Thursday, May 3, 2007

When Is A Loss Not A Loss? / The Doctor Is In

Game 2: Florida 5, NY Mets 2 AP Recap
Game 3: NY Mets 6, Florida 3 AP Recap

To echo the resounding sentiment throughout the Metsblogosphere, as expounded by such luminaries as Metstradamus and Toasty Joe, if there is such a thing as a good loss, game 2 was certainly that. Sure, we lost the game and the series. But, despite the loss there was an overwhelming amount of positive aspects to that game.

First and foremost, you have to be encouraged by Pelfrey's outing. After a rocky 3-run 1st inning, Pelfrey settled in and pitched his best game of the season. He looked like the dominating ground ball pitcher he is supposed to be. He threw hard, he threw strikes, he went right after guys. The late movement on his fastball was back. He did not surrender another run, although Joe Smith (BTW, I heart Joe Smith) bailed him out with 2 clutch outs in the 7th. But, for Pelfrey even to pitch into the 7th is an accomplishment worth noting. Great outing. Now let's see if he can build on that. His next start will be on regular rest against Met-killer Livian Hernandez in Arizona, and my regular readers already know why I'm concerned.

Willie appears to be one of my regular readers, seeing as he juggled the lineup as I requested (though I was not the only blogger asking for the shakeup). Wright got moved up into the 2-hole, presumably to get a few more slump busting fastball thrown his way behind J-Rey (who was the NL Player of the Month for April, John Maine got the NL Pitcher of the Month honors. J-Rey and J-Ma became the 1st Mets duo to win both honors in the same month since Doc and Kid in September 1985). Despite Jose having a relatively poor night at the plate David responded with a 3 for 4 night, including his 1st long ball of the season and missing his 2nd by a matter of feet. He scored both of the Mets runs. It is sure nice to see the kid smiling again. Lo Duca, whose slump is actually quite a bit worse than DWs, was dropped into the 7-spot, where he had 2 hits. Paulie's average has dropped to .250, and his OBP is .081 lower than Wright's. Even Delgado, who stayed put in cleanup, had 2 hits. How'd we lose this game? We did have 2 runners thrown out at home, drew 0 walks, and had a hard time stringing things together. We had runners on base almost every single inning, we just couldn't get them home. With 11 hits, we ought to be scoring more than 2 runs. And Josh Willingham had a field day for the Fish (who lead the league in runs scored now) with all 5 RBIs on a based-loaded triple and a 2-run jack off Heilman. He could have gone deep 2 more times if he was pulling the ball, he flew out to Beltran on the warning track twice. C'est la vie. To quote the narrator from The Big Lewbowski, "Sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you." On Tuesday, there was a little of both.

Game 3 featured an outstanding performance from the good Dr. Ollie, his 3rd consecutive solid outing. The evil Mr. Perez has now not been sighted since April 11. Ollie went 5.2 innings allowing 1 ER on 3 hits, and 3 walks, while striking out a season high 10 batters. His 3 walks were his first since his meltdown against the Phillies. In between his last walk against the Phils and his first against the Fish, Ollie racked up 23 Ks, the longest streak of his career. He also had 2 rally sparking hits and 2 runs scored.

Endy, Castro, and Gotay all got the start due to the day game after a night game, Gotay getting his first start as a Met, and picking up his first hit and RBI of the season. The offense was semi-clicking all day, every Met had reached base by the end of the 4th inning, and everybody had at least a hit in the game except Delgado. Delgado did draw 3 walks and 0 Ks, so I think he's starting to see the ball better. DW seemed to continue his batting rehabilitation picking up 2 more hits (despite having just as many errors), and going deep into counts when not hitting. I say semi-clicking because the Mets left an absurd number of runners on base. At least 2 men (a total of 12) were stranded in each of the first 5 innings. With 11 hits and 7 walks, we ought to be pushing across more than 6 runs. This, unfortunately, is a rather dispiriting theme of the series. Generally, the Mets are hacking at far too many first pitches leading to easy outs for the opposition, an especially egregious offense against the Marlins who have the highest scoring team in the NL and the worst bullpen, it's likely to come into play in this upcoming series against the D'Backs. Also of concern is our suddenly soft defense. There was a ball hit into shallow center that Gotay wound up catching, but it gave me a fright, and was eerily reminiscent of the crap-storm that sunk Chan Ho in game 1 of this series. That's Beltran's ball, granted Gotay caught it, but it would have been a much easier play for Beltran. Not to mention he's a gold glover with fantastic speed, he just looks lackadaisical in the field at times. Is he afraid due to that horrific collision with Mike Cameron at Petco Park 2 seasons ago? Call that ball and go get it.

Joe Smith had his longest outing of the season going 1.2 innings over a span of 3 innings. He was awesome, as per usual (have I mentioned my man crush on Joe Smith?), but seemed to tire and lose his control a little by the time he came out. I have no idea why he was in the game so long, he had pitched the night before. Willie must be testing his endurance, although why he chose to do so in a relatively close game mystifies me. And where's Feliciano? He hasn't seen any action since that 12 inning affair at RFK on April 28th. A win is a win, and boy did we ever need that one going into this west coast road trip. We narrowly evaded getting swept at home, something which didn't happen at all last season.

The stars seemed aligned for a mega-jinx tonight. Wright and Delgado seem to be coming around and we certainly have our most favorable pitching matchup of the series tonight. Tom Glavine takes the hill for our heroes. Glavine loves the environ at the BOB (I know it's Chase Field now, but it will always be the BOB to me), he is 8-1 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts. In 14 career starts against the Diamondbacks, he is 10-3 with a 2.27 ERA, his best ERA against any NL team. Tommy's won his last 3 starts against the D'Backs allowing only 2 runs in 21.2 IP. The Mets have won 10 in a row at the BOB, 5 straight and 12 of 13 against the D'Backs. We face 3 all-stars in the other 3 games of this series in the Big Unit, last year's Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, and Met-killer Livian Hernandez. Tonight, however, we get another kid coming off the DL in Micah Owings to pitch the series opener, just like this past series against the Fish. We're 9-3 on the road so far this season, and our 1st west coast swing last year was when we pulled away from the pack going 9-1. Now would be a perfect time to start playing our best ball and get a little momentum behind the juggernaut that we truly can be.

Let's Go Mets!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Oh No Chan Ho! / Mayday!

Florida 9, NY Mets 6 AP Recap

Chan Ho Park made his Mets debut last night starting for the injured El Duque. He retired the first 8 batters he faced and looked like he was taking advantage of his opportunity. He gave up his 1st hit on a 2 out, 0-2 pitch to the opposing pitcher then walked the next 2 on 8 pitches to have to face Miguel Cabrera with the based loaded, a .449 career hitter in that situation. Miggy hit a slow liner off of Easley's glove to plate 2 runs. It was scored a hit not an error, and rightly so, but you have to wonder if Valentin would have made that play. The next batter, ex-Met Mike Jacobs, hit a seeing eye blooper that turned into a double, that probably should have been an error, to plate another run. Followed by another perfectly placed bloop for 2 more. It was basically a perfect storm of crap. Not one ball was really hit hard except for the final out which Beltran chased down on the warning track. It wasn't pretty, but it was a 5 spot. It amazing how often a 2 out hit by a pitcher can start off a big inning. Those 9 straight balls Chan Ho threw might have cost him his next start at this level. That and the 2 HRs he gave up in the following inning to Amezaga (his first HR since August) and Ramirez. Like the Rockies game last week, the Mets scored a bunch of runs after staking the other team to a huge lead, but it was too much to overcome.

Mike and I were chatting before the game about Valentin vs. Easley, deciding that Easley was probably a downgrade in the field, apparently we were right. We always hear about how Willie values defense more than anything at his old position and yet here is Damion Easley starting at 2B over Gotay who is allegedly a superior fielder. And, don't forget we have Anderson Hernandez, a defensive wizard waiting in the wings. Omar said during that crap-storm of a 3rd inning that we brought up Gotay instead of Hernandez because Gotay has some pop in his bat which we could use off the bench. But didn't we have that in Easley? Couldn't we call up the wizard and keep Easley hitting game tying HRs in clutch situations off the bench? Again, you have to wonder if this was a personnel move based on the hitting slumps of Delgado and Wright.

Speaking of Delgado and Wright, something has to be done about the middle of our lineup. It is just getting too painful to watch. Carlos Beltran was 4 for 5 last night and crossed home once, and that was when he knocked himself in with his 5th inning solo shot. In fact, 35% of Beltran's runs scored this season he's knocked himself in. Jose Reyes had 3 hits, including 2 doubles, and only scored once, and that was Lo Duca's RBI. At the end of April, Delgado is hitting .188 with 12 RBIs, while Wright is hitting .244 with only 6 RBIs, and these guys are in the 4 and 5 holes, the spots for the big RBI guys. And they have 18 combined RBIs between the 2 of them!?! 2 of the 3 hitters in front of them in the lineup have an OPS over 1! Jose Reyes has 18 RBIs in the leadoff spot. I know that both of these guys are going to turn it around eventually, they're both too good to hit like this all season, but something has got to be done. We're supposed to have a team that can out-slug people, but despite averaging 5.5 runs per game, we haven't won a game this season in which our opponents have scored more than 5 runs. How's that for a frightening statistic? And why can't we play at Shea? At the end of April, the Mets are a .500 team at home and a .750 team on the road. Although, I suppose at 15-9 I can't be too upset with the start we've gotten off to, it's has been a frustrating strong start though. I look at the statistics and they are gosh wow fantastic, but I watch the team play and I grind my molars with my head in my hands. Maybe they're missing the moxy Mike was talking about on the off-day.

In more bad news, Moises Alou needed 2 stitches after running into the wall in the 9th last night. He is also scheduled for an MRI today on his left shoulder. According to Alou this injury is unrelated to the stitches, it's been bothering him since the Gnats series. It's his glove arm not his throwing arm, but with his age and track record of injuries, I think we can safely expect to see fan favorite Endy Chavez starting in left for a least a few games. Who knows what happens if he has to go to the DL. Lasting Milledge is on the DL already. We're really starting to test the depth of the organization, and its only May day. We're also running out of bats to pick up... ahem... the people who need to be picked up.

Mike Pelfrey gets the start tonight after a poor outing last time out. He's sporting an 0-2 record with a 7.90 ERA. Ricky Nolasco comes off the DL to start for the Fish, in his only appearance this season he got touched up for 3 runs in 1.1 innings against the Phillies. We clobbered him during his rookie campaign last season. In his career against the Mets he is 0-3 in 3 starts (4 appearances), with a 19.73 ERA, a 3.58 WHIP, and a .520 BAA in just 8.2 IP. Hopefully, this means we can score some runs for Pelfrey and get him his first win. I suspect he'll need the run support, every start for Pelfrey has been worse than the one before it, he got lit up by the pitiful offense of the Rockies last time out, and the Fish lead the majors in slugging at a whopping .479. Let's hope that late movement on the fastball is back tonight.

Let's Go Mets!!!