Pirates 3 Mets 1
For the second time in three days, the Mets engaged in a pitchers’ duel, but unlike Sunday’s win over the Marlins, were on the short end of the sword.
Johan Santana pitched poorly for Santana, but good for a mere mortal, and unfortunately not good enough for a win. He scattered seven hits through six innings, allowing three runs. I believe that qualifies as a “quality start”. Quality starts, though, don’t guarantee wins.
Pittsburgh pitcher Zach Duke was just a little better, holding the Mets to one run on eight hits and a walk. The only run allowed came on a sacrifice fly by Luis Castillo that scored Ramon Martinez.
Buccos catcher Jason Jaramillo blasted his first MLB homerun off Santana in the fifth, a “no doubter” deep into the left field stands. The Pirates’ went ahead in the sixth inning, when Freddy Sanchez led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Nate McLouth double. Moments later Adam LaRoche hit another double to score McLouth with the insurance run.
The Mets staged a two-out rally in the top of the seventh but Duke extinguished it without damage.
Martinez dislocated his pinky while scoring the Mets’ only run. He beat the throw easily but seemed to be caught between sliding and staying up.
For those who have never played baseball before, he should have received direction from the on-deck hitter (Fernando Martinez) as to whether he needed to slide or run in standing up.This is a basic fundamental which is taught to American and Japanese children during little league. It is absolutely implausible and embarrassing that the Mets, an organization competing at the highest level of the game in the world, did not instill such a basic fundamental during F-Mart’s 3+ years in their system. I learned it as a 10-year-old in a league that played a 15-game season. *** EDITED — see isuzudude’s correction in comments *** Shame on the Mets, who by the day become exposed as a Mickey Mouse operation. (I won’t edit the final comment, because the Mets do belong in Disneyworld, for a hundred other reasons.)
While we’re on the subject of plays at the plate, Jeremy Reed was thrown out by several feet in the third inning after a Castillo single. Watching the replay, third-base coach Razor Shines was giving Reed the green light by circling his left arm as Reed approached third base. However, as Reed was rounding third (with his head down, something you do as a runner to make sure you touch the bag), Shines put up a stop sign with that same left arm, which Reed ran right through. Keith Hernandez commented that Reed “had plenty of time to stop”. I disagree.
A third base coach has to decide whether or not to send the runner BEFORE the runner hits the 3B bag. If he’s going to wait longer, then the coach has to position himself further down the third-base line, toward home plate, at an angle where both he can see the ball being handled by the outfielder and the runner can see him clearly as he rounds the bag. If Shines were in the proper position, then he can put up the stop sign “late”. But, Shines was at the edge of the 3B coaching box, and not in a good position to put up a late stop sign. What compounded the issue was that he used his same left hand to give the “stop” sign, which could have been construed as a continuance of the “go” sign. When as a coach you want the runner to put the brakes on, you put BOTH hands up, high over your head, using forceful, obvious body language. Again, fundamentals.
Brandon Moss reminds me of Ryan Klesko. Zach Duke reminds me of Tom Glavine. But the Pirates do not remind me of the Braves of the 1990s.
Losing to the Pirates twice in a row doesn’t concern me, since half the team is on the disabled list or in the infirmary with flu symptoms. The shame is that the Mets aren’t able to take advantage of playing a poor team by beating up on them.
Danny Murphy had a pinch-hit single in the seventh off Duke, a lefthander. Murphy is now hitting .423 in his career as a pinch-hitter, and I truly believe he may be able to carve a career serving in such a role — particularly since he is unfazed by the lefty-lefty matchup. Kind of like Gates Brown, Manny Mota, or Lenny Harris. Obviously there’s something about his approach that makes him so effective as a pinch-hitter, and a man can make a long and financially fruitful career exploiting such a talent.
Keith Hernandez suggested that Santana might be tipping pitches, as evidenced by the Bucs looking very comfortable swinging the bat in that fateful sixth frame. There may be something to that theory.
Santana was removed after 85 pitches. Probably a good thing, since he threw 120 in his last start (and 118 in the start before) and the Mets offense wasn’t doing anything anyway.
Why was Ramon Martinez starting at shortstop after Wilson Valdez hit like Barry Larkin on Sunday afternoon? The explanation was that Jerry Manuel wanted to get a look at Martinez before making a personnel decision. Are you kidding me? Believe me, I’m not on the bandwagon for Valdez, but it’s plain as day that he is head and shoulders above Martinez in every aspect of the game (which isn’t necessarily saying much). He has a stronger arm, better range, better speed, and a slightly stronger bat. He had me at hello. To give a guy a start as a tryout is unacceptable at this point in the season — the games are too important, and the lineup is already devoid of legit MLB talent.
Next Mets Game
The Mets attempt to avert a series loss on Wednesday evening by sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound against former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf. Game time is 7:05 PM.