Archive for May, 2010

Much Needed Knuckleball Win in Milwaukee

May 30, 2010

R.A. Dickey seems to be a player that doesn’t get excited by much.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I have seen him smile since he was brought up from Triple A.

Maybe it’s because I am so used to seeing player’s pound their chest and point to the sky for every success on the field.

This includes getting a hit, a walk, a sacrifice fly, a productive out, getting down a sacrifice bunt, and grabbing the regular flavor of sunflower seeds instead of the dreaded barbecue flavored ones.

Most pitcher’s would appear to be thrilled with having a 2.84 ERA and a 2-0 record in their first three starts.

Not R.A. Dickey.

Upon watching him at the end of today’s game, he appeared to be heading out to his lunch break after a successful power point presentation over next quarter’s revenue.

Enjoy it R.A.!

Too each their own I guess.

Frankly, I don’t care if he ever cracks a smile, as long as he continues to put the Mets in position to win the games he starts.

Some Dickey detractors  may point out that today’s performance included four earned runs.

That number is deceiving, because he kept the Brewers close, enabling the offense to finally brake free and put the Mets ahead.

It is also crucial that he pitched seven innings, which gave the bullpen a rest.

Slow Waking Offense

For a while, it appeared that the offense wasn’t going to come through today.  They let Randy Wolf off the hook repeatedly in this game.

Major league offenses should muster more than two runs when a pitcher gives up five hits and five walks in five innings of work.

Thankfully, the Mets woke up in the sixth, largely due to Luis Castillo.

The Brewers walked Jose Reyes intentionally to load the bases with two outs to get to Castillo.

Interestingly enough, Castillo was poised to take a 3-1 pitch for a walk to force in the go ahead run, but Mark Carlson decided to change his zone and call a pitch three inches off the outside corner a strike.

Luis preceded to slap a single up the middle scoring Jeff Francoeur and Henry Blanco.

That huge two out hit ignited the offense as they were able to plate six more runs later in the game to make this a comfortable win.

Overall, the Mets scored ten runs on sixteen hits.  Not bad for a team that looked lifeless at the plate in the first five innings.

Big Bats 5-8

David Wright, Angel Pagan, Jeff Francoeur, and Henry Blanco combined to go eleven for seventeen with six doubles, six RBIs, 12 runs, and one home run.

Francoeur was four for five with two doubles (both of which were to right center).  And they said Jason Bay was streaky….

On Deck

The Mets head out west to face the San Diego Padres on Monday night.  Hisanori Takahashi will face Kevin Correia in game one of this three game series.

I Blame Oliver Perez

May 29, 2010

The Mets dropped their second game in a row to the Milwaukee Brewers tonight losing 8-6.

It appears that the pitch by committee strategy employed by Jerry Manuel was doomed from the start, thanks to Corey Hart and his first inning grand slam.

The Mets fought back with a big blast of their own.  It came in the shape of an Ike Davis three run bomb in the fourth inning.

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t catch the Brewers and now find themselves back to .500.

I don’t blame Fernando Nieve or Jerry Manuel entirely for this loss.

I blame Oliver Perez.

Ollie Is Useless

Oliver Perez’s decision to refuse to go to the minors is killing the Mets’ pitching staff.

It is obvious Perez isn’t a big league pitcher.  He was ineffective tonight as he gave up three runs in just two innings of relief.

I have to believe that guys in the Mets’ clubhouse are getting frustrated with the fact that he is wasting a roster spot, which in turn makes the Mets very vulnerable every fifth start.

It is time for the Mets to cut their losses.  I know it’s not my millions I am throwing away, but the Wilpons have to recognize Perez is hurting this team in a major way and he represents a sunk cost.

Here’s the definition if they are reading:

A cost that has already been incurred and  cannot be recovered to any significant degree.

Oliver Perez cannot be recovered to any significant degree.

Getting To The Bullpen Early

I keep thinking about how the game would be different if the Mets were able to go with an actual starting pitcher tonight.  Fernando Nieve followed by a committee of pitchers is not the answer.

Think about it from this perspective.

Very frequently in this game, we hear someone state  that the goal of the offense is to get to the opponent’s bullpen.

Tonight, the Brewers were able to accomplish this common goal before the game even started.

A Dose Of Their Own Medicine

May 29, 2010

Well, it couldn’t last forever.

The Mets were shutout by the Brewer’s Yovani Gallardo 2-0, snapping a five game winning streak.

This pitching duel ended in the bottom of the ninth on a Corey Hart two run home run off of Ryota Igarashi.

It Wasn’t Johan Santana’s Fault

Johan pitched his socks off, giving the Mets eight shutout innings.

I was really hoping that Jerry Manuel would have given Johan a chance to go nine.  Apparently, Johan felt strong enough, having thrown 105 pitches at that point.

Jerry’s Manuel’s reason for taking Johan out is questionable.

I though Fielder was hitting him pretty good.  I didn’t want to chance him losing the ballgame after the way he pitched. He was brilliant.

I have always been a proponent of stretching out the starter’s arms, especially in a situation like this.

You have one of the best pitcher’s in the game and you don’t want to chance him losing the game?

Weak.

Santana is a competitor.  He deserved a chance to go nine innings in this ball game.

It’s not like he was struggling.  He had retired eleven batters in a row through the eighth inning.

Wasted Chance

The Mets had their best chance to score in the third inning, when they were able to load the bases with no one out.

Rod Barajas and Jeff Francoeur both singled and Johan Santana followed up with a bunt single of his own.

Jose Reyes hit a ground ball to first, which Prince Fielder was easily able to field and force Barajas out at home.

Then Alex Cora hit into a four-six-three double play.

Trouble Seeing The Ball or Bad Guesses?

One thing I try to do when I watch a game is think about the player’s perspective.   Sometimes it is easy to forget from our comfortable couches, that these guys are facing pitcher’s with some really nasty stuff.

Four Mets (Bay, Reyes, and Pagan twice), stuck out looking.  All four times the pitch seemed to be hittable from my perspective in my family room.

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than when a hitter looks at strike three, especially a pitch that has plenty of plate.

Gallardo obviously had his best stuff, so I wonder if these hitters had trouble picking up the ball from his delivery, or if they were guessing breaking ball and got a heater.

A Tale of Two Teams

Last night’s loss doesn’t get me riled up too much.  The Mets faced a good pitcher with his best stuff and came up a bit short.  The only thing that burns me, is wasting Johan Santana’s best start of the year.

My hope is that the Mets can come back and win the next two games of this series.  It would be a nice boost of confidence for this team to win a road series.

The Mets have proven they are tough to beat at Citi Field, their next big step is showing they can win on the road.

On Deck

Fernando Nieve will get his first start of the season as he faces Manny Parra in the second game of the series.


The Pelfrey and Reyes Show

May 28, 2010

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Life got pretty busy today, so I am going to hit you up with the top three things I took away from last night’s game.

Big Pelf Is A Stud, Thanks To A Little Help From His Friends

The Mets have not allowed a run in twenty-seven straight innings.

Mike Pelfrey was responsible for seven of those last night.

Big Pelf was able to exercise some demons from his last start against the Phillies with his performance.

I was concerned that this might be a case of a certain team owning a certain pitcher.

Pelfrey made some key pitches and allowed his defense to hep him out.  There is a reason why they say the double play is a pitcher’s best friend.  The three he was able to get last night were huge.

Jose Made The Phillies Pay

I imagine the Phillies could do without seeing Jose Reyes for a while.  He carried the offense in the series finale with his three for four performance.

It was very enjoyable to watch Jose take advantage of  a crucial Placido Polonco error in the seventh inning.  His two run double was absolutely demoralizing for the Phils.

Could you imagine what would happen if Jose continues to play like this throughout the year?  I am trying not to think like that, but it is pretty hard not to.

It is not a coincidence that his recent streak started shortly after being returned to the lead off spot.

What Did Andy Fletcher Have Against Ike Davis?

Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher seemed to be giving Cole Hamels an extra two to three inches on the outside corner against Ike Davis.

Normally, I get grumpy when a player strikes out looking, but I couldn’t fault Ike.

The Hamel’s pitch he looked at for strike three in his first at bat was impossible to hit.  Ike’s face was priceless.  It looked like he was saying, “How in the hell am I supposed to hit that?”

Davis really impressed me when he was able to get a base hit in his final at bat.  A number of players would have given up or changed their approach after dealing with an extended strike zone in their first two at bats.

To Ike’s credit, he looked as calm as ever.

Tak Terrific

May 26, 2010

Much has been said about the last three spots in the starting rotation of the New York Mets.

Throughout the off-season, spring training, and the beginning of the season there have been many questions.

During most of this process, Hisanori Takahashi has quietly taken the mound when asked, and pitched effectively.

Takahashi has made the most out of his last two chances to start, and in one Midwesterner’s opinion, has earned a permanent spot in the rotation.

I don’t care if John Maine’s tendonitis is miraculously healed and he blows away the field in the minors.  Tak has shown he can be effective at getting big league hitters out.

Sorry Johnny.

Prior to Oliver Perez and John Maine’s latest issues, there was talk of Takahashi being given a chance to start.

I was always reluctant because I felt he was doing so well in relief.  The last thing I wanted to see was an unreliable bullpen.

Fortunately, Raul Valdes has emerged as a pitcher that is perfectly capable of assuming the role Tak left behind.

Tak’s latest performance included six scoreless innings with six strikeouts while allowing five hits.

The most satisfying stat?

Zero walks.

Jose Reyes Is Playing Like The Jose We Thought He Was

….having fun with the infamous Dennis Green quote never gets old.

One of the reasons why I love baseball is the game’s association with numbers.  Numbers rarely lie, so it is easy to see Jose Reyes continued his hot streak by going two for four with two RBIs.

One of his hits was his first home run of the year.

The numbers don’t paint the complete picture, however.

Reyes seems to be much more comfortable at the plate, and he appears to be seeing the ball better.  He is taking far fewer swings in which he looks completely baffled.

The Jose smile is back, along with the pep in his step as he moves around the clubhouse.

One could argue, that his recent streak has brought back the swagger that we all missed.

I hope it is here to stay.

Resting Rod

Gary, Keith, and Ron brought up a good point as they were doing the game for SNY.  At what point does Jerry Manuel have to think about resting Barajas more?

It is a slippery slope.

Manuel will be tempted to see how far he can push Barajas.

He has been their most clutch player thus far, and has demonstrated he has  much-needed pop for this lineup.  Barajas’ two run double in the sixth gave the Mets some much-needed breathing room tonight.

However, he is a 34 year old catcher that needs rest.  Manuel will be tempted to see how far he can push Barajas.

I Don’t Want To Hear Excuses About The Phillies Slumping

The Amazin’s have already accomplished what many didn’t give them much chance to do this week.  They have won back to back series against the Yankees and the Phillies.

I understand the Phillies have had trouble scoring runs.  I am a realistic person.

However, if the Mets were as awful as some believe, this would have been a prime opportunity for the Phils’ bats to wake up.

Mets’ pitches haven’t allowed that to happen, and they deserve credit for that.

On Deck

The series finale gives us the most intriguing pitching match-up as Mike Pelfrey faces Cole Hamels.

Dare I say break out the brooms?

All The Small Things

May 26, 2010

The Canadian Press

Normally, when you see an 8-0 win you would find a plethora of extra base hits for the winning team.

Although the Mets had three doubles and a triple, the game didn’t strike me as a power display.

What impressed me, was the Mets seemed to do everything they could to get runs in.

  • They advanced runners with productive outs.
  • They stole three bases.
  • Two runs scored on an RBI ground out and a sacrifice fly.

Under Pressure

Another great thing to see was that the Mets did not seem satisfied with any lead and scored throughout the ball game, ending their onslaught with a three run eighth inning.

They failed to score a run in only two innings.

R.A. Dickey Impresses

Dickey pitched six scoreless innings and compiled seven strikeouts in doing so.

His most impressive inning had to be the second.

The Phillies loaded the bases with no one out.  Dickey was able to get Ruiz to hit into a 1-2-3 double play.  His next move was to walk Castro to get to pitcher, Jamie Moyer.  Moyer struck out leaving an egg roll on the board for the Phillies.

Many people call that lucky.  I won’t because Dickey seems to have ice in his veins as he appears extremely calm when he pitches.

Dickey also showed his toughness.  He took a line drive from Ryan Howard off of his left elbow and stayed in the game. That had to go a long way for him in the Mets’ clubhouse.

Jose Jose Jose Jose Jose Jose

This was the first game of the season that Jose took over completely.  The Mets fed off of his three for five showing at the plate.

His performance included a triple, RBI, and three runs scored.

During the game, SNY flashed up a graphic that showed the Mets record when Jose scores two or more runs.  It was something to the effect of 90-16 (time does not permit me to look it up right now).

Impressive.  That stat shows why should have never been placed in the three hole.

Mets Bats

Jeff Francoeur (he also had two hits) and Jason Bay each collected two RBI.

Rod Barajas went two for four.

On Deck

Takahashi Hisanori will face Joe Blanton in game two.


Mookie’s Ball

May 25, 2010

I read an outstanding article written by Ash Marshall on Bleacher Report yesterday about the Mookie Wilson ball.

Marshall does an excellent job detailing what happened to the ball after it trickled down the right field line and what that ball means to Mets fans.

I don’t think I had truly understood what that ball means to Mets fans.  After reading Marshall’s article, I realized it is the most important Met artifact in the team’s history.

That Game Six moment has a place in every follower of the Amazin’s heart.

I’ll put it into perspective from my point of view.

Normally, I don’t understand the concept of why autographs are so popular or valuable.

When it all comes down to it, it is a ridiculous notion.

One human being will wait in line for hours so another human being can sign a piece of paper, ball, bat, hat, or body part for them.

There is one huge exception with this philosophy I have.

I own an autographed (Mookie and Buckner’s signature) photo of the play that is hanging up in my house.  A treasured gift from my family.

Bill Buckner

Upon receipt of the photo, I was amazed that Buckner would even sign it.

I couldn’t imagine signing a photograph of one of the worst things that has ever happened in my life.

Bill Buckner has handled this situation better than anyone could ever imagine.  It says a lot about him as a person.

It’s unfortunate, if you read about what type of player he was you will understand that most people don’t realize he was a great ball player.

Johan Santana Out Duels C.C. Sabathia

May 23, 2010

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Admit it pessimists,  this was an encouraging weekend for the Mets.

It’s okay to feel good about this weekend.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to your grumpy ways during the next Mets slide.

The series victory over the Yankees is a potential stepping stone.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Johan Is An Ace

Tonight’s performance for Johan Santana is exactly the type of  start he was signed for.

He was charged with the opposing team’s ace and was asked to out duel him.

Johan answered the call, going deep into the eighth inning.  He only gave up one run, six hits, and struck out five batters.

His counterpart, was chased after five innings, allowing six runs (five earned) and ten hits.

A scary though for opposing hitters, Johan is traditionally a better second half pitcher.

If he and Mike Pelfrey can continue to put together starts like this, the Mets will find themselves on the other side of .500 and climbing.

Jason Bay, Streak Killer

Jason Bay continued his torrid hitting.  This time, he flexed his muscles a bit as he hit two home runs and drove in three runs.

His second home run was a screaming line drive that went into the bullpen in right center.

Bay ended an impressive streak for the Mets offense.  His lead off homer in the fifth stopped the two out run scoring streak the Mets enjoyed during their last two games.

They had scored nine straight runs with two outs.

The Rest Of The Lumber

Alex Cora started everything off for the Mets with a great at bat in the second inning in which he produced a two strike hit that drove in two runs.

David Wright drove in a run on an RBI double.

Jose Reyes and Ike Davis each collected two hits.

A-Rod vs. K-Rod

Francisco Rodriguez has earned his pay check this weekend.  He didn’t have his best stuff when asked to come in with runners on in the ninth inning.

Derek Jeter was able to drive in a run on a double off of the left field wall.

Another run came in when Rodriguez was able to get the second out of the inning when Brett Gardner was thrown out by David Wright on a very close play at first base.

Mark Texiera then proceeded to bounce one a mile high off the plate and get an infield hit.

This brought Alex Rodriguez to the plate, representing the go ahead run.

We were then treated to a tense eight pitch at bat, in which Franky got the best of A-Rod and got him to swing and miss on a change-up.

The Wussification Of Baseball Continues

I miss the old school way in which teams protected their hitters.  Hit our guy, expect your guy to get one in the ribs the next inning.

Now, the minute a pitch sniffs someone’s jersey, the umpire’s warn both teams and the next pitcher that hits someone is ejected along with the manager.

In the bottom of the seventh Jason Bay was with in the back by an obvious breaking ball that got away from Sergio Mitre.

Home plate umpire, Marvin Hudson, felt it was necessary to warn both teams.

I understand the intent of the rule, but I don’t agree with it.  It brings too much subjectivity into the game.

Let the players handle issues on the field.  Not the umpires.

On Deck

The hated Phils come calling on Tuesday night.

R.A. Dickey will get his second start as he faces Jamie Moyer.

Blacked Out of Mike Pelfrey’s Big Win

May 23, 2010

Life as a Midwestropolitan can be challenging at times.

Last night is a prime example, as once again I was blacked out of being able to watch the Mets game.

I won’t get into another rant about how ridiculous MLB Blackouts are, that’s not what this post is about.

Keep in mind, my perspective on last night’s game comes from the inability to visualize any part of it.  It is a perspective derived solely from  WFAN’s broadcast, MLB Gameday, and the box score.

Enjoy.

Don’ Look Now, Big Pelf Is Starting To Exceed Expectations

I know I can be one of the more optimistic Mets fans, so take that for what it is worth.

Mike Pelfrey is starting to become the Mets stopper in the rotation.  His effort last night has helped give the Mets a chance to win this edition of the Subway Series.

Pelfrey only gave up one run in the six innings he pitched, and he struck out five.

Exclude the start he had against the Phillies in their last series, and he has now come up with three big wins when the Mets needed it most.  Last night, the start against the Rockies, and his last start against the Braves.

They have all been times when it seemed like nothing could go right for the Mets.

Two Out RBI Night At Citi Field

At least for one night, no one can say the Mets are not clutch.  All five of their runs scored with two outs in the inning.

It was a good old-fashioned baseball win for the Amazin’s.  Good pitching and timely hitting (one of my favorite baseball sayings).

Early RBI’s Are Important Too

A lot is said about David Wright’s inability to drive in runs late in the game.  I am just as frustrated with this as the next Mets fan.

But let’s put things in the proper perspective.

Wright is leading the team with 32 RBIs.

Stop me if I’m wrong, but I bet there are plenty of major league hitters that would love to have 32 RBIs at this point of the season.

The two he came up with early last night are big in their own right.

In Friday night’s game, the Mets offense was nowhere to be found.  Wright knocking in runs in his first two at bats last nights is a great boost to this team.

He deserves credit for jump starting the O.

Angel and Bay

Angel Pagan continued his hot hitting last night, with another three hits.  It also added another notch in his belt for team MVP at this point in the season.

Jason Bay went 4 for 4.  None of which were home runs, but I’ll take 4 for 4 from the three hole any day.  Bay’s ability to get on base resulted in him scoring three runs.

If he can get on base, I am starting to have confidence that either Davis, Wright, or Pagan will drive him in.

Fantastic Franky

Francisco Rodriguez deserves a portion of the game ball for his performance.

He came into a pressure filled situation in the eight inning needing two outs.  Oh by the way, the bases were full of Yankees and Fernando Nieve had just walked in a run.

K-Rod proceeds to get ground outs from Jeter and Gardner to end the inning.  Nicely done.

Of course,  he had a typical ninth in his case, allowing two base hits.  In true Franky style, he was able to close the door and pick up a five out save.

On Deck

Big billing in the Sunday pitching matchup as Johan Santana is slated to start against C.C. Sabathia.

What a boost for the Mets, if Johan is able to out duel C.C.  I would have to believe he and the Mets are the underdog in this match up.

Looking forward to watching it, thanks to ESPN.

Subway Series Similar Ten Years Later

May 22, 2010

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

What a difference ten years makes.

Kind of.

Ten years ago, the Subway Series brought us a Yankees team touted to win another World Series and a Mets team playing second fiddle, trying to show their big brother they could play.

The current edition is similar in both aspects.  The major difference is this Mets team is in a state of flux.

Their pitching staff is in shambles as they have lost or removed three of their starters from their rotation, and their offense is  not producing.

The Mets’ team ten years ago sported one of the best defenses in the game, and an offense anchored by Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza.

Blast From The Past

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Several of my favorite players from the 2000 team were on hand at Citi Field.

I was hoping Edguardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, John Franco, Benny Agbayani, and Turk Wendell could channel some of their confidence to this year’s club.

Unfortunately, the Mets came up a bit short on Friday, just as they did in the 2000 World Series.

Tak Terrific

Hisanori Takahashi is starting to become one of my favorite members of the pitching staff.  He has proved that he can come into any situation, throw strikes, and get hitters out.

The throwing strikes part is the key here.  It is very refreshing to have a starter other than Santana or Pelfrey challenge hitters with strikes rather than nibbling all of the time.

Tak Terrific shut down a potent Yankees lineup for six innings, including five strike outs.

Oops

The turning point in the game came in the seventh inning.

Normally sure handed Alex Cora, threw a ball into left field on a chopper hit by Francisco Cervelli.

This allowed Nick Swisher, who singled in the previous at bat, to get to third as Cervelli advanced to second on the error.

Side Note: 

Cervelli is wearing the oversized helmet David Wright sported last year due to a concussion.

When he hits, he is a dead ringer for Flinstones’ character, The Great Gazoo.

After the Cora error, Kevin Russo promptly lined a base hit to right field, driving in the only Yankee runs of the night.

Anemic Offense

The offensive woes continue for the Amazin’s.

They faced Javier Vazquez, a pitcher sporting an ERA over 8.00.  Somehow, they made him look like Nolan Ryan.  He struck out six Mets’ batters in six innings.

I have to give Vazquez credit.  He appeared to have great control.  From what I gather, walks were killing him.  Of course, he figures out how to regain his control against the Mets.

The only thing stopping him from a complete game was a bunt attempt that caught his finger.

Jose Reyes and David Wright continued their struggles, each failing to reach base.  Wright collected another two strikeouts.

Mini-Rally

Once again, the Mets mustered a bit of a fight in the ninth inning.

Jason Bay and Ike Davis were able to stroke back to back doubles off of Mariano Rivera, exciting the Citi Field crowd.  David Wright then promptly grounded out to second ending the game.

Ike showed no fear facing the legendary Rivera which undoubtedly raised his rock star status in Flushing.

On Deck

Big Pelf faces Phil Hughes in game two tonight.


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