Giants 1 Mets 0
On the one hand, I greatly appreciate these two-hour games — especially when they are played on the Left Coast. On the other hand, it would be nice if it were the Mets on the winning end of these quick contests.
Jonathon Niese pitched a beauty, allowing only one run in seven innings (why does that sound so familiar?). He allowed 6 hits and 3 walks and struck out 4 in a 104-pitch effort. Despite this great outing, I’m still concerned about his low arm angle, but more particularly, how his fingers are getting to the side and under the baseball at release. First, because when a pitcher does that, the ball will generally only move laterally and not downward. Second, because it puts significant pressure on the elbow. But as long as he’s pitching as well as he is, it’s hard to argue with success.
Niese was good, but Barry Zito was just a little better. Zito limited the Mets to two base hits in eight frames, walking two and striking out ten.
Though, one could argue that Niese never had a fighting chance, with .225-hitting Ruben Tejada in the leadoff spot and half the lineup hitting .250 or under. It resembled, um, a San Francisco Giants lineup.
SF’s Aubrey Huff went 3-for-3, but it was historical Mets nemesis Pat Burrell who drove in the lone run of the game. With Huff on third base and one out, Pat the Bat bounced a ball to Alex Cora — who was playing back — and Huff beat Cora’s throw home. Why was Cora throwing home in that situation? Not sure; maybe he sensed that the Mets wouldn’t score all night. But then why wasn’t he playing in? To get Huff, Cora had to make a fast and perfect throw, and Rod Barajas had to block the plate while receiving the ball. None of those things happened, so Huff scored.
Speaking of Huff, so weird that he, a LH hitter, was perfect against LHP Niese. Jerry Manuel will be awake all night trying to figure out how that happened.
Manuel, by the way, promised Jeff Francoeur starts against San Francisco’s lefthanders. Why, we’re not sure. And why he felt it more important to fulfill a promise than start a legitimate leadoff hitter such as Angel Pagan, is even more mind boggling. OK, I get a manager feeling the need to keep his word. But when your most dynamic player and leadoff hitter cannot play, and your second-most dynamic player and top hitter for average is healthy, the manager has every right to rescind his promise — or offer a rain check. And if it meant so much to Manuel to keep his word, then why not sit Carlos Beltran? Wasn’t the plan to EASE Beltran into regular duty, by getting plenty of days off and not playing back-to-back games at the outset? Meh.
Francoeur did make a difference in the field, however. The respect for his arm prevented Huff from scoring earlier in that same fourth inning, and he doubled up Zito at first base on a nice running catch and throw in the fifth.
Next Mets Game
Luckily this is a four-game series, so the Mets have a shot to even things up. Game three is on Saturday at 9:05 PM. Hisanori Takahashi faces Matt Cain, as Mike Pelfrey will be bumped to Monday in Arizona. The long plane ride to the Left Coast gave Big Pelf a stiff neck (no kidding).