Mets vs. Dodgers live blog – Game 2

10:02 update
Okay, so I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, because I’m back here live blogging after last night’s disaster.  C’mon, it can’t actually be WORSE than yesterday, right?

Back with more when the game starts – let’s hope for the best tonight!

10:21 update
Your lineup tonight:

  1. Jose Reyes, SS
  2. Daniel Murphy, LF
  3. Carlos Beltran, CF
  4. David Wright, 3B
  5. Ryan Church, RF
  6. Ramon Martinez, 2B
  7. Jeremy Reed, 2B
  8. Omir Santos, C
  9. John Maine, P

Have to say, I like the way this lineup looks a lot more with Reyes and Murphy at the top of the order.  Even with dregs like Ramon Martinez batting sixth (rather inexplicably, I might add) it’s a lot harder to go through.  Hopefully Manuel will keep Churchy and Murphy in the lineup for an extended period of time to get them some work.

Reyes is having a good at-bat in his return to the lineup.  He gives it a ride to the warning track, but it hung up in the air a little too long, and Matt Kemp was able to make the out.  Still, nice at-bat in his return, ran the count full and went about 6-7 pitches.

Daniel Murphy gets a one-out single, nice hitting.  It just feels more right with him in that two hole, batting ahead of Beltran and Wright.  They need to get back to batting him there and back to Castillo batting 8th, they both seem to play better in those spots.  So you can bet tomorrow, Castillo will be batting 2nd and Murphy will be batting 6th or 7th, if he’s playing at all.

The Mets are hitting the ball hard, but they are hitting it right at the outfielders, this one to Kemp in center field, and that retires Carlos Beltran.

And…that’s not going to get Murphy more at-bats.  Murphy took off before Billingsley threw the pitch, which made him easy pickings for a pickoff and a run down, which leaves Wright at the plate.  Great to see the mistakes getting made nice and early.

10:33 update
The lineup for the Dodgers:

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Rafael Furcal, SS
  3. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  4. Andre Ethier, RF
  5. J. Martin, C
  6. James Loney, 1B
  7. Matt Kemp, CF
  8. Casey Blake, 3B
  9. Chad Billingsley, P

You know, I was just thinking, “Daniel Murphy hasn’t made two many outfield mistakes lately.”  Then, he drops a first-pitch line drive by Pierre which allows Pierre to get to second.  Doesn’t look like he used two hands there, but that’s back to back mistakes by Murphy, and I wonder if Jerry is already thinking about replacing him.

Maine compounds that mistake by walking Furcal, and now the Dodgers have their two fastest players on base with nobody out, much as they did last night to start the game.

Darling is trying to defend Pagan to a point for last night’s miscue by saying that he’s a young player.  Problem is, Pagan is 27; he turns 28 this summer.  He’s not young.  He’s not good defensively.  Literally, the only baseball skill he possesses is that he’s fast.  He can’t hit, he doesn’t get on base, he doesn’t draw walks, and he can’t field his position.  He is not a good baseball player at all, and why he keeps getting chances here when he’s worthless is beyond me.

Orlando Hudson singles up the middle and helps compound Murphy’s error with Pierre scoring.  The Dodgers are out to a 1-0 lead with first and second and nobody out.

Hey, good defensive play.  John Maine gets a rare ground ball, which Ramon Martinez, Jose Reyes, and Jeremy Reed successfully convert into a double play.  Two outs, Furcal moves to third.  Would that be considered a productive double play since it moved a runner to third?

J. Martin pops up and thus ends the first with Furcal stranded at third.  That could have been worse.  1-0 Dodgers.

10:50 update
David Wright gets a fresh count to work with…and he draws a pretty close walk after drawing the count full and fouling some balls off.  The Mets are going deep into counts against Billingsley, which is good because he’s a quality starter.

We had a lot of highs and lows with Church yesterday, and he’s back out there, batting fifth today, the highest he’s batted in the order this season.  While he’s at the plate, Martin loses the ball and Wright takes off for second.  The Mets might have gotten a gift from the umpire when they call Wright safe at first.  It’s hard to tell through replays, though it looks like he might have been out.  Anyway, Church moves Wright over to third with a groundout to Hudson.

Unfortunately, that “productive out” just brings up Ramon Martinez with a runner on third and one out.  Even more unfortunately, Ramon Martinez strikes out on a slider out of the strike zone for the second out, after getting ahead 3-1 on Billingsley.  I guess the best thing you can say about that at-bat is that he added six pitches to Billingsley’s pitch count, helping to get to the Dodgers bullpen that much quicker.

Billingsley was pitching Reed carefully, falling behind 3-0, and then decided “Screw it,” and walked hiim intentionally, I guess feeling Omir Santos is a better bet to get out (and Santos’ .283 OBP would seem to agree, as Reed has been decent with the bat so far this season).

It’s now up to Omir Santos to figure out a way to get Wright home.  Santos draws another full count on Billingsley, and gets the walk to load the bases.  Unfortunately, it’s for the pitcher’s spot.

Miraculously, John Maine, perhaps the worst hitting player on the entire team (Big Pelf might disagree) singles up the middle to score Wright and Reed and gives the Mets their first lead.  2-1 Mets.  That was actually the first hit of the inning, too.  Three walks loaded the bases (although Wright advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout).

As good as Reyes’ at-bat was in the first inning, this one wasn’t so great, as he swings and misses on a bad pitch for the third out.  Still, nice to see the bottom of the order stay out of the way just enough to help score two runs and give the Mets their first lead of the series.  Just as importantly, they’re driving Billingsley’s pitch count up.

10:57 update
The bottom of the second starts with James Loney skying out to Carlos Beltran for the first out.  Angel Pagan is nowhere to be found trying to take Beltran out on the play.

Matt Kemp grounds out to David Wright, and pretty quickly there are two outs.

Casey Black pops up behind the plate, and the Dodgers crowd seems to believe there is at least a chance that the Mets will drop it.  Santos doesn’t, and thus ends the second.

11:10 update
That SNY commercial where they claim that they are “All New York sports, all the time” still annoys me.  No matter how hard you try to brand yourselves as such, everybody knows you’re the Mets network – stop trying to pretend otherwise.  Yankee fans won’t watch SNY anyway, they need to watch their propaganda machine known as the YES Network anyway.

Murphy falls behind, but is able to draw a leadoff walk to start the third.  Just make sure if you take off, that the pitcher has thrown the ball, Murph.

Carlos Beltran feasts on pitchers with poor control, so I feel good about this at-bat here.  Alas, it is for naught, as he has a surefire double play ball, which forces Murphy at second, but Furcal throws the ball into the stands.  That puts Beltran on second.  Tell me, is that also considered a “productive out”?  It moved the runner from first to second, and heck, Beltran is a much better baserunner than Murphy.  I can’t think of a more productive way to make an out.  Granted, the production came from Furcal, but still, production is production, right?

Wright with a line drive single into center and that scores Beltran and pushes the score to 3-1.  Wright tries to take second on the throw, but Loney cuts the ball off and catches Wright in a rundown, and that will be the second out.  Too bad.

Churchy lines one into center, and that will continue the inning for Billingsley, who is throwing a lot of pitches.

Martinez strikes out again, and that will leave Churchy at third at the end of the inning.

11:24 update
Damn, Maine just did not pitch Billingsley well there at all, walking him on four pitches.  You do not want to see that.  It’s the pitcher, let it hang out there in the strike zone!  I know he gave up the homer to Paul Maholm the other day, but geez.

And suddenly, Maine is having problems finding the strike zone.  He walks Pierre on five pitches, giving the Dodgers first and second, nobody out, and Maine doesn’t get too many ground balls.  Be afraid.

Rafael Furcal hits a soft liner into center field that Beltran can’t come up with for a single.  Beltran almost forces Pierre at second, but he just makes it to the bag in time.  Bases loaded, nobody out…again, Maine doesn’t have a ground ball pitch, so the Dodgers are looking at a big inning here.

Fortunately for the Mets, Orlando Hudson hits a soft liner that David Wright is able to catch, and that’s the first out.  Bases are still loaded, though.

HUGE strikeout by Maine there gets the second out.  He gets Ethier looking at a great inside pitch.  Two outs, bases still loaded.  Still not out of the woods with Russell Martin up, with two good hitters up behind him.

John Maine somehow averts disaster there, forcing Martin to ground out to Reyes to end the inning.  The Dodgers had bases loaded, nobody out, and their 3-4-5 hitters up, and yet Maine somehow figured out a way to get out of that inning.  Nice work.

11:29 update
Chad Billingsley has 77 pitches through 3 innings – he doesn’t figure to be in too long with that pitch count.

Jeremy Reed tries bunting for a base hit, but fails to get on for his troubles.  He’s swinging a good bat, so that was curious.

Omir Santos tries to line one over Orlando Hudson, but it hangs up in the air just long enough for Hudson to get the second out.

John Maine strikes out on three pitches, and Billingsley gets the quick inning he needed to pitch into the 5th inning.

11:40 update
After walking the tightrope in the third, here comes Maine for the fourth.

James Loney pops up to Wright in shallow left field, and that’s the first out.

Kemp grounds one to Ramon Martinez, and that’s the second out.

Casey Blake draws a walk in a nice at-bat.  Maine was ahead in the count, but he was able to prolong the at-bat and draw the walk that kept the inning alive.

The Mets play Billingsley shallow, and he makes them pay, getting the ball past Beltran in center for a double that scores Blake from first and pushes the score to 3-2 Mets.

Pierre grounds one deep in the hole to Reyes, but Reyes is able to narrowly throw out the speedster Pierre and thus ends the fourth.  Figures that Maine allows the run in that inning where he seemingly had things under control with two outs and the 8th hitter at the plate, but not in the third when he had the bases loaded with nobody out and the middle of the order up.

11:45 update
Today’s AFLAC Trivia Question: Who won the first Cy Young Award?  I reckon it is probably a Dodger, but I don’t know what year the award started.  Let’s say Don Drysdale, since Koufax was yesterday’s answer.

Jose Reyes pops out to shallow center field, and that’s the first out.  Reyes is 0 for 3 in his return to the lineup.

Daniel Murphy hits a good liner the other way, but it’s right into Casey Blake’s mitt and that’s the second out.

Beltran is caught looking at a good pitch by Billingsley, and that’s another 1-2-3 inning.  Billingsley has retired seven in a row and seems to be settling in, but his pitch count is around 100 right now, so he figures to only get another inning or so at the most.

11:52 update
Furcal grounds out to Jose Reyes, and that’s your first out of the bottom of the fifth.

Orlando Hudson lines one that hangs in the air just long enough for Jose Reyes to catch up to the ball, and that’s out #2.

In case you were wondering, Orlando Hudson is making less money than Luis Castillo this year.  Doesn’t that make that contract in 2007 look that much better?

Ethier takes Maine to an eighth pitch, but he’s caught looking for the third out.  Maine’s second strikeout, both times Ethier, but that one was not with the bases loaded.

11:59 update
Wright leads off the sixth with a first pitch pop up that Andre Ethier grabs for the first out.  After drawing long at-bats against Billingsley to start the game, he seems to be getting batters out earlier in the counts, and he’s on a roll right now.

Billingsley picks up his sixth strikeout by getting Ryan Church swinging, and that’s the second out.  His pitch counts by inning: 20, 34, 23, 9, 9, and 5 in the sixth so far.

He gets Ramon Martinez, and that ends the 6th.   Only 105 pitches for Billingsley, and the Mets can’t take advantage of driving the pitch counts earlier in the game and getting to the bullpen early, as Billingsley gets through six.

12:08 AM update
Maine gets Martin to strike out on three pitches, and that’s your first out of the bottom of the sixth.  Still no mention of the J. Martin, and we might get through this series without any mention of it.  Odd for the SNY crew, which is usually on top of abnormalities like that.

Loney lines one past Jeremy Reed’s glove, and there’s a one-out single for the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp pops one up to no man’s land.  Ramon Martinez gives up on the play, Ryan Church doesn’t, but the ball drops nonetheless and it’s first and second with one out.  Ramon Martinez’s defense has been atrocious in this series.

Dan Warthen is out to talk to Maine, as Sean Green and Ken Takahashi start to warm up.

Casey Blake makes John Maine pay, hitting the first home run of the series over the head of Daniel Murphy in left field, and it’s now a 5-3 lead for the Dodgers.  Damn, Maine had been pitching so well up until this inning, but when you keep allowing runners on, eventually they are going to score.

Billingsley is going to bat here, even with 105 pitches, but he seems to be getting better as the game goes along anyway.  He pokes a single into right field, which continues a good night for him with the bat.  He’s 2-2 with a double, walk, and RBI.

That will be it for Maine.  It’s too bad, he got through the first few innings, battled a little, but pitched well.  He unraveled in the 6th, and now the Dodgers have the lead.  Ken Takahashi will be in the game when we get back.

12:12 update
I wonder if Jerry Manuel realizes that Takahashi has a reverse platoon split?  He’s facing the lefty Pierre, and allows a single, giving the Dodgers first and second with still only one out.

Takahashi continues his mastery of righties by getting Furcal to ground into an inning-ending double play.  Still, the damage has been done, and the Dodgers now have a two run lead.

12:18 update
Reed pops one out after being ahead 3-0, and that’s eleven straight retired by Billingsley, who looks like a completely different pitcher than the one the Mets saw in the first three innings.

Amazing.  Omir Santos was down 1-2 to Billingsley, but somehow works out a one-out walk, the first Mets baserunner siince the third inning.  Omir Santos coming back to work out the walk!  That’s pretty amazing.

That’s going to be it for Billingsley, whose pitch count is in the 110’s now.  Nice pitching there, coming back from a rough start, and he gets a nice hand from the hometown crowd as he walks off the field.

12:30 update
Another lefty with a reverse platoon split, Brent Leach, enters the ballgame.  Fortunately for him, he’s facing the switch-hitting Pagan, whose weak side is the right side.

Leach throws a great curveball that gets Pagan looking, and that’s your second out.

Gary and Ron are talking about the Mets hitting options and their weak Buffalo team.  The problem is, their guys you’d figure they’d call up, your Bobby Kieltys, your Wily Mo Penas, the Nick Evanses…those guys are playing poorly.  Pagan got the call pretty much because he only had a few at-bats, so he hadn’t played long enough in Buffalo to not play well.  That’s how he got the call over the other guys.

Reyes is having a nice at-bat here to try to keep the inning alive, but Leach isn’t giving him something he can do something with.  He’s fouling a bunch of pitches off and keeping things going, but hasn’t been able to get a hit.  Finally, he punches one into right field that bounces off Hudson’s wrist on his glove hand, and that gives Reyes his first hit in his return.  The trainer is going to check on Hudson to make sure he’s OK.  He took a hard fall on his left shoulder, and they want to make sure he’s OK.

Hudson is coming out of the game.  It seems more precautionary than anything else.  Hopefully he’s OK.  Juan Castro is now the new Dodgers second baseman.

12:34 update
Jerry Manuel is trying to be aggressive here, as he’s sending Gary Sheffield.  I’m not sure about this one.  The Dodgers have a righthander warming up, so no matter what, they’re not going to have a platoon advantage.  Why not let Murphy bat here and save Sheffield for later in the game?  Especially since now they are actually going to have to put Sheffield in the OF (unless they put Pagan in left field, which despite what the team thinks, is NOT a defensive upgrade).  I don’t like this move, but we will see if it pays dvidends.

Ronald Belisario is now in to face the Mets.  He’s a righty specialist for the Dodgers.

Do you think Manuel knew that Leach had a reverse platoon split against lefties?  Why not let Murphy hit there?  Why does he insist on being like Willie Randolph and not show confidence in his young guys?  I thought that was a better trait of his, something that gave him an advantage over Willie, but he’s quickly losing my trust in areas where I thought he was pretty adept last season.  Sheffield has become one of “his boys,” and I think it is to the detriment of the team.

Sheffield bounces it to Juan Castro, and that ends the Mets’ seventh.

12:43 update
Sean Green is now pitching for Mets, and Angel Pagan is in left field.  I thought you were supposed to bring in good defenders in the later innings?  This is the problem with putting Reed at first, your good backup outfield defender can’t come in the game when needed.  If you don’t trust Murphy with the glove in the outfield (and advanced fielding metrics say that he can handle the outfield better than people think), put him at first!

Juan Castro pops out to Ramon Martinez in his first at-bat, and there’s your first out.

Ethier flies out to Carlos Beltran in center field, and that’s the second out.

The AFLAC trivia answer is Don Newcombe, who won the Cy Young Award in 1956.  Guess that makes me 1 for 2 today.

And now they are talking about the J. Martin on Russell Martin’s jersey and that the J stands for Jeanson, his mother’s maiden name.  I knew they’d get to it at some point, just expected it sooner.  He strikes out, and Green has a 1-2-3 inning.  He’s had some success of late.  Nice to see.

12:56 update
Middle of the order coming up against new pitcher Cory Wade.  We could use some big hits from the big bats here, so let’s see what happens.

Beltran smokes one that Loney can’t handle, bouncing off the bottom of his glove into right field for a base hit.  That’s Beltran’s first hit of the series.  I’d say it came at a good time.

Wright falls behind 1-2, but works out a walk, and now the Mets have Beltran and Wright at second and first, and nobody out.  Nice start to the inning – can the bottom of the order get them home?

Ryan Church can’t do it, he flies out to left field and that’s the first out.

Here’s why you don’t use all of your pinch hitters in the seventh inning: now the Mets have Ramon Martinez batting with runners on first and second and one out, and he has not looked good at the plate.  Now they are relying on him to get a run across the plate, a role for which he is woefully ill-equipped.

God, Ramon Martinez sucks.  He chops one right to second base, which makes the inning-ending double play all too easy.  That is probably the last chance the Mets have of getting Beltran and Wright to the plate in this game.  That might be the ballgame right there.   Thanks, Ramon.

1:02 update
Frankie Rodriguez is making a rare appearance in the 8th inning, as it appears the Mets will not be needing his services in the ninth inning tonight, and he hasn’t pitched since Friday.  He doesn’t look at all rusty in getting James Loney to strike out for the first out.

Kemp takes a 3-0 pitch to the warning track, but Carlos Beltran is there to take care of business, and that’s the second out.

Nice play by David Wright, charging a slow grounder hit by Casey Blake, picking it up bare-handed, and making the throw to first to get the third out.  It’s going to be Reed, Santos, and Pagan batting in the ninth against the best closer in baseball this year thus far trying to keep hope alive.

Jonathan Broxton is in for the Dodgers to attempt to pick up the save.  He has been nasty this year thus far.  Not feeling this one.

Jeremy Reed strikes out to lead off the ninth.  Considering he is the only good hitter due up this inning, that does not bode well for the Mets.

Omir Santos with a slow chopper, Rafael Furcal makes a great play getting to the ball quickly and throws out Santos, and that’s the second out.  The game is now in the hands of Angel Pagan.

Pagan grounds out to short, and that’s the ballgame.

Some final thoughts: Jerry Manuel is just making some outright bad managerial moves now.  I want to like him, because he makes the post game press conferences fun, and he seems like an interesting, engaging man, but he’s costing this team with bad moves much the same way Willie did.

John Maine’s one mistake cost the team the game.  He had pitched well until that point, but he left a nice fat one for Casey Blake to send over the fence.  Meanwhile, after getting off to a fast start against Billingsley, the lineup couldn’t finish him off, which they could have done with one more good inning.  They stopped working counts, and they allowed him to linger in the game, where he settled in and got the job done.  It’s frustrating to see the lineup struggle the 2nd and 3rd time through the order against the pitcher, because that’s supposed to be when they have the advantage, but they had no such luck tonight.

Live blog tomorrow?  I’m 70/30 against, partially because the Mets keep losing when I live-blog, partially because I have no desire to commit to watching a Livan Hernandez/Jeff Weaver “duel” to its entirety.  We’ll call it a gametime decision, but if you don’t see anything up by 10, don’t expect a live blog.  Sound fair?

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