Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Game #54: Pirates 5, Mets 1

R. A. Dickey struck out 10 Pirates and gave up three runs over seven and two-thirds innings. (NYTimes.com)
One bad inning and a stellar night was all for naught.

R.A. Dickey's masterpiece unraveled in the 8th and the Pirates' arms broke the Mets bats en route to a 5-1 victory.

The Bad Stuff:
  • For 7 innings, R.A. Dickey was unhittable. He had already set a career-high for strikeouts (9, eventually 10) and was 6 outs away from his best pitching effort since that one-hitter against the Phillies last July. But that third and final out of the inning proved all too elusive: what was a 7 inning 2-hitter turned into 7 2/3 and 3 earned runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and a crucial HBP. What's even more amazing is that he was doing all this with a bad foot; had he been able to finish the Bucs off, tonight may have gone down in Mets folklore. Alas, it didn't.
  • If the New York bats could have kept up their recent hot streak, we still could be talking about a Dickey win. But James McDonald held the Mets to 1 run on 6 hits in 6 innings, and the Pittsburgh bullpen delivered 3 perfect innings to end the game.
  • Bobby Parnell came in and steepened the hill in the 9th, giving up 2 runs (albeit unearned) in his first appearance after a lengthy DL stint.
The Good Stuff:
  • Count Dickey's first 7 innings on this list. Also making an appearance:
  • Angel Pagan continued his post-DL surge. Batting in Jose Reyes' place at leadoff, Pagan led off the game with an all-hustle double and scored three batters later on a swinging-bunt infield single by Jason Bay. Angel would finish the day 2-4 and is hitting 9-21 since returning to center field on Friday.
Final Analysis:
It was deja vu for R.A. Dickey: pitched great, got no offense, gets the loss. Same old story, the year just ends with a "1" instead of a "0". This one got away.

More Bad News: Ike Davis might be out until the All-Star Break.

Good News for Once: Jose Reyes will probably be back by the end of the Pittsburgh series on Thursday.

Whoa, oh, we're 1/3 of the way there. Whoa, oh, livin' on a prayer. Make that lots of prayers. But we're still livin'.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Game #53: Mets 7, Pirates 3

Justin Turner tags out the Pirates' Ronny Cedeno attampting to steal second base to end the seventh inning. (NYTimes.com)
Four big names on the bench? Makeshift lineup? No problem.

Dillon Gee continued his outstanding rookie season and the Mets offense racked up 15 hits on the way to a 7-3 Memorial Day win over the Pirates.

The Good Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee kept his undefeated rookie season in tact, picking up his fifth win of the year with a 3-run, 5-hit performance over 7 innings, walking none and striking out a career-high 8 Bucs. I've said it before, I'll say it again: we could be seeing the rise of the next Ron Darling or Jerry Koosman. Maybe he'll be even more than that, but I'll settle for Koosman.
  • The Amazin' bats stayed hot in the heat of Citi Field, pounding 15 hits against Pitt pitchers. Down 2-0 in the 2nd, the Mets scored the first run on a passed ball, then Ruben Tejada tied the game with a perfectly-placed infield hit. Tejada finished the day 3-4, bringing his batting average up to an impressive .316.
  • In the 5th, Angel Pagan's comeback tour continued with a bang in the form of a bases-loaded single brought home the go-ahead run. Pagan ended up going 3-5 with a run scored and that RBI. His once-terrible .159 batting average is now up to a less-terrible .209.
  • After the Pirates tied it in the 7th, Josh Thole lashed a 2-run double into the vast right-center gap. Machine Man Justin Turner then brought home some insurance in the 8th on a double. Daniel Murphy followed it up two batters later with an RBI groundout to make it lucky number seven.
  • Jason Isringhausen and Fransisco Rodriguez stopped the bullpen's recent bleeding with two innings of no-hit ball.
The Bad Stuff:
  • You can't complain with 7 runs, but it probably should have been more: the team batted a respectable if not spectacular 5-18 with RISP. Better than what we've been doing, but comparatively it becomes Bad Stuff.
  • Willie Harris was the only Met position player to go hitless, going 0-5 in the leadoff spot. I would have put Pagan in the leadoff spot, but that's why Terry Collins is manager and I'm just a simple blogger: we got the win.
Final Analysis:
The New York Mets may be dysfunctional, but not hapless. The Pittsburgh Pirates meet that definition: 18 straight losing seasons and counting. So when dysfunction meets haplessness, dysfunction wins. That's 16 runs in the past two days for the Mets offense and two solid starts from Niese and Gee. The wheels are back on, and a sweep of the Pirates will only help. Let's keep it up.


P.S. Our hearts go out to Jose Reyes, who has gone back to his native Dominican Republic for the funeral of his grandmother. He has been placed on the bereavement list and will likely be out of the lineup 3-7 days. We're sorry for your loss Jose, and we'll be here for you when you get back.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Game #52: Mets 9, Phillies 5

Jose Reyes arriving at third with a first-inning triple, the first of his four hits on the day. (NYTimes.com)
The best part about baseball is how one afternoon can erase a week's worth of pain.

The Mets racked out 17 hits, including two triples from Jose Reyes, en route to a 9-5 series-ending win over the Phillies.

The Good Stuff:
  • Still think he isn't worth Carl Crawford money, Mr. Unspeakable Owner? Already having a standout series, Jose Reyes exploded for a 4-5 afternoon, scoring once, driving in another, and cracking 2 triples. Mr. Excitement now leads the National League in hits (76), doubles (17), and triples (8, three ahead of the next guy), and is hitting a career-best .335 with an on-base percentage of .382. The best part? 227 at-bats and just 19 strikeouts. For year's we've wondered what Reyes would be like when fully developed, and now, at age 27, he's just that. I think he turned out well, how about you? I don't know what kind of say David Einhorn will have as minority owner, but perhaps he'll be willing to invest in Jose Reyes and keep him where he belongs: playing shortstop and blasting energy through Citi Field.
  • Josh Thole had his best outing of the year, going 3-4 with a double and driving home 3 runs. Also contributing in the offensive column were Justin Turner (2-5 with yet another RBI), Daniel Murphy (3-5, with 2 runs and an RBI), Angel Pagan (2 runs and an RBI), and even Jason Bay (2-5 with 2 runs).
  • Yes, Philadelphia didn't put their best lineup on the field this afternoon, but Jon Niese still delivered a fantastic outing, letting in just 1 unearned run on 5 hits through 6 1/3 innings, walking 4 and striking out 6. His team had won him the game by the end of the 2nd, but he did a good job of not overlooking his opposition and taking care of business.
The Bad Stuff:
  • It didn't make a difference today, but the bullpen's struggles made the score closer than the game was. Taylor Buchholz allowed 3 runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and Pedro Beato let another one in in his 1 1/3. Three straight games now the bullpen has regressed back to its April stages. Hopefully it doesn't do a complete time warp in this next week. The bullpen's high performance is one of the reasons we're only 4 games below .500 instead of 4 + a lot more under .500.
Final Analysis:
This wasn't the best weekend, and we've still lost 3 straight series, but the Mets leave this game with a smile on their faces, victors of the day in dominant fashion. As I've said before, even if you lose 90 games, you still win 72. Today, the Mets won. It feels good.

It also feels good that we have another whole week to refresh ourselves at home. The not-as-hapless-as-years-past-but-still-pretty-hapless Pittsburgh Pirates and rival Atlanta Braves make visits to Citi Field, and with a little luck, New York could be back near the .500 mark by the time Monday, June 6th rolls around. Crazy as it is to believe, it's still not over, Mets fans.


Game #51: Phillies 5, Mets 2

Manager Terry Collins pulled Mike Pelfrey in the eighth after Jimmy Rollins singled with two outs.
It went downhill from there. (NYTimes.com)
It's deja vu all over again.

Mike Pelfrey was brilliant for almost 8 innings, but the bullpen collapsed again, allowing the Phillies to steal a 5-2 win from the Mets.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Taking him out after 7 2/3 innings of 4 hit baseball, Terry Collins elected to send Michael O'Connor to get Chase Utley for the last out. To make a long story short, it didn't work, and four batters and three pitchers later, New York's 2-1 lead disappeared into a sea of 4-2 despair. Philly added a fifth run in the 9th off Dale Thayer, who couldn't have picked a worse time to make his Mets debut. For the second straight night, the bullpen reverted back to its April ways. But this time, I think Terry Collins gets the blame. As I heard on WFAN, he went with conventional wisdom by sending southpaw O'Connor to face lefty Utley, but with a runner on first, two outs, and Pelfrey pitching as good as he was, I would haev left him in there for one more batter. Then, if Utley still got on, I would have sent Isringhausen in there. Of course, as I said yesterday, hindsight is 20/20, and I'm just a simple blogger. Still, I would bet Pelfrey would have found a way to dig deep and get that last out.
  • Aside from the bullpen struggles, the offense shut itself down in the middle of the 4th inning. Cole Hamels and company were able to retire seventeen straight Mets to end the game. We're not talking walking a couple, maybe a couple errors, but no hits. We're talking 17 up, 17 down, without fail. This mostly against a guy, Hamels, who New York usually had so much success against. I guess if you spend enough time facing a team, you start to learn how to beat them. In this case, Hamels went from C+ high-schooler to Albert Einstein in the course of 4 1/3 innings, then transferred his knowledge to Jose "Did-You-Even-Know-He-Was-Still-Playing?" Contreras and Ryan Madson.
The Good Stuff:
  • For about 7 2/3 innings, it was a good night for the Mets. It starts with Mike Pelfrey, who recovered from his Sunday meltdown in the Bronx to allow just 2 runs (the tying run O'Connor let in was his) on 4 hits, walking just 2 and striking out 6. Take away the 7th at Yankee Stadium and tonight and he's on a roll.
  • For 4 1/3 innings, the Mets' bats were clicking too. New York got 2 runs and 7 hits off Hamels in that timespan. Jose Reyes continued to electrify with a leadoff double in the 1st then a single and stolen base in the 3rd, scoring both runs.
  • Reyes was driven in by the recent RBI Machine Justin Turner in the 1st. In his last 13 games Turner has 16 RBIs and is batting .340 with 7 doubles and only 5 strikeouts. I'd say he's earned his spot in the everyday lineup even when David Wright and Ike Davis come back. Collins would be nuts not to name him the full-time second baseman.
  • Jason Bay brought Reyes home in the 3rd for his 9th RBI of the year.
  • Finally, not only were the Mets hitting in the first half of the game, they were running like mad as well. They stole 5 bases in the first three innings: Reyes with 2, and Turner, Bay, and Angel Pagan with 1 a piece.
Final Analysis:
I feel like I just wrote this article! I said it yesterday, and unfortunately I have to say it again: we let this one get away. Should have won it, ended up losing it. Nothing more to say.


P.S. I was sad to see Dana Brand, a more famous Met blogger, died on Wednesday. Truthfully, I never knew of his blog, but his writing was fantastic, and I'm sure he was a fantastic person as well. Here's a link to his essay "The Curveball" about...well, if you're reading this, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Game #50: Phillies 6, Mets 4

Michael Martinez came home on a sacrifice fly, beating the tag by Ronny Paulino in the ninth to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. (NYTimes.com)
Fransisco Rodriguez walked a tightrope more often than Mets fans would like. Tonight against the Phillies, the tightrope snapped.

Philadelphia scored four runs in the last 2 innings to spoil a brilliant outing by Chris Capuano and dealing the Mets the 6-4 loss, their 5th in 6 games.

The Bad Stuff:
  • The recently rock-solid New York bullpen reverted back to its ugly April stage. In the top of the 8th, Jason Isringhausen "earned" his first blown save of the season when Jimmy Rollins doubled to score one and tie the game at 3. Then in the 9th, K-Rod's flawless W-L record and scoreless innings streak came to a crashing end in the form of 3 runs on 5 singles and a sac fly.
  • The Amazin's managed to put another one on the board in the bottom of the 9th, but with runners on the corners and one out, Daniel Murphy grounded into the 4-6-3 double play. Game over. Mets lose. Oy vey.
The Good Stuff:
  • The bullpen's collapse wipes out a very effective start from Chris Capuano. The starter managed 6 effective innings, limiting the Philly offense to 1 earned run (2 total) on 4 hits, walking just 1 and striking out 8. Hindsight is 20/20, but with just 78 pitches through those 6 innings, it would have been the smarter move for Terry Collins to leave Capuano in the game instead of pinch hitting for him with Willie Harris, who weakly grounded out to first.
  • Despite just 4 runs, the Met offense tagged the Philly staff for 14 hits, including 9 off Roy Oswalt. Biggest standouts were Jose Reyes (2-5 with 3 runs), Justin Turner (4-5 with an RBI), Carlos Beltran (2-5 with an RBI), and Ronny Paulino (2-4 with an RBI).
  • The other biggest story of the day was the return of Angel Pagan. The center fielder came back form an oblique injury and went 2-4, scored a run, and stole a base. Impossible to know from just one game whether we'll see last year's Pagan (led the team in hitting) or April's Pagan (.159 BA). But it's a good sign if he can have a solid return against a pitcher as good as Roy Oswalt.
Final Analysis:
You see so much Good Stuff and figure we should have won. Well, you'd be right. This is one that got away

While the game is lost, the series is not. Yes, it will be quite a task to beat the best team in the NL two nights in a row, and face Cole Hamels tomorrow, but the good news is we won't have to face either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. Impossible to avoid good pitching against the Phillies, better to face the two aces instead of the two super-aces. That's not making me feel better, Midwestern Met. I know, random italic questioner. I know.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Game #49: Cubs 9, Mets 3

Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey lays on the ground after getting injured during the third inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. (NYTimes.com)
The Friendly Confines were not friendly to New York on this day.

After R.A. Dickey exited in the 3rd with a foot injury, the wheels came off for the Mets, who lost the game and the series to the Cubs, 9-3.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Dickey went over to cover first base on a Kosuke Fukudome grounder in the 3rd and experienced some pain in his right heel and foot, forcing his early departure. New York's starting staff is already hurting, but at least we had Dillon Gee to step in and fill the hole Chris Young left. As far as I know, the Mets don't have another Dillon Gee to fill Dickey's hole if R.A. has to stay out for an extended time. Get well soon, Mr. Dickey.
  • If the Mets were a rural town in Holland then R.A. Dickey was the little Dutch boy who plugged the dike with his finger, cause once he left, the floodwaters roared through in the form of the Chicago offense. The bullpen which had been so stellar gave up 9 runs on 13 hits (17 total). The worst culprits of ineptitude were Pedro Beato [3 earned runs (4 total) in 1 1/3] and Pat Misch (3 runs in 1). Yes, they were called on to get through 5+ innings instead of 2 or 3, but there's no excuse for a bullpen giving up 9 runs or letting the starting pitcher go 3-3.
  • It's a good thing the Cub pitchers were so wild yesterday, cause I don't know if we could have scored without that. Today, the Mets faced a very non-wild Carlos Zambrano, who went 6 innings and held us to 2 runs, 1 earned.
  • Carlos Beltran, usually so good in Wrigley, was effectively shut down in what could be his final game there, going 0-5 and striking out twice.
  • But the standout stat? Take a wild guess. Let me give you a hint: 1-12. It also rhymes with "wisp."
The Good Stuff:
  • Jose Reyes got the Mets on the board in the 3rd with a "Little League home run." He was credited with a double, but two subsequent errors allowed him to race all the way home. That's the biggest thing we'll miss about him should Reyes leave: the energy he can send jolting through the team at any one moment. He finished the day 2-4 with a walk.
  • The Amazin's almost got back into it in the 5th when Jason Pridie led off with a triple and Josh Thole brought him home four batters later. Justin Turner also picked up an RBI in garbage time.
  • Daniel Murphy also had a nice day, going 3-4.
Final Analysis:
Maybe it was Mr. Worthless Owner's comments hanging over their heads. Maybe it was finally succumbing to the injuries. Maybe it was the weather (which admittedly may have saved us from a sweep). Whatever it was, the Mets trip to Chicago was an unmitigated disaster.

There's nothing anyone can do about the first two things, but the weather should serve the team well this weekend: warm and sunny all weekend as the Philadelphia Phillies come to town. More good fortune: no Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee to face. Even if we don't win the series, there's no way it could possibly be worse than things were at Wrigley. Wait, Midwestern Met, what happens if we get swept? At least we won a game in Chicago? Well, random-italic-questioner, to that I say...shut up.


Game #48: Mets 7, Cubs 4 (7)

Carlos Beltran connects on a two-run double in the second inning. He also collects a triple in the Mets rain-shotened 7-4 win over the Cubs in seven innings. (NYDailyNews.com)
It took a vicious rainstorm and a wild pitcher, but the Mets remembered how to win a game.

A 5-run 2nd highlighted by Carlos Beltran's double gave New York the 7-4 victory over the Cubs in a rain-shortened, wild evening in Chicago.

The Good Stuff:
  • After a 1st inning (Cubs up 4-1) that mirrored last night's disaster, Josh Thole started the fireworks with a bases-loaded single to knock the deficit down to 2. Then Carlos Beltran laced a 2-run double to tie the score. Beltran also added his first triple of the year in the 6th. How does that figure into your 65%, eh, Mr. Unspeakable?
  • Two more runs came in in the 2nd thanks to the patience of the Met batters and one wild Cub pitcher. Justin Berg entered from the bullpen and proceeded to walk the next three batters on 12 pitches. If you do your math right, you'll see that stat line doesn't allow for a single strike. You would be correct. Cubs fans are used to putting up with more than we Mets fans do, but I gotta think even they lost their patience with Mr. Berg, especially considering those walks ended up deciding the game. Sure as heck lucky for us, though.
  • Yes, that 1st inning will hurt him in the papers, but Dillon Gee more than deserved the W he picked up in this one. Pitching in Wizard of Oz- like conditions (minus the old lady on the bicycle, as WFAN's Howie Rose pointed out), Gee shook off that bad start and through the next 5 innings completely shut the Cubs down, holding them to a single and a hit batsman. Mr. Gee is definitely one of the bright spots of this season, and hopefully finance allows the Mets to hold on to him. Cause if this year is any indication, Dillon Gee could put himself in the company of Jerry Koosman and Ron Darling in New York folklore.
  • Finally, remember how RISP had been the bane of the Mets' existence this season? Today they went 5-14 in those situations. Yep, that will get you the win.
The Bad Stuff:
  • While they scored 7 runs, a couple baserunning blunders and leaving the bases loaded in the 2nd erased further Met opportunities. The Cubs could have come back and those missed opportunities could have stood out like blinders in the fog, but the rains came in the 7th and the umps called it a ballgame.
Final Analysis:
The front office circus can have as many rings as it wants, but when it all comes down to it, it's what happens on the diamond that really counts. And what is happening is that the Mets are still just 2 games under .500, just a couple games worse than the defending AL champion Texas Rangers. Tough as it may be, as long as the Amazin's can block out all the chaos out of their heads for about three hours a night, it will be their on-field performance we'll be talking about instead. All is far from lost.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Game #47: Cubs 11, Mets 1

The Mets' Ruben Tejada dropped a pop up in the second inning. (NYTimes.com)
A couple batters ago, pitcher Carlos Zambrano was sent up to pinch hit. He drove in two runs.

I'm not even gonna wait to write this.

In their first game after being verbally massacred by the most unlikely of sources, the New York Mets have gone from a team on the rise to the deepest crater in baseball. On the scoreboard, tonight will say the Chicago Cubs won 11-1. But for Mets fans, it might as well say 40-0.

This comes one day after...well, if you're reading this, you know by now. And you've probably also heard from that same horse's mouth that the team is "bleeding cash," and will lose about $70 million this year alone.

The Bad Stuff:
  • See Innings 1-9
The Good Stuff:
  • Wait till it's over.
Final Analysis:
There's nothing that needs to be said that hasn't been said already, but here it goes:

This team wasn't doing too poorly before today. Granted, they had just blown a chance to win the Subway Series in the Bronx, but they were overachieving: just two games below .500, even with a Black Plague of injury that wiped out half our starting lineup. But its spirit, and its immediate future, has been crippled. Not by the news media, not by some clubhouse scandal, but by its loudmouthed, crooked, cheapskate, pathetic excuse for an owner, whose name is not worthy to waste infinite Internet space on.

There's a reason behind Midwestern Met's subtitle, "An Outsider's Opinion of the Most Dysfunctional Franchise in Baseball." For years we've known it, and now the world knows too. It's time for intervention.

We've already seen one team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, taken over by Major League Baseball this year. It's time for the New York Mets to become number two. This team can not function in its current state. An owner picking on his own players? $70 million in losses? According to Adam Rubin, a payroll that could sink below the depths of even the Marlins???

What more proof do you need, Mr. Selig? Do you have the guts to do it? Or are you thick as thieves with this thief?


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Game #46: Yankees 9, Mets 3

MIke Pelfrey, center, and the Mets were searching for answers during the Yankees' eight-run seventh inning. (NYTimes.com)
For 6 innings, Mike Pelfrey kept the lid on the Yankee offense. Unfortunately for him, pro baseball games are 9 innings, not 6. And in the 7th, the lid came off in the worst way.

The Yanks rode the tidal wave of an 8-run 7th and shut down the Mets offense after the 2nd on the way to a 9-3 victory and a Subway Series win.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Mike Pelfrey held the Bronx Bombers to 1 run, a Curtis Granderson solo shot in the 1st, through his first 6, but a Brett Gardner single between his legs to lead off the 7th opened the floodgates. When Pelf left the game, he had loaded the bases for Derek Jeter. The Captain came through, lacing a base hit up the middle to tie the game. An aging Jeter may be struggling this year, but you can't let him get in those situations because he'll dig down deep and get a big hit. When the dust settled, the Bombers were up 9-3, and Pelfrey was stuck with 5 runs against and the L. And the worst part of it? None of the Yankee runs in the 7th came via the longball.
  • Another casualty of the Yankee onslaught was Pedro Beato's perfect 0.00 ERA; the rookie reliever gave up 2 runs in 1/3 of an inning, skyrocketing his ERA up to 0.95.
  • The Mets' offense eked out 11 hits, but RISP continues to be the bane of their existence: today it was a 2-10 showing that sunk the boat. By comparison, the other New York boys went 5-10. Almost always a team that bats .500 with RISP will beat the team that bats .200 with RISP. Today was no exception.
  • Jose Reyes couldn't get anything going in 5 at-bats, and Justin Turner's RBI streak ends at 7 with an 0-4 showing. Something else that really sticks out like a sore thumb: the Mets drew just 1 walk in the whole game. That's not gonna help the team OBP.
The Good Stuff:
  • When the team manages 11 hits, there's gonna be a couple bright spots. What gleams the most on this grimy mess of a game was the Amazin' 3-run 2nd inning. Jason Bay and Fernando Martinez lead off with base hits, then after a Turner ground out advanced them to second and third, Willie Harris brought Bay home on a single. Martinez held up at third, but Ronny Paulino advanced him home with a hard ground out that Yankee pitcher Ivan Nova bobbled. Jason Pridie then brought Harris home, and just like that the Mets were up 3-1.
  • Harris made the most of a rare start, going 3-4 with that 2nd inning run. F-Mart pulled out another hit to go 2-4 on the day.
Final Analysis:
In a different world, the Mets would have come out of this weekend with a 3-game sweep and would have actually had a better record than the Yankees. Instead, we leave the Bronx with a 2-1 series loss and a record two games below .500. So what happened? As simply as Dad put it: "They've got better players than us." It's intensely difficult to keep that group from putting up offensive numbers for a whole weekend. We managed to for one game, which is why we won't leave the Bronx with total failure, but we were 3 innings away from winning the series before the Yankee volcano erupted. This one hurts.

The Amazin's will have a day off to recover and three chances to get rolling again at Wrigley Field. Then it's back to Queens for a weekend showdown with the Philadelphia Phillies. Ike Davis is eligible to come off the DL in time for the Philly series. One, hopefully he does, and two, hopefully he's back to his normal self. In order to stay competitive, we'll need him at his best.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Game #45: Yankees 7, Mets 3

Mark Texeira congratulated Curtis Granderson after his sixth inning home run. (NYTimes.com)
After watching the last two Met-Yankee games, I've come to this realization: Yankee Stadium is a Little League park. Tonight that hurt us.

The Bronx Bombers launched four Chris Capuano pitches into the stands en route to a 7-3 victory over the Mets, evening the Subway Series at one game a piece.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Not much Capuano could have done in this game. In the 5 1/3 innings he was on the hill, all 6 hits he gave up were turned into runs by way of the longball: 2-run bombs from Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira in the 2nd and 3rd, and solo shots from Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez in the 6th. At the spacious Citi Field, most of those shots would likely be routine flyballs. Unfortunately, we were in Yankee Stadium. And while the Mets' outfielders did their best to make those shots routine flyballs, there was this matter of the outfield wall that got in the way. Unlike with this guy, the walls won out.
  • New York (NL)'s best chance to get back into the game was the 7th inning, when they got runners on the corners with just one out. But Carlos Beltran struck out and Jason Bay weakly popped out to end the threat. Terry Collins has talked about moving Jason into the 2-hole to get him out of his slump; I say he should try just about anything right now. Since his triumphant weekend return in April, he's managed just 1 home run and 4 RBIs. Something's got to be done because we're not paying this guy $100 million to hit .658 OPS.
The Good Stuff:
  • The Mets jumped out to an early lead, going up 2-0 in the 1st. Bay managed a sac fly and Justin Turner brought home one more on a single. With his RBI streak up to 7 games, Turner has broken Ron Swoboda's 1965 rookie record.
  • Carlos Beltran brought home the Mets' 3rd run in the 5th on a single, his 25th RBI of the year. All-in-all, the Amazin's did much better with RISP, getting 3 hits in 8 at-bats.
  • Jose Reyes had the best offensive game, going 3-5 and scoring 2 runs. Daniel Murphy once again used Yankee Stadium to break out of his slump, going 2-4 and scoring the other run.
  • Pedro Beato continued his red-hot start from the bullpen, relieving Capuano in the 6th and delivering 1 2/3 scoreless innings. His ERA still stands at a spotless 0.00.
Final Analysis:
I think this is the kind of game Mets fans expected going into the Stadium: a slugfest. Unfortunately, on this night, they couldn't keep up. The loss drops the orange and blue back under .500, which doesn't look so bad when you consider how things were a month ago.

It also sets up a crucial rubber match with the Yanks tomorrow afternoon. In addition to .500, the Mets will seek their 5th straight series win (that lone loss to Florida doesn't count). Oh, and there's also the matter of Big Apple bragging rights. Needless to say, this one's big.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Game #44: Mets 2, Yankees 1

Ruben Tejada, one of four Mets in the starting lineup who began the season in the minors, retired Derek Jeter as part of a double play in the first inning. (NYTimes.com)
Fransisco Rodriguez launched one final 83 mile-an-hour changeup to Nick Swisher, and all of a sudden the Mets were back to .500 in the sweetest fashion.

R.A. Dickey had his best outing in a month and a half and the Amazin' offense did just enough to get the 2-1 win over the New York Yankees.

The Good Stuff:
  • The knuckler was sure as heck dancing today. R.A. Dickey picked up his first win since Opening Weekend in Florida, going 6 innings and holding the Bronx Bombers to 4 hits, walking 3 and striking out 6. His lone run was a cheap one: a Mark Teixeira lazy fly-ball that just cleared the right field fence. In any other ball park that would have been an easy out, but not so in Yankee Stadium. I think we can excuse R.A. for that one; take an inch off that ball and the Mets get their 3rd straight shutout.
  • Once Dickey left, the boys from Queens turned it over to a bullpen that sports a May ERA of just over 1.00. They did not disappoint. Mike O'Connor, Jason Isringhausen, and Frankie Rodriguez combined for three innings of perfect relief, fanning 5 of the 9 Yankees they faced. K-Rod converted his 15th straight save opportunity and now has an 0.76 ERA and a scoreless streak 19 innings long.
  • On the offensive side of things, Justin Turner continued his amazing week, going 3-4 with 2 doubles and driving in the Mets' first run in the 4th. He would have had another in the 6th, but ran into some bad luck: with a runner on first, he knocked a ball that landed just out of reach of Nick Swisher's mit but bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, freezing runners on 2nd and 3rd. Mr. Turner's RBI streak is now up to 6 games in a row, which ties Ron Swoboda's rookie record.
    • On a side note, I got home from college today and watched this game with my dad, a lifelong Mets fan, and commented to him, "Man, if Turner keeps this up he could be the next Wally Backman!" He got faux-excited and enthusiastically retorted, "Yeah! And if he really tries hard he can even be the next Ron Hunt! Or Ken Boswell!! Or Doug Flynn!!!" Okay, so Wally was great, but hopefully Turner's got a higher ceiling than that. Edgardo Alfonzo, anyone??
  • The Yankees may have stolen a run on a cheap flyball, but in the 6th the Mets stole it right back. Daniel Murphy used the short porch to his advantage and launched a solo line drive into the corner to give the orange and blue the lead for good. Murph's been in a slump lately; maybe a nice weekend in the most left-hander-friendly ballpark in America will help him break out of it.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Only thing that bugs me is that pesky RISP problem. The Mets went 1-5, and Josh Thole stranded two runners from there in the 6th. In the end we didn't need them, but at the time I thought to myself, "Oy, we're gonna need those runs." Thankfully, this time I was wrong. But tonight's performance in that category doesn't seem so bad when you look at how the other side did: the high-scoring Yankees were held 1-10 with RISP. That'll do.
Final Analysis:
R.A. reminded us why we fell in love with him last year, K-Rod and the bullpen continued their May mastery, Turner's fire stayed a-blazin', and the New York Mets are back at .500. Oh yeah, and we got their by beating those Damned Yankees. What a great night.

We've caught these guys at just the right time, and we've got two more games to make the best of the Subway Series. It's gonna be an Amazin' weekend.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Game #43: Mets 1, Nationals 0

Dillon Gee had a no-hitter for five and two-thirds innings as the Mets combined on their second consecutive shutout. (NYTimes.com)
Throughout their history, luck has commonly not been on the Mets' side. Today it was, and the Amazin's didn't squander their good fortunes.

Dillon Gee pitched the best outing of his young career, while Justin Turner once again gave the Mets all the offense they needed to beat the Nationals 1-0.

The Good Stuff:
  • 25-year-old Dillon Gee continues to impress. He took a no-hitter into the 6th and finished with just 2 hits over 7 2/3 strong innings, walking 3 and striking out 3. In a year where starting pitching has been the biggest question, Gee has been the brightest star. His young age is an added plus; assuming nothing goes wrong, he could be in the rotation for many years to come.
  • Justin Turner did it with his bat and his glove this afternoon, driving in the game's only run on a line-drive single in the 4th, snagging a foul ball from the seats in the 7th (thanks Mr. Fan for moving your arms so he could get it), and robbing Jayson Werth of the game-tying hit in the 9th with a beautiful stab on a hard groundball (this is where the luck comes in: the throw to first was late and pulled Daniel Murphy off the bag, but umpire Phil Cuzzi awarded the tie to the fielder, calling Werth out).
  • Momentum regained after the lucky break, Fransisco Rodriguez buckled down and got his 14th straight save. K-Rod's ERA is down to 0.79 and he's on an 18-inning scoreless streak. When you put up numbers like that, the occasional (or frequent) baserunner in scoring position is excusable. K-Rod walks a fine tightrope, but he walks it well enough to join Ringling Brothers.
  • Also worth note: Jason Bay got his first 3-hit game of the year, going 3-4 with a double. He also had a nice catch in the 6th to keep Gee's no-hit bid alive.
The Bad Stuff:
  • In that same 6th, Washington starter Livan Hernandez grounded one up the middle for hit #1, ending Gee's no-hit bid. Most Met fans are aware: it's the team's 50th season and they've never had a no-hitter. Only the San Diego Padres share that distinction. As NoNoHitters.com points out, that's now 7,849 games without holding the opposition hitless. I would disagree with the site's monicker "Enduring Our 50th Year of Futility" by pointing out that while, yes, we're one of two teams to never accomplish the feat, we've still had far more success than the other guys ('69 and '86 plus two more pennants; the Padres have 2 pennants and no titles). Someday it will happen, but until then, that one pitch that Gee threw to Livan gets the Bad Stuff. But as long as we get ours before San Diego gets theirs, I'm good.
  • RISP continues to be a problem; the Mets went 1-7 today and are batting an NL-worst around .220 (the average is .250).
Final Analysis:
The elusive no-hitter remains just that, but the young guns were a-shinin' and gave the Mets their second straight home shutout. Last time that happened was around a year ago when they held the Phillies to 3 straight goose eggs. With this win, the Amazin's are just one game below .500, a mark that seemed unreachable just a month ago when they sat at a baseball-worst 5-13.

Most importantly, however, the Mets take two weeks' worth of momentum into Yankee Stadium this weekend to face the Bronx Bombers. With the Yankees slumping and clubhouse controversy brewing, this is the perfect chance for the orange and blue to leapfrog into a winning record and steal the Subway Series.

Just a reminder to the infielders as we go cross-borough: two hands when catching a popup, please.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Game #42: Mets 3, Nationals 0

Fans hunkered under umbrellas as Justin Turner — now the Mets' third baseman — smacked a double in the sixth. (NYTimes.com)
It took an on-again, off-again rainstorm to do it, but the Mets have their first shutout win of the year.

Jon Niese proved effective on the mound and Justin Turner came through with his bat again, giving New York a 3-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

The Good Stuff:
  • In his best outing of the year, Niese shut down the Washington bats through 7 innings, limiting the opposition to 6 hits and walking just one, while striking out 7. He got himself into a jam in the 7th, loading the bases but buckled down to get Roger Bernadina to ground out to first to end the National threat.
  • We may be witnessing the Rise of Justin Turner. The young infielder (playing third base tonight) came up big when it mattered most: with 2 on and 2 out, Justin drove a double over Bernadina's head in center, bringing home both runners. He's now on a 4-game RBI streak (9 total) dating back to Saturday's game in Houston.
  • Also coming up big at the plate was Jose Reyes, who went 3-4 and scored 2 runs. The league leader in hits, he's on pace for 228. Reyes' presence cannot be overstated: Gary Cohen & company on SNY were talking about the irony that in this injury-filled season, Jose and Carlos Beltran are the only two who seem to be healthy; indeed, should Jose have suffered the same fate as many of his comrades, New York's record may be closer to the 5-13 start instead of 20-22.
  • The other Met offense came from Jason Bay (sac fly in the 1st) and Scott Hariston (2-3 with a run).
  • Also worth note: Ruben Tejada made his season debut, going 1-3 and coming up with a couple nice plays at second base.
  • After Niese's departure, Jason Isringhausen and Fransisco Rodriguez allowed a couple hits, but ultimately shut the door on Washington's night, with K-Rod picking up his 13th straight save.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Blame it on the rain if you want, but the Mets' offense hit better than its 3 runs indicate. New York went 1-12 at the plate with RISP and left 11 men on base.
  • The biggest culprits of ineptitude were the 4-5-6 hitters: despite Bay's RBI, he, Daniel Murphy, and Ronny Paulino combined to go 0-9 with 6 Ks.
Final Analysis:
If you told me a month and a half ago the Mets' lineup in mid-May would be Reyes-Turner-Beltran-Bay-Murphy-Paulino-Hariston-Tejada-pitcher, I would've slapped you. If you told me we would pick up our first shutout victory of the year with that lineup, I would still probably slap you, but I'd feel better would probably sing this afterwards. Even without 55% of the projected Opening Day lineup, the Mets refuse to go away quietly. Granted it was just against the Nationals, but we've done far worse against those guys (last July 3, anyone?). Very satisfying win, plus they can all go Slip-'n'-Sliding afterwards in all that rainwater.

The Amazin's get another tuneup against the Nats tomorrow afternoon before taking the subway to the Bronx to face those damned Yankees. But with the Bombers in a slump and controversy stemming from the Jorge Posada incident, the Mets might be able to catch them with their pants down, provided they take the momentum they've acquired over the last couple weeks with them to the House That Steinbrenner Built Because Ruth's House Wasn't Expensive Enough. A win tomorrow wouldn't hurt.


P.S. In a related story, Angel Pagan has begun his rehab assignment in Class A St. Lucie. Hope to see him back in Queens soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Game #41: Marlins 2, Mets 1 (11)

Omar Infante was doubled off second to end the fifth after Carlos Beltran made a catch in right field and threw to Jose Reyes. (NYTimes.com)
A jaw-dropping double play and two pinch-hitting pitchers later, the result is familiar for Mets fans: disappointment.

In his first at-bat of the season, Burke Badenhop knocked in the go-ahead run for the Marlins, who delivered the Mets a heartbreaking 2-1, 11 inning loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Four letters: R.I.S.P. 2-12 were the Mets with runners in scoring position, and they only managed one run (the other was an infield hit). Biggest black marks?
    • 5th inning: runners on the corners and one out, Jason Bay strikes out, Daniel Murphy flies out.
    • 9th inning: first & second with one out. After a Fernando Martinez fielder's choice to advance the runner to third and an intentional walk to Jose Reyes, Chin-lung Hu grounds out (and I was SO looking forward to a "Hu's on First?" joke!)
    • 10th inning: not so much Bad Stuff as Freaky Stuff. First & second with one out, Justin Turner sends a ground ball to shortstop. It bounces off Hanley Ramirez right to second baseman Omar Infante, who steps on second and fires to first to pull off an unlikely 6-4-3 double play. Ouch.
  • On to the 11th. With 2 on and 2 out, the pitcher's spot is up for Florida. They're out of position players, so who do they send up? Pitcher Burke Badenhop, for his first at bat of the year. Naturally, he came through: a base hit to center that brought home the eventual winning run. Yes, that just happened.
  • Remarkably, that wasn't the end of it: in the bottom of the 11th, the Mets were also out of position players, so they sent pitcher Jon Niese to the plate with two outs. Of course, Niese blasts a triple off the glove of center fielder Emilio Bonifacio. Yes, two pinch-hitting pitchers have come up with the biggest hits of the game. So all Jose Reyes needs to do is poke a single and we go to the 12th. Easier said than done: five Leo Nunez changeups later, Reyes is retired on strikes. Game over, freak show over, Mets lose.
The Good Stuff:
  • What makes this loss even more painful is that Mike Pelfrey pitched his heart out and did well enough to beat Marlins' ace Josh Johnson. Pelf continued his spring renaissance, going 7 frames, allowing just 1 run and 6 hits. His only mistake was a 7th-inning slider that Mike Stanton drove all the way to La Guardia.
  • Willie Harris & Carlos Beltran get nods for great defensive plays. In the 4th, Harris laid out and snagged a line drive that saved a run. Then in the 5th, Beltran made a slip-n-slide catch and fired the ball to second to double off the runner and get out of the jam.
  • In the bottom of the 4th, the Mets got on the board when Justin Turner sliced an RBI double to right-center to score Daniel Murphy. Turner finished 2-5, bringing his batting average up to .318.
The "What If?" Play of the Game
  • One play from that 4th still stands out as the difference. Jason Bay led off with an infield hit, then was thrown out stealing second; apparently he misread the wet infield and started his slide too early. One pitch later, Murphy sliced a single into right. One Josh Johnson wild pitch later, Murphy was on second, and then Turner brought him home. Had Jason held up from stealing for just one more pitch, he would have scored on Turner's double, and New York would have been up 2-0 instead of just 1-0. When it happened, I thought to myself, "That's gonna be big." Unfortunately, I was right.
Final Analysis:
This game had everything thrown in but the kitchen sink. Unfortunately for the Mets, all those ingredients came together to bury them underneath the moist evening dirt of Citi Field. Most heartbreaking loss so far, because we had a chance to steal one from Josh Johnson, the NL's ERA leader, to show that we could survive David Wright's back stress fracture, and couldn't get it done. The only plus to this? We still have our kitchen sink.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Price is Wrong: Wright Out

Remember when NY fans weren't impressed with David Wright playing with a "sore back?" Yeah...turns out it was a lower back stress fracture. Now he's on the bench for, as Sandy Alderson describes, "multiple weeks."

The Bad Stuff:
  • You need me to spell it out? This ain't good.
The Good Stuff:
  • While you don't wish injury on anyone, perhaps this will help the orange and blue in the long run. For one, it gets a sub-.230-with-more-strikeouts-than-hits batter out of the 3-spot.
  • We'll have to play about a week and a half with Willie Harris in the lineup everyday, but once Ike Davis returns (assuming he will by the middle of next week), the infield will consist of Davis on first, young gun Justin Turner on second, and Daniel Murphy on third. Knowing he's gonna be an integral part of the lineup for much longer, Turner may be inspired and yesterday's 5-RBI breakthrough could be a sign of things to come.
    • CORRECTION: I thought Murphy could play third, but according to Adam Rubin, turns out he's never done it in the majors. Murphy will probably slide over to second and Turner to third.
Final Analysis:
Looks like another 2009 for the New York Mets: first Johan, then Bay for a while, then Angel Pagan, then Chris Young, then Ike Davis, and now David Wright. The difference from that year is that, one, things could be a lot worse (at least Reyes and Beltran seem to be all right), and two, because this is a perceived-rebuilding year, we've got guys in place. While a few of the higher-priced name-recognition guys will be gone after this year, the younger guys (Davis, Pridie, Turner) will still be here and already have a season of experience under their belts.

Initial gut reaction to David Wright's demise is "this really sucks," but when you put all the pieces together, "really sucks" becomes "sucks less."


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Game #40: Mets 7, Astros 4

Justin Turner gets it done with his glove and his bat on Sunday as he drives in five runs in the Mets 7-4 win over the Astros. (NYDailyNews.com)
On the launching pad in Space City, Justin Turner's young career blasted off to new heights.

Turner hit his first career home run on the way to a 5-RBI afternoon in Houston, propelling the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros.

The Good Stuff:
  • Justin Turner packed practically his whole career into two swings of the bat. In the 4th, after showing bunt, he chopped a hard grounder down the third base line, which settled in the corner of Minute Maid Park. When the dust cleared, Turner had himself a 2-run double (he advanced to third on the throw), and the Mets had tied it. The next inning, with Jason Bay and Daniel Murphy on base again, Justin belted a first-pitch fastball from Aneury Rodriguez into the left field grandstands for his first career homer. Once Ike Davis returns from the DL, Murphy will likely slide back to second and Turner will become a utilityman. But now that we knows what he's capable of, it'll give the Mets a viable pinch-hitter if needed.
  • Back to that 5th inning for a second. After Turner's double, Jason Pridie brought him home with a nice line-drive single. Three batters later, Pridie was on third and Jose Reyes on first. With David Wright at the dish, Reyes bolted for second, and Pridie came in after the throw to second by Astros' catcher J.R. Towles. You read that right. The Mets pulled off a double steal. No one dreams of pulling that off once they get past Little League. But they did it, and New York had 7 runs instead of 6 by the 27th out.
  • Chris Capuano had another solid start, going just 5 innings but keeping the lid on the Houston offense, holding them to 2 runs. Jason Isringhausen stopped a rally in the 8th, and Fransisco Rodriguez picked up his 12th save in 1-2-3 fashion (his ERA is down to an impressive 0.92).
The Bad Stuff:
  • Take away the 5th and 6th innings, and the Mets would have been the latest no-hit victims. For the other 7 innings they couldn't get anything going. Wright went 0-3 again and struck out twice. Reyes stole those two bases in the 5th, but went 0-4 otherwise.
  • The Good News: Carlos Beltran was back from his swollen eye. The Bad News: 0-4. In retrospect, maybe he should have taken one more day off.
  • The red-hot Mets bullpen looked unfortunately mortal today: Taylor Buchholz served up a solo shot to Clint Barmes in the 6th, and Tim Byrdak was knocked out of the 8th before he could even get an out. I guess if they have to have an off day, it's not so bad when all it does is turn a 7-2 win into a 7-4 win.
Final Analysis:
Terry Collins returned to the city where he got he managerial start, back in the mid-'90s, and came away with a series win. I'd say that's a successful homecoming. The Mets have now won 3 straight series and went 4-2 on this week's road trip.

New York returns home with some momentum, winners of 7 of their last 10. Quite frankly, they're gonna need it this week. Tomorrow the Amazin's face Florida ace Josh Johnson. Then after one more against the Marlins and two against Washington, the Mets head to The Bronx to face the hated New York Yankees. As much as I hate interleague play, I'm excited for the Subway Series. But we've got a full week ahead of us before that. Keeping this momentum from the West is the key.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Game #39: Astros 7, Mets 3

R.A. Dickey is 1-5 with a 5.08 earned run average so far this season. (NYTimes.com)
There was no coming out of a four-run hole this time.

Carlos Lee got his 2,000th and 2,001st career hits, the second one a line-drive home run, and the Astros got to Mets' starter R.A. Dickey early. The result? A 7-3 New York loss in Houston.

The Bad Stuff:
  • When you're a knuckleball pitcher, you need the knuckler to dance. If the knuckler refuses to dance, you've got a problem. R.A. Dickey's got himself a problem. Last year's breakthrough starter lost the game in the 1st inning, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits in that frame. Dickey settled down for the next 4 frames, but got knocked out in the 6th after back-to-back jacks by Bill Hall and Matt Downs, finishing his 5 1/3 innings with 6 runs and 11 hits against him. I hate to say it, but based on what we've seen these first couple months, it seems Dickey's 2010 was a fluke. I hope he proves me wrong.
  • Conversely, Astros' starter J.A. Happ kept the Mets' bats contained in his 6 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits. He had some control problems early, walking 3, but eventually settled down. There wasn't much NY could do against this southpaw, despite his 5.00+ ERA.
  • A day after his clutch homer, David Wright was right back in his rut: 0-3 with a walk. One plus, however: no strikeouts. Ronny Paulino also had a rough day, going 0-4 and leaving 5 runners on.
  • The bullpen's scoreless streak also came to an end in the 7th when Ryota Igarashi served up a solo shot to El Caballo Lee.
The Good Stuff:
  • New York still managed some offense against the Astros' arms: after a Jose Reyes double in the 3rd, Justin Turner brought him in on a line-drive base hit. In the next inning, Daniel Murphy turned on a perfect fastball and smashed it into the right field stands. And Reyes got himself an RBI in the 9th, bringing Jason Pridie home on a single.
Final Analysis:
All-around, not the best day for the Mets. It wasn't the most agonizing loss we've had this year, but it still goes in the books as one that got away.

Finally, one for the Freak Injury category: Carlos Beltran was scratched from today's game due to swelling in his right eye. No idea what he could have done to make that happen; apparently he just woke up with it this morning. Hopefully it's nothing too serious; NY really can't lose anyone else.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Game #38: Mets 6, Astros 4

Justin Turner scored on a two-run homer by Fernando Martinez (26) in the eighth inning. (NYTimes.com)
Maybe it was the jet lag, but the Mets' bats were a-snoozin' for the first 6 innings of tonight's game in Houston. But when they woke up, oh did they wake up with a bang.

David Wright scorched the go-ahead homer in the 8th and the Mets' bullpen shut the door on the Astros, giving New York their third straight win.

The Good Stuff:
  • Gee, I wonder if that day off did David any good? Down 4-3 with two outs in the 8th, Wright became Mr. Clutch and nailed Jeff Fulchino's 2-1 slider over the left field fence to put the Amazin's up. This is the first time in recent memory David has delivered in pressure situations, but a welcome surprise it was, indeed.
  • Speaking of breaking out of slumps, Jason Bay gave the NY offense a jump start in the 7th, blasting a towering solo shot into the Texas night. Bay hit well all night and gave the Mets their previous best chance to score in the 4th; unlucky for him, but Carlos Lee was able to snag his line drive and save two runs. Jason also delivered with his arm, gunning down Lee at home in the 2nd.
  • Before Wright's 2-run blast, Fernando Martinez did his part as a pinch-hitter, hammering his own 2-run homer in the 8th (the 2nd of his career). The SNY TV team said it best: "You put pinch hitters up there to swing." And oh, did F-Mart ever.
  • NY picked up some insurance in the 9th on a Jason Pridie 2-out double that scored Justin Turner.
  • The bullpen continues its hot streak, bailing out starter Dillon Gee with 4 solid innings of relief. Pat Misch picked up his first win of the year and accounted for nearly half (1 2/3) of the 'pen's work. Fransisco Rodriguez was brought in for a 4-out save, and despite the 2 hits, got the job done. K-Rod has converted 11 straight save ops and his ERA is now down under 1.00 (0.96).
The Bad Stuff:
  • Continuing an unsettling trend, Jose Reyes was picked off after a leadoff single in the 1st. He's done that a couple times recently; I know he loves to run but sometimes it's best to play it safe.
  • Dillon Gee wasn't horrible in his 4th start of the year, but he lands in Bad Stuff tonight because it was his worst outing of the year against the worst team in the NL. 5 innings of 4-run, 5-hit ball are acceptable against STL or Cincy, but against the struggling Astros, he could have done better. Add in 4 walks and his WHIP is just under 2.00 for the night (6 Ks are nice to see though).
Final Analysis:
How can you not be smiling after a win like this? Biggest comeback of the year for the Amazin' Mets, and two of the guys who needed to step up (Bay & Wright) did, in fact, step up. It's a welcome sight, and hopefully these guys (and the team itself) can use Space City as a launching pad into a hot streak.

With their third straight win, the Mets now sit in a tie with Washington at just 2 games under .500. Yes, the talking heads will be quick to point out it's still last place, but think of it this way: at 18-20, New York is the best last-place team in the league, and its record is identical to that of Boston's. Things are far than over for this Mets team.


P.S. Midwestern Met is now on Twitter. Easy enough to remember: twitter.com/MidwesternMet. Click & subscribe; I could use the numbers.

Game #37: Mets 9, Rockies 5

Carlos Beltran became the first Met to stroke three home runs in a game since Jose Reyes did so against the Phillies in 2006. (NYTimes.com)
With two if their biggest bats on the bench, an emergency lineup playing infield, and an aging outfielder with chronic knee problems, the last-place Mets squared off against the first-place Rockies and last year's perennial Cy Young favorite. When you say it like that, it makes yesterday's outcome even more astounding.

Carlos Beltran belted himself into history, becoming the 8th Met to hit three home runs in a game, and gave New York a 9-5 win in Colorado.

The Good Stuff:
  • It starts and ends with Carlos Ivan Beltran, who picked the perfect time to have the biggest game of his career. His 3-homer, 6-RBI performance came on the heels of Ike Davis' unfortunate trip onto the DL. On top of that, David Wright was benched for the day to rest his sore back. Maybe Ike was able to transfer his powers to Carlos before he went away; whatever it was, Beltran dug deep and stepped up offense for the whole team. Those three at-bats accounted for 43% of New York's offense over the three-game series. It's days like this that remind us why Omar Minaya signed the guy to the biggest contract in team history in 2005.
  • The most impressive part of Beltran's day was the variety by which he hit his home runs. He hit home runs left-handed and right-handed. He hit them off Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez and two Rocky relievers. He hit them to all parts of Coors Field: left field, right field, and dead-center field. What's ironic is that each of these very different-looking blasts will all go into the books identically: they were all two-run shots, and Willie Harris scored from first on every single shot. Willie should bat before Carlos in every game from now on!
  • What's even crazier is that Harris was only in the lineup to fill the gaping holes in the infield. Willie was on the hot corner in place of Wright, while Daniel Murphy slid over to first to cover for Davis, and Justin Turner took Murph's slot on second. Overall, these three got on base six times and combined for five runs. Eh, good enough right?
  • The three non-CB Mets runs came in the 4th inning. Jason Bay got on with a single and eventually stole both second and third. Two walks later, Josh Thole brought him home on a sac fly. Two batters later, Jose Reyes delivered a clutch two-out bases-loaded single that scored two more.
  • Jon Niese picked up the win for the orange in blue, and while his numbers don't look so impressive (6 2/3 innings/5 runs/7 hits), he did just what he needed to do to get the win.
  • Michael O'Connor gave up the double that gave the Rockies their last two runs (charged to Niese), but the bullpen as a whole once again failed to surrender a run. Jason Isringhausen put the first two on in the 8th, but buckled down to retire the next three Colorado hitters. And Frankie Rodriguez delivered his third straight 1-2-3 9th to secure the win.
The Bad Stuff:
  • The only Bad Stuff is that we can't have Good Stuff like this every day.
Final Analysis:
A month ago, the Rockies swept us in 4 games at Citi Field. This time, we took 2 of 3 in their ballpark. With Davis out and Wright & Bay struggling, Carlos Beltran has once again become the centerpiece of the Mets offense. I think it's safe to say he's up to that challenge. The problems of the last two years seem to be behind him, and if he can still show flashes of the great player he was in '06 and '07, Ike's two-week absence will be much easier to swallow.

Luckily for the Mets, they get three games against the NL-worst 14-23 Houston Astros to build on this momentum/adjust to the Davis hole. Another series win looks like it's in the forecast; stay tuned for the weekend update.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Game #36: Mets 4, Rockies 3

Ike Davis left the game in the fifth inning with what the Mets said was a strained left calf. (NYTimes.com)
Yesterday's result was made bittersweet by what the caption above indicates. However, let's not forget that a bittersweet win is still a win.

Mike Pelfrey did a little bit of everything, pitching a solid game and knocking home the deciding runs to give the Mets their first win over the Rockies this season, 4-3.

The Good Stuff:
  • For the second straight start, Pelf showed his good stuff, holding Colorado to 3 runs over 6 2/3 on 6 hits, walking 1 and striking out a pair. Not spectacular on first look, but read between the lines: this was in mile-high Coors Field, and the 3 runs he gave up were all on solo home runs. Put this game in Citi Field and maybe one of those balls goes into the stands. And the other 3 hits he gave up? All singles. Even more telling: Pelf did it on 92 pitches; take out the 50-minute rain delay in the bottom of the 7th and he surely finishes the inning and maybe even the 8th.
  • What's been the difference for Mike Pelfrey over his last couple starts? You could say it's Ronnie Paulino. He caught Pelf last Thursday against San Fran and did so again last night. If Mike's found someone who really knows how to catch him, we could see him come closer to last year's near-All Star form.
  • And who knew Pelf was Mr. All-Around Ballplayer? With one swing of the bat in the 4th inning, Pelfrey gave himself the lead permanently, belting a first-pitch double that scored Paulino and Jason Pridie. Those moments don't happen very often, but when a pitcher reaches deep down and delivers at the plate like that, you've got a great chance of winning. Even if you are the Mets.
  • The other offense in this game came from Ike Davis, whose bases-loaded 2-run single in the 1st got the Amazin's out of their RISP slump and on the board. All-in-all, NY went 3-7 with RISP, much improved from Monday's 0-7 disaster.
  • After the delay, the bullpen came in to do some close-to-literal mop-up work: Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak got the Mets into the 9th, and Fransisco Rodriguez converted his second straight clean save and 10th chance in a row.
The Bad Stuff:
  • In spite of all the Good, one very Bad Stuff burns through the rainy Colorado sky on this night: Ike Davis' injury. In the 4th inning, Ike and David Wright both went for a Troy Tulowitzki pop up. Wright caught it, but Davis ran right into him, collapsing to the ground and cradling his left leg. He finished the inning but came out afterwards. Early diagnosis is a strained calf, but it's uncertain. This puts Davis at day-to-day. If there's one person the Mets cannot afford to lose, it's Ike Davis, who has anchored the team offensively all season. If he's out for an extended period, New York will miss his .302 BA, .925 OPS, and 25 RBIs like no other. Let's hope that it is as minor as that and that when he does come back, Ike is back to his old self.
  • Other Bad Stuff that we've grown used to is the guy who Davis ran into to catch the ball: David Wright. The slumping slugger went 0-4 with 2 more Ks. True, we know just now that he's been fighting through back pain since last month, but even that can't be the full extent behind his .234 average.
Final Analysis:
This one was a long time coming. New York finally got over the mountain that was the Colorado Rockies and beat them in a one-run game. It's about time.

Already, today's game has been rained out and pushed back to tomorrow. That's great news for Mets fans: David Wright, who already was supposed to sit out the finale, will get an extra day's rest, and so will Ike Davis, as he fights through that fresh leg injury. The two are headed back to the Big Apple for more tests, but hopefully they can rejoin the team in Houston for the weekend series.

Until then, the New York infield will consist of: Jose Reyes at short, Daniel Murphy on first, Justin Turner at the hot corner, and Willie Harris/Chin-lung Hu on second. How's that for an emergency lineup?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Game #35: Rockies 2, Mets 1

There was a picture for this, but it was stranded on the editing counter on the way to print. I sense a theme here.

An inept offense and a 7th inning solo shot by Chris Iannetta combined to bury the Mets and give the Rockies a 2-1 win.

The Bad Stuff:
  • When you hold Colorado to only two runs in Coors Field, you typically have a great shot at winning the game. Provided, of course, you can bring runners home when those runners are in scoring position. That's where things went wrong. The Mets were a pathetic 0-7 with RISP, twice leaving the bases loaded. Can't win games if you don't score runs.
  • New York's other best chance came in the 7th, with Carlos Beltran up with one out and runners on the corners. But Beltran grounded to first base, and Daniel Murphy couldn't slide around a tag from the catcher, eliminating the scoring chance and deflating the already-deflated Amazin's for the night.
  • In the 9th, Willie Harris got on with a base hit then was thrown out trying to steal second. The way the Mets were hitting, it was probably the right choice, but unfortunately, poor execution lands it in the Bad Stuff.
The Good Stuff:
  • Chris Capuano did not deserve the L he gets for this outing. 6 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts. A fantastic outing, made spectacular considering the ballpark. With any other offense, Cap would've gotten the win no questions asked. Too bad for him the Mets' bats got mountain sickness.
  • More good service from the bullpen; Buchholz & Byrdak combined for 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Final Analysis:
That's five losses to Colorado this year, four of which by one run. As painful as that four-game sweep was in April, this one is even more sickening. To load the bases twice in Coors Field and only produce one run the whole game is unacceptable. These guys need a shot of adrenaline, Pulp Fiction style. I don't see how else to get them going.

Maybe this explains something: David Wright somehow managed to hide the fact that he's been playing with back pain since April 19.

More bad news: Chris Young is probably done for the year, possibly forever.

Even more bad news: prized pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia needs Tommy John surgery.

I'd say things can't get much worse than yesterday, but I'd just be asking for trouble. So I won't say it.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Game #34: Dodgers 4, Mets 2

The Dodgers' Jamey Carroll greeted Andre Ethier after Ethier's two-run homer in the seventh inning. The Mets' Ronny Paulino could only watch. (NYTimes.com)
Sunday is generally the Sabbath: the day of rest. The Mets bats must be believers, cause they took today off too.

Dodgers' starter Clayton Kershaw dominated for almost 7 innings and Andre Ethier rediscovered his power swing, as Los Angeles held off a late New York charge for a 4-2 victory in the series finale.

The Bad Stuff:
  • There wasn't much the Amazin's could do against Kershaw today; the L.A. ace gave up just 1 run on 6 hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking 3 and sitting down 8 Mets by way of the K.
  • New York's best chance came in the 7th, with Kershaw knocked out and the bases loaded. But Jason Bay flew out to end the threat. Bay was batting cleanup in place of Carlos Beltran, who was given the day off after 20 straight starts in right field.
  • R.A. Dickey still couldn't find his touch from last year, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 10 hits in 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 3. The 36-year-old knuckleballer kept NY within one until the 7th inning, when Andre Ethier jump-started another hit streak with a 2-run homer that proved to be the difference.
  • The Mets scored one in the 9th and had another on third base, but David Wright went down in typical David Wright fashion: swinging and missing. Is it bad that I knew he'd strike out before he even took one pitch? The supposed superstar is batting .240 on the year and has more Ks than hits. The trade rumors are circulating about Jose Reyes, but I think the Mets should keep Reyes and ship off Wright. Hard-hitting third basemen are a dime a dozen, but a shortstop as electrifying as Reyes doesn't come around very often. Trading Wright over Reyes wouldn't be as popular with the fan base in the Big Apple, but from this outsider's view, it's the better move. The only question is this: the way he's hitting now, who would possibly take Wright?
The Good Stuff:
  • Ronny Paulino continues to make his case for starting catcher, going 2-4 and driving home the Mets' first run in the 1st. Also making a splash on in the box score were Justin Turner (1-3 w/ 1 run) and Scott Hariston (2-3).
  • But once again, the best bat in this game belonged to Jose Reyes, who went 2-5 and brought home Daniel Murphy in the 9th on his 4th triple in 4 games (his 6 for the year lead the NL and are double the 2nd place total). In the Dodger series, Jose was an outstanding 7-14 at the plate with a double, 3 triples, and 2 RBIs.
  • Additional props to Michael O'Connor, who pitched 2 perfect innings of relief in his second appearance with the team, striking out 2.
Final Analysis:
Would have been nice to sweep L.A. and bring a 4-game winning streak on the road, but this one wasn't too bad a loss. We've certainly lost worse games than this so far.

New York ends its week-long homestand a not-great-but-okay 3-3. The bad news is we're on the road again, but the good news is in this next week we face a team that's 3-7 in its last 10 and has lost 4 straight (Colorado Rockies) and an NL cellar-dweller even worse off than we are (Houston Astros). Winning on the road is always tough, but if things line up favorably for the Mets, they can come home next week with some momentum.

The other bad news is Chris Young, the guy who's come closest this year to being our ace, just bought a frequent-goer pass to the DL, going back on the List with tightness in the shoulder. Ouch.


P.S. Found this article on ESPN about moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn. Yeah, like that will ever happen. The Dodgers are Los Angeles' new as much as they were Brooklyn's then. And as big as it is, we don't need a third team in the Big Apple.

Game #33: Mets 4, Dodgers 2

The Mets' Jason Pridie beat a throw to Juan Uribe and took third base on a sacrifice fly in the second inning. (NYTimes.com)
An emergency starter, the end of a long hitting streak, and a game-winning 400-foot single. All in a day's work for the New York Mets.

Justin Turner brought home the go-ahead runs in the 8th and the Mets stopped Andre Ethier's hitting streak at 30 on the way to a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers.

The Good Stuff:
  • This is why you keep one extra starter and use him in relief: for situations like this. Dillon Gee was brought in as the emergency starter fifteen minutes before game time after Chris Young couldn't get loose. The young gun delivered a solid start, scattering 2 runs and 7 hits across 5 1/3 innings, walking 3 and striking out 3. He got into a couple jams early, loading the bases the first two innings, but he buckled down and got out out of it both times, getting Andre Ethier in the second.
  • If Jason Pridie made his case to stay on the 25-man roster yesterday, today he may have made his case for a permanent spot in center field. The 27-year-old went 3-3 with a double and scored 2 runs, bringing his average up to that magical threshold of .300. I assume when Angel Pagan comes back from the DL he'll get his spot in CF back initially, but if he can't do better than the .159 he was batting before he went down, I'd like to hope Pridie will get the spot back. So far, he's earned it.
  • The offense got 9 hits again, but the biggest inning of the game only needed one. In the bottom of the 8th, with the bases loaded from 2 walks and a throwing error, pinch-hitter Justin Turner launched a 400-foot single that bounced off center fielder Matt Kemp's glove and scored the 2 go-ahead runs. Clutch, Mr. Turner. Clutch.
  • The other RBIs came from Josh Thole (sac fly in the 2nd) and Jose Reyes (single the same inning).
  • The bullpen came through again for 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief. But the biggest news of the day? Fransisco Rodriguez goes 1-2-3 in the ninth, finally getting that illusive clean 9th for his 3rd save in 3 days.
The Bad Stuff:
  • There was Bad Stuff? Miscues were hard to find in this game. But if I must: Jose Reyes being picked off first in the 2nd and Daniel Murphy's fielding error in the 7th, which didn't lead to any runs. There. Happy now?
Final Analysis:
Three in a row, and a series win. The end of Ethier's hit streak will make headlines in the morning (as long as it was, still barely halfway to Joe DiMaggio's 56 in '41 - now there's a record that will never be broken), but since starting 5-13, the Mets have quietly gone on a 10-5 hot streak. The offense is clicking and the bullpen has stopped playing Hot Potato. The Amazin's are still in last place and won't get much recognition (aside from trade rumors), but maybe that's what they need. With the spotlight off them, the Mets can relax and continue to do their thing. Which is just fine with me.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Game #32: Mets 6, Dodgers 3

The Mets' Jose Reyes slid past Juan Uribe on one of his two triples in the first five innings. (NYTimes.com)
When dysfunction meets dysfunction, there is a strange phenomenon: good baseball.

Jose Reyes' brilliant speed was well on display, and Jason Pridie belted the Mets into the lead for good, giving them a 6-3 win over the Dodgers.

The Good Stuff:
  • Pridie knew beforehand thanks to Angel Pagan's setback that he was not in danger of being sent down to Buffalo just yet, but his clutch 3-run homer in the 6th may have solidified his place on the roster, even when Pagan comes back.
  • Jose Reyes was in the zone tonight, slashing 2 triples and a double to score 2 of NY's 6. What's a shame is that we might have to ship him off cause we can't afford both him and David Wright. The favorite to stay is Wright, but if I were GM I think I'd be leaning toward keeping Reyes. The 27-year-old shortstop (yes, he's really that young) is batting .326 on the year, as opposed to Wright's .244 (David went 0-3 tonight), and Reyes is the more electrifying player. Hard-hitting third basemen like Wright are fairly common, but a player who energizes his team like Jose Reyes doesn't come around very often.
  • Also getting in on the stat sheet are Carlos Beltran (sac fly in the 1st), Jason Bay (RBI single to provide insurance in the 7th), and Ike Davis (an absolute rocket of a solo shot in the 2nd).
  • More props to the bullpen for 3 1/3 innings of solid relief.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Jon Niese wasn't terrible on the mound, but wasn't spectacular either: 5 2/3, 3 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, 5 Ks. What puts him other Bad Stuff tonight is because racked his pitch count up to 116 and didn't even go 6 innings; he averaged about 20 and a half pitches an out. Fuel is expensive nowadays; efficiency, dude!
Final Analysis:
The Mets picked up right where they left off yesterday. Thursday it was SF, Friday it was LA, both times it was a win for NY. Like I said yesterday: we're not always on, but when we're on, we're on. Ideally we'll keep it on for the rest of the weekend.


P.S. Happy 80th Birthday Willie Mays! One of my favorite players of all time, and a New York legend. Also, a Happy Birthday to my grandma, who is 81 today. That's the way it was in Dad's house growing up; every May 6th: "Happy Birthday Willie Mays! ...Oh yeah, and Mom!" Further proof I was born into a baseball family. Many more to you, Willie & Grandma.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Game #31: Mets 5, Giants 2

Mike Pelfrey went seven and two-thirds innings and allowed two runs, one of them earned, on four hits and two walks. (NYTimes.com)
With two swings of the bat, New York resurrected its offense and avoided an embarrassing sweep (perhaps "embarrassing sweep" is oxymoronish...).

Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran came through at the plate with 2 RBIs each and gave Mike Pelfrey the lead he needed, as the Mets took Thursday afternoon's finale from the Giants, 5-2.

The Good Stuff:
  • The real Pelf Pelfrey please stood up, please stood up, please stood up. Mike finally showed why he was the Opening Day starter for the orange and blue with his longest outing of the year, 7 2/3 innings. He allowed just four hits and one earned run, a solo shot to Mike Fontenot in the 4th (the second run was unearned), while walking 2 and striking out 5.
  • Two Mets helped the offense make up for lost time against SF starter Jonathan Sanchez. Jose Reyes's two-run triple capped off a 3-run 2nd (the first run came in on a Ronnie Paulino double play), while Carlos Beltran just cleared the tall left field fence in the 5th for two more. Both Reyes and Beltran will likely be gone after this year, and Reyes might not even make it the whole season if what San Fran indicates is true. But it's days like today that make Met fans smile and remember why we came within a game of the World Series in 2006 and were contenders again in '07 and '08 (never mind how those seasons ended...90% of the time it was great).
The Bad Stuff:
  • Only Fransisco Rodriguez can make a three-run lead seem small. And boy, did he today: after overseeing the last out of the 8th (Paulino caught Manny Burriss stealing at second), K-Rod walked two and loaded the bases before getting the last two Giants to strike out and ground out. Frankie hasn't had a clean save all season, and even though he's converted 7 straight and 7 of 8 overall, one of these days this walking on the tightrope will catch up to him like it did last Fourth of July weekend in Washington.
  • Also catching the eye in a bad way were two fielding errors, throwing errors by Chin-lung Hu and Jose Reyes. Reyes' misfire came in the 5th and eventually lead to a San Fran run.
Final Analysis:
Nice win. NY did everything they were supposed to and sent the Giants back home without their brooms. They've been inconsistent this year, but when the Amazin' Mets are on, they're on.

Let's hope they can keep it on for this weekend when the nostalgia tour continues: one former New York team heads back home, and another comes right in in the shape of the L.A. Dodgers. This is a rare chance for Mets fans to see a franchise even more dysfunctional than we are; sure, we're in debt up to the top of Mr. Met's head, but at least we're not a ward of the League. See? There still are things to be glad about in Queens.