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!!!

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