long man Pat Misch got two ground balls resulting in three outs and no runs scored to save Livan’s ERA.

The Mets bullpen shut down the Phillies bats over the last five innings of play (Misch threw three shutout innings). Maybe the home team was simply tired of swinging and running around the bases.

Notes

Interestingly, Livan wasn’t victimized much by the gopher ball — a solo blast by Jayson Werth was the only run scored via homerun. Instead, the Phils mostly singled him to death. The top three hitters in the lineup were 6-for-8 against him in the first four frames.

OK, so, to reiterate: the Mets were beaten in a game where RODRIGO LOPEZ and CHAN HO PARK combined for eight innings of two-run ball. What else is there to say?

Ryan “Hercules” Church went 3-for-4. He’s now 13 for his last 23 and his season batting average has surged to .300. It’s safe to say he has “stepped up”. But hey, Danny Murphy (.245) is still a better hitter, as far as me and Pops Manuel are concerned.

Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect inning in this game. He does really well when the game is out of reach.

Once again, GREAT work by Emmy Award-winning Bill “Wizard” Webb, particularly in the third inning on a double by Jimmy Rollins. On the play, Rollins should have had a single, but made it to second because no one was covering the bag. Webb’s cameras gave us great up-close shots of Ryan Church fielding the ball in center, Rollins running down the first base line, and Livan throwing his glove at the ball up the middle, but unfortunately was not able to give us an angle that actually captured the play as it developed. Where was Fernando Tatis or Alex Cora? No one sitting at home knows, because no cameras were on them. Even if they had, most likely we would have seen the acne on Cora’s face or Tatis picking his nose, rather than a broad view shot that gave us an inkling on the actual ACTION.

For those unaware, many Emmy Awards are doled out to people not because of performance or popularity, but simply because someone took the time to fill out the necessary forms. No joke.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Phillies do it again on July 4th at 4:05 PM (yeah, a FOX game). Fernando Nieve faces Jamie Moyer.

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Series Preview: Mets vs. Phillies

phillies-76The phireworks will be on the phield in Philadelphia this weekend, as the second-place Mets take on the phirst-place Phillies in a series that could be a turning point in the season for both teams.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Phillies are not alone at the top of the division — the Florida Marlins have crept in to share the top seed thanks to an offensive resurgence and solid starting pitching. At the same time, the Phils have been stumbling mightily, losing their last three in a row and seven of their last ten ballgames.

The Phillies’ slide has been congruent with the absence of Raul Ibanez, who has been on the DL since June 18 with a groin strain. He was scheduled to return this evening in time for the Mets, but Philly has decided to play it cautious and hold him back a few days (what a novel concept!). Philadelphia has also been affected by injuries to their pitching staff — LOOGY Scott Eyre, middle man Clay Condrey, and rookie Antonio Bastardo are all on the DL, and Brad Lidge just came off a few days ago (Eyre might be activated this weekend). Additionally, Jimmy Rollins’ season-long slump continues, Cole Hamels has allowed 17 hits and 11 runs in his last 9 innings, and Lidge cannot be trusted to close games.

Game 1: Livan Hernandez(5-3, 4.04 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

You read that right — Rodrigo Lopez is alive and well and starting Friday night for the Phillies. Lopez, who hasn’t been relevant since 2005, and not thrown an MLB pitch in two years, was chosen to make this start instead of top prospect Carlos Carrasco (among others). The 33-year-old was 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in his last three starts at Class AAA Lehigh Valley. From what I understand he still throws junk. Facing Lopez will be Livan Hernandez, who continues to do exactly what the Mets need him to do — eat innings and keep the team in ballgames. Keep on keeping on, Livan!

Game 2: Fernando Nieve (3-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (6-6, 6.05 ERA)

Talk about a contrast in starters — one, a young flamethrower on the rise, the other, an old junkballer at his demise. Fernandomania suffered a setback a few days ago, but even Jorge Sosa wasn’t perfect through his first four starts (ironically, Sosa also lost his fourth start as a Met — an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Braves). If Nieve keeps his fastball down the way he did in his first three starts, he should be OK. What Moyer brings to the table is anyone’s guess — he’s been consistently inconsistent (though pretty impressive for someone collecting Social Security checks).

Game 3: Johan Santana (9-6, 3.34 ERA ) vs. Joe Blanton (4-4, 5.08 ERA)

Santana is still among the top thee starters in all of baseball, but his month of June was the worst of his career. One can only hope that a new month changes that pattern. Blanton has been up and down, and lately down — the Phillies have lost all of his last five starts. He’s been pushed far beyond the 100-pitch count several times this year, so don’t be surprised to see him lingering if the game is close in the late innings.

Final Thoughts

The Mets might take two out of three, or even sweep. They could just as easily get swept — that’s the way this season is playing out for everyone in the NL East. Find a comfy chair, crack open a cold one, sit back, and enjoy the ballgames.

Or, if this rollercoaster ride is too much, distract yourself by attempting to grill the perfect burger this weekend — at least that goal is within your control.

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Mets Game 74: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 4 Mets 2

That whisking sound is coming from a broom brushed against a floor.

The Yankees retrieved bragging rights to New York City by sweeping the Mets in their home park and dominating them in five games out of six. And despite the fact that it was a close game for most of the nine innings, it never once felt as though the Mets had a chance.

Livan Hernandez was certifiably good against a tough Bronx Bombers lineup, going seven innings and allowing three runs on three hits and an uncharacteristic five walks. For a guy who barely made the roster out of spring training, and is supposed to be a fifth starter, that’s not too shabby.

Mariano Rivera joined Trevor Hoffman as the only pitchers to save 500 games, as Mo notched his 500th on this evening. So although the Mets lost, at least we were able to witness history. Yee ha.

Notes

Is Livan the Mets #2 starter? (Fernando Nieve doesn’t count until he makes at least six starts.)

Gary Sheffield stroked two of the Mets’ four hits. Luis Castillo (single) and Fernando Martinez (double) collected the others. Sorry, I meant five Mets hits … Danny Murphy fisted a bloop into left in the final inning.

In case you missed it, Frankie Rodriguez intentionally unintentionally intentionally walked Derek Jeter to load the bases in the ninth inning, then walked Mariano Rivera to force in a run. It was Rivera’s first career RBI.

500th save and first RBI. Not a bad night for Rivera.

Speaking of K-Rod, Luis Castillo did NOT botch a pop fly while he was on the mound. But Alex Cora did.

Danny Murphy (.310 OBP, zero footspeed) was the leadoff batter in this game. Perhaps Jerry Manuel is buying in to my belief that Murphy will one day evolve into Mike Hargrove.

Murphy has really looked great at first base. Except for the dropped balls and poor decisions in regard to chasing grounders and throwing balls across the diamond. But hey, those minor defensive issues are excusable when you have a powerful, productive bat such as his in the lineup.

Tonight’s words of wisdom from my father-in-law:

“I think it’s time we became Yankee fans”.

Tempting …. tempting …

Next Mets Game

The Mets travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers on Monday night at 7:05 PM. Fernando Nieve faces Braden Looper.

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