Thursday, June 30, 2011

Game #81: Tigers 5, Mets 2

Daniel Murphy connects on his solo home run in the second inning. (Paul Sancya/AP)
Baseball is a pitcher's game, and when a buzzsaw offense meets a buzzsaw pitcher, the man on the mound usually wins out. Advantage: Detroit.

Mike Pelfrey struggled early, and Justin Verlander kept the red-hot Mets offense in check for 7 innings, giving the Tigers a 5-2 win and denying New York a sweep.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Mike Pelfrey got out of a bases-loaded jam in the 1st, but wasn't so lucky in the 3rd. With the score tied 1-1, Alex Avila plated one run on a sac fly, and Ramon Santiago singled home two more, digging the Mets in a 3-run hole they couldn't get out of. Pelf gave up one more run, a solo bomb to Andy Dirks, in the 5th, and was taken out after 109 pitches in 4 2/3 (credit that to a career-high 5 walks).
  • The best pitcher in the American League lived up to his title: Verlander gave up just a solo home run and scattered 7 hits over 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.
  • New York had its chances, however. A leadoff double by (who else) Jose Reyes started the game with a bang, but Jason Pridie lined out and Reyes was doubled off, and like a flash the brief threat was just that: brief. Reyes walked his next time up in the 3rd, but was caught stealing for only the 6th time all season.
  • The Mets' next-best chance came in the 7th when Lucas Duda hit his first triple of the year. Josh Thole flew out to left and Big Dude was sent home, but Brennan Boesch's throw home was right on the money, nailing Duda at the plate. Right decision, but it just didn't work out.
  • In the 9th, Jose Valverde came on and notched his 19th save in 19 chances.
The Good Stuff:
  • Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran put the only Met runs on the board with solo home runs, Murph's in the 2nd off Verlander and Beltran's with 2 out in the 8th.
  • The bullpen managed to keep Detroit at 5 runs for the game, with Tim Byrdak, DJ Carrasco, Manny Acosta, and Fransisco Rodriguez combining for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
Final Analysis:
So we lost to Justin Verlander. No biggie. We still won the series and made the Tigers look awfully silly in the process.

With the conclusion of this, the 81st game, we've reached the midpoint of the 2011 season. With half the games played, the Mets are a winning ballclub at 41-40. If you had told me at the beginning of the season New York would be 41-40 after 81 games, I would've taken it. If you had told me New York would be 41-40 without David Wright and Ike Davis after a 5-13 start, I would have been really excited. So I'm really excited. And I'll be more excited if we restart this offensive steamroller, ride it back home, and run the Yankees over with it.

MM

P.S. Our condolences go out to Willie Harris and his wife, Trey, for their loss.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Game #80: Mets 16, Tigers 9

Jose Reyes celebrated after scoring the first of the Mets' 16 runs. (NYTimes.com)
Phil Simms commanded four scoring drives and Lawrence Taylor held Barry Sanders in check to give the Giants a low-scoring 16-9 win over the Lions.

...Sorry, the score triggered my football settings. Let's try that again.

The Mets pounded out a season-high 20 hits and chalked up double-digit runs for the 3rd time in 4 games on the way to a 16-9 trouncing of the high-powered Tigers.

The Good Stuff:
  • Where to even begin? I guess it starts with the hottest man on the planet: like clockwork, Jose Reyes led off the game with a single, forced an error, stole third, and came home on a wild pitch. He finished "just" 2-6 for multi-hit #41. Later on in the inning, the bases were loaded for Scott Hairston, who cleared the bases with his first triple of the season, and all of a sudden it was 4-0.
  • On a night when every single Met contributed, standing out the most were:
    • Ronny Paulino (4-6, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 4 runs in his first game in the cleanup slot)
    • Jason Bay (1-2, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 3 runs, 2 stolen bases)
    • Angel Pagan (4-6, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 3 runs, 1 stolen base)
    • Daniel Murphy (2-5, 4 RBIs)
  • With this latest offensive barrage, New York set a franchise record with 52 runs over the past 4 games, making two AL division leaders look like overmatched high school teams. But tonight's beatdown was the most impressive of the bunch. Why? Because the New York Mets scored their 16 runs without the benefit of even a single home run. Detroit hit five home runs tonight and still lost by seven runs. It got so bad they had to bring in a left fielder to pitch the final out. It doesn't get much more Amazin' than that.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Still, there is the matter of those five home runs the Tigers hit. Chris Capuano picked up the win, but allowed the first three (two to Miguel Cabrera), leading to all 5 runs he gave up in 5+ innings of work.
  • Pedro Beato came in to relieve Cappy in the 6th and promptly served up homer #4 to Jhonny "The Human Typo" Peralta.
Straight Outta the Twilight Zone
  • But the circumstances that led to longball #5 are just too strange to believe. In the 7th, pitching coach Dan Warthen called for Bobby Parnell from the bullpen, but Terry Collins came out instead and called for a surprised Tim Byrdak to pitch not to a lefty, but to a righty. In fact, the next lefty was at least 5 hitters away. So what does Detroit skipper Jim Leyland do when he sees the southpaw Parnell warming up? He sends up Andy Dirks, a pinch hitter...who happens to be left handed. Before the fans at Comerica could finish scratching their heads, Dirks takes the second pitch from Byrdak and deposits it over the right field stands. At which point Collins removes Byrdak from the game. This one seems too strange to explain, so I'm just gonna move on.
Final Analysis:
There are no more words to describe what happened tonight. But I will say this: no matter how the season finishes up, Mets fans will remember these four games for a long, long time.

The victory gives the Mets their 6th series win in the past 8 (6-1-1) and puts them 2 games over .500 for the first time since they were 3-1. It also means that no matter the result tomorrow against Justin Verlander, the Amazin's will return home for the Subway Series a winning ballclub.

MM

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Game #79: Mets 14, Tigers 3

Carlos Beltran, 15, celebrated his grand slam in the fifth inning. (NYTimes.com)
Duh, slamming!

Jason Bay ended New York's 299-game grand slam drought, and Carlos Beltran followed with one of his own, as the Mets blasted the Tigers, 14-3, to get over the .500 mark for the first time since early April.

The Good Stuff:
  • With two outs in the top of the 4th, the Mets got an offensive spark from the most unlikely of sources: #9 hitter Josh Thole, who promptly hit his first home run of the year. Then after a ho-hum triple from Jose Reyes (his 15th), Willie Harris hit the longest single you'll ever see to the wall in right to score Reyes. Carlos Beltran singled and so did Daniel Murphy, bringing home Harris. After a wild pitch and a walk to Angel Pagan, Jason Bay stepped up to the plate.
    • In the back of every Met fan's mind was this date: August 1, 2009. That was the last time the Amazin's hit a grand slam (Pagan). Since that date, New York had been out-slammed 18-0, the longest stretch in baseball history. The slamless streak had lasted 299 games. And Jason Bay wasn't about to let it get to 300.
  • On a 2-1 fastball, Bay cracked a towering shot down the left field line, the kind of shot where you don't need to run on it. It's either foul or long-gone. Well, this was of the long-gone variety. And just like that, the New York Mets had hit a grand slam, capping a 7-run 4th and building the lead to a nearly-insurmountable 9-0.
  • In the next inning, Justin Turner walked and Reyes hit a long double that barely stayed in the park. Harris was hit by the pitch, and up came Carlos Beltran. By this time Mets fans already figure the next time they see another grand slam is sometime around Memorial Day 2013. After all, New York had to wait two years between slams. This time, they waited two outs. Beltran hit a towering flyball that any other day would have been a sac fly. But the ball got caught in the wind, and it kept carrying. And carrying. And carrying. All the way over the fence. Now it was grand slams in consecutive innings, and the lead was now a literally-insurmountable 13-0.
  • It's hard to believe, but taking a backseat on this night was Jose being Jose. Reyes got on base every time he stepped up, going 4-4 with a double, a triple, a stolen base, and a walk. He was pulled in the 7th, first not to risk injury in a laugher, second not to get him trying to hit home runs and messing up this blistering groove. That makes it .349, 117 hits, 40 multi-hit games, 64 runs, 29 stolen bases, 21 doubles, 15 triples. I used my haiku on Sunday, so I don't know what else to say. Let's just let the stats tell the story.
  • In total, all 9 starters got a hit, 8 scored a run, and 7 had an RBI in a 14-run, 18 hit trouncing. The Mets have now scored 36 runs and totaled 49 hits over the past 3 games. I can think of only one song that can describe the Amazin' bats right now:
  •  
  • That was fun.
  • Oh by the way, there was some pitching today, too. R.A. Dickey held Detroit in check for as long as was needed, then put it in cruise control after the game was out of reach. He lasted 7 innings and allowed 3 runs on 10 hits, including a huge strikeout of Victor Martinez in the 3rd with the bases loaded.
  • Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta mopped up with 2 perfect innings.
The Bad Stuff:
  • New York got kinda sloppy in the field once the lead reached double digits, but can you blame them? As long as it doesn't become habit, which knowing Terry Collins it won't, it's all good.
Final Analysis:
In the past three years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Mets game as fun to watch as this one. Two grand slams, Reyes goes 4-4, and oh, by the way, a winning record at 40-39 for the first time since they were 3-2 back in April. Enjoy this night, New York fans, because this was special. For one night at least, the Amazin' Mets were on top of the baseball world.

MM

P.S. Here's a nice article in the New York Times about Joe Petruccio, who also blogs about the Mets by sketching a summary of each game. You can also find his work at http://mymetsjournal.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Game #78: Mets 8, Rangers 5

Jose Reyes turned a hard grounder by the Rockies' Taylor Teagarden into a fielder's choice in the first inning of the Mets' 8-5 victory. (NYTimes.com)
It was the "Game from Bizzaroworld," as Gary Cohen put it. But even in Bizzaroworld, one constant remains: Jose Reyes is good.

Reyes capped a 4-hit day with his 14th triple of the year and the Mets benefited from a few blown calls, on the way to an 8-5 series-winning victory over the Rangers.

The Good Stuff:
  • Jose got going right from the start with an infield hit and a steal of second (SB #28). He advanced to third on a Carlos Beltran flyball, then came home when catcher Taylor Teagarden let one go to the backstop.
  • In the 2nd, singles by Ronny Paulino and Daniel Murphy put runners on the corners with no out. Angel Pagan then hit a groundball to third base, but Adrian Beltre's throw home was off the mark, allowing Paulino to score. After a Ruben Tejada popup, Reyes wasted absolutely no time notching his 39th multi-hit game of the year: his line drive single brought home another.
    • Potential Blown Call #1: Justin Turner flew out to right field, deep enough to advance the runners. But Nelson Cruz's throw to third was caught en route and fired over to second. Reyes appeared to be a dead duck, but umpire Jim Reynolds called him safe. Texas manager Ron Washington came out to argue, to no avail. The Rangers felt the sting on the very next pitch, as Carlos Beltran's single brought home both Pagan and Reyes, making it a 4-run 2nd for the Mets and a 5-2 lead.
  • Reyes added a third single in the 4th, but the offense remained dormant for a couple innings.
    • Potential Blown Call #2: Texas threatened to get closer in the 5th, scoring one before recording an out and putting two runners on. But the air was let out of their tires by umpire Mike DiMuro. cruz hit a groundball to Reyes at short, who fired to Turner at third. Turner couldn't touch the bag, so he went for the tag on Michael Young. In a call that could've gone either way, once again it went to the orange and blue. Washington came out to argue, once again to no avail.
    • Potential Blown Call #3: With the very next crack of the bat, more controversy: Mitch Moreland hit a scorching grounder that Murphy picked right out of the air. His throw to second was way ahead, but Reyes appeared to come off the bag to get it. It could have gone either way, but it once again went the way of New York, and the out was awarded.
    • Potential Blown Call #4: In the 6th, Paulino led off with a double and Murphy was facing a 2-2 count. A Derek Holland fastball appeared to hit the upper inside corner of the strike zone, but umpire Andy Fletcher saw it differently, and the count went full. Murph then half-swung at a pitch that sailed down the left field line for a double, scoring Paulino. Washington came out to argue yet again, but three strikes and you're out, baby: Fletcher sent him to the showers. New York picked up one more run on a Ruben Tejada RBI single, and it was 7-3, Good Guys.
  • New York's last run came with no such controversy in the form of Reyes' 14th triple, a line shot to the right center gap. He came in later on Jason Bay's fielder's choice. Jose's final tally: 4-5, 1 RBI, 3 runs. That'll do.
  • He even did it with his glove. Dillon Gee had allowed 2 runs in the 1st and was on the way to 2 more with the bases loaded, but Reyes' fantastic play at short stopped a grounder from going threw and resulted in out number three. Crisis averted.
  • Playing for a hometown crowd, Gee settled down from first inning nerves and managed to go 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits. Not his best stuff, but good enough to improve to 8-1 on the year.
The Bad Stuff:
  • New York cranked out 14 hits on the day and only one Met didn't get one. Take a guess...it was Jason Bay. Blame the blue-eyed theory, blame the day of rest, blame the cleanup spot, whatever; he still went 0-5. Not good.
  • Also making an appearance in Bad Stuff: Fransisco Rodriguez, who continues to struggle in non-save situations. He allowed 2 runs in the 9th to let the Rangers within shouting distance at 8-5. He got out of it, but he sure as heck had Mets fans bracing for another collapse.
Final Analysis:
Mets fans will remember this one. They'll remember it for the great defense. They'll remember it for the lucky calls. They'll remember it as the first time the Mets took a series the defending AL champs on the road. But maybe most of all, they'll remember it as just another day at the park for Jose Reyes. What more can we say about this guy? What is there to say that hasn't been said already? My dad suggested a haiku.

Jose hits the ball,
Ball flies toward the wall in right,
Reyes stands on third.

By the way, New York is back at .500 again! And we've got an extra day to savor it! They'll take the day off tomorrow and then head into Detroit to try for a winning record for the first time since 3-2. Still not done yet.

MM

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Game #77: Mets 14, Rangers 5

Carlos Beltran scores in the first inning as the Mets jump all over Texas early. (NYDailyNews.com)
Everything is bigger in Texas. Even small ball.

Lucas Duda hammered out three doubles, the last one the high point of an 8-run 6th inning, skyrocketing the Mets over the Rangers, 14-5.

The Good Stuff:
  • Last night, the Mets had one run. Today, they surpassed that total before the first out. After leadoff singles from Jose Reyes and Willie Harris, Carlos Beltran lined a triple to right, scoring both. Daniel Murphy the followed with a sac fly, and all of a sudden it was 3-0 early.
  • In the 3rd, Willie Harris reached on a questionable error, and Carlos Beltran followed with a single. After two outs, Lucas Duda looked to put more runs on the board. Already with one double in the 1st, Duda slashed another one to score Harris and Beltran. He was brought home almost immediately by a Josh Thole RBI single.
  • But those 3-run innings pale in comparison to what happened in the 6th:
    1. Ruben Tejada led off with a single.
    2. Reyes bunted his way to first on the next pitch (multi-hit game #38).
    3. Willie Harris then cracked a single to right on the very next pitch, scoring Tejada (run #1).
    4. With Beltran at the plate, Reyes instituted a double steal, going to third with Harris going to second.
    5. Beltran hit another single to right to score Reyes (run #2).
    6. Texas brought in another reliever. He didn't fare much better: Murph singled home Harris (run #3).
    7. A walk to Angel Pagan loaded the bases.
    8. And up came Big Dude, who put his name in the record books with his third double of the game, a "magic carpet ride" over center fielder Craig Gentry's head that scored 2 more Mets (runs #4 & #5). Duda became the 26th Met to hit three 2-baggers in a game.
    9. With Thole at the plate, Pagan came home on the wildest of pitches (run #6).
    10. Not to be outdone, Thole then blasted a double off the wall in right to score Big Dude (run #7).
    11. Finally came the first out of the inning: Jason Pridie grounded out to second, but advanced Thole to third.
    12. Then Tejada, the man who started it all off with a single, put the cherry on top with a sac fly to score Thole (run #8).
  • Final offensive totals: 14 runs, 17 hits, 4 doubles, 1 triple, zero home runs. When's the last time you saw something like that? Beltran had an impressive 3-hit, 3-run, 3-RBI day, but the biggest story was the emergence of Lucas "Big Dude" Duda. The man had never had a 2-hit game before today, and he goes 4-5 with 3 doubles and 4 big RBIs. He didn't hit a home run, but he's got the potential, and with numbers like that, the Mets may have found their next power hitter. Assuming Davis comes back healthy next season and Beltran is gone, New York fans may see Lucas Duda patrolling right field for years to come. ...Okay, I know it's just one game, but how can you not dream after a game like that?
  • Big Dude and company made life easy for Jon Niese, whose individual record went over .500 after nearly 6 innings of 2-run ball. He really made only 2 mistakes, serving up back-to-back jacks to Adrian Beltre and Michael Young in the 4th. But he had a 6-run cushion at that point in the contest, so I think we can excuse him for those longballs. Niese came out in the 6th with a rapid heartbeat, understandable in the extreme Texas heat. It appears he's alright now, and he left with 5 2/3 innings of solid work...but not before showing Josh Hamilton a thing or two about playing in the day time. Ol' Blue Eyes struck out swinging thrice against Niese, and then one more time in the 7th to complete the "Golden Sombrero."
The Bad Stuff:
  • It didn't need to be, but the bullpen wasn't terrific. Bobby Parnell gave up a run in his 1 2/3 innings, and DJ Carrasco served up the Rangers' third home run of the day, a two-run shot in the 8th to Nelson Cruz.
  • It's easy to forget after such an outburst, but the Mets were playing without two of their regulars today. Jason Bay sat out with a stiff neck and Justin Turner rode the bench with a jammed right thumb. It isn't much cause for alarm though: Bay expects to be back tomorrow, and Turner's been playing through that thumb for a couple weeks now.
Final Analysis:
Days like this don't come around all that often, so let it all soak in. This was a real treat for Mets fans, who see their team respond from a thumping with an even bigger thumping of their own doing, and on regional/national TV as well! Great win, great way to set up yet another lunge at .500 for tomorrow. All I have left to say is, well...Big Dude!

MM

Friday, June 24, 2011

Game #76: Rangers 8, Mets 1

Mike Pelfrey gives up four earned runs and eight hits over six innings in an 8-1 loss to Texas. (NYDailyNews.com)
Then again, small ball can only get you so far.

The Rangers launched three 2-run homers and the Mets couldn't get anything going offensively, losing 8-1 to the defending American League champions.

The Bad Stuff:
  • This one was lost from the very beginning. After Ian Kinsler led off with a double, Josh Hamilton brought him home on a single. Adrian Beltre then launched a 2-run bomb to left-center, and just like that Texas was up 3-0.
  • Mike Pelfrey managed to eat up 6 innings, allowing "just" 4 runs on 8 hits. It wasn't the best outing, but it was just not-terrible enough to keep the Mets in the game. Manny Acosta changed all that in his 1 2/3 innings of relief work, giving up 2-run moonshots to Michael Young in the 7th and Hamilton in the 8th.
  • The Mets offense couldn't get anything going against Texas starter Matt Harrison and company, hitting 7 singles and 1 double the whole game. The Amazin's have only managed one XBH in the past 2 games.
  • Even when New York was close to getting something going, the Rangers buckled down and refused to give an inch. With 2 on and 1 out in the 5th, Jose Reyes represented the tying run at the plate, but shot a hard grounder to third to set up a rare double play. The next inning, same situation, but a flyout and a lineout ended that threat. Then, with runners on the corners in the 8th, Texas was forced to go to their bullpen, which had been shaky recently. Shake be gone: Lucas Duda fell victim to a Mark Lowe slider and the lights went out in Arlington.
The Good Stuff:
  • Just before Reyes' double play in the 5th, Ruben Tejada saved the Mets the embarrassment of being shut out in the most run-friendly ballpark in the bigs, driving home Ronny Paulino with an RBI single.
  • Jason Bay went 3-4 with 3 singles from the cleanup spot, raising his batting average into the .240s for the first time in what seems like forever.
Final Analysis:
Not the best way to start out the most crucial stretch of the season. This loss can mean only one of two things: either the Mets have gotten all the bad baseball out of their system, or this is a sign of things to come. If it's the latter, then we're in for a long couple of weeks.

Jon Niese will look to prove fans wrong tomorrow afternoon on FOX. The good news: Josh Hamilton can't hit in the day because he has blue eyes. The bad news: Jason Bay has blue eyes too.

MM

P.S. In wake of Rigglegate, the Washington Nationals have named Davey Johnson their new manager. Nice to see Davey getting another job. Although frankly, with a winning percentage of .564, I'm surprised he wasn't already taken.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Game #75: Mets 4, A's 1

Jose Reyes drives in Josh Thole with a single to center in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon. (NYDailyNews.com)
Great pitching and well-timed base hits. The name of the game is small ball, and it's the game the Mets are learning to win with.

Jose Reyes turned in another multi-hit game and Chris Capuano delivered a scoreless start, sending the Mets on their way to a series win over the Athletics, 4-1.

The Good Stuff:
  • R.A. Dickey set the tone last night and Chris Capuano kept the ball rolling in the day, scattering 5 hits over 6 scoreless innings, walking none and striking out 7. Cappy is 3-1 in his past 4 starts.
  • The Mets had no extra-base hits on the day, but they got it done with strings of singles, 9 in total. In the 2nd inning, Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, and Josh Thole loaded the bases on base hits, and Capuano grounded into a double play that brought home the first run. Jose Reyes then lashed a hard grounder up the middle to score run #2.
  • In the 5th, Reyes got to first on a throwing error, advanced to second on a Justin Turner sac bunt, to third on a Carlos Beltran hard groundout, and came home on Daniel Murphy's single. Murph went 3-4 on the day, breaking out of a recent slump.
  • In the 6th, New York picked up one more run on a lucky break. Josh Thole picked up a 2-out walk and Willie Harris followed with a single, bringing up Reyes. Jose hit a catchable popup in foul territory, but Oakland first baseman got turned around and let it fall to the ground. One pitch after the E3, Reyes hit a line drive into center for his second RBI single of the day.
  • In 72 games this season, Jose has multiple hits in 37 of them. Simply put, that's Amazin'.
  • Capuano was pinch-hit for in the 6th and put the game in the hands of Pedro Beato, who tossed 2 innings of no-hit ball in relief, allowing one run on a sac fly. From there, Fransisco Rodriguez rebounded from last night's debacle and sat down the remaining A's 1-2-3 in the 9th for his 20th save.
  • The last item in Good Stuff comes from a managerial decision. Acknowledging that he pushed Jason Bay back into cleanup too early, Terry Collins moved him back to the 6-hole, where he had been performing as of late. Bay went 1-4, scored the first run, and didn't strike out, much better than his 0-5, 3-K showing last night. If Bay is going to finally get on a roll, he's got to do it in a spot with a lot less pressure. Good move.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Angel Pagan had a difficult time at the plate today, going 0-4 and striking out twice, leaving 5 runners on base.
  • Even this win isn't enough to keep the injury bug away. Turns out Capuano was pinch hit for in the 6th because of abdominal discomfort. Hopefully it's nothing too serious; if there's one thing we don't need right now, it's another injury.
Final Analysis:
The pitchers stood strong, and the hitters came through when it mattered. For once, everything went right for the Mets today. A series win is a series win, and even though it isn't a sweep, we'll take it.

In their past 6 series, the Mets are 4-1-1, and are once again 1 game under .500. New York takes their 37-38 mark on the road and into the toughest stretch of the season, starting out with 3 games against the Rangers in Arlington. The next two and a half weeks will likely decide the fate of the 2011 New York Mets. With a good showing, it will be tough for general manager Sandy Alderson to argue for a fire sale. With a bad showing, well, I try not to think about that.

MM

P.S. Finally some good news: David Wright has been cleared to resume baseball activities.

Game #74: Mets 3, A's 2 (13)

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes turns double play against the A's Wednesday. (NYDailyNews.com)
Last week, the Mets lost an extra-inning game on a balk. Consider us even.

Justin Turner delivered the bases-loaded hit...by pitch in the 13th inning, giving the Mets their first walk-off win of the season, 3-2, over the Athletics.

The Good Stuff:
  • Justin Turner continues to find ways to bring runners home from scoring position, picking up 2 more RBIs. The first came in the 8th. With the score tied 1-1, Jose Reyes hit a deep triple (his 13th of the year), and Turner brought him home on a single. Then in the 13th, after singles by Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy and a Reyes walk, Turner took the first pitch from Oakland U-boat hurler Brad Ziegler in the left thigh,, giving the Mets the well-deserved victory.
  • In addition to scoring the winning run, Duda came through in the 2nd inning as well. After Scott Hairston doubled and Ronny Paulino singled him over to third, Duda struck a groundball into right field, putting the Mets on the board.
  • He won't get the win, but R.A. Dickey sure as heck deserved it tonight. The ol' knuckleballer tossed 8 innings of 3-hit ball, walking one and striking out 9. The one mistake he made all night was a knuckler that didn't dance, which was deposited in the left field bleachers by Oakland's Kurt Suzuki. But after Turner's heroics, he was in line for the win in the 9th. But he didn't get it. Why? See below.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Fransisco Rodriguez started a new streak...a streak of blown saves. In his first chance since the balk-off game in Atlanta, K-Rod struck out the first, gave up a Coco Crisp double, then struck out another. After Crisp stole third, Frankie got Conor Jackson down to his final strike. But Rodriguez missed on a fastball, putting it front and center for Jackson, who lashed it into left and tied the game. He was don't this during his 19-game save streak, and it was excusable when he was getting guys out. But you can only play with fire so many times before you get burned, and in his last two outings, K-Rod got burned.
  • After a promising 3-hit performance yesterday, Jason Bay slipped up once again, going 0-5 with 3 Ks. Terry Collins had moved him to cleanup after yesterday's homer and long triple, but I think he rushed him back to the 4-hole too quickly. Too much pressure there. I would have kept Bay at 6 for a few more games, and then if he kept it up move him to 5, then to 4. But the jump from 6 to 4 after one good game? Mistake.
  • RISP was pretty good in the regular innings but fell flat in extras. All-in-all, the Mets went 3-11 and stranded 15 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the 12th.
Final Analysis:
It took a blown save and 4 more innings to do it, but the Mets pulled out a win, cutting off the losing streak at an acceptable 2. New York has been playing like a pendulum all season; let's hope it's swinging back onto the winning side.

The Mets end their series against the A's tomorrow afternoon, then embark on their toughest task all season. 3 games in Texas. 3 games in Detroit. 3 at Citi against the Yankees. Then 6 games in California, 3 each at the Dodgers and Giants. Oy. All I'll say is it's better to hit the road with a win than with a loss.

More bad news: Ike Davis' ankle injury is not healing, and now it appears he may need surgery and will be lost for the season. Without Davis' bat, the Mets will have to keep winning games like it was 1918: with good pitching, doubles, and lots of speed.

MM

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Game #73: A's 7, Mets 3

If there was ever a sure thing, it was supposed to be this game. But a funny thing about sure things: once you call them, they usually ain't. Such was the case tonight.

Dillon Gee proved to be all too mortal, turning in the worst start of his season and helping to bury the Mets in a hole they couldn't climb out of, falling to the streaking Athletics, 7-3. It was Oakland's 6th straight win.

The Bad Stuff:
  • You'd think Dillon Gee, Mr. Undefeated, would have no trouble against one of the worst teams in the AL. All he needed to do was get the ball over the plate...that's where your trouble starts. Gee only gave up 3 hits, but he walked 6 A's in 4 innings, allowing 4 earned runs. Four of those walks came consecutively in the 3rd inning, allowing Oakland to score without even swinging the bat. The most baffling part of that line is that the A's coming into the game were 3rd-to-last in the AL in on-base percentage.
  • With the loss, he falls short of Doc Gooden's 1988 mark of 8 straight wins to start a season. It also marks the first time in 2011 the Mets have lost a Dillon Gee start.
  • DJ Carrasco didn't fare much better. In his first appearance since the balk-off in Atlanta, Carrasco allowed 3 more runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. His ERA now stands at a dismal 5.94 on the year.
  • New York's best chance to come back was in the 8th, when they scored one and loaded the bases with two outs for Josh Thole. With Jose Reyes looming in the on-deck circle, Thole sliced one just foul to left, but couldn't bounce back and grounded out to end the rally.
  • Reyes struggled against the Oakland arms, going 0-5 with 4 flyball outs. Jose has cooled off in the past 4 games, hitting only 2 singles in 17 at-bats. It's a disappointing trend, but considering he hit a mind-boggling .433 with an equally astounding 1.153 OPS in his previous 20 games, I think we can excuse this drought. I mean, he is only human. He'll come around.
The Good Stuff:
  • Jason Bay's resurgence reached a crescendo tonight. In the 6th, he finally blasted a Josh Outman fastball off the second deck of the left field bleachers. It was Bay's 3rd home run of the year, his first extra-base hit in 89 at-bats, and, I believe, the first home run he hit to left in Citi Field as a Met. In the 8th, Jason almost hit another one to dead center, but Coco Crisp (best name in the bigs, by the way) kept it in the park with his glove, and Bay had an RBI triple instead. With a 3-3 night (including a couple nice plays defensively), Jason has hit .417 with 4 RBIs and 2 stolen bases in his past 6 games. The biggest thing for Bay at this point is to get out of the mental slump he's in, and those two blasts may finally be enough to break him out.
  • Angel Pagan also had a good night at the plate, going 1-3 with a walk and scoring 2 runs.
  • The bullpen finally stopped the bleeding after the 6th when Manny Acosta, Tim Byrdak, and Bobby Parnell combined for 3 innings of shutout ball. Parnell got into a jam in the 9th, loading the bases with one out, but he got Kurt Suzuki to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Final Analysis:
The newspapers will show the Mets lost tonight, and it was disappointing to lose to a last-place AL team. Jason Bay will sleep well tonight knowing he did everything he could to help his team win, and had Gee and Carrasco not done their best impressions of Charlie Sheen from Major League, the team might have done just that: win. Alas, it was not to be.

Their 4th loss in 5 games, coupled with a 4-run Nationals comeback in the 9th against Seattle, drops the Mets back to fourth place in the NL East. They've still got a chance to win the series over Oakland, but at three games back of .500, two wins won't be enough to get to the top of the hill. That task will have to be done in Texas. Not impossible, but it will require two wins in the next two days.

MM

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Game #72: Angels 7, Mets 3

Josh Thole broke up a double play in the seventh inning. (NYTimes.com)
Well....that sucked.

Jon Niese was hit early and often and the Mets offense went cold for 8 innings, paving the way for a 7-3 Angels victory that dropped New York back two games under .500.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Coming into this game, Jon Niese had an ERA of 1.58 over the past month. All you can say is that maybe he was due for a bad outing. And oh boy, was it bad: 4+ innings, 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits. It was as if the Angels took what the Mets did to Dan Haren yesterday and slammed it right back in Niese's face.
  • The New York bats must have been dipped in ice before the game, because they were just plain stone cold. Take away the 9th, and the Mets were shut out and limited to 4 hits. There was nothing they could do against Tyler Chatwood, who baffled the Mets for 7 of those 8 innings.
  • Even when they could get something going, they couldn't capitalize. RISP is ugly, once again. 2-10. Yeeeesh...
The Good Stuff:
  • Then in the 9th, the offense finally woke up. After Josh Thole flew out, Ruben Tejada and Jason Pridie singled, and Jose Reyes brought Tejada home on another single. Justin Turner's groundout scored Pridie, and Carlos Beltran's single brought home Reyes, making the final score a much less horrid-looking 7-3.
Final Analysis:
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is condemned to an eternity of rolling a large boulder up a hill, watching it roll back down the hill, and doing it all over again. The Mets are in a sisyphean rut right now: their boulder their record, their hill the .500 mark. It must be wearing, to get so close day after day and end up having to do the same thing the next day. Believe me, it's certainly better than where they were at the beginning of the season, but to actually get the boulder to stay at the top of the hill would mean everything in the world.

Luckily, the Mets will have the chance to keep that boulder at the top of .500 hill. After an off day tomorrow, New York hosts the Oakland Athletics, one of the worst teams in the American League. A 3-game sweep would be just what the doctor ordered, and it would put the Mets one game over .500. The Amazin's then take a weekend trip down to Arlington to face the Texas Rangers, who lead the AL West but are just a handful of games better than us. A .500 record by this time next week seems like a reasonable goal to reach. And I think it's possible.

MM

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Game #71: Mets 6, Angels 1

Carlos Beltran rounds the bases after hitting a long home run in the 5th inning of a 6-1 win over the Angels at Citi Field on Saturday night. He goes 2 for 4 with 3 RBI in the game. (NYDailyNews.com)
For the third straight outing, Mike Pelfrey put on a show. This time, he was there for the closing curtain.

Pelfrey tossed a complete game and four stolen bases created the first four runs for the Mets, who bounced back to beat the Angels 6-1.

The Good Stuff:
  • Twice before this season New York had gotten complete games from its starters, but both were less than a full 9 innings (Dillon Gee's washout in Chicago and R.A. Dickey in a loss in Pittsburgh). But with a 5 run lead in the 9th, Terry Collins elected to let Pelfrey go for the last frame. Pelf did not disappoint, and four batters later (Justin Turner booted a routine groundball), Mike had his complete game, and a whipped cream pie in the face from Willie Harris. Pelf's final stat line: 9 innings, 5 hits with just 1 run (a solo shot by Mark Trumbo in the 6th), 5 strikeouts, and, once again, no walks on 123 pitches. It was Pelfrey's third straight outing without issuing a bases on balls, and, as Keith Hernandez pointed out on SNY, Pelf's metamorphosis into a strike-thrower has brought down his pitch count and allowed him to rebound from that rough April. Mike Pelfrey is picking up steam, and not a moment too soon.
  • On the other side of the mound, the Mets made life hell for Angels' starter Dan Haren, knocking the AL's 3rd-leading ERA man him out after 4+ frames. And they did it with speed. In the 3rd inning, Jose Reyes hit a one-out single and then stole second base. After Justin Turner grounded him to third, Carlos Beltran slashed a single into right to put New York on the board.
  • In the 4th, Angel Pagan led off with a single, then stole second. A resurgent Jason Bay singled him in for run #2, and then Bay stole second. Lucas Duda then hit a groundball that was mishandled by first baseman Russell Branyan, and Bay was able to come around and score run #3. Bay finished the day 2-4, his third multi-hit game in the past four.
  • The dagger came in the 5th, when Reyes drew a leadoff walk and predictably (but certainly excitingly) stole second. Justin Turner stayed hot in the clutch and singled home Reyes for the fourth run. The way Haren was throwing, even Justin probably could've stolen. He didn't need to: Carlos Beltran blasted a 2-1 splitter onto the Shea Bridge, and with the score 6-0, Haren's goose was cooked.
  • The Mets lead the NL in stolen bases, increasing their total to 72 in 71 games, making up for a lack of power with lots of speed.
The Bad Stuff:
  • While Willie Harris did get Pelf with the pie in the face, I think he could've gotten it thicker. By the end of Pelfrey's interview with SNY's Kevin Burkhardt, it barely looked like he'd been pied at all.
Final Analysis:
Complete game from your pitcher and lots and lots of stolen bases. What is this, 1918? But that's the kind of game the Mets have been winning lately. And as long as they keep doing just that, we'll sure as heck take it.

Now New York is back in a familiar situation: win tomorrow, get to .500. It'll be their 4th such game in a little over a week. There should be an advantage in familiarity, right?

More good news: despite reports yesterday that he was talking with Satan's right-hand man, Scott Boras, Jose Reyes has come out and said there's "no chance" he'll leave his current agent, Peter Greenberg. Without Boras' only-money-matters approach, the Mets' chance of resigning Reyes long-term just got that much better.

MM

P.S. Rest in Peace, Big Man.
Clarence Clemons
1942-2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Game #70: Angels 4, Mets 3

The Mets' Daniel Murphy tripled against the Angels on Friday. (NYTimes.com)
Bad luck followed the Mets home from Atlanta tonight. And the shining hope of last week's road trip appears to be in the rear-view mirror.

Chris Capuano just couldn't escape the 6th and a Mets rally in the 9th was cut off at the knees by Angels' closer Jordan Walden. The result? A disappointing 4-3 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Chris Capuano allowed 3 runs (2 earned) in 6 innings of work. It was almost only 2 runs, but with 2 outs in the 6th, a single, error-like single, and double turned into another run, and New York was down 3-2.
  • Bobby Parnell, who had been so brilliant two nights ago in Atlanta, proved to be all-too mortal in the 7th. Maicer Izturis hit a leadoff double, and after a groundball advanced him to third, Torii Hunter singled him in to make it 4-2. Those were the only two hits he gave up, but they sure as heck counted against New York.
  • The way things had been going lately, only giving up 4 runs shouldn't have been a big deal. But an old bane resurfaced once again. Last name? Scoring Position. First name? Runners In. His issues? 3-16. Also laying in his wake: 11 runners left on base.
  • It would've enough just to wither away and die at the end of this game, but the Mets had to tease fans first before they lost it. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th, Jose Reyes and Justin Turner drew walks against a shaky Walden. The heart of the New York order was coming up: Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy, Angel Pagan. It appeared the stage was set for the Mets' first walkoff win of the season. So what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Beltran, Murphy, and Pagan all fell victim to Walden's wicked slider. Swing and a miss, swing and a miss, swing and a miss. Three outs. Game over. Angels rejoice, and there is weeping and gnashing of the teeth in Mets country.
The Good Stuff:
  • When the Angels scored in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the Mets kept up in their halves thanks to Angel Pagan, who drove in both tying runs on singles. With a 2-4 night, his batting average continues to climb; now it's at .255, 96 points above what it was when he went on the DL in April.
  • Jason Bay had another hit, a single in the 8th. He was driven in by Ronny Paulino, whose double made it 4-3. You know, back when it looked like we might come back. Sigh...
Final Analysis:
This was the perfect chance to show how these new, improved June Mets could shake off a tough loss and show resolve. Unfortunately, the team reverted back to its April form and let another one get away. It was a punch-for-punch game, and the Angels got one more good roundhouse than we did.

The loss brings us back in the rut: 2 games under .500, fighting to reach level ground. The next five games are crucial: two more against the Angels, then three against the life-support Oakland A's. After that, it's a trip to Arlington to face the Rangers. Now Texas is struggling, having lost 7 of their last 10, but it would sure as heck help to go down there 38-37 rather than 37-38, or worse.

MM

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Game #69: Braves 9, Mets 8 (10)

Atlanta Braves' Eric Hinske (r.) slides in safe at home plate as New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino applies a late tag. The Mets went on to lose 9-8 on D.J. Carrasco's 10th inning balk. (NYDailyNews.com)
Two outs. Two stinkin' outs. That's how many more the Mets needed to sweep the Braves and go back home with a sweep in Atlanta. But old habits die hard, and Turner Field once again became a house of horrors for New York.

Fransisco Rodriguez blew his first save in two and half months and DJ Carrasco balked home the winning run in the 10th, dealing the Mets a disheartening 9-8 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Taking an 8-6 lead into the 9th, New York fans had to feel pretty good about their chances. Frankie Rodriguez was on the mound, and he had converted 19 straight save opportunities. Even better: after living up to his name, Met Killer Chipper Jones was out of the game due to injury. This one was in the books, right? Wrong. After overpowering Jordan Schafer on a 3-pitch strikeout, K-Rod gave up a single to Jason Heyward. Up came Brooks Conrad, in the spot that would have been occupied by Jones. Well, Conrad did an incredible impression, blasting a 1-0 fastball into the Southern night and tying the game at 8. It was K-Rod's first blown save since the second game of the year in Florida. And instead of celebrating their first sweep of the Braves at home since 2007, the Mets instead prepared for extra innings.
  • DJ Carrasco, who pitched 2 perfect innings last night, gave up a leadoff walk, but got Alex Gonzales to ground into the 4-6-3 double play. Almost out of the woods. Key word: almost. Because Chipper's replacement at third base, Diory Hernandez, doubled to right. Jordan Schafer then came up and "earned" an infield hit, which should have been an error charged to Lucas Duda, who got in Ruben Tejada's way of making a routine 4-3 putout. Now there were runners on the corners for the dangerous Heyward. Everyone in Turner Field was anticipating Heyward to become the hero. He never got the chance. Because a flinch by Carrasco on the rubber constituted a balk, and Hernandez came in with the dagger in the Mets' heart. Losing the game on a blown save, a would-be error, and a balk. Simply Amazin'. And not in a good way.
  • Recently, scoring 8 runs would mean an automatic victory, with the Mets' starters pitching lights-out. But the lights came on for R.A. Dickey, who was tagged for 6 runs (4 earned) in 4 innings, including a 3-run homer and 2 more RBIs to the Met Killer, his 47th dinger against the team all-time.
The Good Stuff:
  • The loss negates a really spectacular run by the rest of the New York bullpen. Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, and Jason Isringhausen gave up 3 hits between their combined 4 innings, with Byrdak getting out of a big jam in the 7th.
  • On the offensive side, Jose Reyes was like clockwork again, going 3-6, including his 12th triple on a shallow flyball in the 3rd: three Braves had the chance to get it, none of them did, and by the time they became alert to pick it up, Reyes was sliding into third base. He scored 4 pitches later on Justin Turner's base hit.
  • Carlos Beltran came up next and hit a double, advancing Turner to third. He came in next on Daniel Murphy's sac fly.
  • After falling behind 6-2, New York blasted back with a 4-run 5th. Turner drew one of his 3 walks on the day, Beltran walked, and Murphy advanced Turner to third on another flyball. Jason Bay finally got the ball rolling and singled home Turner. With 2 hits on the day, it's Bays second straight multi-hit game (Maybe this is the beginning of his resurgence? Let's hope). After Ronny Paulino struck out, Scott Hairston smashed a high fastball into the left field stands to tie the game. Hairston got a rare start in center to face a left-handed starter, and he did exactly what he was supposed to, for sure.
  • In the 7th, the Mets loaded the bases with 1 out. An over-anxious Hairston struck out, but Jonny Venters's pitch was wild, and the goahead run came home.
  • The next inning, New York benefited in a big way from 2 Atlanta errors. Angel Pagan reached on a Jones throwing error and went to second on a Reyes groundball that was hit so hard it knocked Venters' glove off. Turner was walked and Beltran hit into what would be a 5-4-3 double play, but Dan Uggla's throwing error was enough to bring Pagan home for the 8-6 lead. And that should have been the end of it. But it wasn't. See Bad Stuff for all that.
Final Analysis:
Even when Chipper Jones is on the bench, he kills us. In the first half of the game he had 5 RBIs, then the guy batting in his place hits the tying homer, then his replacement third basemen scored the game-winning run on a freakin' balk. He's a Hall-of-Famer for sure, but I'll be so glad once this demon finally leaves the Mets alone.

What a deflating loss. Two outs away from a sweep and an actual winning record, their first winning record since 3-2, and the train derails. What a sour end to a fantastic road trip. And this game aside, it was a great road trip. 6-4 with series wins in Milwaukee and Atlanta, a string of 9 straight great starts, and the absolute hottest hitter on the planet on our side. Let's not forget all that. We had quite a bit of momentum going until the 9th inning tonight. Let's not let one bad loss destroy it all.

Cause we're going to need that momentum going into the next leg of (grr) Interleague Play. This weekend New York plays host to the Angels-Who-Call-Themselves-the-Los-Angeles-Angels-Even-Though-They're-Really-from-Anaheim-Angels, then the free-falling Oakland A's come to town. Ugly as it is, this game will still go down as just one loss. Remember that.

MM

Game #68: Mets 4, Braves 0

Angel Pagan after hitting a two-run homer. The Mets reached .500 for the first time since May 20. (NYTimes.com)
Tonight's forecast in Atlanta and much of the South was scattered thunderstorms. In between the thunder and the lightning, they played a baseball game, one in which the Mets made a little thunder of their own.

Angel Pagan hit his second home run of the year and four Met pitchers combined for a 2-hit shutout, defeating the Braves 4-0 to reach .500.

The Good Stuff:
  • According to old and arcane baseball rules, a starter must pitch 5 innings in order to qualify for a victory. Because the second delay of the night came after the 4th, it means Dillon Gee does not get win #8 tonight...even if he sure as heck deserved it. Gee got the Mets rolling by keeping the Braves from doing so, allowing 1 hit, walking 2, and striking out 5. The win still means that New York has won every game (10) in which Gee started off on the hill.
  • Tonight's win is credited to Bobby Parnell. After DJ Carrasco's 2 perfect innings, Parnell kept the ball rolling in a big way. He struck out the side in the 7th and fanned 2 more in the 8th, allowing just 1 hit. A good majority of his pitches were in the 97-99 mph range. I'm excited about this guy. If he can stay healthy and keep that arm of his, we could be seeing the Majors' next lockdown closer in a couple years.
  • In the meantime, our current closer, Fransisco Rodriguez, came on and pitched a perfect 9th, finishing a 4-man, 2-hit shutout.
  • On the Mets' side of the plate, this game was over one out into the game. Jose Reyes led off with a double over the head of right fielder Jason Heyward, then advanced to third on Heyward's error. Ruben Tejada hit a groundball to the shortstop to score Reyes, and New York had an early 1-0 lead. Reyes finished the game 1-4 with that run and an RBI groundout in the 7th (which would have been a bases-clearing XBH if not for an outstanding defensive play by first baseman Eric Hinske).
  • In the 4th, Daniel Murphy led off with a single. Angel Pagan then came up and hit a towering shot down the right field line, which just stayed fair and cleared the fence for a home run. With two more hits, Pagan is hitting .338 since his return from the DL, bringing his average for the year up from a dismal .159 to a less-than-dismal .252, only 8 points below what Jeter's doing in the Bronx.
The Bad Stuff:
  • On the other side, Pagan had the "c'mon, man!" moment of the game. After his second hit, a two-out single in the 8th, Angel attempted to steal second. He appeared to beat the throw, but failed to slide and was caught. Failed to slide. Trying to steal second. C'mon, man!
Final Analysis:
The third time truly is the charm. In their third attempt this week, the Mets finally succeeded in reaching the .500 mark. And with two Marlins losses today, New York is securely in 3rd place in the NL East, and only 3.5 games out of the Wild Card. Perhaps this stay at .500 will be our last...in a good way. Perhaps crossing this threshold is the catalyst this team needs to make a legitimate run.

But before we start looking ahead, sweeping Atlanta is the top priority. A win tomorrow will give New York a winning record for the first time since they were 3-2. Afterwards, we return home for the next round of (grr) Interleague Play. A sweep over the division rivals would be a huge boost.

MM

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Game #67: Mets 4, Braves 3

Jose Reyes steals second and goes 3 for 5 with an RBI in the Mets' 4-3 win in Atlanta. (NYDailyNews.com)
Atlanta's Turner Field has historically been a house of horrors for the New York Mets, and tonight was almost no different. The key word? Almost.

Jon Niese continued his hot streak and Jose Reyes turned in another multi-hit game, giving the Mets a 4-3 series-opening win over the Braves.

The Good Stuff:
  • The starting rotation continues to be red-hot. On the hill tonight? Jon Niese, who went 6 1/3 and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, walking no one and striking out 4. With tonight's W, Niese is 5-1 in his last 7 starts.
  • Jon got into a jam in the 7th, letting home a run on a David Ross one-out double. Niese was yanked in favor of Pedro Beato, who promptly walked Joe Mather on 4 pitches. With the dangerous Brian McCann up, Terry Collins went with lefty specialist Tim Byrdak. Icewater running through the vains, Byrdak struck out both McCann and Diory Hernandez to end the threat. Byrdak will leave the team for a game tomorrow to attend a family funeral; our thoughts are with him, but with that on the back of his mind, it makes tonight's clutch pitching even more impressive.
  • Dan Uggla blasted a Jason Isringhausen pitch in the 8th to bring the Atlanta deficit to one, but Fransisco Rodriguez took care of the Braves 1-2-3 in the 9th, striking out the first two, to earn his 19th consecutive save. While he's struggled in non-save situations, K-Rod has been absolutely lights out when the S was on the line. He may allow a baserunner occasionally (or more than occasionally), but it has to help knowing your closer is as close to a sure thing as you can get.
  • Jose Reyes continues to perform like a tremendous machine. His line tonight: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases, and the RBI that turned out to be the difference. Fans outside of Flushing have finally taken notice of Jose's stellar year: once third in the All Star voting, he's leapfrogged Jimmy Rollins for 2nd place amongst NL shortstops. He still trails Troy Tulowitzki by about 600,000, but it looks like the league's top hitter will indeed be an All Star.
  • Carlos Beltran had a good day at the plate as well, going 2-4 with an RBI. Also making a splash was Willie Harris, who made the most of a rare start by getting on base three times (1 hit, 2 walks) and scoring once. Angel Pagan and Lucas Duda each picked up RBIs in the 3rd on a single and a sac fly, respectively.
The Bad Stuff:
  • While it's great to see K-Rod overwhelm the three Braves he faced, it would have been nice to give him a bigger lead to work with. The Mets' pesky RISP problem emerged again, this time with the team going a mere 3-14. New York stranded 13 runners on the island-like bases. 13 runners. Just one more and you could have had Gilligan's Island plus evil twins for each castaway. Those poor people...
Final Analysis:
We should face Jair Jurrjens more often. Twice in the past week and a half, New York beat Atlanta's Cy Young contender. And once again, Jose Reyes was the difference. I'm not sure how to calculate Wins Above Replacement (not a math major), but I'm guessing he's pretty high in that category.

With the win, the Mets improve their record on this road trip to 5-3, and once again jump to once game from the .500 threshold. We'll do this dance again tomorrow, and if history serves correctly, the Mets will win. Dillon Gee is on the mound. New York has yet to lose with Dillon Gee on the mound. Catch my drift? I thought so.

MM

Monday, June 13, 2011

Game #66: Pirates 3, Mets 1

Terry Collins, right, questions umpire Jerry Layne, center, about an obstruction call on shortstop Jose Reyes during the first inning. (NYTimes.com)
We're on the cusp of mere ordinarity, but alas, it remains elusive. "Ordinarity?" Are you sure that's a word? Shut up, Random Italic Questioner.

Paul Maholm and the Pirate pitchers finally got the lid on the Mets offense and the Bucs got just enough against Mike Pelfrey, delivering the Mets a 3-1 loss and splitting the season series.

The Bad Stuff:
  • The southpaw Mahlom kept the Mets' bats off balance and off the board for 7 innings, limiting them to 3 hits, walking 2, and striking out 4.
  • New York's biggest threat came once Mahlolm left in the 8th, but the most unlikely case of deja vu cut the chance short. With no outs and runners on the corners, Jose Reyes knocked a hard blooper to left...right into the sliding Jose Tabata's glove. Ruben Tejada scored from third, but Lucas Duda, who apparently learned nothing from Angel Pagan's gaffe yesterday, left too soon from first and was doubled off for the second out. Threat ended. Justin Turner then flew out, and Pittsburgh was out of the jam.
  • In the bottom half of the 8th, Manny Acosta made his second appearance of the year. You remember 8 days ago when he allowed 2 of Atlanta's 3 runs in the 9th? Well, this one wasn't much better. After getting the first out, Acosta allowed three straight singles and was pulled for lefty specialist Tim Byrdak. Byrdak struck out the first batter, but walked Neil Walker to force in a run, charged to Acosta. Remember when Manny's ERA was 54.00? Well, it ain't much better, sitting at an elephantesque 40.50.
    There you go making up words again, MM.
    So sue me. Like Barney Stinson did when I borrowed "Possimpible."
  • Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan continued his perfect start, retiring the heart of the Mets' lineup 1-2-3 in the 9th for his 17th save. And that was all she wrote.
The Good Stuff:
  • She may be done writing, but I certainly am not. Mike Pelfrey continued New York's string of impressive starts, but picked up the hard-luck loss by allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 7 innings. He didn't walk any and struck out 6.
Final Analysis:
For the second time in three days, the Mets had a chance to get back to .500. And for the second time in three days, they ran into a wall. A wall of Pirates. With only 4 hits, New York fell waaayyy short of extending their 10-hit streak to 5 games.

Outsiders will look at this series and not be surprised. After all, New York and Pittsburgh had nearly identical records. A 4-4 season split was the logical prediction. But Mets fans will look on this and see a missed opportunity. We could have easily swept the home series a couple weeks ago, and just as easily could have taken 3 of 4 at PNC. But instead of 7-1, we went 4-4. File this under "disappointing."

The Mets now take their 32-34 record into Atlanta to face the Wild Card-leading Braves. New York took 2 of 3 last weekend at Citi Field, but Turner Field is far from friendly confines. Taking 2 of 3 will be tough, but that's why they play the games. And a sweep would put us over .500. Bring it on.

MM

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Game #65: Mets 7, Pirates 0

The Mets' Justin Turner beat the tag of Pittsburgh's Dusty Brown to score on Carlos Beltran's two-run single in the eighth. (NYTimes.com)
Patience is a virtue. Good things come to those who wait. Some third "waiting-is-good"-type phrase. All three spoke true today at PNC Park.

Chris Capuano pitched a 7 inning gem and the New York bats came alive in the last 3 innings, giving the Mets an impressive 7-0 victory over the Pirates.

The Good Stuff:
  • Chris Capuano was engaged in a pitcher's duel with Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia, and he rose to the challenge. Cappy delivered a 3 hit, scoreless gem in his 7 innings on the hill, walking 2 and striking out 5.
  • Capuano also got some help from his infield, which turned double plays in the 3rd and 4th innings. The one in the 4th came with runners on first and second, ending the Pirates' biggest threat of the day.
  • After standing dormant for the first 6 innings (2 hits), the Mets' offense woke up in the 7th. With one out, Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan each hit one out singles, Murphy advancing to third on Pagan's. Jason Bay hit a sac fly to center field, scoring Murphy. After some discussion, Pagan was called out for failing to touch second base, but the scoreless tie was broken.
  • Then, with 2 outs in the 8th, the Amazin' bats really erupted. Willie Harris pinch hit for Capuano and lined a single. Jose Reyes followed with a single of his own. Justin Turner then blasted a double off the right field wall, scoring Harris. That was it for Correia, and a relief pitcher was brought in. On the very next pitch, Carlos Beltran slashed 2-run single, scoring Reyes and Turner, who made a nice hook slide to avoid the catcher's tag. Murphy then followed with a single of his own, and Pagan capped the 4-run 8th with a single that scored pinch-runner Jason Pridie. New York took an encore in the 9th, again with 2 outs. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston hit a solo home run over the left field wall, and #7 made it 7-0 with a solo shot of his own to right, a shot that probably would have been outta there in even cavernous Citi Field.
  • Reyes celebrated his 28th birthday weekend in style, hitting 2 home runs, scoring 5 times, and batting 8-15 (3-5 today), raising his average to a league-leading .346. Still think he isn't worth the money, Mr. Cheapskate Owner?
  • Keep this in mind: every Met run was scored with 2 outs. In the spirit of the NBA Finals, today the Mets were the anti-LeBron: they came up big when the pressure was on.
  • The job was far from stressful, but Jason Isringhausen and Bobby Parnell combined for 2 innings of shutout relief, with Parnell striking out the final Bucs hitter on a 100-mile-an-hour fastball.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Really none to speak of, but the closest to Bad Stuff was when we let Correia have a perfect game through 4 2/3. I know they're doing better this year, but it still doesn't look good to go baserunnerless for more than half a game against the Pirates of all teams.
Final Analysis:
Another solid victory and a good bounceback from yesterday's letdown. With 12 base-knocks, this makes the 4th straight game the Mets' bats garnered double-digit hits. Everything seems to be rolling lately, and just as impressive as the hitting has been starting pitching.

It's been a week since New York's had a bad outing from a starter. Chris Capuano was brilliant yet again. Dillon Gee has emerged as the ace and could make the All Star Game as a rookie. R.A. Dickey pitches better when hurt. Jonathan Niese has been great too. Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen may be faced with a tough decision: who gets the bump once Johan Santana comes back? I'd say Pelfrey at this point, but as rough a time as he's had he's still not horrible. If we don't need to fit him in, then another question emerges: what's the trade market for Johan Santana? He's still considered a very good pitcher, so we should be able to get something for him, maybe a few more consistent relievers. The problem is Santana will still have 2 years and $49 million left on his 6-year contract and a $25 million option or $5.5 million buyout for 2014. So even if teams were interested, there's still only a hand full that will be able to afford him. It's a problem, 6 starters and only 5 slots, but nevertheless, it's a very good problem to have, and a problem we have a month and a half to solve.

The Mets finish their stay in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Should they win, they'll head into a 3-game series in Atlanta with a world of momentum: winners of 8 of their last 11, and a .500 team once again. Bring it on.

MM

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Game #64: Pirates 3, Mets 2

Mets' Ruben Tejada dives for a ball but can't reach it in a 3-2 loss to the Pirates. (NYDailyNews.com)
In retrospect, perhaps we should have saved some of yesterday's runs for today's game.

The Mets got 10 hits but could only plate 2 runs against James McDonald and the Pirate pitchers in a 3-2 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • It was New York's third straight game with double digit hits, but an old nemesis emerged once again: RISP. The recently-hot Mets bats went cold with runners on second or third, going just 2-11.
  • The Mets' biggest chance to score came in the 4th, when New York loaded the bases with one out. Up came R.A. Dickey, still dealing with foot issues. Anything hit on the ground would be a sure double play. So what happened? He hit it on the ground. 6-4-3. Threat over.
  • Twice more the orange and blue had runners on second and third with two outs. The first time, in the 5th, Jason Bay made his return trip to PNC Park memorable in a bad way by helping out his old team, taking a 2-2 curveball for strike three. Bay finished the day 1-4.
  • The second time came in the 8th. With Angel Pagan on first and two out, Lucas Duda slashed a double to the 320-foot wall in right field. Speedy Pagan was held at third instead of attempting to score the tying run. Replay showed he would have been a dead duck with a good throw, but after what happened next, perhaps Pagan should have risked it. Ronny Paulino made his return trip to PNC Park memorable in the same fashion as Bay, taking a 1-2 curveball for strike three. Threat over.
  • Joel Hanrahan slammed the door shut in the 9th, retiring the final three Mets in order to end the game.
The Good Stuff:
  • R.A. Dickey picks up the tough loss, pitching an 8-inning complete game and allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. He lost the game on a 2-run double in the 3rd by Andrew McCutchen, which could have as easily been called a 2-base error (Daniel Murphy deflected the ball into the outfield on a hard groundball).
  • With 10 hits on the board, many Mets hitters land in Good Stuff today. Jose Reyes celebrated his 28th birthday going 2-5 with a run. Ruben Tejada and Carlos Beltran both went 2-4 with Tejada scoring one and Beltran driving one in. Beltran also stole his first base of the year, taking third on a double steal in the 5th.
Final Analysis:
If the Mets had hit in the clutch the way they did on Thursday and Friday, they would have won the game. Unfortunately, tonight they ran out of gas. Every team has off days, and today was an off day. As long as old banes don't become prominent again, it should be fine.

Most fans would agree that the Mets should take 3 of 4 from Pittsburgh. Today's just the one that we didn't win. As long as we win tomorrow and Monday, we'll be right on schedule, and right back at .500 again.

MM

Friday, June 10, 2011

Game #63: Mets 8, Pirates 1

Angel Pagan scoring to start a five-run fourth inning for the Mets. (NYTimes.com)
The train took off in Milwaukee and it's still rollin' through Pittsburgh.

The Amazin' offense racked up 13 hits and Dillon Gee continued his record-setting rookie campaign, giving the Mets the win in an 8-1 laugher over the Pirates.

The Good Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee continued his stellar rookie season, turning in an 8 inning, 1 run, 8 hit performance. He struck out 5, but most impressive, walked none on 104 pitches. While he's already set a Mets record, with this win, Gee becomes the first pitcher to win his first 7 decisions in his rookie year since the Angels' Jared Weaver in 2006. And as the majors' only remaining undefeated starter, he could very well earn a spot in Phoenix on the All-Star team.
  • We should face hot starters more often. A day after taking down Yovani Gallardo in 4+, the Mets did it again, this time against Pirates' emerging ace Charlie Morton, knocking him for 7 runs (6 earned) on 9 hits in 4+ innings. In all, the Mets managed 13 hits against the Pirate staff. These guys stand out the most:
    • Jose Reyes rebounded from an 0-5 night in Milwaukee with a 3 hit night, including his 2nd home run of the year, a line drive to right in the 6th. His batting average now stands at an impressive .340.
    • Left fielder Lucas Duda, called up today, started a 5-run 4th with an RBI single, then ended up on third after the throw and an error. He also picked up another RBI on a sac fly in the 5th.
    • Angel Pagan went 2-5 with a double and triple, scoring twice and driving home the game's first run on a groundout.
    • Justin Turner came through in the clutch once again, lining a bases-loaded single off Morton's leg and past the shortstop, scoring two in the 4th.
    • Josh Thole also had a 3 hit night, going 3-5 with an RBI.
    • Daniel Murphy hit his first triple since September 2009.
  • Tim Byrdak got through the 9th inning quasi-cleanly, giving up a hit but facing only three batters, getting the final Pirate to ground into the 4-6-3 double play.
The Bad Stuff:
  • As much as he needs the couple days off, you have to feel bad for Jason Bay, riding the bench in his first return trip to PNC Park. The Pirates traded him to Boston in 2008 and the Red Sox never went to Pittsburgh during (grr) Interleague Play, and last year the Mets went into Pitt after Bay's LA concussion. I'm all for giving him rest, but maybe the thing he needs is to hit in a familiar place, at the ballpark he called home for the first few years of his career. He needs the break, but he should play at least a couple during this leg of the trip.
Final Analysis:
Rollin', rollin', rollin'. That's 24 hits in the past 2 days, and the Mets have now won 5 of their last 6, 6 of 8 since Terry Collins' choice words. Most importantly, New York is now just one game under .500. If we don't leave Pittsburgh with a .500 mark or better, it will be a disappointment. It's good either way: disappointment if we don't get it, excitement if we do. It means we're starting to expect to win. Which is always good.

MM

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Game #62: Mets 4, Brewers 1

Mets' Jonathon Niese allows just three hits in 7-2/3 innings in a 4-1 victory over the Brewers. (NYDailyNews.com)
When your best player goes 0-5, you don't expect to win the game. Except when the rest of your team goes 11-33 and your pitchers give up 4 hits. This was one of those nights. And oh, what a good night it was.

Jon Niese stifled the Brewers' offense for almost 8 innings and the Mets' bats pounded 10 hits off the hottest pitcher in baseball, taking the rubber match in Milwaukee, 4-1.

The Good Stuff:
  • Once again, it starts with the start. Starting pitcher, that is. Jon Niese cruised through 7 2/3 innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, walking 4 and matching a career high 8 strikeouts. The only Milwaukee run came in the 4th when Prince Fielder capped his stellar series with an RBI double. Niese got into some trouble in the 7th, allowing the first two batters to get on, but he buckled down and got the next three down in order. Jon has been on a roll for 5 straight starts and is 4-1 since May 12.
  • It appeared that final out of the 8th would once again prove all-too elusive, with two on, Ryan Braun at the plate, and Fielder on deck. Terry Collins made the call to his closer to earn his save. Fransisco Rodriguez got ahead 1-2, but Braun hammered the next pitch as hard as a man could hammer it...right in the path of Jason Pridie in left. Inning over. Rally halted. Momentum regained. Fielder hit a double in the 9th, but K-Rod retired the next three (final two by way of the K) for his 18th straight save. While he's been hit hard in non-save situations, Frankie has been unbreakable when the S is on the line, sporting an ERA under 1.00.
  • On a night when Jose Reyes proved that he is, in fact, human, the rest of the Amazin' offense made up for it. New York pounded out 11 hits, including 10 hits off Brewers' starter Yovani Gallardo, who had won his last 6 starts. The Mets chased Gallardo for 4 runs in 4 innings.
  • In a strange twist of fate, Reyes was the only position player not to get a hit. The biggest standouts were Ruben Tejada (2-4 with an RBI single in the 2nd, bringing his average up to .328) and Angel Pagan (2-4 with a single, triple, RBI, run, and stolen base; he's batting .346 since his return from the DL).
The Bad Stuff:
  • Probably should have gotten more runs with 11 hits; the Mets only went 3-15 with runners in scoring position.
Final Analysis:
It's been a great start to the 10-game road trip: the Mets dealt Milwaukee only their second home series loss all season, and were 6 outs away yesterday from making it a sweep. I'll take the series win, though. New York is 5-2 since Terry Collins' blowup last week. I'd say the message is sticking.

The Amazin's now take their 30-32 record into Pittsburgh for a 4-day weekend. If things go the way they're supposed to, we could be sitting pretty at .500 or over by the end of Monday. 100 games to go, and this team is still very much in it. Quite a far cry from 5-13, no?

MM

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Game #61: Brewers 7, Mets 6

Milwaukee's Prince Fielder after his two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Mets. (NYTimes.com)
With one swing of the bat, the game was in the bag. With another swing of the bat, it wasn't. With one more swing, it was lost.

Prince Fielder's second home run erased the benefits of a 5-run Mets 8th, and Nyjer Morgan's walk-off double won it for the Brewers, 7-6.

The Bad Stuff:
  • In the 8th, bullpen troubles returned to light, accented by the clutch hitting of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. After Pedro Beato allowed two runners to get on with one out, Braun lashed an RBI double to the left-center wall. Jason Isringhausen was brought in to face the dangerous Fielder, who had already gone yard in the 4th off Mike Pelfrey. The result? Same ol', same ol'. As they say in that MLB commercial, "he got all of that one." And just like that, a 6-2 Met lead was now a 6-6 tie.
  • Dale Thayer got the first two outs of the 9th, but allowed the ageless Craig Counsell to get to second. It was enough for Morgan, who slashed a double to right to score Counsell and give Milwaukee another home win.
The Good Stuff:
  • The Brew Crew's comeback spoils an otherwise really great night for New York. Mike Pelfrey stewarded 6 solid innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 runs on Fielder's first home run.
  • Also keep in mind why Milwaukee needed that 4-run 8th in the first place: to counterbalance our 5-run 8th. Jose Reyes led off with an infield single and then stole second. After Justin Turner walked, Carlos Beltran's 20th double of the year scored Reyes and tied the game at 2 (our first run came in the 4th on a balk). After Jason Bay struck out (typical), Ronny Paulino smashed a towering home run into the upper deck of Miller Park, his first in the orange and blue. And just like that, the Mets were up 6-2 and only 6 outs away from another big win...until Bad Stuff descended upon us.
Final Analysis:
We had a chance to steal another one from the best home team in the Bigs, but that home magic came in and stole it right back. Close, but no cigar.

The Mets can still win the series tomorrow night and take some momentum into Pittsburgh in the drive to five (.500, that is).

MM

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Game #60: Mets 2, Brewers 1

Mets starter Chris Capuano beat his former team, the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1 on Tuesday. (NYDailyNews.com)
What more is there to say? The man is good.

Jose Reyes' 2-run triple in the 7th was all the offense the Mets needed, as the bullpen retired the final nine Brewers' batters to seal the deal on a 2-1 victory.

The Good Stuff:
  • With one out and runners on first and third, Jose Reyes blasted the first pitch from Marco Estrada towards the right-center wall of Miller Park. It came two feet from clearing the fence, but careened at a strange angle, fooling center fielder Carlos Gomez. As you can imagine, Reyes' speed took care of it from there. When the dust settled, Jose was standing up at third base and the Mets had a 2-1 lead. Reyes finished the night 2-5, raising his batting average to .339.
  • Reyes' clutch hitting got Chris Capuano off the hook for that one pitch in the 6th that Prince Fielder slammed over the center field fence. Instead of a hard-luck loss, Capuano was rewarded with a win in his return appearance in Milwaukee. Cap's final line was 6 innings, 1 run on 6 hits with 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.
  • Yesterday's break gave the Mets' relief pitchers time to collect their thoughts. It paid off big time as bullpen went from Hot Potato to Lockdown. Pedro Beato, Jason Isringhausen, and Fransisco Rodriguez combined for three perfect innings of relief to make sure last week's string of collapses stayed last week's news. K-Rod struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced to pick up his 17th save, all in a row.
  • While the New York offense only managed 5 hits, Reyes and Ruben Tejada combined for 4. The other came from Angel Pagan, who also stole his seventh base of the year in the 8th.
The Bad Stuff:
  • While the Mets won the game in the 7th, they almost lost it as well. Reyes was on third after his triple and tried to come home on Justin Turner's groundball. He tried to score standing up instead of hook-sliding to avoid the tag, and, well, you can guess what happened.
  • This next one is just plain bad luck. Carlos Beltran came up next and hammered the 1-1 pitch deep to left-center. Beltran would have had himself a 2-run homer, except he was the victim of a highway robbery. The robber in question? Carlos Gomez, who flung his arm over the wall to snag the ball before it could clear the wall. Ouch. Tough luck, Carlos (our Carlos).
Final Analysis:
Great pitching + clutch hitting = Duh, winning! Simple recipe, but it tastes so damn sweet. The New York Mets are now on a three game winning streak and are only two games under .500, right where they were before Wilpongate. With two more games in Milwaukee and a 4-day weekend in Pittsburgh, the Amazin's could have their head above water by next week. It's hard to believe it, but even with all the injuries, all the scandal, these Mets are not going away just yet.

MM

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game #59: Mets 6, Braves 4

Jose Reyes leads the Mets offense with two hits, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey quiets the Atlanta Braves' bats for eight innings at Citi Field. (NYDailyNews.com)
In front of a national television audience, the New York Mets put their best foot forward. That foot belongs to Jose Reyes.

Reyes sparked an early-inning explosion to give R.A. Dickey the run support he needed, and the Mets withstood a Braves rally to hold on for the 6-4 win on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

The Good Stuff:
  • Jose Reyes got going from the very beginning, leading off with a single and scoring on a Carlos Beltran double. Beltran later scored on Angel Pagan's sac fly.
  • In the 2nd, Jason Pridie led off with a base hit. Reyes walked with two out. Justin Turner came up and delivered his 21st RBI in 21 games to score Pridie and send Reyes to third. With Beltran up, Braves' starter Tim Hudson threw a wild pitch. Any other player in the league would have been out on the throw back home, but not this guy. Reyes' flashing speed capped a 4-run outburst in the first 2 innings.
  • Ruben Tejada singled with one out in the 4th. After Dickey advanced him to second, Reyes slashed the ball over shortstop Alex Gonzales' glove. Tejada scored and speedy Reyes raced to second for the double. He finished the day 2-4 with that RBI and those two runs.
  • The Mets picked up another run in the 5th when Tejada walked with the bases loaded.
  • Daniel Murphy also continued his recent hot streak, going 2-3. He's hitting .481 in the past 15 games.
  • But what stole the show tonight on ESPN was the dancing knuckleball of R.A. Dickey. He baffled Braves hitters for 8 innings, giving up 1 run and 4 hits, walking just 1 and striking out 3. It was Dickey's first home win of the 2011 campaign and the longest outing by a New York starter so far.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Of course, what would a Mets game be without some unnecessary drama? Manny Acosta made his season debut on the hill in the 9th and proceeded to put runners on second and third with one out. Fransisco Rodriguez was brought in and promptly gave up the three run homer to Diory Hernandez (his first of the year). Acosta's ERA is the true casualty here, standing at a monstrous 54.00. Something tells me it'll go down, but it sure ain't pretty. But K-Rod dug deep to strike out the next two batters and deny Met-killer Chipper Jones the chance to hit in the clutch. I almost expected the Mets to collapse again and embarrass themselves, so I was pleasantly surprised when they bended but didn't break. But the heart palpitations experienced by a healthy college student make it Bad Stuff.
  • The injury bug refuses to go away. In the same at-bat where Reyes scored on the wild pitch in the 2nd, Carlos Beltran fouled a ball off the insight of his right leg. He finished the 11-pitch at-bat, but left and was replaced by Willie Harris. He is day-to-day.
Final Analysis:
To the non-Mets fan, tonight's team was JOSE REYES and friends (Just who is Justin Turner? Daniel Murphy? Ruben Tejada?). But solid play through 8 innings and not-as-horrible-as-they've-been play in the 9th were enough to give the Amazin's the win. I'll bet a lot of people were surprised by this result, and I'll bet legions more think this team would be nuts to trade #7.

Calling Wilpon's Bluff
Throughout the Sunday Night broadcast, cameras focused on all the "Don't Trade Reyes" signs in Citi Field. In the 6th inning, ESPN asked the question that has been engrained in the subconscious of Mets fans: keep Jose Reyes or keep David Wright? After the Baseball Tonight crew weighed in, they sent it back to the broadcast team for their input. All of a sudden, color commentator Bobby Valentine finally shouted some sense into the whole situation: "Keep them both!" Bobby V claimed he didn't buy into Wilpon's "We can only keep one" talk. When play-by-play man Dan Shulman brought up all the money that was coming off the books (Beltran, Castillo, Perez), Valentine pointed out that Reyes already makes $11 million a year, and the Mets could up that by $4 million easily. Fellow color man Orel Hershiser agreed that the Mets could still build around both Wright and Reyes.

This could turn out to be extremely significant in the effort to keep Jose Reyes in the orange and blue. Not only did those comments come on a night when Reyes was at his best in a nationally televised game that was billed from the start as The Jose Reyes Show, but they came from a very respected name in the Mets community, from a man who managed the team during their most recent World Series run, from a man who knows the inner-workings of the franchise. A voice this prominent, combined with the voices of every Met fan from Long Island to Lafayette, may be enough to convince Wilpon that sending Jose Reyes away would be the biggest mistake he could possibly make.

MM