Monday, May 21, 2012

Game #42: Pirates 5, Mets 4

Johan Santana can't keep the Pirates in check on Monday night. (
When Pittsburgh opened up PNC Park back in 2001, it replaced the old cookie-cutter-style Three Rivers Stadium. When you replace that ugly a place with one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world, all that ugly has to go somewhere. Most of the time the Pirates themselves have absorbed all that aesthetic sin, but the Mets come in close second when it comes to bad baseball at PNC Park.

An early 4-0 lead wasn't enough as the Mets committed 3 errors that led to a Pirates comeback and a very bad 5-4 series-opening loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • David Wright came into today with 1 error on the season, a dramatic improvement from years past. Today he regressed a bit, committing 2 key errors that almost led to Pittsburgh runs. Thing is these errors were committed after the Pirates plated their runners, so they did not have any adverse effects on the game.
  • The E in the 8th, however, had the worst kind of effect you could possibly have on a game. Tied 4-4 in the 8th, Jon Rauch got Neil Walker to hit a routine fly ball to left center, a ball which belonged to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center. But Mike Baxter, getting some rare playing time in left field, did not back off for Nieuwenhuis to make the play; the ball trickled out of Kirk's glove as he ran into Baxter, and Walker was on with a 3-base error. Two batters later, he came home on Clint Barnes's sac fly to right, just barely sliding in under the Mike Nickeas tag after a nice throw from Lucas Duda.
  • Under normal circumstances, the Mets would have never been in this situation, allowing 5 runs to by far the worst run-scoring team in the National League. But Johan Santana picked a bad time to have a relatively rough outing. Santana allowed 4 runs on 8 hits in 6.1 innings, including 5 extra base hits: 4 doubles and the game-tying 2-run homer to Michael McKenry in the 7th. He remains stuck on 1 W for the season, but this time he wasn't robbed.
  • After a 4-run big bang in the 2nd, the New York offense would score no more, hitting 2-7 with RISP and stranding 9.
  • But perhaps the saddest part of today's loss was the continued ineffectiveness of Ike Davis. With the start at first base given to right-handed Vinny Rottino, Davis came off the bench to pinch-hit with 2 on in the 7th. As he has done all-too often in 2012, Ike struck out chasing a slider in the dirt. In the 9th, Ike came up again, this time the team's last chance against Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan. A great closer nonetheless, Hanrahan overpowered Davis on 5 fastballs to get the K and the win for his team. The worst part about this was from the get-go you knew Ike Davis had no chance. Now at .161 for the season and showing no signs of figuring it out any time soon, maybe now is the time to send him down to Buffalo for a couple weeks to see if he can figure it out. The trouble with that agonizing decision, as my dad pointed out a couple weeks ago, is there as much of a chance that going back to the minors will destroy Ike's confidence for good rather than help him build it up again. He goes down, and there's a chance we never see him again. It's an awful thing to think about, but something has do be done, for the sake of the team and Ike Davis himself.
The Good Stuff:
  • David Wright's uncharacteristic ills in the field did nothing to deter his skill at the plate: David went 2-4 with a walk and an RBI to increase his league-leading average to .415.
  • Tim Byrdak continues to be the left arm from heaven out of the bullpen: he got Pedro Alvarez to strike out swinging to end a Pirate threat in the 7th. This makes it the 10th straight appearance in which Byrdak pitched to just one man and got his man, and his 25th appearance overall in 42 games.
Final Analysis:
Maybe it was the grandeur and the beauty of PNC Park. Maybe it was the conversion back to American standards after spending the weekend (not to mention a holiday weekend) in Canada. Maybe it was the awe of playing in the city where The Dark Knight Rises was filmed (coincidentally coming out on my 21st birthday, July 20). Whatever it was, the Mets were just not in it to win it tonight. Sloppy defense, poor starting pitching, un-clutch hitting; you name it, New York had it tonight. This is one of those games you just want to put out of your head as quickly as possible. All they have to do is win the next two and it'll be out of our our memories, replaced by a successful road trip. But if the Mets drop one or two more, we'll look back on this and say, "Missed an opportunity there."


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