Tag: cardinals

Mets Game 71: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 3 Cardinals 2

Who says the Mets are banged up, beaten down, and in bad shape? And what’s this nonsense about “treading water”?

The New York Mets took three games out of four from the mighty St. Louis Cardinals, culminating in a heart-stopping 3-2 victory over the seemingly unbeatable Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter held the Mets to only five hits, but they helped produce three runs, which were all Johan Santana needed to gain his ninth victory of the season.

The Mets scored all of their runs in the fourth frame, thanks once again to Nick Evans. After Luis Castillo scored on a Castillo-like single by Fernando Tatis, Evans rapped a double into the right field corner to send home Tatis and Ryan Church to give the Mets a lead they’d never relinquish.

Santana struggled but scattered seven St. Louis hits and three walks to limit the Redbirds to one earned run. Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Francisco Rodriguez, as usual, made things interesting before nailing down his 20th save of the season.


Was this the first time Jerry Manuel ever limited himself to only two pitching changes in a one-run game? Probably not, but it feels that way. In contrast, Tony LaRussa made three changes in the eighth inning alone.

Dan Murphy — who was benched in place of the red-hot Evans — stroked a single for Santana in the bottom of the seventh. He is now hitting .333 as a pinch-hitter this year and .387 lifetime. Is he the next Gates Brown?

The first Redbird run was unearned and came in the initial inning when Skip Schumaker singled, moved to second on a catcher’s interference by Omir Santos, and scored on a single by Yadier Molina.

The Mets are now 5-3 in games without Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and Jose Reyes.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a three-game weekend series against the crosstown New York Yankees on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces C.C. Sabathia. Plenty of tickets are available if you want to watch the game at Citi Field. Otherwise, you can catch it on SNY, WFAN, or XM 183.


Mets Game 70: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 11 Cardinals 0

An unexpected rout of the Redbirds.

The supposedly sickly and flaccid Mets lineup racked up 16 hits — 5 for extra bases — as the New Yorkers pounded Sir Albert and his St. Louis disciples.

David Wright led the way with a 4-for-4 day, but received plenty of help from Ryan Church (3-for-4, two doubles) and recently promoted Nick Evans, who mashed a two-run homer in the fourth frame.

Ace starter Fernando Nieve threw six shutout innings, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 5 to earn his third victory.


My apologies for the late post … my TV went out prior to the game last night and MLB.com wouldn’t let me watch the game due to blackout restrictions until a few hours ago. Thanks MLB !!!

As it was I didn’t watch the game, so please fill up the comments with richly vivid descriptions of the key points of the contest. Many thanks.

Next Mets Game

The series finale begins at 1:10 PM. Johan Santana goes to the hill against Chris Carpenter. Thankfully the game will be available on WFAN and XM 183. Tweet me if Keith says something silly.


Mets Game 69: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 3 Mets 0

If you were wondering what happens when a bad hitting team runs into a hot pitcher …

Joel Pineiro was magnificent, spinning a complete game, two-hit shutout, the second he’s thrown this season. Pineiro induced 22 ground balls — 21 for outs — and struck out one in completely paralyzing the Mets bats.

The Mets wasted a very good outing by Livan Hernandez, who hurled seven innings of 8-hit, 3-run (2 earned) ball.


Joel Pineiro has evolved into something of a Met killer. Super.

Pineiro scored the first run of the game on a throwing error by first baseman Danny Murphy. The other two runs scored on a single by Albert Pujols, who now leads MLB with 70 RBI. Wow … 70 RBI in 71 games played … crazy.

Elmer Dessens pitched the final two innings for the Mets, but I didn’t even notice. He held the Redbirds hitless.

The only Mets who hit safely were Luis Castillo and Jeremy Reed, both singles. Reed’s hit was of the pinch variety, and came with one out in the ninth. So he spoiled the one-hitter. Yee ha.

The game was delayed a few times due to rain. The grounds crew reminded me of the Keystone Cops, rolling the tarp on and off the field as the rain clouds came and went.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Cardinals play game three of four on Wednesday evening at 7:10 PM. Fernando Nieve faces Brad Thompson.


Mets Game 68: Win Over Cardinals

Mets 6 Cardinals 4

Miracles DO happen.

Fresh off the news that yet another All-Star and “core” player — Carlos Beltran — was unavailable due to injury, the bedgraggled and beleaguered New York Mets pulled off the impossible, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in an official Major League Baseball game.

Tim Redding was spectacular — OK, maybe not spectacular, but so surprisingly effective it felt spectacular — in holding the Cards to a mere four runs over seven full innings of work to earn his first victory as a New York Met. Key to Redding’s performance was his handcuffing of Sir Albert Pujols, holding the Great One to a mere double and one measly run scored. If you can stymie Pujols, then the rest of the Redbird lineup is cake in comparison. Indeed, Redding allowed a total of five hits and one walk to the Cardinals, and struck out four.

Meanwhile, the supposedly shorthanded Mets offense exploded for 14 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs, led by teacher’s pet Omir Santos and the previously contemptible Luis Castillo, who were perfect on the day, combining to go 7-for-7 with a walk, 3 runs scored, and 2 RBI. Five Mets drove in a run or more, and Danny Murphy electrified the crowd with one of those “over the fence” hits that fans in other cities refer to as a “home run”.

Supporting Redding’s winning performance was the bullpen, which held the St. Louis batsmen scoreless through the final three innings of play. Jon Switzer struck out one and allowed a hit in his 1/3 inning of work, Brian Stokes (yes he’s still on the roster) retired the only batter he faced, and Francisco Rodriguez cut up the Cards in the ninth for his 19th save of the season.


Alex Cora was 2-for-4 with a walk and 2 RBI from the leadoff spot, and David Wright had one single and two walks. In addition to the four-bagger, Murphy also singled and scored on a Ryan Church sacrifice fly in the first frame.

Jeremy Reed was 0-for-4 starting in centerfield in place of Beltran. Wouldn’t it just figure, the guy was a firestorm in spring training, hot as a griddle through April and May, and now that he finally has been forced into an opportunity to play, his bat is cold as ice. More bad luck for the Mets, and terrible luck for Reed. Expect to see Ryan Church and/or Fernando Martinez getting time in centerfield as a result.

In the fourth inning, Santos scored on a bomb to left-center by Luis Castillo. On the relay home, Brendan Ryan threw a perfect strike to catcher Yadier Molina, but the throw was a few feet short of Molina, who allowed the ball to skip through his legs. Ryan was charged with the error and SNY announcer Keith Hernandez spent considerable time criticizing Ryan for having his back to the plate as he received the relay throw from left fielder Rick Ankiel, going so far as to demonstrate from the broadcast booth the proper way to position oneself for accepting the throw from the outfield. However, Hernandez failed to notice, nor mention, the reason WHY Ryan had his back to the plate when he caught the ball — it was because the throw by Ankiel sailed to Ryan’s right side, and Ryan had to quickly re-position his feet and move his entire body to the right in order to catch the throw cleanly. Originally, Ryan was getting himself into the proper position (left shoulder pointed toward the target) but once the ball tailed the “wrong” way, he had no choice but to turn his back to home plate. What made Keith’s diatribe even more ridiculously pointless was the fact that Ryan made a nearly perfect throw. Despite being completely turned around, with his back to the plate, Ryan spun and let loose a fine throw that was perfectly on line, and only about 5-10 feet short of home plate. Watching the replay several times, it looked to me like Molina was at fault for not handling the short-hop — he allowed the ball to handcuff him by reaching out and stabbing for it instead of allowing it to come to him. And, in defense of both Ankiel and Ryan, the conditions were rainy and wet, and the ball was likely slick, making it very hard to get a good grip and probably the reason Ankiel’s throw was to Ryan’s right side instead of his left. For all you kids out there, yes, Mr. Hernandez did demonstrate the proper fundamental in receiving a relay throw — but understand that circumstances can sometimes force you out of the ideal position, in which case you have to “get creative”.

Next Mets Game

The Mets will attempt to again attain the impossible on Tuesday night when they host the Cardinals at Citi Field at 7:10 PM. Livan Hernandez faces Joel Pineiro.


Psychic Or Psycho?

You may have noticed during the St. Louis series that the Mets hitters were hitting the ball hard, but “right at people”. The Cardinals defenders seemed always to be at the right place at the right time — to the point where Matt Cerrone quipped, “… either Brendan Ryan is psychic, or the Mets are really unlucky, because the kid seems to be in the exact spot of every ground ball hit to the right side.”

Of course, Brendan Ryan is not psychic — but, neither are the Mets unlucky. The reason the Mets seemed to hit so many “at ’em” balls had much to do with the psychotic preparation of Tony LaRussa — a dugout warrior who leaves no stone unturned and reduces each game to a painstaking process of execution.

Since making his managerial debut with the White Sox in the early 1980s, the cerebral LaRussa has treated ballgames like chess matches, using every means necessary to gain an edge on the opposition. He was using computers before people knew what they were to churn out statistics and probabilities, a pioneer in the practical use of situational percentages (and a prelude to modern day sabermetrics — LaRussa was Billy Beane before Beane was playing high school ball). His teams have always been fundamentally sound, and benefitted from extensive, detailed advance scouting. These past three games were not unlike those of the 2006 NLCS, when David Eckstein seemed to be everywhere, except when balls were hit right at Ronny Belliard. LaRussa’s teams pore over the scouting reports, then act on them: the pitchers throw to specific locations, in specific counts, to specific batters, and the fielders position themselves accordingly. The results are not always perfect, but LaRussa makes certain that the odds are always on the Cardinals’ side, on every pitch. If the pitcher makes the intended pitch for a particular situation, there’s a good chance the batter will hit the ball to a general location. Many give the bulk of the credit to Dave Duncan when the Cardinals pull a pitcher off the scrap heap and turn him into a winner, but in truth, at least part of the success can be attributed to LaRussa’s intensive system.

LaRussa didn’t event this approach to the game — fielders have been “cheating” a few steps one way or the other depending on the batter and/or pitch since the 1880s, and all teams use scouting reports and preparation to some degree. And there are a few other managers who employ similar “systems” of success — Ron Gardenhire and Bobby Cox are two that immediately come to mind.

Point is, the sweep in St. Louis had little to do with a hex, luck or any other hocus-pocus. The team on the winning side had better scouting and better preparation, and did a better job of translating both into execution.


Mets Game 15: Loss to the Cardinals

Cardinals 12 Mets 8

The Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Mets, by a score of 12-8. It wasn’t even that close.

Mets starter Livan Hernandez went 4.1 innings, allowing 7 ER on 9 hits and one walk. Reliever Sean Green allowed 5 ER in just two innings of work.

After six innings, the Mets trailed 11-3, but they were able to mount something of a comeback, scoring two in the seventh and three in the eigth on home runs from Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran.

Mets Game Notes

Wow … where to begin? If there’s a silver lining, it is that the Mets didn’t roll over and play dead. Despite being down 11-2, they continued to chip away, scoring five runs in the 7th and 8th frames. But it was too little, too late.

Carlos Beltran is as hot as he can be, and putting him in the #3 spot now is absolutely the right move — he is, hands-down, the Mets’ best hitter right now. If only he could stay this hot for more than a two- or three-week period (fingers crossed).

I made fun of Jerry Manuel’s decision to bat Alex Cora second in the order. Naturally, Cora gets two hits and reaches base four out of five times, so it’s my turn to eat crow. That Jerry Manuel is some kind of genius, eh? (Though, I vaguely remember Argenis Reyes pulling a similar feat out of his butt last year, never to repeat it, yet finding himself entrenched in the two spot.)

Beltran is currently the Mets’ best hitter, but Ryan Church is not far behind as second-best.

I keep looking at the averages of Jose Reyes and David Wright — both of whom are over .310 — and shake my head in wonderment. Must be the new math, because it feels like they’re both closer to .250.

I’m purposely not discussing the specific details of the game … how about we just turn the page?

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to Citi Field to host the Nationals in a weekend series beginning on Friday night at 7:10 PM. Johan Santana takes the hill against Scott Olsen. If the Mets don’t win this “gimme” then it’s time to panic.


Mets Game 14: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 5 Mets 2

It wasn’t even that close.

John Maine finally made it into the sixth inning, but not because he pitched well. He also did not finish the sixth.

Maine allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks in five and two-third innings, expending 111 pitches in the process. He left the game with the bases loaded and reliever Casey Fossum was kind enough to get a quick final out and leave the ducks on the pond.

Offensively, the Mets did nothing against Joel “All World” Pineiro, whose best pitch was “strike one” throughout the contest. The Mets hitters managed six hits and two walks in eight innings against Pineiro, who pitched into the ninth but needed help from the St. Louis bullpen to finish. Pineiro struck out no one and expended 91 pitches. So much for the sabermetricians and their negative opinion of hurlers who “pitch to contact”.

Game Notes

Fascinating to see Jerry Manuel play the “matchup” game in the seventh inning, down four runs. Does it REALLY matter whether Casey Fossum faces a righthanded hitter at that point? Here’s a crazy idea: how about allowing Fossum to face a righty as training to be a “crossover” pitcher?

Quick quiz on baseball fundamentals: it’s the sixth inning, your team is down by four. What do you do with the first pitch thrown to you, no matter where it is? If you said “take the pitch”, congratulations, you know simple baseball! If you said, “swing away and pop up weakly to the third baseman”, congratulations, you play centerfield for the New York Mets and make over a hundred million dollars!

We can’t get too hard on Beltran, though, since he did collect three hits and drive in one of the Mets’ runs.

Danny Murphy drove in a run and allowed none, improving his plus/minus tally.

In the ninth inning, down by two with a runner on second and two outs, Jerry Manuel sent up Gary Sheffield instead of Jeremy Reed to hit for Ramon Castro against RHP Ryan Franklin. Why? No one is sure.

Regarding Maine in this contest, Manuel said he “… had control but not command …” Uh, OK.

Next Mets Game

The series finale is an afternoon affair beginning at 1:40 PM EST in St. Louis. Livan Hernandez faces Kyle Lohse in an attempt to avoid a sweep.


Mets Game 13: Loss to Cardinals

Cardinals 6 Mets 4

Memories of 2008 refuse to fade.

Once again, the Mets scored early, then stopped scoring. Once again, they helped beat themselves with poor fundamentals and inattention to detail. Once again, a certain lefthander remains an enigma.

Oliver Perez shut out the Cardinals through four frames, then fell apart in the fifth, and the Mets never recovered.

Perez was handed a 4-0 lead thanks to RBI hits by Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Danny Murphy, and David Wright, but gave it all back in the fifth inning, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks. Casey Fossum actually walked in the fourth run, which was charged to Perez.

Though they manhandled starter Todd Wellemeyer, the Mets didn’t collect a hit after the sixth against the St. Louis bullpen, and the score remained tied four-all until the bottom of the eighth. Brendan Ryan greeted reliever J.J. Putz with a line drive to left field that was misjudged by Danny Murphy, who fell flat on his back as the ball soared to the wall. Ryan eventually landed on third with a triple (though it probably should have been scored a three-base error), and was chased home on a double by Rick Ankiel. Ankiel took third on a fly ball by Albert Pujols and scored on a sac fly by Ryan Ludwick.

Game Notes

Carlos Beltran nearly scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th. Standing on second base with one out, Beltran tagged up and ran for third on a fly ball by Ramon Castro. Third baseman Joe Thurston tried to quickly catch the ball and slap the tag on Beltran, but in the process the ball flew toward the pitcher’s mound. Beltran alertly raced for home, and would have scored had he (a) slid; (b) barreled over Yadier Molina; or (c) not slowed down within the last 5-10 feet of the plate. Unfortunately, Beltran wasted a great head’s up, hustling effort by slowing down and standing up, and in a bang-bang play, Molina tagged him out as Beltran stepped on Molina’s foot instead of the plate.

Iona alum Jason Motte was credited with the win. He threw one pitch that resulted in two outs thanks to Beltran’s aggressive running.

Gary Sheffield ripped what should have been a single up the middle as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, but second baseman Brendan Ryan was positioned directly behind the bag and handled the sizzler easily.

It wasn’t a good night for Murphy, who in addition to the misplayed liner in the fateful 8th, also was picked off first by Yadier Molina and tagged out at home when he (also) failed to slide on a play at the plate.

Ankiel’s mustache is ridiculous. He reminds me of a player (pick one) from the early 80s. Jerry Martin? Mike Vail?

Next Mets Game

Mets try again at 8:15 PM in St. Louis tomorrow night. John Maine goes against Joel Pineiro. The game will be carried on TV by ESPN and also broadcast on WFAN and XM 187.