Tag: ricky nolasco

Mets Game 132: Win Over Marlins

Mets 5 Marlins 1

The Mets pull off a doubleheader sweep, as Bobby Parnell saves two games in one day. Did anyone notice amphibians falling from the sky or horses running through the outfield? Hey, we’ve also experienced an earthquake and a hurricane so I’m not taking anything for granted …


Braves Acquire Dan Uggla

As you may already know, the Marlins have traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn.

I have to say I’m a little surprised at how little the Braves had to part with in order to obtain perhaps the best offensive second baseman in the National League. Sure, his glove leaves a lot to be desired, but Uggla’s bat fits right into the middle of any MLB lineup — and all the Braves had to give up was a utility man and a middle reliever?

As a result of the deal, the Braves immediately bolster an offense that was lackluster for most of 2010. Uggla steps in as the second baseman, and Infante’s clone Martin Prado moves from 2B to 3B to start in the 80 – 100 games Chipper Jones is likely to miss due to one ailment or another.

Meanwhile, with the addition of Dunn, the Fish add another young wild lefthander to the bullpen. Dunn impressed last year with a blazing fastball and 27 strikeouts in only 19 innings — though, he also walked 17. Prado had a career year, hitting .321 in 134 games and earning an All-Star appearance. He figures to step into the void at second base, though he’s unlikely to replace Uggla’s bat in the lineup.

I get that this trade was about economics, and that Uggla is potentially a one-year rental, but I still don’t get how the Marlins didn’t hold out for more in return from another club, why they sent Uggla to a division rival, and why they felt it necessary to pull the trigger so quickly.

On the one hand, the deal likely increases the separation between the Mets and Braves in 2011, while it may help the Mets stay even with, or finish ahead of, the Marlins next year. Though, the deal has also created space in Florida’s payroll, which has already resulted in the signing of slugging catcher John Buck to a 3-year, $18M deal, and may also lead them to lock up righthander Ricky Nolasco on a long-term deal. Buck and Infante together in 2011 may be as productive — overall — as Uggla and catcher Ronny Paulino were in 2010. If Infante proves last year wasn’t a fluke, the combination may be better — particularly when you factor in defense. Either way, the trade doesn’t do anything to help the Mets’ chances in 2011.


Mets Game 76: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 10 Mets 3

Rumor has it that someone used up all of R.A. Dickey’s “hair tonic“.

Those too young to know what I’m talking about, switch the remote to Turner Classic Movies every once in a while.

Hiram Bithorn Stadium was more like Homerun Ball-hit Stadium, as leather-covered spheres flew over the fence in right-center at a rate that rivals The House That Steinbrenner Built.

Unfortunately for the Mets, it was the Fish who took advantage of the jet stream.

Game Notes

R.A. Dickey finally proved mortal, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings, blemishing his once-perfect record. Though it was the second time the Marlins saw him, I’m not so sure familiarity was his undoing as much as his lack of command. To me, his release point looked to be inconsistent and slightly different from what I’ve seen from him in previous starts; it appeared that he was opening a hair too early and dragging his arm just a bit — enough to move his release point a few inches higher, earlier, and to the right of where he’s been in the past. As a result — and possibly also due to crosswinds — his knuckler was moving uncharacteristically in toward the RH batters and up. That’s his “hard” knuckler, and the one he’s been using to get strikes. Unable to get ahead with that one, he was unable to properly set up the slower “floater”, which tends to be more unpredictable and generally used as an “out” pitch. Instead, he was aiming the slow one to get more plate — i.e., trying to throw strikes with it — and I *think* that was the one that was getting hit hard.

The Mets bullpen wasn’t much more effective. Fernando Nieve and Ryota “Rocket Man” Igarashi allowed another five runs, including three gopher balls. Igarashi may not be the man they think he is at home in Japan; he’s burning up his fuse out here alone in the western world.

Though the balls flew off the bats of Marlins with ease, Jason Bay was the only Met with homeruns to please. He hit two moon shots, which drove in all three runs. The two homers he hit in this contest were equal to half the amount he hit in the previous 75 games combined. David Wright also had two hits, but they were not of the four-bag variety.

Opposing pitcher Ricky Nolasco not only shut down the Mets’ offense, he also blasted a 400-foot double to the centerfield wall. Nolasco, by the way, is a terrible hitter — but he even he can hit a hanging knuckleball.

Ruben Tejada’s 10-game hitting streak came to an end. Somewhere, the ghost of Wee Willie Keeler expresses a relieved sigh — while Pete Rose collects on a low-risk bet.

The Braves beat the Nats, so the Mets lose a full game in the standings — though, they still have sole possession of second place.

For those wondering, the Mets are now 5-5 in their last 10 games. Somehow, it doesn’t feel that way, does it?

Next Mets Game

The Mets remain in Puerto Rico to play the Marlins again on Tuesday night at 7:10 PM. Hisanori Takahashi faces Nate Robertson.


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 38: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 10 Mets 8

First, the bad news: in addition to losing this game, getting swept in a four-game series in Florida for the first time ever, losing the 7th of their last 8, and falling into last place, the Mets also lost the services of Jon Niese, who aggravated his 2009 hamstring injury and likely will miss at least one start.

The good news was that the Mets battled back through the end of the game, and at one point were only one run behind. So if nothing else, these 2010 Mets have spirit. A bit more talent would be nice, but you can’t have everything, I guess.

Game Notes

Jason Bay was 2-for-5, including a triple in the ninth that he hustled out when Cameron Maybin took his time getting to the ball. Bay also hustled out an infield single earlier in the game.

David Wright hit a two-run double in the sixth, but otherwise had all kinds of trouble both at theplate and in the field, with balls taking bad hops, kicking off the bag, and deflecting off his glove. He was charged with only one error but it could’ve been 2 or 3. Wright struck out twice and has struck out at least once in each of his last 13 straight games, and is leading the league in both strikeouts and walks.

Gary Matthews Jr. collected his third and fourth hits of May, including a pinch-hit single to load the bases in the seventh. His RBI single in the 8th was a dribbler that passed through the shortstop hole vacated by Hanley Ramirez, who for reasons unknown was hanging near 2B to keep Angel Pagan close with two outs and a 4-run lead.

Alex Cora ripped a double in the seventh to drive in two and bring the Mets within a run. Keith Hernandez pointed out that he made a “perfect step out” prior to the pitch — calling time just as the pitcher was set. Very sage and savvy, that Mr. Cora … but is it enough to make up for a .220 AVG / .310 OBP?

Cora’s double set up a big, 2-out, RBI opportunity to tie the game for Chris Carter — who made his first start as a Met — but Jerry Manuel removed Carter for pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur when LHP Dan Meyer came on in relief. Francoeur promptly popped out to right field on the first pitch he saw.

In case you were wondering, Carter was hitting .370 with a .915 OPS vs. lefties down in AAA. He is 2-for-3 lifetime in MLB against LHP. Further, lefthanded hitters are 5-for-8 with a 1.700 OPS this year vs. Dan Meyer.

Fernando Nieve gave up a 3-run homer to Chris Coghlan in his one inning of work. I can’t figure out why Nieve has been struggling so mightily lately. I mean, he’s only appeared in 23 games thus far — that’s barely on pace for 98 over a full season. And he appeared in 29 games as a reliever in 2006 so this bullpen role shouldn’t be difficult to figure out.

Francisco Rodriguez hurled a perfect 8th inning. Is it me, or is he starting to look portly?

Next Mets Game

Mets start fresh in Atlanta on Monday, sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound against Derek Lowe. Game time is 7:10 PM. GM Omar Minaya will be in attendance.


Mets Game 2: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 7 Mets 6

So much for the afterglow.

The Mets were removed from the top of the NL East in a game that was so poorly played by the Marlins, it resembled a high school JV contest.

For six innings, it didn’t appear as though the Mets had much of a chance to win. Ricky Nolasco handled the Mets easily and was cruising with a 6-1 lead. Then in the 7th, he ran out of gas, put the game in the incapable left hand of Renyel Pinto, who allowed the Mets to scratch out two runs to make it a three-run ballgame. Pinto completely shat the bed, and left the game with the bases loaded and David Wright at the plate; the stage was set for a momentus, dramatic at-bat by the new Mets leader.

Jose Veras came in and threw his first pitch over the head of catcher John Baker. Fernando Tatis came sprinting for home, but Baker got to the ball quickly, made a perfect throw to Veras, who tagged out Tatis to end the inning.

The Marlins did give the Mets three more runs in the eighth to tie the game, but the momentum was gone. In the 10th, Ronny Paulino singled in Wes Helms to spoil Hisanori Takahashi’s debut and give the Mets their first loss of the year.

Game Notes

Though the game went into extra innings, and the Mets “came back” from a five-run deficit, do not be fooled — the Marlins did everything in their power to give away this game, and somehow managed not to lose. The SNY post-game spin was that the Mets “hung in there” and “kept fighting” but the truth is, the Mets merely kept from falling asleep. It was an ugly game for a baseball fan to watch.

Fernando Tatis – He made a terrible mistake in attempting to score on that wild pitch. However, it wasn’t necessarily a terrible decision; rather, the execution was bad. Tatis did not get a very good “secondary lead” off 3B, and thus was only a few feet off the bag when the ball deflected off Baker’s glove. Tatis reacted immediately, but had too much ground to cover. It was a bang-bang play, but would’ve been an easy score had he been a few feet further down the line from the get-go. Though, had Tatis scored, the Fish might’ve walked Wright to face Mike “Automatic Out” Jacobs, and who knows how that might’ve turned out.

John Maine – was John Maine: zero command, up in the zone all night, inefficient. He did get 3 Ks in 5 IP, but also allowed 2 gopher balls and threw 92 pitches in those five frames. From the beginning, he was behind 2-0 on nearly every batter, and you can’t be successful at any level of baseball with that kind of pattern. Additionally, his lack of velocity was mildly concerning.

Umpires – The Mets scored the tying run on a questionable balk call. That’s what it took for the Mets to tie the game — a questionable balk.

Jennry Mejia – I’m going to give the kid the benefit of the doubt and chalk up his awful appearance to nerves. Let’s hope he’s relaxed next time out and shows us what he really can do.

Sean Green – I’m not sold on that in-between arm angle; it looks like he’s skipping stones across a pond, and the ball looks flat.

Mets Offense – happy to finally see some patience at the plate. The Fish bullpen resembled the Mets’ 2009 pitching staff with their wildness, but previous personnel would not have taken advantage.

Marlins Offense – collected 17 hits to the Mets’ 6, yet squeaked out a one-run win.

Fredi Gonzalez – How is this man still the Marlins manager? For four years now, he has led teams lacking in focus and fundamentals. Payroll is no excuse for lack of execution nor attention to detail. It’s remarkable he spent time under Bobby Cox, and more remarkable the Fish felt he was a better option than Joe Girardi. Every year the Marlins are loaded with young, raw talent, yet perennially beat themselves.

Next Mets Game

The third and final game of the opening series begins at 7:10 PM in Flushing on Thursday night. Jon Niese takes the mound against Nate Robertson in a lefty-lefty matchup.


Game 154: Win Over Marlins

Mets 6 Marlins 5

If this were 1960, the season would be over — and the Mets would have finished on a high note.

Instead, we have eight more games to muddle through, and can only hope our favorite team can keep the excitement quotient at this level.

Through the first four frames, it looked like the Mets might cruise to a victory. Tim Redding was throwing shutout ball and a three-run homer by Jeff Francoeur in the second gave the Mets a comfy three-run lead.

Then came the fifth, when Redding surrendered a three-run dinger himself — to the NL’s leading hitter Hanley Ramirez.

Redding remained on the mound as the bottom of the seventh began, but didn’t last long thereafter. He walked the leadoff man and was immediately replaced by Perpetual Pedro Feliciano, who got a quick popup but then threw a wild pitch to send the runner to second base. He struck out Nick Johnson, but then intentionally walked Ramirez and yielded to setup man / ROOGY / this year’s Heilman Sean Green. Green promptly allowed a double to Jorge Cantu that put the Fish up by two.

However, the Mets answered with a run in the eighth — scored on a strike three wild pitch to David Wright. Bobby Parnell held the fort in the bottom of the frame, and the Mets went ahead in the top of the ninth, thanks to a pinch-hit, two-run single by Cory Sullivan.

Frankie Fantastik pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 34th save.


I know Hanley Ramirez is the top hitter in the NL, and had already hit a homerun, but I’ll never, ever, ever understand the “strategy” of intentionally placing a runner on base in a tie ballgame. (In fact, I find very few situations that warrant an intentional walk.) For every time Ramirez hits safely, he’s going to fail at least twice. Further, he was 5 for his last 20 coming into the game. The argument that “you don’t let the big bat beat you” has never and will never make sense to me. How is it better to let the “lesser” bat beat you, after you’ve handed over a free base? The mamby-pamby approach of walking hitters intentionally and creating “favorable matchups” is one of the reasons pitching gets worse every year — pitchers are taught that they can’t get certain hitters out and are not given the chance to learn how to do so. Managers whine and moan that they can’t find any “crossover” pitchers who can get lefties AND righties out, yet they perpetuate their problem every game. A never-ending, vicious cycle that’s about as effective as a dog chasing its own tail.

Here’s a thought: intentional walks are like compound interest — they mysteriously pay immense dividends over the long haul.

But hey, the Mets won this one, so let’s accentuate the positive. Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy, and Angel Pagan all had 2-for-4 days. Bobby Parnell earned his first win out of the bullpen since the summer solstice (actually, a month before then). Tim Redding had another decent outing to raise the bidding for his services in the offseason. Both Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan came through as pinch-hitters in the ninth — proving that a) they are NOT the same person and b) they’ll help someone off the bench in 2010.

David Wright has 4 hits in his last 22 at-bats and has seen his batting average plummet 20 points in 22 days.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:10 PM on Saturday night. John Maine goes to the mound against Sean West.