Tag: cardinals

Mets Game 11: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 2 Cardinals 1

A marathon, to say the least.

Fittingly, I’m currently in Boston, where a marathon is taking place on Monday. No, I’m not running, and not even sticking around to watch it. I’m here for business, working a different kind of marathon: a wine tasting event that went from noon to 11 PM.

As such, I completely missed watching this game — the first game I’ve missed since 2004. What a game to miss, huh? Considering that the game went 20 innings, had no score for 19 frames, and TV viewers had to endure nearly 7 hours of mindless, hometown drivel from Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, maybe it was better to have missed it.

Looking at the boxscore and the play-by-play, I do have a few questions:

1. The Mets managed only 3 hits through nearly 15 innings against future Hall of Famers Jamie Garcia, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Trever Miller, Jason Motte, Dennys Reyes, and Blake Hawksworth? Really?

2. The Mets were shut out for an inning by middle infielder Felipe Lopez?

3. What in the world was Ryan Ludwick doing, attempting to steal second base in the 19th, down by one, with Albert Pujols at the plate?

4. Did Jerry Manuel outsmart Tony LaRussa by holding out K-Rod until the 19th?

5. Were St. Louis fans charged double since, essentially, they watched two ballgames?

6. How many of you were hoping to see Jeff Francoeur take the mound?

7. Did the high school kids still take the field after the game, even though it was past their curfew?

8. Was Yadier Molina carried off the field on a stretcher after catching 20 innings?

Even though I didn’t watch the game, I get the feeling it wasn’t well played — so I look forward to hearing your comments.

On a positive note, we have to be pleased that the Mets hung in there for 20 innings and finally pulled out a win, even if it took two innings against a backup outfielder throwing BP off the mound. Also, we MUST be happy to have seen Mike Pelfrey suck it up and take the ball on one days’ rest (or was it two by that hour?) to save the ballgame. The fact he did so speaks volumes about his growing maturity, and goes a long way toward building respect from his teammates. Kudos to Big Pelf!

Post your comments below — I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Next Mets Game

Luckily for these two weary clubs, the final game of the series isn’t until 8:05 PM EST on Sunday, so there will be some rest for the weary. Also lucky (for the Mets), innings-eater John Maine takes the mound against Adam Wainwright, so the Mets bullpen will get at least 4-5 frames of rest.


Inside Look: Cardinals

Fellow ESPN SweetSpot blogger Matthew Philip agreed to do a Q&A regarding the St. Louis Cardinals. I meant to get this up prior to the series, but it’s still relevant and insightful. Matthew is the lead blogger for “Fungoes“, which is a saber-slanted site. Oh, and it just so happens there is a similar Q&A featuring the “inside knowledge” of MetsToday on his blog as well.

My questions are in bold, Matthew’s answers are in the light blue boxes.

1. Is Tony LaRussa still doing that pitcher hitting eighth thing? What are your thoughts on that strategy … does it really make sense and does it work for the Cardinals?

The last time La Russa used the pitcher-hits-eighth tactic was July 21, 2009. What many people thought (and a few showed through research) to be a marginally helpful idea has since been picked up by the Dodgers and Brewers, who employed it for a handful of games last year, and the Pirates, who have batted the pitcher eighth every game this year. La Russa apparently now only reserves it as a gimmick to gig the offense when it’s struggling, but I’d prefer he use it regularly, since it most likely helps. One Cardinal blogger even named his blog after the practice.

2. You have been following Adam Wainwright’s release points and correlating success. Can you quickly give us the gist of where his release point needs to be to pitch at the peak of his potential, based on what you’ve studied?

Early last season, Wainwright was struggling with walks and claimed it was a release-point issue. He adjusted down and over — in the direction of a three-quarter arm angle, though really only imperceptibly (an inch or two). He went on to have a Cy-Young-like year. So far in 2010, his release has been somewhere between where he was at the beginning and end of 2009, but he’s having success. We’ll find out more on Sunday!

3. Do you feel confident late in games knowing Ryan Franklin is the closer? If he should falter, who is next in line and why?

I’m not confident in Franklin, simply because, by being a pitch-to-contact guy, he leaves so much to chance. Though, that’s better than a reliever who walks people or gives up a lot of fly balls that turn into home runs. During the 2009 NLDS with the Dodgers,we saw a preview of what could happen this year if they don’t turn to someone who can miss bats when the game is on the line. That guy could be Kyle McClellan, though he doesn’t offer much more than Franklin, or Jason Motte, who was given early-season save chances in 2009 but failed. My pick is Mitchell Boggs. Whether La Russa eschews his veteran “closer”,however, is a big question.

4. Give us a quick analysis of David Freese, who many Mets fans don’t know much about.

The Cards picked up Freese a couple of years ago as a token when they shipped Jim Edmonds’s contract to the Padres. Originally from St. Louis, he worked his way through the minors, quietly jumping from high A to AAA while the team’s more-heralded prospects got the attention. When Troy Glaus revealed his injury prior to the 2009 season, Freese seemed poised to try to win the third-base job but he injured his foot in a car accident, requiring arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle, and he spent most of the season at AAA Memphis. Coming into 2010, with Glaus and former top prospect Brett Wallace gone, Freese was the heir apparent, when he drove drunk and was arrested in December, casting his 2009 accident in a new light. But despite his insolent off-the-field behavior, he projects well as both a hitter (~.340 wOBA projected for 2010) and fielder. Could be a real find for the team at the hot corner.

5. Which Ryan Ludwick is the real one — the 2008 version or the 2009 vintage?

Somewhere in-between, probably slightly better than he was last year. La Russa has had him batting second the last few games, and he’s getting on-base like a madman in front of Pujols (.438 OBP batting second). It’ll be interesting to see how Jerry Manuel deals with him in late innings, since he has a reverse platoon split (career .337 wOBA vs. LHP, .368 vs. RHP).

6. What do you see as a key for the Cards to get into the postseason in 2010?

The Cardinals have enough talent to win their division and may be the most well-rounded since their 100-win days in 2004-2005. The key will simply be staying healthy. Spring injuries to Pujols, Holliday and Molina proved to be minor, but the staff ace, Chris Carpenter, has a checkered history, and his questionable start to 2010 — 8.50 FIP — has raised eyebrows. Ludwick has been healthy two years straight for the first time in his career, so he may be due to regress to an injury-marked campaign.

Thanks again to Matthew Philip for sharing his thoughts. Be sure to visit his blog Fungoes to get a saber-centric analysis of the St. Louis Cardinals.


Mets Game 10: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 4 Mets 3

If I told you Oliver Perez pitched into the seventh inning, allowing only one run on four hits, you’d probably think that either I had the wrong information or that the Mets won the game.

Yet, Perez DID put up that performance, and the Mets lost.

Wasting a rare occasion of superbness by Perez, the Mets bullpen finally caved, as Felipe Lopez blasted a grand slam homer in the seventh off 32-year-old rookie Raul Valdes to give the Cardinals all the runs they needed to win the game.

As well as Ollie pitched, Chris Carpenter pitched just as well — maybe a bit better — as he held the Mets offense to 4 hits and 3 walks and struck out 10 in 7 full innings. The Mets rallied for two runs against “closer” Ryan Franklin in the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

Game Notes

The Mets hitters were a woeful 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They left 8 runners on base.

Jeff Francoeur, buried in the #6 spot, remains red hot, going 2-for-3 with a walk (!) and two runs scored. He’s now hitting .457, and has a hit in every game this year, but it makes more sense to bat Mike Jacobs ahead of him against a righthanded pitcher because, after all, Jacobs hits from the left side.

Frank Catalanotto rapped an RBI single for the Mets second run on the first and only pitch he saw, as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Garry Mathews, Jr. scored the Mets’ third and final run but struck out three times.

The Mets’ first run of the game came on a throwing error by Brendan Ryan on a sac bunt by Ollie Perez.

Yes, the bullpen failed. Did you expect them to be perfect through 162 games?

Felipe Lopez hit his first grand slam since April 4, 2008 — he hit that one against the Mets, too, but as a member of the Nationals. For those unaware, Lopez plays both SS and 2B, hits from both sides, and was a free agent this winter. He signed a one-year, $1M contract at the end of February. However, he doesn’t have the clubhouse presence of Alex Cora.

You can get frustrated watching the Mets lose this game, thinking, “jeez, they finally played a good game for nine full innings, and battled, and they still lost”. However, what the Mets need to do is compete and perform like this EVERY game, and eventually the wins will outnumber the losses. You can’t expect a team to win just because they play well — this is the big leagues, and to be a contender you must play well all the time.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cardinals do it again at 4:10 PM on Saturday in St. Louis. Johan Santana faces Jamie Garcia.


Garland, Sheets Off the Table

Remove the garland from the Christmas tree, and get Lazy Mary to pull the sheets from her bed.

A little late on this, but reporting it so you can post your comments — Ben Sheets agreed to a one-year, $10M deal with the Oakland Athletics, and Jon Garland signed a one-year, $4.7M deal with the San Diego Padres.

As mentioned in the previous post, Sheets + Oakland makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Garland, I imagine, preferred to be on the Left Coast, so it’s possible the Mets were never a possibility considering their Right Coast locale. Additionally, he has a nice opportunity to hurl a stress-free year in a huge pitcher’s park — a good formula for boosting his value when he becomes a free agent again next winter.

Additionally, former Cub prospect Rich Hill signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals. The lefthander had a breakout season in 2007, then forgot how to throw strikes. This is a very under-the-radar move that could very well turn out wonderful for St. Louis. Can’t you just see Hill suddenly finding himself under the tutelage of Dave Duncan?

In other belated reporting, you may or may not have heard that the Phillies signed Jose Contreras to a cheap one-year deal. I don’t think the Mets were ever a player for his services, and I don’t believe he would’ve been a good idea. Most reports speculate that Contreras will begin 2010 in the Philly bullpen.

Finally, the latest buzz is that Jarrod Washburn is leaning toward the Twins and Mariners.

So, who’s left on the open market for the rotation? Looks to me like Braden Looper, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez are the best of the best. Ouch. In other words, Omar Minaya best be burning the phone lines talking trade with other GMs to find another arm or two.


Braves Release Brian Barton

brian-bartonAccording to Baseball America, the Braves have released former phenom outfielder Brian Barton.

Barton was considered a great athlete but went undrafted after a strong career at U Miami, as clubs believed he’d make use of his aerospace engineering degree rather than pursue baseball. However, he signed a $100,000 bonus (plus another $100K for schooling) with the Indians, and has been a prodigal nomad ever since.

The Beaneheads like Barton’s plate discipline and ability to


Mets Game 107: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 9 Cardinals 0

What a difference a day makes!

Fueled by the support of screaming, sugar-filled children, the Mets delivered an overwhelming win to the Camp Day crowd.

The Mets offense exploded for five runs in the first two frames against starter and loser Kyle Lohse, then tacked on another four in the sixth and eighth innings to make it a laugher.

Nelson Figueroa, who came on to pitch after Jonathan Niese injured his ankle in the second, earned the win and redeemed himself with a stellar 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief. Bobby Parnell earned a rare 3-inning save, striking out 3 and allowing only one hit.


Parnell is now tied with Frankie Rodriguez for the team lead in saves since the All-Star break.

Angel Pagan and David Wright combined to go 6-for-8 with 3 runs and 6 RBI. Pagan had a booming homerun to centerfield and ripped his 7th triple of the year. Despite a paltry 146 times to the plate, only one man in MLB has more triples than Pagan — Michael Bourn, who has 9 in 451 plate appearances. Who needs Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran when you have Angel Pagan?

Parnell and Figueroa were a combined 2-for-2 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Rick Ankiel had a difficult time in centerfield during that second-inning offensive outburst by the Mets. He made a diving attempt for a blast by Nelson Figueroa but the ball missed his glove and resulted in a triple — nearly a quadruple, in fact. (Jim Edmonds would’ve had that ball, BTW.) Minutes later he misplayed a low liner off the bat of Angel Pagan, with his glove fingers up instead of down, allowing Figgy to score and Pagan to reach first. And moments after that, Pagan challenged him by going first to third on a David Wright single. Ankiel, I think, had a great shot to nail Pagan, but he hesitated and then took a long windup before unleashing his throw, which was a little too late.

Next Mets Game

The Mets fly cross-country to face the Padres in San Diego for a four-game series. Livan Hernandez faces Clayton Richard in the opener, which begins at 10:05 PM EST on Thursday night.


Mets Game 106: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 12 Mets 7

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse …

Thanks to Iron Mike, the Mets were able to touch the previously untouchable Joel Pineiro for 7 runs on 11 hits in only five frames. Combine that with the fact they had ace Johan Santana on the mound, and you would think this game would be a slam-dunk.

You know how ugly a missed dunk is?

Santana was not his vintage self, but appeared to have pitched just well enough to win. Backed by the offense’s seven-run outburst (two of which he drove in himself), Johan allowed five runs on nine hits in eight innings, and exited with a two-run lead in the hands of fellow Venezuelan Francisco Rodriguez.

However, Frankie shat the bed, giving up back-to-back doubles to Rick Ankiel and Julio Lugo to start the ninth. He struck out pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus, but engaged in a 7-pitch battle royale with the next hitter, Skip Schumaker. Unfortunately for the Mets, Schumaker ended the at-bat with a single to score Lugo and tie up the game. Just like that, Santana had a no-decision and K-Rod his fourth blown save.

The Mets mounted a mild two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth but it petered out when Dan Murphy fanned. The Cards loaded the bases in the top of the tenth and were given the go-ahead run when Sean Green’s first pitch plunked Mark DeRosa. Green’s fifth pitch — an 0-2 slider — was deposited into the seats by Sir Albert Pujols, completing the Cards’ eight-run blitzkrieg over the final three innings.

Green’s HBP scored a runner initially put on base by Pedro Feliciano, so Feliciano was tagged with the loss — his fourth of the year.


To add injury to insult, Luis Castillo slipped on his way down the dugout steps and sprained his ankle after grounding out in the seventh. He’ll likely miss a few games as a result. Shame, considering how well Castillo has been playing of late.

Have to wonder why Brian Stokes threw only one pitch in the tenth. Jerry Manuel chose to play the Matchup Game one day after the bullpen was severely stretched, using Stokes, Feliciano, and Green. What exactly was the plan if the game went 11 or 12 frames? I suppose we would have seen Nelson Figueroa at some point.

K-Rod seemed to be having trouble with his release point, as he left many of his breaking pitches up in the strike zone — he wasn’t “finishing” his pitches, releasing just a hair too early. He threw a season-high 41 pitches, so with Wednesday’s game beginning in the early afternoon, you can forget about his availability. Additionally, Feliciano has thrown 40 pitches over the past 5 days, and 79 over the last 9. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but remember he’s warming up in the bullpen before coming into these games, so add in another 15-20 pitches at minimum per day.

In all honesty, I felt a slight pang of concern when Manuel pinch-hit for Santana in the bottom of the 8th. I know he was having a rough night, and had thrown 103 pitches, but there was this thought in my head suggesting that the best plan was to leave Johan in there. Naturally, if he was left in and the Mets lost as a result, I’d be raking Manuel over the coals for making such a boneheaded decision. Maybe the problem is that I’ve been trained to expect the worst from this ballclub.

Pujols, who had been “slumping” recently (1 for his last 13 coming into the game), was 4-for-5 with 2 HRs, 3 runs scored, and 5 RBI. Hate to think what might’ve happened if he were on a hot streak.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the series occurs at 12:10 PM on Wednesday afternoon. Jonathan Niese faces Kyle Lohse.


Mets Prepare for Pineiro

pitching-machineSince joining the St. Louis Cardinals, Joel Pineiro has been a thorn in the Mets’ side, most recently channeling Christy Mathewson when he faced the orange and blue.

In two starts covering 17 innings this year, Pineiro has a 1.04 ERA vs. the Mets, allowing only 8 hits and a .151 batting average.

Last year, the Mets pounded him for 21 hits in 9 innings, but the Cards won both contests.

However, tonight it’s going to be different. Jerry Manuel — always looking for ways to exploit technology to get an edge on the competition — has come up with a way to prepare for Pineiro’s vaunted sinkerball. Manuel told reporters prior to the game that the pitching machine was adjusted in such a manner that it was now throwing sinkers (previously, if you remember, it was set to throw curveballs).

So no worries …. after facing the sinkers from “Iron Mike”, Pineiro should be no problem at all.