Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Giants 2

This game started like the last two, the Mets allowed two runs in the first inning. In the series the Mets gave up 9 runs, 6 in the first inning (2 in each game). So as a staff their combined ERA was 3.00 for the series (18.00 ERA in the 1st, 1.13 thereafter).

Like Perez and Glavine before him El Duque settled down after the first inning. Randy Winn singled scored on a triple by Vizquel. That was the last hit the Giants got off El Duque. In fact, after that El Duque faced the minimum, 21 batters in his 7 innings. He walked the pitcher but got him on a double play. He got out the last 14 batters he faced. He was awesome, after that rocky beginning.

I often complain about El Duque being up and down, but this season he's been almost all up. He's made 7 starts, 6 great, 1 bad. Overall he is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA, but take out that one bad start and his ERA drops to 1.13. Also he should be 5-1. His last start was the game Heilman blew and the Mets scored 4 in the 9th to beat the Marlins. And his last start before he went on the DL was the game that went to extra innings 0-0 and Easley tied with a homer in the 10th and Chavez won with a bunt in the 12th.

This time the Mets answered in the bottom of the first with a Reyes run (single, steal, groundout, infield single) and a double by Wright to drive in Beltran. But Beltran collided with Aurilia on that infield hit and bruised his knee. He is going to have an MRI Friday. It could be serious, meaning the starting outfield would all be on the DL. Hopefully, if it's not serious enough to require DL time, he won't be hampered by it nagging at him, like his hamstring injury does.

The Mets got two more in the second on a Reyes RBI single. With first and third and one out, Reyes tried to steal second (good play) but he got caught. Then the great Endy Chavez laid down a beautiful bunt for a base hit and an RBI. Just another great heads up play by Endy.

In the fourth the Mets had a threat going with Reyes on first and Johnson on third again, and one out for Chavez. But because he was caught the last time he didn't steal this time, and Endy hit into a double play.

There was a funny moment in the third. With the pitcher on after a walk, Randy Winn fouled a ball off his foot and it bounced to El Duque. Everyone in the park knew it was foul except El Duque and he turned to start a double play and fired the ball right into center field.

After that both El Duque and Matt Cain were cruising. Joe Smith pitched the 8th and Billy Wagner pitched a 1-2-3 night for the save. His 13th in 13 chances this year extending his consecutive saves streak to 31. Not much more you can ask from either of those two guys so far this season.

The game lasted 2 hours and 26 minutes, three fewer than the previous game. And the first game of the series lasted 3:51 but it went to 12 innings, and I'm pretty sure if the Mets had won without the bottom of the 9th it would have been shorter than 2 and a half hours also.

The Mets are 19-7 outside of the NL East and have won all 8 series against NL Central and West teams plus the one against the Yankees.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Difference Between Mota and Bonds

There has been a lot of talk recently about whether the Mets should have resigned Gulliermo Mota after his failed steroid test and the resulting 50-game suspension. And how should the Mets fans received Mota, if they are going to boo Barry Bonds.

1) If the Mets think a clean Mota can help the team, then they should have signed them. A lifetime ban for the first offense is too strict.
2) Mota apologized and took responsibility, Bonds never has and never will.
3) Not only does Bonds deny, deny, deny, but he acts like the victim.
4) It seems clear based on changes in performance and physical appearance that Bonds was using steroids for much longer than Mota, and to much greater advantage.
5) Bonds is chasing one of the most hallowed records in baseball while Mota is a middle reliever. That matters. Because the most damaging part of the steroids era is that is has permanently filled the record books with fraudulent records. And in baseball, records and numbers and history mean everything, and Bonds has tarnished that. Mota hasn't.

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Unhappy Recap: Giants 3 Mets 0

Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher. And when your next day's starting pitcher is Tom Glavine you can expect to be in an early hole. Glavine gave up two runs in the first inning. It was the fourth straight start in which he'd allowed at least 2 runs in the first two innings. After that he was pretty good but it was too late.

The Mets could not hit Barry Zito. They put runners on in 6 of the 7 innings against Zito but couldn't get the hit to bring anyone around. His curveball was awesome fooling several hitters, but he also struck out guys with the fastball. He was awesome.

First time the Mets were shut out this season. Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia still have not been shut out this year.

Wisely, Bochy brought in Hennessey instead of Benitez to save the game.

Gulliermo Mota came back from his steroid suspension and according to Gary Cohen the reaction was "muted, but decidedly negative." Mota pitched two innings, allowed 1 hit and struck out two.

The Mets 4-game winning streak was snapped. It was their fourth 4-game streak of the year, all of which ended at 4. But they do not have any losing streaks longer than 2 games.

Paul LoDuca got his 1000th career hit in the game.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Giants 4

What an amazing game! We saw so many things that we have seen before: Perez pitching well, the Mets struggling against a young pitcher, Beltran failing with a man on third, Delgado with a walkoff hit and Benitez melting down.

Oliver Perez was not sharp early, giving up solo home runs to Randy Winn and Bengie Molina in the first inning. Then Perez settled in again. He retired 14 in a row and 18 of 19 before he allowed a third home run, this time to Ortmeier which tied the game.

I know some of you are going to say that 3 runs in 7 innings is not a good start, it's barely adequate. But if you look deeper you'd see that he struck out 8 and walked none, and they basically didn't hit him other than those three home runs. And of course you should remember that this was the worst start he's made of his last four.

Pitching against Perez was Tim Lincecum. He was drafted 10th overall by the Giants last year and has never lost a pro game. He went 2-0 in short season A ball last year and this year he started the season at Triple A Fresno. In 5 starts he pitched 31 innings and allowed one earned run, going 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA. He made his first start for the Giants on May 6 and got bombed, but didn't lose. In four starts since then he's 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA. He's walked 6 (he can struggle with his control) and struck out 28 in 28 innings, excluding that rough first start. He's going to be a star, assuming he can stay healthy. He's listed at 5'11" and 170 lbs.

Lincecum got through the Mets lineup in order the first time through, he retired the first 11 in a row before he walked Beltran and Delgado blasted a game tying homer.

Then in the 6th, he allowed a single to Reyes and a double to Beltran to give the Mets the lead.

In the bottom of the 9th the game really started to get interesting. David Wright hit one that I really thought was going to end the game. It hit the top of the wall and bounced back for a double.

almost a homer for Wright, almost an out for Fred Lewis

Then after a walk to LoDuca, Julio Franco pinch hit for Gomez. He ripped one right up the middle which looked like the game winning hit but Omar Vizquel made a diving stop, then he rolled over and from his back, he flipped the ball to the second baseman. But his toss was off and the second baseman Kevin Frandsen stretched and caught it with his bare hand for the final out. Just an incredible play.

Willie decided to stick with his lefties until the Giants wasted Bonds so after Feliciano and Wagner each pitched an inning he brought in Schoeneweis who walked Bonds. Then Frandsen hit a ground rule double to right which bounced into the stands (a fan did not touch it), so Bonds had to hold at third. Heilman came out of the pen to get the third out.

Heilman almost picked up another easy victory when Russ Ortiz walked Reyes and Beltran and hit Delgado, but Wright couldn't come through. Heilman stayed on and pitched a good 11th inning.

Joe Smith was terrible in the 12th, he had no control. He walked Vizquel then threw a wild pitch that was so far inside, LoDuca couldn't get to it. A sac bunt put the go ahead run on third with one out. Smith hit the next batter, then Delgado made a mistake. Vizquel hit a grounder right at him but he turned around to step on first before he threw home. Randy Winn slid in ahead of the tag, just ahead of the tag, but the replays show it was the correct call. But the play was so close Delgado could have had him if he had come home with it right away.

the right call. the runner was safe

But Delgado redeemed himself thanks to another Benitez meltdown. We've seen this so many times before. He came in and his first three pitches weren't even close. Once Reyes reached with a walk you kind of felt that Benitez was going to blow it. Then first base umpire Balkin Bob Davidson who has called more balks than anyone ever, called a balk moving Reyes to second. This one was a little hard to notice, I didn't see any balk. Chavez bunted Reyes to third and Beltran came up with a runner on third and one out...and he failed again. I don't know why he has such problems in this situation. But thankfully the Mets didn't have the stupid contact play on or Reyes would have been dead meat at home.

With Reyes at third and Benitez on the mound and the suddenly red hot Carlos Delgado at the plate, those fans that stuck around were going nuts. Reyes was bouncing down the line off the third base bag. Benitez clearly flinched this time, an obvious balk, which was called by the third base umpire, not Balkin Bob. Later even Bruce Bochy said the second balk was obvious.

benitez reacts to the second balk

Reyes scores the tying run

With the game tied after two balks, the Benitez meltdown was in progress. And Carlos Delgado finished it off. He crushed it to right field for his second homer of the night, his second 2 homer game in less than a week and his third walkoff RBI of the season.

I hesitate to say that the balks didn't matter because knowing Benitez's emotional state I don't think he would have given up the homer to Delgado had the other things not already transpired.

But after being on the wrong end of some many of these games for several years, it felt very good to be the recipient this time.

This is the type of game championship teams win, and through 50 games the Mets are looking like a championship team.

he's back baby
same as he ever was
Mets win!
Mets win!

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Does Jose Reyes Deserve To Make the All-Star Team?

We all love Jose Reyes and think he could be the MVP of the entire league someday, maybe even this year. But the NL is so deep in shortstops (four great ones in the East alone), that Reyes probably is not in the top two this year. He will probably make the team as the top vote getter but a look at the statistics shows that Reyes is not in the top two in any major statistical category.

Before we begin let me make a few disclaimers:
1) I am only including five shortstops in this discussion: Reyes, Rollins, Renteria, Ramirez and Hardy. The fact that Khalil Greene has 6 home runs is irrelevant to this discussion.
2) I am not counting stolen bases because we all agree that Reyes is far superior in that category. I am not including defense because other than some specious range indicators, analysis of defense mostly subjective.
3) These stats will definitely change during the 6 weeks before the All-Star game, and if Reyes gets hot again it will be quite possible to argue that he is the best of the bunch.

Runs Scored
Ramirez 43
Rollins 42
Reyes 39
Renteria 34
Hardy 32

Home Runs
Hardy 15
Rollins 9
Ramirez 7
Renteria 7
Reyes 2

Runs Batted In
Hardy 43
Rollins 30
Renteria 27
Reyes 24
Ramirez 12

Batting Average
Ramirez .320
Renteria .320
Reyes .312
Hardy .299
Rollins .275

OnBase Plus Slugging
Hardy .926
Ramirez .914
Renteria .875
Reyes .870
Rollins .825

Based on my analysis right now I would say in order the NL shortstops having the best year so far are:


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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Marlins 4

Jose Reyes started off the game in fine fashion, doubling and stealing third. But he was left stranded as Carlos Beltran hit a weak grounder. Because Reyes stole third with an 0-2 count on Beltran does that count against Beltran's atrocious stats with runners on third and fewer than two outs?

The Marlins took the lead with an old fashioned manufactured run. A single, a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.

But the Mets came roaring back in the fourth as finally the middle of the order produced some runs. Beltran walked, Wright singled, Delgado singled in Beltran. But the big break came when Easley grounded to second and Uggla's throw was ugly, it hit Easley and bounced away allowing two runs to score. After a wild pitch by Scott Olsen Endy singled home Easley.

Olsen was getting furious on the mound and apparently is continuing to have problems with his emotions. You'll remember last year against the Mets he got into a fight with Miguel Cabrera during the game. Seemed like he was mad at Olivo for two wild pitches and a passed ball.

Jorge Sosa wasn't as great as he had been in his first three starts, but much better than he was in his last one. He impressed me in the 6th inning because he was clearly running out of gas, and after allowing the first two runners he stayed in the game and got Cabrera and Willingham before Willie brought in Feliciano for the last out.

Joe Smith pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning. No surprise.

Aaron Heilman gave up a walk, a double and run in the 8th. No surprise.

I guess that's why they call him a setup man because he created a save situation for Wagner who got the save, but gave up a home run. No surprise.

The Mets left the bases loaded in the 7th and 8th innings but did add and insurance run on a single by Julio Franco.

Damion Easley played left field for the first time in his career and didn't make any glaring screwups though he did turn a couple fly balls into adventures.

During this series the Mets could not get out Alfredo Amezega and Miguel Olivo. They hit .478, while the rest of the Marlins hit .086. They also drove in 5 of the team's 8 runs.

Several of the Marlins smeared eye black all over their faces. You can see it on Cabrera's cheek in this picture.

Carlos Delgado is 9-21 in 5 games since being moved out of the cleanup spot.

This was the Mets second sweep of the year. Both on the road. The Mets are 18-7 on the road, best in the majors.

A good reason not to get so worked up over losing 2 of 3 to the Braves. While the Mets were sweeping the Marlins, the Phillies were sweeping the Braves. So the Mets are now 4 1/2 up on Atlanta, two games more than before the teams met.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Marlins 2

The Mets started the game with an early run after Endy Chavez tripled and Beltran drove him in with a sac fly, an area of the game in which Beltran has been very deficient.

The Mets could have had more in the second inning. After loading the bases with none out, Gomez drove in a run with a ground out. Bad, he was probably safe on the play. Worse, he hurt himself and had to come out of the game. Maine struck out and Reyes flied out to end the threat.

Gomez gets hurt, hopefully it isn't too serious

A walk turned into a run for the Marlins in the second.

Finally, Carlos Delgado hit a home run. To left center field. With a man on. We can only hope this is the start of something big for him.

If not maybe his homer in the 6th inning, a 3-run shot to straight away center will be the one that gets him going.

Gary Cohen said "the monster's out of the cage," which of course is what John Stearns once said to Mike Piazza after a big home run.

Maine struck out the side in the 3rd and 4th, then got in and out of trouble in the 5th and 6th and with the big lead that was all for him. 8 strikeouts and 4 walks. And a win.

Burgos pitched two good innings in relief.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Marlins 2

El Duque was awesome tonight. If you've seen him pitch before you know how he pitches when he's on. Every pitch has great movement, it backs up, it dips, it does something. The first batter of the game (Almezaga) singled, then the Marlins didn't get another base runner until Almezega singled again with two outs in the 6th, after 17 straight outs. El Duque was done after 6, allowing no walks, no runs and only 2 hits.

The problem is Sergio Mitre was just as good. He's a sinkerball pitcher, and every out pretty much was a groundout or a strkeout.

The Mets did have one good chance in the fifth, but LoDuca got thrown out trying to take third on a single by Green. It wasn't a terrible play with the bottom of the order coming up but usually you don't like to make the first out of an inning at third base.

In the 7th inning David Wright hit a little nubber foul along the first base line. But it kicked back into fair territory and since he wasn't running it was an easy out. Bad play, from the Carlos Delgado school of hustle. (I wrote this before the next play).

Delgado showed his lack of hustle on the very next play. He hit a deep fly to left that looked like a home run. Delgado didn't hustle, he ran slowly down to first, then got thrown out at second when the ball hit the top of the wall. Delgado is hitting .220 and right after Wright messed up, Delgado still doesn't bother to run. That pisses me off.

After the game against the Braves, Randolph said the Braves wanted it more. Wright disagreed with that and said the Mets just happened to run into Smoltz. They certainly don't seem like they want it with those two displays of laziness.

In the 8th, Easley singled then Newhan bunted but too hard and the pitcher fielded it and forced Easley at second. I never understood why they don't have pitchers bunt in situations like that. Not only is Newhan not a good bunter, he was wasted as a pinch hitter. If Joe Smith (who pitched another great inning) couldn't do it, then why not one of the other starting pitchers? Glavine is a good bunter.

With Newhan on first, Reyes drew the first walk of the game, for either team. Chavez's fielder's choice advanced Newhan to third, and the Mets caught a break. Beltran hit a broken bat grounder to Uggla. The ball was hit very slowly and Uggla didn't charge, he looked up and saw that he might not have had a play at second with Chavez running, and took his eye off the ball for a second. And it resulted in an error and a run. The Marlins have the most errors in the National League.

This time it was Beltran's time to screw up with lack of effort. Olivo hit a ball over short, which should have been a single, it trickled into the gap so it became a double, then Beltran slipped and when he got up, he took it for granted that Olivo would stop at second, took his time getting the ball in and Olivo stretched it into a triple.

That was a bad break, but Heilman made it a lot worse when he walked the next two. And for every hitter not named Carlos Beltran, runner on third fewer than 2 outs is an easy RBI chance, and Almezega took advantage and drove in the tying run with a fly ball to left.

The Mets bounced back, Delgado walked, Gomez pinch ran, stole second and went to third on a single by LoDuca, his fourth hit of the night. At first, the Marlins chose not to play the infield in with first and third and none out. They did bring the infield in halfway though and it almost worked because Green hit one right to Ramirez. His throw home was perfect, and had Gomez nailed, but the catcher dropped the ball. Keith Hernandez was furious at Gomez for trying to avoid the catcher instead of drilling him, but it didn't matter, the ball was dropped before Gomez got there.

Reyes (1-21) and Chavez (0-15) broke out of long slumps with bases loaded singles. Then Beltran blasted a ground rule double to the deepest part of center, to make the score 6-1.

That was the 9th time this season the Mets scored 5 runs or more in an inning.

This is going to look easy when you see the score but this was a tough game for the Mets and they did not play well at all.

Aaron Heilman vultured his 5th win of the season, tying him Glavine and Maine. And as often happens, Heilman pitched the worst of the four Mets pitchers who appeared in this game.

Because it wasn't a save situation Billy Wagner had a rocky outing, giving up a homer to Cabrera, but he got the job done.

El Duque is so old that he just isn't able to make 35 starts in a season. And when he's injured he gets some much needed rest. The Mets should definitely consider giving him some time off in August or September if they have a nice lead.

Pedro was back in the dugout shouting in Spanish. He looks good, a little heavier, but maybe that's good for him. He said he's not going to shave his head because he's not on the roster right now.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Braves 2 Mets 1

The difference in this game was Glavine's steadfast refusal to throw strikes, compared to Smoltz getting ahead of practically every hitter.

It started in the first inning for Glavine. Kelly Johnson singled to lead off the game, then Glavine started Martin Prado with two straight balls. Prado singled on a 3-2 count. It really should have been an error on Delgado. He tried to backhand the ball and it went right under his glove. Horrible play, he could have gotten in front of it, it wasn't hit that hard.

Renteria was the next batter and Glavine started him 3-0, maybe he was pissed at Delgado's ole (accent on the e) bullshit. For some reason Renteria swung at the 3-0 pitch and grounded out creating a second and third for Francoeur.

Glavine came back and started Francoeur with two strikes. Now Francoeur is a noted free swinger, but instead of giving him something he could chase, Glavine threw two pitches that weren't even close. After 5 foul balls (one of which broke his bat, cool photo below), he hit a sacrifice fly. Glavine started Andruw with a 3-0 count and walked him, but got McCann to avoid further damage.

cool picture of a broken bat

Matt Diaz led off the second with a home run on a 2-0 count. After that Glavine was really good. Even though he had 2-0 counts on 7 other hitters (11 total) over the next four innings he avoided trouble. For the sake of comparison Smoltz went 2-0 on only two hitters (in his 7 innings) and got them both out. Of 110 pitches in 6 innings Glavine threw 49 balls. Of 101 pitches in 7 innings Smoltz threw 29 balls.

But it wasn't like the Mets didn't have their chances against Smoltz.

In the third, Glavine reached on a high chopper, with one out. Reyes blooped a single to left, after forcing the count full from 0-2. Endy struck out, then Beltran loaded the bases on another high chop that went for an infield hit. Then came the key jucture in the game. Wright was down 0-2 when he reached for a pitch low and away. The first base umpire said he went around and Wright was furious. He threw his bat and helmet and the umpire signaled for a fine. It was the maddest I've ever seen Wright. And Wright was right. The call was terrible. They showed in on SNY from the overhead camera and it wasn't even close, the head of the bat never reached 180 degrees. Just brutal.

In the fourth inning, LoDuca singled and stole second. It was his first stolen base in almost a year but a smart play because they weren't holding him on. Delgado flied out, Green advanced the runner to third and then Gotay ripped one into the hole between first and second but Kelly Johnson made a great play to stop it, and throw Gotay out. Should have been a single and a run. The Braves made a couple really good plays in the field in this game. SNY actually added the run to the Mets total on the top of the screen when they went to break. When they came back it was 2-0 again.

After that the pitchers dominated for several innings, Glavine settled in and encouragingly the Mets two worst relievers, Schoeneweis and Heilman both pitched hitless innings, Heilman only needed 5 pitches.

In the 7th Green and Gotay singled with one out but Newhan grounded into a force and Reyes made out with two on and two out.

In the 8th after Beltran walked, Rafael Soriano went 2-0 on Wright. Then he blew two fastballs right by him. Made Wright look silly. Wright then struck out for the third time.

Delgado led off the 9th with a single to left. I love to see him go the other way in late game situations when the Mets just need a base runner. It's not like he's been hitting for power anyway, plus down two runs he needs to get on, so he took advantage of the shift. Hopefully, a few cheap hits will break him out of his slump. Then the Mets got a break. Kelly Johnson made an error on a weak grounder by Green. It was an easy double play ball but he rushed it and got neither man out.

Now Willie was in a familiar situation, one he faced in the 9th inning of the 7th Game of the NLCS. I'm sure you remember. In both cases the Mets were down 2 runs with nobody out and runners on first and second. Last time he pinch hit Cliff Floyd and let him swing away. That was the right move, even though it didn't work out.

This time he had Ruben Gotay bunt. Here is why bunting is a bad decision in this spot. You need one hit to tie the game in either circumstance but if you bunt you are giving yourself two chances to get it, instead of three. The argument against bunting is that if you get another hit you won't necessarily score both runs. That is true, but you have to count on one of your first two batters to advance the runners with an out (while avoiding a double play), or your second two batters getting the second run home with an out. Also you have the chance of a double, or a home run. And in addition to giving you three chances for one hit, swinging away gives you a much better shot at winning the game instead of settling for a tie and extra innings.

By no means will swinging away work every time, nor will bunting fail every time. But I believe to increase your odds of winning, you should let your hitters hit.

I make that argument in a vacuum, so getting back to this situation, Gotay was up and he is a weak hitter, but I don't believe that should change things. If you don't have confidence in him he shouldn't be on the team.

Which leads me to the next point of contention. Willie used Julio Franco instead of Damion Easley after Gotay's sacrifice. I wouldn't have a problem with the move either way. You can say Easley's been hitting better, true. You can say Easley is 20 years younger, true. You can say Easley has been playing everyday, true. But Franco is more used to coming off the bench as a pinch hitter, and if he can't be used in this spot, then he shouldn't be on the team.

Franco grounded out (another high chopper) which drove in one run, but then Reyes popped out to end the game.

A few notes:

Reyes had 16 RBI in the first 17 games, and only 7 in the last 29 games. He was on fire with runners in scoring position early on, but has cooled off drastically since then. He's not an RBI guy so it's hard to get too worked up over this, but one of his best attributes was his ability to get RBI from the lead off spot, he had 81 last year.

The Mets are now 3-6 against the Braves this year. 3-0 when Oliver Perez pitches, 0-6 when anyone else does. The Mets can still win the division by doing better against all the other teams, but I'd feel a lot more confident if the Mets could beat them a couple times.

The Mets have lost 4 series this year, 3 to the Braves. All three came down to a rubber game. The Mets led 2-1 in the first one and Heilman blew it. The second one was another Glavine-Smoltz matchup. Glavine left with a 6-3 lead, then Schoeneweis allowed the game-tying three run homer and Heilman (again) gave up the game losing three run homer. So the Mets could have won all three series with a little luck.

This was the Mets first loss on a Thursday this year.

John Smoltz got his 200th win. First pitcher to ever beat the Mets for win #200 or #300. Tom Glavine did not get win #296.

With the Mets, Tom Glavine is 3-11 against the Braves with a 4.76 ERA, over 18 starts.

On May 23, 2002, Shawn Green went 6 for 6 in a game with 4 home runs.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 3 Braves 0

Willie used an unconventional lineup, batting Green second, moving Delgado to sixth and putting LoDuca ahead of him. I still think it's too early to demote Delgado because the team is still winning. And why didn't he bat LoDuca second and Green fifth? To avoid having lefties back to back?

Actually, I'd rather see Gomez bat second when he plays. Willie did the same thing with Wright in 2005. He thinks he's taking the pressure off the young guys by batting them 7th or 8th but in this lineup I think Gomez would actually feel less pressure in the 2 hole because Reyes is always on, and Beltran is up next so he'd get pitches to hit. Batting 8th, they can work around him to get to the pitcher. Plus he's come up in a lot of RBI situations, instead of table setting situations.

The action in this game didn't start until the third inning.

With one out Reyes walked and Green singled. The Mets tried a double steal and Saltalamacchia (14 letters, longest in the history of MLB) had Green nailed at second but Prado was late covering, the ball was dropped and Green was safe. On the error, Reyes scored and Green went to third.

Then Carlos Beltran struck out again with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs. In 17 at bats in that situation he has 7 strikeouts. And only 3 sacrifice flies (which don't count as official at bats). So with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs he's more than twice as likely to strike out than to hit a sac fly. That's a terrible ratio. He must do better. Wright made the third out and the Mets only got one run.

Perez didn't do much to help his cause in the bottom of the inning. He walked the pitcher (after an 0-2 count). Then advanced him to second on a wild pitch (after an 0-2 count). Green made a diving catch of a foul ball but the pitcher advanced to third. Then Perez walked Renteria, but got Chipper Jones out. He hit RBI machine Jeff Francoeur to load the bases. But he got out of it when Matt Diaz (DYE-az) flied out to end the inning.

The Mets started off the fourth with three straight singles. Gomez hit a sacrifice fly, Perez bunted (a strategy that makes no sense), then after the Braves smartly walked Reyes, Green grounded out, ending the threat.

David Wright hit his 8th home run of the season for the Mets third run. On May 23rd last year, Wright hit his 7th homer of the year. So maybe talk about his early season power production was overrated. Last year he slugged 10 in June, which earned him a place in the Home Run Derby. Right now, he's tied for 15th in NL in home runs but with another hot June maybe he could be asked to be in the Derby again.

David Wright, breaking out the home run trot for the fourth time four games

The rest of the game belonged to Perez. He was brilliant after his early game struggle and bounced back from that rough third inning by striking out the side in the fourth. Willie showed a lot of confidence in him, sending him back out to pitch the 7th after he'd already thrown 108 pitches. But Oliver didn't disappoint getting a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He finished with 5 Ks, those two in the 7th and the three in the fourth.

Oliver's third straight gem.  I want more!

Let's look at Perez by the numbers:
In his last three starts:
He's 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA plus 5 walks and 16 Ks in 23 innings.

I'd say he's picked up the slack for the recently slumping Maine quite nicely.

In 3 starts this season against the Braves:
He's 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA and zero walks, zero walks, I said zero walks, plus 20 Ks, (did I mention zero walks?) in 20 2/3 innings.

One other note that makes the above seem even more impressive: The Mets are 0-5 against the Braves this year in games started by anyone other than Perez.

And one last statistical breakdown:

This season in four starts against the Braves and the Yankees (the big games):
He's 4-0, with a 1.59 ERA and only two walks.
Against everyone else he is 2-3, with a 3.16 ERA and 15 walks (almost one walk every two innings).
Throw in his gem of a performance in Game 7 of the NLCS last year and I really love Oliver Perez right now, down the stretch in September, and in the playoffs in October.

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Unhappy Recap: Braves 8 Mets 1

You knew the Sosa train was going to derail eventually. If he could win every start he wouldn't have gone 5-12 last year. Hopefully this was only a temporary slipup. He had given up 5 runs in three starts before this then gave up 5 runs in four innings to the Braves. But he was really awful in this game. He wasn't just giving up hits, he was walking guys. Hopefully, it's just one isolated bad outing.

Carlos Delgado's slump is really starting to hurt the Mets and it's making me wonder whether it is just a slump. He has been awful all year and in the first inning the Mets had runners on first and third, and Delgado grounded into a double play. I don't think it's time to move him down in the lineup just yet, because the Mets still lead the NL in runs scored. But if another month goes by and he still sucks, he could find himself demoted.

The Mets tried to mount a comeback in the fifth inning when LoDuca and Green singled. Easley hit a groundball and the second baseman clearly dropped the throw. The umpire didn't see it and called LoDuca out. It should have been bases loaded and nobody out. Mets did get their only run of the game on the next play.

Kyle Davis is now 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA in his career against the Mets. But those numbers are inflated by two rough starts he had against the Mets late last season. This was his third great game out of 8 starts against the Mets.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Yankees 6 Mets 2

You didn't expect the Mets to sweep the Yankees did you?

John Maine is really starting to struggle. He is not the type of pitcher who can constantly be behind hitters, and walk guys and expect to work his way out of jams with strikeouts. He got burned in the fourth inning with two walks, then let his guard down and allowed the homer to Jeter which put the game out of reach.

David Wright is getting really hot. Home runs in 3 straight at bats.

Carlos Delgado still looks awful at the plate.

Damion Easley is still showing tremendous power and it was nice to go down with a kick and add another run to Rivera's horrible ERA.

The Mets always struggle with rookie pitchers whom they've never seen before so we shouldn't be too shocked about the success Tyler Clipboard had against them. Maybe it's a good thing Rasner got knocked out of Saturday's game when he did.

As I said before the series, the next three games against Atlanta are a lot more important than the last three against the Yankees. If the Mets lose this series. it'll be the third lost series to the Braves out of 3, so far this year.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 10 Yankees 7

Mets win the first half of the Subway Series.

David Wright finally regained his power stroke, hitting home runs in his first two at bats, then getting intentionally walked in his next three at bats. The second one, in the third inning bounced of Johnny Damon's glove and went over the fence.

But this game was decided when Endy Chavez lined one off the hand of Yankees starting pitcher Darrell Rasner. Rasner had to leave the game and broke his pinky and will miss 2 - 3 months. This was the second time this season the Yankees pitcher got hit with a batted ball and broke something. After that the Yankees had to go to a depleted bullpen and Mike Myers and Luis Vizcaino allowed 8 runs (including the 2 inherited runners left by Rasner).

Glavine pitched badly in the first inning, then gave up his customary run after the Mets scored 3 in the first. But that was all until in the 7th inning when he left with a man on, and Schoeneweis allowed that runner to score. But Glavine pitched well enough to earn win #295.

Schoeneweis then gave up two homers and a walk in the 8th. He sucks. That made the game 8-6.

The Mets got two more back in the 8th inning thanks to the third error of the game by Robinson Cano.

Then in the 9th Billy Wagner came in with a four run lead so it wasn't a save situation. After giving up two hits with one out he did the stupidest thing I've ever seen any player do. Abreu hit a comebacker, but Wagner didn't field it cleanly, but picked it up and fired home anyway. A-Rod was not forced, so he scored easily, even if the throw hadn't been horrible and gotten away from LoDuca. Instead of 2 outs and a man on second, it was first and third with one out. Luckily, Wagner bounced back and struck out two in a row to end the game. But he's still the stupidest mother fucker ever to play Major League Baseball.

The weather was awful, cold and rainy and the game last forever; 3:36 an hour and 15 minutes longer than Friday's game. There was a large crowd but through two games this year I didn't see as many Yankee fans as there have been in the past. And those that were there weren't as loud and obnoxious as they usually are. Although when they hit the homers of Schoeneweis the Yankee fans finally got into it a little bit.

It was another great episode of "Learn Spanish with Professor Reyes." The phrase was "I am not a sailor I am a captain" which you may recognize from "La Bamba." "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan." The first person said it horribly, then Reyes sang "soy capitan, soy capitan." After that one guy seriously sang the song in a way over the top fashion and Reyes was just laughing. Then Carlos Beltran said it and Reyes said "I taught him everything he knows."

Kiss-cam was a debacle as a lot of fans evidently were at the first Met game in years. They didn't kiss on time and the camera kept moving. One guy (probably a Yankees fan) grabbed his girlfriend's face as she leaned it to kiss him.

A fat guy in a Reyes shirt was vomiting into a paper bag.

Bathroom and concession lines were incredibly long.

After the game we were waiting by the fan assistance booth and some guy was complaining that his seat was broken (mine was too). I guess he started yelling at the guy because a security supervisor came over. The guy said "I'm a season ticket holder." Then he told the security supervisor "fuck him and fuck you." The supervisor went nuts. Screaming at him, calling for backup. About five guys came over, pulled the drunk guy away and the supervisor is screaming at him the whole time about how he is going to have his tickets taken away.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 3 Yankees 2

Round 1 in the Subway Series goes to the Mets, courtesy of Endy Chavez and Oliver Perez.

Endy, of course, won the game with his two run homer that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.

Endy homers

But a bigger play by him earlier in the game was as important. Damon led off the game with a single to left and tried to stretch it into a double. Endy's throw was perfect and Damon was out. This was key because Perez struggled with his control in the first and allowed 2 walks. He got out of that jam in the first the pitched great the rest of the game allowing only a 2-run homer to Matsui. He finished with a flourish, striking out Abreu and Damon in the 8th before Willie took him out. Perez got a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

Perez was pumped up after being taken out
and perez never steps on the line

Joe Smith struck out Jeter in the 8th then Wagner put the Yankees down in the 9th for the save.

So the Mets took the first game of the series, the one, based on pitching matchups, that they weren't supposed to win. And they won it in close fashion with a strong save by Billy Wagner.

The crowd was subdued compared to previous Mets-Yankees games. The novelty is wearing off, plus usually loud and obnoxious Yankees fans are subdued by their team's awful start.

Professor Jose Reyes taught us how to say "I have to go to the airport." Tengo que ir al aeropuerto. The pronounciations of this one were horrible. The best was by special guest pronouncer, David Wright.

And it hardly rained, an occassional drizzle yes, but nothing serious. It was damn cold, though. Definitely the coldest May game I've ever been to.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Cubs 5

The second walkoff win in four games, both on RBI by Carlos Delgado.

Let's just go through the 9th inning play-by-play before we get to the rest of the issues surrounding this game.

David Newhan singled
Ramon Castro lined out
Carlos Gomez singled, advanced to second on defensive indifference
Carlos Beltran walked
Endy Chavez walked with bases loaded
Ruben Gotay singled in a run
David Wright singled in a run
Carlos Delgado singled in two runs, Mets win!

Willie Randolph had no intentions on winning this game.
He rested LoDuca (of course) and Easley (no big deal), but he also gave Reyes (injury), Beltran and Wright the day off as well. Should have had Wright in the lineup.
That meant Newhan played second, Gotay played short, and Franco played third.
The only regulars that started were the lefties, Green and Delgado.
But the biggest proof that he didn't care about this game was when Gotay came up with the bases loaded and the score 5-2, he let him hit. He could have used Wright or Reyes, but he left Gotay in. It worked out, but only due to sheer luck.

And remember, all of this happened on a day Jason Vargas was pitching, so the Mets were hamstrung from the start. Vargas didn't pitch badly. He pitched 5 good innings then got hammered in the 6th but stayed on through 7. Then Willie brought in Ambiorix "White Flag" Burgos. But he pitched two good innings and got the win.

Ryan Dempster didn't pitch as well. He was charged with 5 runs in a third of an inning. He threw 26 pitches before we was taken out for Scott Eyre who threw three. The last two resulted in singles which drove in 3 runs.

The Mets are a perfect 4-0 on Thursdays.

So the Mets go into the Yankees series having won 7 of 9 and 11 of 15. And with the bullpen and the starting players well rested.

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Another Steroids Suspension

Lino Urdaneta is the latest Mets farmhand to get busted for steroids. Urdaneta was actually up with the big club for a few days and he pitched twice and gave up a run in one total inning.

He'll have to sit out 50 games. Guillermo Mota is almost done with his 50 game suspension and Jorge Reyes, the first two-time loser under the new penalties, is serving a 100 game suspension.


Happy Recap: Mets 8 Cubs 1

Breathe easy, Mets fans, Jose Reyes is ok. He felt a cramp in his hamstring in the 8th inning and was taken out for a pinch runner after he got a single. But after the game he was asking Willie to play him in Thursday's game. I bet he gets the day off the prepare for the Yankees series.

The game started at 10:17pm, after a 3 hour and 7 minute rain delay which was longer than the game took (2:36).

So with that out of the way we can appreciate the third straight great start by Jorge Sosa. He gave up only one hit but was tagged with a run when Joe Smith allowed a runner Sosa walked to score in the 8th. Randolph wanted Sosa to pitch as long as he could but he clearly ran out of gas and even looked relieved when Willie came to get him.

Damion Easley hit another home run, his 6th, which gave the Mets a 4-0 lead.

The game was actually close until the 7th, when the Mets scored 3, including one on a double by the still hot David Wright.

Carlos Gomez played his second major league game and had to more hits including an RBI double in the 7th and an RBI single in the second for the first Mets run. After the game he did a silly little dance with Gotay.

I hope Willie gives Reyes Thursday off and bats Gomez leadoff.

Sosa became the 5th Mets pitcher to win his first 3 starts for the Mets. Sid Fernandez, Bob Ojeda, Pedro Astacio and someone I forgot from the 60s are the other four.

Keith Hernandez was getting a little punchy in the late innings.
He was eating a pretzel and holding it up saying the remaining part could be a "C" or a "U."
Then Gary made fun of his tie which Hernandez said was chartreuse.
In his strangest moment, he said Cayla's favorite cheer "Everybody Clap Your Hands," is not his preferred rallying cry.

Jason Vargas takes Pelfrey's spot as the Mets try to take 3 of 4 from the Cubs before battles with the Yankees and Braves.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 10 Mets 1

John Maine is starting to slow down off his Cy Young pace. He walked two guys in the first inning for the second straight start and it came back to bite him. Daryle Ward dropped a ground rule double in between Chavez and Beltran to drive home two. The second run shouldn't have scored though, because LoDuca allowed Soriano to tag up and go to second on a foul pop.

The Mets had some chances to get back into it in the bottom of the second. Delgado singled but Wright hit into a double play. Then Green doubled but was thrown out at home on LoDuca's single. They had to send him and it was a close play. Soriano made a perfect throw and Barrett blocked the plate perfectly. Three hits and no runs, though.

After Shawn Green's homer in the fifth the Mets had two on for Reyes and Endy but they couldn't get the job done.

Then Schoeneweis blew the game open by giving up a grand slam to Ramirez.

This is the second time the bullpen has shot a close game to shit.

Maine gets his first loss of the season and his second straight bad start.

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Happy Recap: Mets 5 Cubs 4

A walk off walk off Wuertz. Awesome, though not as fun as if it had come off this guy.

The game didn't start off great for Glavine. He gave up four runs in the first two innings on four plays that could have been made.
1) With Soriano on second in the first, Ramirez blooped one that basically landed on Beltran's glove. Had he been a little quicker to it, or been playing shallower (though I can't complain with Ramirez up), he would have easily made the play.

Ramirez bloops a single in front of Beltran

2) In the second inning, Angel Pagan blooped one into left that Endy couldn't reach.

a ball Endy couldn't catch

3) With two on, Jason Marquis hit a weak ground ball that Easley couldn't get to turning it into a 2-run single.

4) Cesar Izturis hit a pop up to right but Green and Easley didn't communicate, they almost collided, Green slid and the ball bounced off Easley's glove bringing home the Cubs fourth run.

The Mets started their comeback with a 2-run homer by the suddenly scorching David Wright.

Then in the 6th inning Delgado and Wright singled and Lou gave Jason Marquis the quick hook. Marquis was 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA and he'd only thrown 88 pitches. And the Cubs bullpen stinks. Lefty Will Ohman blew away Shawn Green but Piniella went to the pen again and LoDuca doubled off Rocky Cherry. Easley's sac fly tied the game. This was a huge at bat because the Mets have failed so many times with runners on third and fewer than two outs, and that probably would have been the ball game.

the victim of a quick hook and a bad bullpen

Marquis who is also an excellent hitter, had two hits in the game.

The Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano of old came out to pitch 2 and 2/3 shutout innings but when Feliciano allowed a 2 out double in the 9th Aaron Heilman came in to get the last out and vulture another victory, his fourth of the year, tying him with Perez and Glavine.

Jose Reyes really was responsible for the 9th inning. With two outs he singled and stole second. By that point it was 2-0 on Chavez, who walked. Then after Wuertz couldn't get it over against Beltran they decided to go after Delgado. Delgado wasted a bunch of good pitches and on the 11th pitch of the at bat he got his walk off walk.

The Mets now have two walkoff wins this year, neither time did they hit the ball as far as the infield dirt.

Tom Glavine is stuck on win #295. I didn't get a good look at what kind of haircut he got but it didn't look as short as the rest of the guys.

Erin Andrews was wearing a trench coat. Awesome! She reported that Jose Reyes only gets his hair cut once a year, and that when he got snipped his hat size went down two sizes. I assume each 1/8 in the measurement is considered one size.

I wish it had been a walk off walk off Walk

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Brewers 1

This is why Oliver Perez is so maddening. He can pitch like this, or he can pitch like complete crap. He was awesome today. Every out was a weak fly ball. Through the first five innings there were no assists, 11 flyouts and 4 Ks. Overall, of his 25 outs, 2 were ground balls. And he was awesome.

The Oliver we saw in Game 7 of the NLCS

Damion Easley is quickly becoming 2007's Jose Valentin. I don't know what they are going to do when the Stache returns but they cannot sit Easley. He is doing too well right now. He was only one fewer homer than Wright and Delgado combined. He's jacking one once every 10 at bats. I think Randolph should leave him second in the order for now. I don't think he can afford to bat Wright second with Alou out. That would make the bottom half, Green, LoDuca, Chavez & Easley.

Plus Wright is finally beginning to really break out of it. He had 2 more hits and 3 stolen bases.

Reyes stole his 21st base and hit his 7th triple of the season. That's pace for 31 triples and 95 steals.

And Reyes' future running mate made his major league debut. Carlos Gomez, a speedy rightfielder with a strong arm had two hits and a stolen base in his first game in the bigs. Gomez is only 21, and he projects to be a Reyes type player, with speed and a modicum of power, when he fully matures.

In addition to Gomez the Mets have an 18 year old, named Fernando Martinez at Double A Binghamton. Martinez turns 22 on 10/10/10. Between him and Gomez the Mets feel like they can afford to part with Lastings Milledge.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Brewers 12 Mets 3

This game was actually closer than the final score indicates and the Mets had a good chance to win.

But instead Mike Pelfrey fell to 0-5 and he may get one more start, he might as well, but he has to be sent down when El Duque returns.

Pelfrey is just too hittable, and walks too many guys. 11 base runners in 5 innings today. Trailing 2-0 in the fourth Pelfrey loaded the bases with one out. Then a very strange play happened. Fielder hit a pop up to short right, which Gotay caught easily, infield fly rule was on. Remember that clause in the infield fly rule that states runners can advance at their own risk? Counsell took advantage of that Gotay was so shocked he uncorked a horrible throw home. Then JJ Hardy took off for second and LoDuca fired to Reyes. The Mets took too long to get Hardy in the rundown and Tony Gwynn Jr. scored. Two runs on a popup to the second baseman.

But the Mets weren't dead. They scored 3 in the fifth to cut the lead to one, the last two came on a David Newhan homer.

David Wright led off the 6th with a walk but Beltran and Delgado both struck out and Moises Alou looked like he wished he had the day off. Alou has been struggling with an injured knee. In this at bat he shook his hand as if he'd hurt his thumb, then limped down to first on his groundout and Chavez replaced him. He's too old to play day games after night games.

Pedro Feliciano got Aaron Sele out of a jam in the 7th inning but it all came crashing down in the 8th. You knew Feliciano and Smith couldn't go the whole season without giving up any runs so I guess it's better that this happened in a game the Mets were losing, not one they were leading.

Graffanino singled, then Counsell got hit by a pitch trying to bunt. Smith came in and hit Gross to load the bases. After a single, JJ Hardy hit a grand slam to break the game open 9-3. Brewers added 3 more in the 9th off Schoeneweis.

The Brewers had the leadoff man on in 8 of the 9 innings. It's amazing they hadn't blown the game open earlier.

Hardy leads the NL in homers and RBI.

Rubber game tomorrow, Capuano vs. Perez.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Brewers 4

Both teams got their leadoff hitters on via walk in the first inning but couldn't score. David Wright hit one very deep to right, but Mench caught it at the wall.

Next time up, in the fourth, Wright would not be denied. He blasted a homer to left center, then after Beltran was ruled safe on a close play at first, Delgado smoked one, also to left center. Usually most of Delgado's power is to pull. Then Alou came up just short of the third homer of the inning with a double off the wall in dead center. LoDuca drove him home with a single.

Geoff Jenkins got one run back in the fifth. After Sosa made him look bad with a couple sliders, Jenkins got under one with his huge left handed uppercut stroke and crushed one to rightfield. Prince Fielder crushed a homer to right also, but almost the exact opposite of Jenkins', it was a straight line drive.

Another solid start for Jorge Sosa, he gave up 2 homers and left with some trouble in the 7th for the second straight game. Seems like his is a 6 inning pitcher, which is fine for a 5th starter on a team with an offense as good as the Mets have.

Pedro Feliciano struck out Corey Hart with two on to end the threat in the 7th.

Damion Easley trying to stay one home run ahead of Wright and Delgado homered in the bottom of the 7th. That turned out to be huge because Aaron Heilman came on to pitch the 8th.

Gary Cohen mentioned that he had retired 16 straight coming into this game but Weeks reached on a comebacker that Heilman couldn't handle, and JJ Hardy cut the lead to 1 with a homer to left.

Carlos Beltran walked to lead off the 8th, and the Brewers still used an incredibly exaggerated shift against Delgado. This would be the perfect time to bunt. Anything fair would be an easy single, but he refuses to try it. Instead he popped out to left field.

Wagner came on for another 1-2-3 save and the Mets draw first blood in the battle of the best teams in the NL.

The game lasted only 2 hours and 18 minutes probably the fastest game of the year, even though there were 6 home runs hit.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Giants 3

John Maine was not sharp to start this game. He walked the first two batters but LoDuca threw them both out trying to steal.

Ruben Gotay gave the Mets the lead in the third with a home run to right. It was his fourth hit in four career at bats against Matt Morris.

Splash! Delgado crushed one into McCovey Cove in right field. Some kayaker rushed to it. His third into the water. I guess he didn't like being tied with Gotay in home runs. The pitch was a big hanging curveball. Delgado's swing was a tremendous uppercut. 9 times out of 10, a curve like that is a little more outside (this one was right down the middle) and Delgado would have popped it up.

After Delgado's homer, Alou blooped a single to center. Then with a 2-2 count Alou was running for some reason. The catcher, Alfonso, in his haste to throw out Alou reached out too early and Green hit his glove with the bat. That's a catcher's interference. Green got first, Alou got second and Alfonso got a sore hand, but he didn't appear to really be hurt, Green probably just got the tip of the glove. The catcher is charged with an error on the play but unlike most errors, Green was not charged a turn at bat. But it was all moot because LoDuca grounded into a double play to end the inning.

After Ryan Klesko doubled to second in the 4th with one out, the Mets elected to intentionally walk Bonds to face Ray Durham. The walk didn't hurt the Mets but Klesko came around to score on a wild pitch by Maine.

I hope CitiField has a cool scoreboard like the Giants Stadium (I have no idea what it's called now). Color graphics, tons of stats. Really gives you a lot of information as opposed to what is at Shea. Although the past couple years the Mets finally went away from the stupid stats they used to have. Shawn Green leads all Jewish players with a .324 batting average on Shabbos (or some nonsense like that).

Once again Willie brought in Franco as a pinch hitter against a rightie instead of using one of his lefties like Chavez or Newhan. Franco reached on an infield single, a line drive that almost killed Matt Morris.

This is officially John Maine's worst start of the year. Three runs (a home run to Dave Roberts) and five walks. He had no control at all, he was behind almost every hitter.

On the other hand, Matt Morris was throwing nothing but curveballs even behind in the count. And dropping them in for strikes. In the 7th with two on he went to a 3-0 count on Reyes, then on 3-1 he dropped in a beautiful curve for a strike. Then with the count full he threw two more. Reyes fouled off the first and popped out the second.

Great baserunning by Beltran tied the game and kept Maine's record perfect. Basically he scored from first on a single, thanks to a number of factors. First he was running with the pitch. Second the Giants were employing a shift for Delgado which put the centerfielder Roberts way over to right and very deep. Third the ball was hit very slowly. Fourth Roberts has a very weak arm.

A classic Armando Benitez meltdown. We've seen it so many times from the other side. LoDuca led off with a single, but Gotay fucked up the sacrifice. Benitez walked Chavez which was the start of the problem. Then a little bit of bad luck for Armando. Reyes hit a bloop which fell in between the second baseman and right fielder. Benitez was clearly rattled after that and started Wright with a 3-0 count. On 3-1 Wright ripped one to left. It scored two but it was hit so hard that even Reyes couldn't score.

Billy Wagner gets another 1-2-3 save and the Mets take 2 of 3 in San Francisco and go 5-2 on the short West Coast road trip.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mets Shave Their Heads

After Monday night's game David Wright decided to shave his head to break out of his season long slump. Odd since the only guy doing worse than him is Carlos Delgado who already has the haircut Wright went to.

After seeing Wright's new do, most of the rest of the Mets got clipped, by Carlos Beltran. In all 21 players consented to the buzzcut. Tom Glavine, Jose Reyes, Aaron Sele and Aaron Heilman declined.

I feel badly for Jorge Sosa who had a beautiful head of hair and probably won't be around the team that much longer, unless he keeps pitching like he did in his last start.

David Newhan and Shawn Green were the last two to go under the buzzers and they used each other for moral support. Newhan had long hair which probably will take a year or more to return. Green just looks incredibly goofy with the new haircut, and it makes his ears look huge.

Tom Glavine is too old for this shit. Plus I doubt he wanted to change his look and his luck on the day he pitched...and went for win #294.

Aaron Sele says he has a family portrait scheduled for this week and his wife would kill him if he showed up with no hair but he says he will shave his head after that.

Hitting coach Rick Down, trainer Ray Ramirez and even PR guy Jay Horwitz joined in. Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson did not.

Keith Hernandez said he never would have shaved his hair. He did say "I'd meet them halfway and shave my moustache." I think most people would say his moustache is more of a trademark than his hair. He said he only shaved his 'stache once, in 1988, in Chicago, for a stupid reason.


Happy Recap: Mets 4 Giants 1

Mets finally got off to a hot start like they used to do last season. Reyes, Wright and Beltran all doubled. Then with Beltran on second and none out Delgado and Alou got him over and in with outs.

Looks like Wright is more comfortable in the 2 hole. One of my worries was that Wright would lose his aggressiveness in situations like that (Reyes on second none out). But he got a good pitch to hit and smoked it.

Mets added another in the second on a Reyes triple with LoDuca on base.

That juiced up bastard Barry Bonds is now only 10 home runs away from Hank Aaron.

Home plate umpire Brian Runge was taking so long to call balls and strikes both Gary Cohen and Howie Rose were clearly getting annoyed.

But if you have to give up a homer to that prick it's best to do so with nobody on in a game you lead 4-0.

Glavine walked Bonds with a man on his next time up and Feliciano got him to end the 8th inning.

Wagner pitched a perfect 9th for the save and Glavine finally has win #294. Now we have to hear about the quest for #295.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Giants 9 Mets 4

I don't want to revisit old wounds but Zito's curveball completely fooled Mets hitters.

It was a great pitching matchup for the first half of the game. Two lefthanded pitchers with contrasting styles. Hard fastballs and sliders from Perez, changes and curves from Zito.

Omar Vizquel is almost as old as Julio Franco but he made a couple of great plays in the first inning on two loopers.

Fun battle between Bonds and Perez in the 4th inning with a man on. Maybe I thought it was fun because Perez struck him out looking on a pitch on the inside corner on a 2-2 count. Bonds has also swung and missed on a pitched outside the strike zone in that at bat.

The fifth inning was an unmitigated disaster. It started with a home run that should have been a double. It bounced on the top of the wal and came back into play, without being touched by a fan.

Those runs may have scored anyway because at best it would have been second and third with no one out. The next two batters hit flyballs.

The problems came with two outs and no one on and the score 2-1. Perez who should have settled down after that gave up a single to Zito. Then a ground ball which Easley booted, and Zito had stopped running to second. After that Green dropped a flyball he absolutely should have caught. Just a horrible play. I don't think he lost it in the lights. He just had his glove in the wrong spot.

That's when Perez lost it. He gave up a 3 run homer to Aurilia, then walked Bonds. They finally took him out after Durham singled. Then Urdaneta came in and behaved just like his predecessor Ambiorix Burgos. Bengie Molina hit his second homer...of the inning. And that was the end of that ballgame.

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Unhappy Recap: Diamondbacks 3 Mets 1

Another rough outing for Mike Pelfrey. He did pitch well enough to keep the team in the game but 4 walks and 2 hit batsmen meant he only pitched 5 and a third innings. In that time he gave up 3 runs. He is now 0-4 with a 6.39 ERA. Terrible stats. It doesn't seem to be working out for him at the major league level. I think it's time to send him down and try someone else. I know El Duque is injured but the Mets lost the last 4 times he's pitched. They could do that with Chan Ho Park and not risk damaging a young pitcher's psyche.

After beating Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb the Mets couldn't do anything with Livan Hernandez. They had runners on but couldn't push anyone across.

David Wright went hitless in three games after his 3-run homer in the 9th. He went 1-18 in the series. He batted in several different spots in the order. I understand the injuries to Alou and the lefty starters are screwing up the lineup but nothing is working to get Wright and Delgado out of their slumps.

The Mets finally lost to the Diamondbacks in Arizona, ending the streak 6 short of the record for most wins on the road against one opponent.

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Happy Recap: Mets 6 Diamondbacks 2

Jorge Sosa vs. Brandon Webb did not look like a matchup that favored the Mets going into the game. But for some reason the Mets own Brandon Webb. Last year's Cy Young Award winner is 1-6 in his career against the Mets.

Sosa pitched six great innings but got into trouble in the 7th. Joe Smith couldn't bail him out. Smith still has a 0.00 ERA but a double allowed Sosa's two inherited runners to score.

Shawn Green homered and drove in three and continues to be the Mets best hitter not named Beltran or Reyes. With Alou out and Delgado and Wright struggling, his contributions have been very important.

LoDuca also drove in a couple runs (aided by an error), which I didn't think he would be great at batting further down in the lineup.

The Mets have won 13 straight in Arizona by a score of 104 - 29.

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Happy Recap: Mets 5 Diamondbacks 3

The Mets continue to own Randy Johnson. His stats for his career against the Mets aren't terrible, but lately the Mets have owned him. Last year in two interleague starts against the Mets for the Yankees Johnson gave up 14 runs in 11 innings.

As for John Maine his ERA actually went up just a little bit by allowing one run in 7 innings. But he improved to 5-0. If the season ended today he would win the NL Cy Young.

Julio Franco became the oldest player in Major League history to hit a home run. A record previously held by Julio Franco.

Billy Wagner got the save but Burgos gave up a home run in the 8th that cost him his spot on the team. At least for now.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Diamondbacks 4

It took the Mets 8 innings to remember they were in Arizona but when they did it resulted in a great comeback.

Aided by an error, a questionable call on a borderline 2-2 pitch to LoDuca and the subsequent breakdown it induced in Jose Valverde, the Mets overcame a 4-3 deficit with 6 runs in the 9th.

Prior to the season some were concerned about whether The Moustache could repeat his performance from last season. Now that he's injured, maybe Easley can. He has 3 homers in 29 at bats, one in the tenth inning to tie a game, and this one to take the lead in a game they were losing. That's huge production in close and late situations.

And it's only been two games, and I'm still against the move but David Wright now has 2 home runs in the 2 hole and none batting anywhere else. I don't think I'll ever be convinced that the team is better off with Wright batting second because I never suggested his performance wouldn't be stellar from there. My contention was that the rest of the lineup would be weakened. Time will tell.

Glavine pitched well enough to win his 294th career game but every time the Mets scored he gave the runs right back. So he'll have to wait for another day.

Aaron Heilman earned the win with his first good inning in a while. As soon as Gary Cohen said Billy Wagner was suddenly getting a lot of save opportunities, David Wright ended that chance.

The Mets have now won 11 in a row in Arizona's Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark). Over that time they've outscored Arizona by a score of 93-24, translating to an average score of 8-2. Or 8.45-2.18 to appease TallSkott.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Marlins 3

First inning, Perez puts the Mets in a hole right away and David Wright leaves two men on base, batting from the fifth hole again.

Then in the second the Mets get the run back thanks to Shawn Green and Ruben Gotay. Then Sanchez issues two walks but Beltran pops out with the bases loaded. Two innings, five runners left on base.

Two more left on in the third, but Gotay hit it hard at least.

Strange play leads to another Mets run in the fourth. Perez was on first and Sanchez threw over, but Aaron Boone (inexperienced first baseman) wasn't covering. Ball sailed into right field. But had Sanchez, turned and seen Boone wasn't there and didn't throw it would have been a balk.

Gary Cohen gave my stat. Runners on third, fewer than 2 outs and the Mets bring that man home only 45% of the time. That ranks 27th among major league teams. This time Beltran brings him home with a bloop single.

Castro grounds out with the bases loaded in the fourth. Ten left on base so far.

The Mets need to teach Endy Chavez to catch or play second base. He is the perfect number two hitter and I don't subscribe to the theory that he would be exposed if he played everyday.

Wright singles in a run proving he can hit from the five spot as well.

But Green strikes out with two men on. 5 innings, 12 left on base.

Oliver Perez pitched a great game, keeping his walks down, keeping the leadoff batters off base, but he lost his steam in the 6th. And once again bad luck comes after the bases were loaded as Wright dropped a line drive he should have caught, giving the Marlins two runs.

But the great Joe Smith strikes out Mike Jacobs to strand two more inherited runners.

Schoeneweis got Smith out of some trouble in the 8th and Wagner nailed down the save.

Mets win an important game, you do not want to get swept by Florida at home.

On to Arizona where the Mets have dominated two years in a row.

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What Should the Mets Do?

The Mets have 3 big issues right now. What should they do about them?

1) The lineup
David Wright was not hitting at all, and one game in the 2 hole and he gets 3 hits. Should he stay there. I say no. But the real issue is not that David Wright would not be a good #2 hitter, but that Paul LoDuca would not be a good #7 hitter. Moving Green and Alou up weakens spots 5 and 6 in the order. Meaning you would weaken spots 5, 6 and 7 to improve the 2 hole. Also there are some advantages to having LoDuca bat second compared to Wright. LoDuca can take pitches to let Reyes steal, you don't want Wright to do that. LoDuca can shorten up and hit to the right side. Even though Wright is a good opposite field hitter you don't want to take the pull away from him. Late in games when one run might be crucial and you need to bunt, you'd be taking the bat out of Wright's hands. Also because you need 4 to 5 runs per game to win I think it's prudent to spread your best hitters as far down the lineup as possible. While Green and Alou are hitting this may work out, but if they slump, the bottom of the order would be a dead spot.

2) Mike Pelfrey
Right now he is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. Should the keep him in the rotation or send him down to avoid destroying his confidence? I am a believer that young pitchers that are rushed lose confidence and sometimes never recover. But I think they should leave him up with the big club and hope The Jacket can figure out a way to help him. But with El Duque out and being replaced by either Park, can they afford to keep Pelfrey and lose every start he makes?

3) Aaron Heilman
He is awful right now. He gives up runs almost every time he pitches. If they keep relying on him to be the right handed setup man he is going to blow 8 to 10 games. I think right now Joe Smith should be given the 8th inning role and if Mota comes back (he's halfway through his 50 game suspension) and does well I think they should redeploy Heilman, quite possibly to the starting rotation if trouble there persists.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 5 Mets 2

Mike Pelfrey bought himself some more time in the rotation with a pretty good start. After getting the first out he hit a batter, walked the next two and gave up a bases loaded triple. That was enough for the Marlins to win. But after that he settled down and pitched 5 good innings. On most nights on this team that will be good enough to win.

The bottom of the first inning was even worse for the Mets. Reyes singled, and Wright singled through the hole (more on that later). But Beltran struck out. Fourth time he did so in 12 at bats with men on third and fewer than 2 outs.

Then on the next play, Delgado struck out, and the Marlins duped the Mets, throwing down to second in a feigned attempt to catch Wright stealing, Ramirez cut it off and nailed Reyes at the plate.

This is the biggest problem with the team right now. Even though they are scoring runs they are failing to do the little things that win ballgames. And because Reyes is so awesome and on base every time, it seems like an inordinate number of first innings and end with runners stranded. Runners who could have been driven in by a deep flyball.

This troubling trend is in direct contrast to last year when a large part of the Mets success was due to their ability to score first inning runs and change the tenor of the game. I don't believe in momentum but I do believe in confidence, and I definitely believe that the way you play a game from a strategic standpoint changes significantly when you are leading or trailing versus being tied.

The seeing-eye single for Wright in the first will hopefully be the spark that gets David Wright going. You can't start a fire without a spark. After that he homered (his first of the year) and doubled. This hasn't worked for Delgado who has much to my delight, singled to the left side a few times this year to take advantage of the shift. But that hasn't gotten him going. But he also had two hits in this game.

Aaron Heilman put the game out of reach by allowing a two-run homer to Josh Willingham.

Former Met Henry Owens has looked very sharp in nailing down the first two games of this series for the Marlins.

Mets are now 6-7 at home and 9-3 on the road. I don't have an explanation, but I do not want to see them get swept by Florida.

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Unhappy Recap: Marlins 9 Mets 6

Hopefully this debacle will end the Chan Ho Park experiment. This is the same thing the Mets tried with Lima and Gonzalez last year and it just didn't work.

Jorge Sosa is the next option, then maybe Sele. This also means that Pelfrey will get a little more slack in trying to straighten himself out.

Although Park sucked he did get a little unlucky. Easley easily could have caught the line drive that scored the first 2 in the 5 run 3rd. But luck is the residue of design and when you give up a single to the pitcher, then walk the next two batters on 8 pitches, you design to give up runs. And that's what happened. And even if Easley hadn't caught the ball hit by Cabrera, Beltran should have called off Reyes and caught Jacobs' blooper.

Shows that sometimes the line between success and failure can be very thin. But after that rough inning Park got bit by the gopher ball which has always been his problem. The Mets should ship him back to New Orleans on the first plane.

As far as the offense goes it was the same old story. Beltran and Reyes were awesome again and Delgado and Wright sucked. In the first and third the duo came up with two men on and one out and both times couldn't get a run home. Wright had another chance in the 7th, with two on and he struck out.

Wright is batting .300 with the bases empty and .200 with runners on and .167 with runners in scoring position. But he's 6 for 13 in close and late.

Delgado is batting .111 with the bases empty so his numbers with men on are at least passable. But he's 0-3 with men on third and fewer than 2 outs, with only 1 RBI. Wright has had 4 chances and struck out twice, but has 3 RBI in those situations.

I could give a 1000 statistics about those two but I don't need to. With the current rash of injuries (Valentin, El Duque, maybe Alou) the Mets are going to need production from those two. But I don't think moving Wright in the lineup is the answer.

As far as attending the game, I am now 0-2 this season, a hard fall after a 3-1 postseason but the playoffs are all that matters right? In both games the Mets trailed 7-0 at one point. My next game is May 18th vs. the Yankees.

Parking wasn't so bad, I slid into my normal spot under the overpass at about 5:30. But because the parking lot is partitioned by CitiField walking isn't a point a to point b affair.

Professor Reyes taught us how to say "I am thirsty. I need a soda." "Tengo sed. Necesito una fresca." Watching him do these Professor Reyes gimmicks is almost as fun as watching him play. He truly is a joy to watch. And he didn't even hit a triple, only a double.

Our seats for this year are down the rightfield line, in the loge reserved. We have a great view of Shawn Green's taking a dump approach to fly balls, but not of much else.

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