Archive for the ‘Game Recaps’ Category

Perez dominate as Mets take series from Brewers

Monday, May 14th, 2007

With few updates lately, I’ll just do some catch up here and hopefully we can do a little better with updates. Since I only saw one game this weekend, I’ll just hit the major points that came to light going into and coming out of Sunday’s game.

Willie Randolph insisted that Mike Pelfrey was his number 5 starter following Saturday’s thumping by the Brewers that saw Pelfrey suffer his 5th loss in 6 starts to “improve” to 0-5 with a 6.53 ERA. However, when the Mets arrived at Shea for Sunday’s matinée against Brewers, Pelf was on his way to the Big Easy, and Carlos Gomez was trying on his pristine brand spankin’ new #27 Mets jersey. From where I sit, there was nothing else the Mets could do. It was obvious Pelf had no confidence in his stuff, aiming his fastball and throwing up in the zone time after time. 17 walks in 30.1 innings, and a terrible WHIP of 1.75 just doesn’t cut it even as a #5. Pelfrey is at his best when he pounds the strike zone low and gets ground outs. So far this year, his ground out to fly out ratio is 1.43 and that is no where near where he needs to be. Now he’ll go down to AAA where hopefully he can work out these issues, because the Mets can’t afford to allow him to do that at the major league level.

As to who will take Pelfrey’s place in the rotation, that remains a mystery, but the organization appears to be looking at left hander Jason Vargas. Vargas, who was acquired in the off season from the Marlins, was scheduled to start for New Orleans Sunday against Las Vegas, however he was scratched and replaced by Phillip Humber (who lead the Zephs to an 10-3 win). This move certainly makes it look like he will be called up Thursday to face the Cubs. If it isn’t Vargas, Willie Randolph called Aaron Sele “a possibility.”
The other ramification from this move is the calling up of 21 year old OF prospect Carlos Gomez. Gomez, who had been with New Orleans in AAA, was hitting .286 with 24 runs scored, 17 walks, eight doubles, two triples, two home runs, 13 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 140 at-bats. He also led the PCL with 17 steals.

As for the games themselves, On Friday, Jorge Sosa pitched his second solid game since being called up a little over a week ago, leading the Mets to a 4-3 victory. The Mets got long balls from Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley. Sosa gave up 2 runs on 4 hits through 6.2 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. Aaron Heilman continued to look terrible, giving up a 2 run home run to JJ Hardy in the 8th. Billy Wagner on the other hand was efficient if not extremely impressive, pitching a 1-2-3 9th, throwing only 7 pitches.

Saturday was a game he Mets would like to put behind them in every conceivable way, losing 12-3. Pelfrey gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and walked 3 in 5 innings. Pedro Feliciano gave up 2 runs, Joe Smith’s perfect season was spoiled and spoiled hard, as he gave up a grandslam to J.J. Hardy, and Scott Schoeneweis gave up 3 runs. To say it was a bad day is a vast understatement. Offensively besides David Newhan finally doing something by hitting a meaningless HR, there was very little the Mets could hang their hats on.

When the lineup was posted Sunday, it had all the makings of an “uh oh” game. Oliver Perez, coming off a frustrating loss in San Francisco where the defense let him down and he subsequently imploded, was at best, an unknown. Would that loss mentaly defeat him for starts to come? Also, Paul Lo Duca would get the day off, although if you don’t feel confident in Ramon Castro at this point, you need to start watching a different sport. Moises Alou was out with a quad issue, Endy Chavez started in left. Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green also got the day off against a lefty, Julio Franco would start at first and Gomez would make his major league debut starting in right.
With all that said, this game was complete reversal of fortune from Saturday. The Mets dominated the Brewers, winning 9-1. Perez was brilliant, only allowing one run on 2 hits in 8.1 innings, and one of those hits was a 9th inning home run by Bill Hall, coming off the bottom half of the 8th where Perez gassed himself scoring all the way from 1st on a Jose Reyes triple. I know it sounds like an excuse, but after 8 innings pitched and a exerting himself on the base paths, it might be valid. Either way, the line of 8.1 1ER 2H 2BB 6K is impressive as Perez improved to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.00. Offensively, the Mets used their speed on the bases to capitalize, even against Chris Capuano who is reguarded as having one of the better moves to first in baseball, stealing 5 bases. 3 of those steals were by David Wright, who seeming is doing whatever it takes (shaving his head, pulling up his socks and using his secondary skills) to help himself break out of his season long slump. Wright had 3 steals all season coming into this series and will head into the series against the Cubs with 7. Jose Reyes also stole his league leading 21st base. The other steal came from Gomez, who I mentioned was getting his first major league start. Gomez was 2 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored. He also made a terrific diving catch in right field. Carlos Beltran, who must have felt he was getting a day off in the outfield, flanked by the speedy Gomez and Chavez, both of whom are natural center fielders, had a two run home run in the 8th inning, his 8th of the season. Damion Easley hit his 5th home run and drove in 4, going 3 for 5 in his 13th start this year.

Other notes: Moises Alou appears to be on his way to visting a very firmiliar place to him…the DL. Alou has made 14 trips to the DL in his 15 full (if you can call it that) major league seasons…looks like he’ll make it 15 for 15. After an MRI Saturday showed bleeding in his quad, Alou was quoted saying, “I don’t feel very good right now, I’m not very optimistic about it. How long? I’m not going to come back any time soon.” He will be re-evaluated today, and if there isn’t marked improvement, he’ll be hitting the DL. Alou’s injury necessitated the call up of Gomez on Sunday. Gomez got the call because Lasting Milledge has been out since April 28th with an injured foot, and figures to be out another 2 to 4 weeks. If Alou does go on the DL, Ben Johnson, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres during the off season, could be an option to fill the empty spot on the roster until they need a 5th starter Thursday. Johnson has struggled in limited action at AAA New Orleans, hitting just .268 in 30 ABs with 1 homerun.

In news that shouldn’t be news but was a big story, Jose Reyes finally acquiesced and joined the rest of the team of shaved heads with Aaron Sele being the lone exception. Carlos Gomez was met with the razor upon arriving at Shea.

Oliver Perez went 1 for 4 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI on Sunday. He’s now hitting .353 and is tied with the Marlins Scott Olsen for most hits by a pitcher with 6. In the most unusual stat of the year for the Mets so far, Perez has more hits in less at bats than both Julio Franco and David Newhan. He has also scored 5 runs, which is more than Franco, Newhan and Ramon Castro. GET THAT MAN ANOTHER GLOVE!

Tom Glavine was not in uniform Sunday, nor was he even at the ballpark. He may not have even been in New York. Glavine has asked, and was given permission to attend a “family function” on Sunday. While this isn’t quite Roger Clemens-esque, it does bring up the question, if Glavine does decide to play next year and wants to stay with the Mets, will they have to take a step closer to the Clemens deal the Yankees singed the pitcher two recently.

The Future: The Mets will start a 4 game series with the Chicago Cubs today as Tom Glavine takes to the hill looking for career win 295. Glavine is 4-1 on the year with a 2.98 ERA. He will go up against Jason Marquis. Marquis, who singed with the Cubs in the off season, is 5-1 with a 3rd best in the majors 1.70 ERA and a major league leading .90 WHIP (tied with teammate Ted Lilly). The rest of the series will see John Maine (5-0 1.79) face off with Carlos Zambrano (3-3 5.83) on Tuesday, Jorge Sosa (2-0 2.77) against lefty Rich Hill (4-2 2.51) on Wednesday, and Thursday will either see Aaron Sele (0 starts, 1-0 4.11 in relief) or Jason Vargas (2-3 5.30 for AAA New Orleans) for the Mets while the Cubs will most likely pitch Angel Guzman (2 starts and 4 relief appearances 0-0 3.57). The series will also see the return to Shea of Cliff Floyd. Floyd played 4 seasons with the Met before not being re-signed following last season and signing with the Cubs. Floyd is still close friends with his bag caddy while in NY the previous 3 seasons, David Wright.

The Past: A year ago on this exact date, the Mets had an identical 23-13 record.

Speaking of the Mets last year, Jorge Julio, who was with the Mets this time last year will now pitch for his third team since the Mets, as he was traded from Florida to Colorado for Byung-Hyun Kim. I bring this up simply because I love the quotes from the teams including:

  • “It’s a trade of one guy struggling for another guy struggling,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said. “There are not a lot of players available in the game right now. We got a guy with a track record of doing all right.” He’s kidding, right?
  • “Julio needs to be fixed. So we have some work with him.” SOME?
  • “I wish we would’ve fixed him,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I wish we would’ve got him to help us.” So does Rick Peterson.
  • “He’s not on top of his game right now but we wouldn’t have gotten him if he was,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.” Good times…Good Times.

I was planning on writing a game recap…

Monday, May 7th, 2007

but this got ugly in a hurry.  Sorry about the lack of updates – time has been scarce of late, and the next few weekends aren’t looking much better, but I will try to do what I can for more updates.

Easley Does It, Mets mount comeback to beat D-Backs 9-4

Friday, May 4th, 2007

Get it? Instead of “easy does it.” Yeah, I know, they aren’t very good if you need to explain them. Anyway, I’d like to apologize for a lack of updates on my end, which I can only blame the good people at MLB.tv for. If you want to know why, then clearly you don’t subscribe. Neither do I…anymore. Good riddance; welcome back ExtraInnings. With that, here’s a brief recap of what I did see of the game tonight, thanks to my late switch over Thursday night. Oh, and I’d also like to thank ESPN for helping me keep up to date with the Mets while I was “blacked out.” Yes, thank you ESPN for 20 minute Baseball Tonight recaps of the games of the day with 20% devoted to the Yankees, 20% to Barry Bonds, 20% to replaying Home Runs and a few defensive plays. That usually leaves about 4 highlights per baseball game. Oh well, can’t expect them to have time for anything else when they need to ram the NFL down our throats in April and May.

As far as the game itself, Gary Cohen and Ron Darling, who called the game on SNY, made a very astute observation in the 3rd inning, pointing out how the Mets just looked “slow,” attributing it to the possibility of a quick turn around from a day game on Wednesday and then a flight to Arizona for a game the next night. And slow they were for 8 and a third innings.

Tom Glavine got the start and didn’t seem to want to win this game. He didn’t pitch poorly, but did give up a few poorly timed home runs. The D-Backs (as their horrible new uni’s tell us they are to be called) took an early 1-0 lead when Eric Byrnes, who had turned a badly played ball by Moises Alou into a triple, scored on a Stephen Drew hit in the second inning. Alou would redeem himself in the 4th, when he took a Micah Owings pitch to right field for a double to score Carlos Beltran on the Mets first hit of the game. Paul Lo Duca would later dive Alou home with a single up the middle to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Drifting away from the offensive side of the game, the bottom of the 4th featured two outstanding defensive plays from the boys on the left side of the infield. First Jose Reyes made a great stab on a ball the bounced up to his left going up the middle followed by a ball hit back to the box that popped off of Glavine’s glove to his right; David Wright charged in, picked it up, spun around, and nailed Byrnes a first.

The D-Backs would strike back in the bottom of the 5th. Following a lead off single by Drew, catcher Chris Snyder hit a 2 run home run to left to give them a 3-2 lead. The lead didn’t last long however, as Carlos Beltran led off the 6th with an absolute tape measure shot (”officially,” and I use that term loosely, measured at 442 feet) to right center to tie the game at 3. Not to be out done, Orlando Hudson, in the bottom of the 6th, homer to right center to put the D-Backs right back in the lead, 4-3.

The game would remain 4-3 until the 9th inning, when the wheels would fall off for the home team. After Endy Chavez struck out to lead off, Shawn Green would reach on an error by first baseman Tony Clark, who had been inserted at the beginning of the inning as part of a double switch when closer Jose Valverde entered the game. Lo Duca would then draw a walk and lead into our Foxwoods turning point of the game. Damion Easley came up huge for the second time in as many weeks, taking Valverde to the deepest part of the feild for his third home run of the season and putting the Mets up 6-4. 3 batters later, following a pinch walk by Julio Franco and a single by Reyes, David Wright hit his second home run of the reason, making it a 9-4 game. Scott Schoeneweis would come in for the bottom of 9th to close it out in unimpressive style giving up a couple of hits and getting some help from Shawn Green on a diving catch in right, but he did the job.

The win was the Mets 11th straight win at Chase Field, their last loss coming on May 11 of 2004. Even though he didn’t get the win, Tom Glavine did notch his 2,502 strike out, tying him for 28th all time with Christy Mathewson. They also improved to 17-10 on the season, putting them back into a first place tie with the idle Braves.

The two teams return to the field for the second of this four game series later tonight with another 9:40pm ET. NL Pitch of the Month for April John Maine takes his 4-0 record and NL Leading 1.35 ERA to the mound against Randy Johnson.

Notes…Before the game, the Mets optioned Chan Ho Park to AAA New Orleans and called up Lino Undaneta, who has been the closer for the Zephyrs this season, saving 6 games. No starter has been named yet for Saturday’s game in place of Park who had been called up Monday to take the place of Orlando Hernandez who went on the 15 day DL.

Marlins 9, Mets 6

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

So much for the Chan Ho Park Era.  Can somebody tell me how he got the start?  How the worst starter for the New Orleans Zephyrs this season somehow got the nod to replace El Duque in the rotation?  In New Orleans, Park had a 7.29 ERA, having allowed 17 runs on 26 hits (including 6 homers) in 21 innings…all while playing in the biggest pitcher’s park in minor league baseball (and perhaps all of baseball, period) against hitters who aren’t major league calibre.

So how did he get the start?  Because it was his turn in the rotation, and the Mets promised him the first call-up because of injury.  That’s it.  Not because of merit.  While I appreciate the team keeping their word to the guy…at the same time, he had done nothing in New Orleans to warrant a call-up.  Jorge Sosa has a 1.13 ERA in 32 IP, having only allowed 33 baserunners and a single home run.  Phillip Humber hasn’t been great, looks like he’s allowing too many walks (9 in 26 IP), but his ERA is 4.15, and he isn’t getting hit up nearly as bad as Park.  The same can be said for Jason Vargas.  Park has been terrible in New Orleans so far, so why waste a start on the guy?  It’s mind-blowing.  The Mets aren’t going to run away with the division this year – they can’t afford to blow starts like they did last year with Jose Lima.

It’s a shame, because the Mets’ bats awoke after a bad series in Washington.  Six runs, eleven hits, Carlos Beltran went 4 for 5 with a homer and a steal, Jose Reyes electrified the crowd with his 17th stolen base in the month of April, putting him on pace for 115 (!) stolen bases for the season, and also hit two doubles.  The team was hitting, but they were put in a 7-0 defecit early on.  If Hernandez had been healthy, this would have been an easy win.  Instead, with an undeserving pitcher thrust into the spot, it turns into an ugly loss.

Other notes…it might be too early to tell, but I’m not sure Aaron Sele is going to work out in the Darren Oliver role…Ruben Gotay was called up to replace Jose Valentin, who went on the DL.  Last year, that spot would have gone to Anderson Hernandez, but it looks like the Mets may be ready to cut bait on him.  Gotay can hit, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him get some starts while Valentin recovers…

The Mets will try to take Game 2 of this three game series tonight in Flushing, with Mike Pelfrey facing Ricky Nolasco.  Park stinking up the joint last night and El Duque’s injury probably gives Pelf a bit of a reprieve for now, but it would sure help if he could step up with a big performance against the Fish, especially after last night’s loss left such a bad taste in everybody’s mouths.  Game time is 7:10 PM EST.

On an unrelated note, I apologize that we didn’t get up anything about the Nationals series this past weekend, I have been in and out and didn’t really get a chance to watch as much of the games as I would have liked to do a recap.  For the time being, it looks like I should be on top of these, so expect more frequent updates.

Mets 2, Rockies 1, (12)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Wow.  I mean, how else can you react to a game like last night’s?  Last night’s game is the type of game that reminds me why I love baseball.  So many different storylines from the game.  First, you have two really dominant performances from Aaron Cook and Orlando Hernandez.  Seven innings by each, and they allowed a total of 14 baserunners.  That is pretty much the standard definition of a pitcher’s duel.  The Mets had opportunities, but Aaron Cook can be hard to drive the ball off of, and they couldn’t capitalize.

Game keeps going, both bullpens do the job in the eighth and the ninth, and we’re scoreless going into the tenth.  Billy Wagner gets the first two outs of the tenth before allowing a double to Yorvit Torrealba.  Troy Tulowitzki, who has not been impressive this season (I should know, I benched him in two fantasy baseball leagues) hits a triple to drive home the run.  Mets are now down 1-0, and it looks like they drop this one, and may even get shut out.

The tenth inning starts inauspiciously.  Shawn Green and Jose Valentin, both red-hot of late, are retired, bringing up Damion Easley.  Easley hasn’t played much since Valentin and Reyes have both been too good to take out of the lineup, and Julio Franco is usually the first pinch hitter off the bench, so it’s possible some Mets fans forgot he was on the team.  Brian Fuentes, perfect in save opportunities in 2007 so far, gets two strikes on Easley.  He does not get a third, as Easley crushes the ball to tie the game back up, and this game…MUST CONTINUE.

The eleventh ends with nothing of note, and the Rockies’ 12th ends quietly.  Shawn Green opens the 12th with a single.  He advances to second on a Jose Valentin ground ball, and makes it to third thanks to a balk by Ryan Speier.  David Newhan does not have any Easley magic, he strikes out.  The Rockies intentionally walk Reyes (and why not; with first and second open, and the Mets only need one run to win, would you really want to face the Mets’ best hitter in this situation?) and that brings up Endy Chavez.  Endy has quickly become many Mets fans’ favorite non-starter (and is probably ahead of some starters on the popularity list as well).  After Reyes takes second on defensive indifference to take away the force, Endy drops down a perfect drag bunt, which the defense was not expecting.  With his great speed, he makes it to first easily, allowing Green to score and the Mets somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

What a game.  What a series of twists and turns.  It was more like a good book than a game, at least from where I sit.  This is why I follow baseball, because every game is a story.  Sometimes the story is, “The Mets suck,” and that’s not a story I particularly want to read, but more often, it’s a story like, “Holy crap, how did the Mets win that game?”  That was last night’s story, and it was a good one.

The Mets go for the sweep today, in mere minutes, as Mike Pelfrey takes the mound against Josh Fogg at 1:10 PM.  Fogg could charitably be labeled as “terrible,” posting ERAs over 5 the past two years, including two years ago playing most of his games at PNC Park, which is a pitcher’s park in the worst division in baseball.  He’s picking up where he left off last year, with an ERA over 6, a WHIP over 1.80, and a K/9 rate under 5.  Pelfrey hasn’t been entirely impressive this year either, and he probably needs a good start here to stay in the rotation, so we’ll see if he can step up to the challenge today against a good Rockies lineup.

Thunder 7, B-Mets 3

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

What?  A minor league game recap?  Well, actually it was a Miracle Mets day at the ballpark as MikeGrim, Joeadig, and myself made the trip out to Waterfront Park in Trenton, New Jersey to see the Binghamton Mets face off with the visiting Trenton Thunder.  Of course, since the three of us were all at the game instead of watching the Mets/Braves game on TV, it means no game recap for that, but it looks like it went significantly better than the depressing Mets/Braves game the day before (and we probably really should start doing recaps of games the Mets lose as well; I promise we will work on that).

The primary reason for going to today’s game was to see Mets uber-prospect Fernando Martinez.  The first thing you think while seeing him is that he is a shorter guy; Joe in fact told me during the game that is is likely too small to ever play a corner outfield position.  But, he’s also 18 years old; there’s a chance, and a good one, that he has another growth spurt in him, and plus hitting for power has not been a problem during his brief professional career.  Fernando looked overmatched at times, but he did score the B-Mets’ first hit of the ballgame.  Unfortunately, it was in the 9th inning while the team was down 7-0, but he helped start a mini-rally that briefly made the game interesting by scoring the team’s first run.  Mike Carp, a Mets’ minor leaguer who seemed to be around forever, scored the second, and it looked like the B-Mets were finally breaking through, but alas, it was not to be.

Mike Devaney did not have a good outing, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits in 4 innings of work.  Waterfront Park depresses power numbers, so this was just hitters smacking him around, driving singles and doubles and taking walks.  Mike noted to me that Devaney could not throw anything over the plate that wasn’t a fast ball; perhaps if Devaney is to ever make the majors, it will not be as a starter, but a reliever.  But if he has ANY major league aspirations, he will need to stop having games like today, because a guy who gets smacked around by a Thunder team without a standout hitting prospect just isn’t going to make it in the majors.

Tomorrow it’s back to major league recaps here when the Mets face the Braves in the rubber game of their three game series.  It’s good friends, better enemies day again when Tom Glavine faces John Smoltz.  Game time is 1:10 PM.

Mets 11, Marlins 3

Friday, April 20th, 2007

The Mets’ offense is practically unstoppable on the road.  On this abbreviated road trip, they outscored their opponents 28-6.  The Marlins’ one run lead, which lasted one full inning, was the only time they trailed this entire road trip.  For the season, the Mets have outscored their opponents 64-17 on the road.  Right now, this is just an extraordinarily good road team.  Really, it is amazing that they have even lost a game on the road; the Mets will get a chance to avenge those two losses this weekend.

The only everyday hitter that is struggling right now is Carlos Delgado, and he has ten RBI’s (in part because the Mets’ position hitters in front of him are getting on base).  David Wright has hit safely in each of the first 14 games.  Carlos Beltran has 4 home runs, and I’m not even sure he’s found his power stroke yet.  Jose Valentin has gotten things cooking after a slow start, and that doesn’t even speak of his stellar second base defense so far.  Moises Alou has been an absolutely stellar pick up so far.  And then there’s Jose Reyes, who, two years after putting up a .300 OBP in a full season, has become an on-base machine, including two walks drawn yesterday.  1 through 8, there are no real holes, well, until Shawn Green stops hitting (but so far, to his credit, he has stayed decent).

Last night the Mets had good pitching, too.  After a rough first inning, El Duque settled down, winding up with ten strikeouts and only five baserunners in seven innings.  If healthy, he will be a big part of this team’s success this year.  Ambiorix Burgos had a nice 8th, and Billy Wagner gave up a meaningless unearned run in the 9th in his first game in six days (due to rain and Mets’ blowouts).  Right now, this is just a team playing well in all aspects of the game.

However, they will need to keep up this recent run, as they have a three game set back at Shea starting tonight with the Atlanta Braves.  The Mets moved a half-game ahead of the Braves last night, so they will need to win the series to stay in first place.  The first game will feature Tim Hudson facing Mike Pelfrey, in what will be the youngster’s biggest game to date.  A big performance here, and he will be well on his way to earning a place in Mets’ fans hearts.  Game time is 7:10 PM.

Mets 9, Marlins 2

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

The Mets are on a roll right now.  This is their second straight eight run-plus game, and right now the Mets are leading the NL in runs scored, and are also first in runs allowed.  Yet they are second in their own division by half a game, due to some close losses.  Granted, the Braves have a game in hand on the Mets right now, and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but you have to feel good about the team if you are a Mets fan.

John Maine pitched six no-hit innings, and if you’re like me, any time a Mets pitcher gets past four innings or so without allowing a hit, you start to think, “Is this going to be the first Mets’ no hitter?”  I try not to think about it, as I start to think of it as a jinx, but the thought is still there.  I can’t help but think about it.  Whereas fans of teams like the Cubs, Astros, Giants, Indians, etc. wonder “Will I live my entire life without seeing a World Series-winning ballclub,” I wonder things like, “Will I see a Mets’ no hitter in my lifetime?”  I suppose this is better than the alternative, but the thought is there, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.

What I’m amazed by is that this team is scoring tons of runs without homers.  Beltran hit his third, which leads the team, but there are some players who have hit more home runs than the Mets have as a team.  The team is scoring runs by just being hard to get out; they are first in the majors in team on-base percentage, and sixth in the majors in team slugging percentage, despite the lack of homers; this indicates to me a lot of doubles and Jose Reyes contributing with triples.  Throw in the team’s league-leading .296 batting average, and this has been a helluva hitting team so far.

But here’s a number that impresses me; 23 double plays turned.  That tells me that the pitching is getting a big help from the defense.  It’s even more of a big number when you keep in mind that Jose Valentin didn’t start playing second base regularly until June of last year.  Add in the great outfield defense by Carlos Beltran and, surprisingly, Moises Alou (he is making some tough catches out there for a 41 year old man) and the defense is owed at least partial credit for that lowest runs allowed in the majors tally.  They are getting to some balls that would normally drop in for hits, and they are doubling off a lot of the baserunners that do get on.  Will the strong defense continue, or is this something that will correct itself over the next few months?  I guess we will find out.

It’s always nice to rough up Dontrelle Willis a little bit.  He is usually pretty dominant against the Mets, but here, he just couldn’t handle a Mets team that is just hitting extremely well right now.  It was the irresistable force meeting the immovable object, and the irresistable force won out this time.  I hope this is more of a sign of the Mets now being able to handle Willis than it is a sign of Willis just having a bad game.

The Mets finish off this two game series in Florida tonight, where Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez pitches for the first time in a few days against Rick Vanden Hurk.  Sounds Dutch.  Game time is 7:05 PM EST.

It’s Old Timer’s Week at Shea!

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

Yesterday, it was Tom Glavine getting his 292nd win that propelled the Mets to victory. Today, it was an even older Julio Frano who gave the boys in blue and orange the win over the Nats, 3-2.

Franco came up to pinch hit in the seventh inning with runners on first and second and the game tied and, despite looking somewhat slow at the plate, managed to find the hole up the middle. He hit a pitch from Ryan Wagner on the ground right back up the middle and David Wright came in to score what would be the winning run.

The night will probably be remembered for Mike Pelfrey’s less-than-perfect start, as he managed to go five and 2/3 innings but gave up six hits and four walks. That walk total could easily have been higher but he seemed to get the benefit of some very close calls.

I don’t have time to do a full recap but here are a few thoughts:

1. David Wright looked pretty good. Regular readers of this blog know that I’m not too high on Wright so far this season, but he hit the ball hard tonight and had some good at-bats. Hopefully, I’m very wrong about him.

2. This trend of walking hitters has got to stop. Maine, Perez, Glavine, and now Pelfrey have given up a combined total of 4,328 walks over the last few games (my numbers may be slightly off). To be a winning team, that number has got to come down.

3. John Patterson is considered the Nats staff ace. John Patterson. ‘Nuff said.

4. The team is being very aggressive on the bases, just like last season. Reyes, Wright, and Shawn Green(!) stole bases last night, so that was very good to see. The used that aggressiveness as a major weapon last season so if they continue the trend they’ll be dangerous this year again.

Mets rebound after Ollie’s Folly; take series from rival Phils

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

A day after Oliver Perez laid one heck of an egg against the Phillies, the Mets rebounded after a poor early inning performance from Tom Glavine, to beat the Phillies 5-3 and take the series two games to one, over their NL East rivals.

First I’ll address the game from Wednesday night (to justify the use of my pun-eriffic title for this article and since I assume, like myself, Joe and Wilcox were so ill following that game, we didn’t recap it). It was one of those games that makes you worried as a Mets fan. Poor starting pitching and a lack of hitting from everyone not named Jose Reyes. Perez was downrigh dreadful and showed everything that made him a virtual throw in at the trade deadline last summer, in the deal that sent “The X-Man” to the Pirates for Roberto Hernandez as well as Perez.

Of his 73 pitches (in only 2 and 2/3′rds innings of work), Perez threw 41 balls (and those are just the pitches that counted as balls, not the one’s the Phillies chased out of the zone), matching his career high with 7 walks, including a nauseating 4 straight walks and a hit basman in the 3rd inning. Perez had been shaky early, loading the bases in the second only to get out of it by getting opposing pitcher Adam Eaton to ground out to end the threat. Then, in the 3rd he got 2 quick outs, and then following a single by Chase Utley, walked Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to load the bases, then walked Wes Helms to force in a run, Arron Rowand to force home another and hit Rod Barajas to bring in yet another before Willie finally pulled the plug on him.Worse yet, the Mets only managed 5 hits, two of which were by Jose Reyes against the Phils. The only positive I took from the game was the performance of the Mets bullpen, including a very good outing from Aaron Sele, who pitched 4 and 1/3 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits.

So with that awful outing, things could only get better, right? Well, early on, not really. Tom Glavine gave up a lead off home run to Jimmy Rollins then walked Shane Victorino who was erased on a caught stealing by Paul LoDuca. Glavine walked Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell before getting Wes Helms to strike out to end the inning.

The Mets came back to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the first, once again feuled by Jose Reyes who led off with a single and later would score on a single by Carlos Beltran. David Wright ended the inning grounding into double play.

Glavine’s struggles continued in the second inning, giving up a lead off single to Aaron Rowand. After getting two outs, Jimmy Rollins continued to own Glavine hitting his second home run of the game, this one a two run shot, to put the Phillies up 3-1.

After that though Glavine and the Mets settled down, thanks to the help of some poor Phillies defense and some great bunting on two different occasions by Glavine (who has looked great in all 3 of his starts doing that). They would get one run in the bottom of the 2nd after Wes Helms threw the ball away on a Glavine sac bunt, scoring Moises Alou. Then in the 4th inning, after Alou had doubled to lead off the inning, Glavine would lay another beauty of a bunt down, moving Alou and Damien Easley over. Jose Reyes then came up and delivered a single to left, scoring Alou and Easley for his team leading 10th and 11th RBI of the season, to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.

Glavine would go on to pitch through the 6th inning, giving up a total of 3 runs on 4 hits, walking 3. Joe Smith came on in the 7th and after giving up a lead off single to Helms, struck out Rowand on an insane call and got Ruiz to hit into an inning ending double play.

David Wright would then help the Mets get a very important insurance run, tripling to right field and scoring on a single by Alou to give the Mets a 5-3 lead.

In the 8th, Scott Schoeneweis gave up a leadoff walk, but then got Rollins to pop up, and got Shane Victorino to hit into another Phillies inning ending double play. Billy Wagner came on in the 9th to get the save. He did give up a double to Ryan Howard and he looked very average with his stuff, but hopefully the weather has a lot to do with it. Wagner got Wes Helms to ground out to Wright to end the game, and give the Mets the 5-3 victory.

Overall, I am pleased with this win. It wasn’t pretty, but I take a few positives from it. First, Glavine pitched tough.. He didn’t have it, but he still fought through it and did everything he could and really earned career victory 292. Second, Jose Reyes is everything we hoped. He’s being pitched around in big situations now…who would have though that would ever happen 3 years ago? Thrid, and maybe most important, Moises Alou is doing what he was brought in to do…hitting lefties. Last year the Mets were terrible at doing just that. So far, this has been a very good move by Omar. Lastly, the Mets bullpen continued to look good…Joe Smith belongs on this team.

In other good news, the Nationals actually won a game, against John Smoltz of all people, to give the Braves only their second loss of the season.  I know it’s early to be watching the standings, but the Nationals are a team that most of the NL East will get fat on this season, so any chance to gain ground and/or extend a lead in the division when the Phillies, Braves or Marlins are playing the Nats, it’s a good thing.