Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Marlins 2

The Mets needed this game to avoid losing the series. As long as they keep winning series I think they will be all right.

Carlos Beltran came through with a big home run to answer the Marlins' 2-run first inning.

After that they got back-to-back homers from Nick Evans and David Wright to take the lead.

And Pedro pitched pretty well after his rough first inning. He put tons of guys on in the first three innings but then retired 8 in a row to build the bridge to the bullpen.

Manuel was able to manipulate the bullpen to get Schoeneweis and Heilman through the 7th, then Feliciano and Smith in the 8th and turned it over to Brian Stokes in the 9th. Right now Stokes is the Mets most reliable reliever, but like everyone else he seems to pitch everyday (5 of the last 6 games) so he'll likely break down eventually, like everyone else.

But the key here was the Mets added insurance runs in the 7th on hits from Reyes and Church and tacked one more on with a sacrifice fly from Beltran.

That cushion seemed to give the bullpen the confidence to pitch 3 good innings and close this victory out.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 4 Mets 3

There's a good reason Aaron Heilman leads the Mets in losses. He's absolutely gutless in a big spot. He comes into games and is afraid to throw strikes. He started the inning with a walk to Ramirez and ended it with a bases loaded walk. Inexcusable. I'm so sick and tired of watching this guy blow game after game.

But he's far from the only culprit in this horrible bullpen. Pedro Feliciano can't get anyone out right now.

And Duaner Sanchez allowed the game-winning home run. But at least he got the strikeout that ended the 7th.

It looks like Brian Stokes is the go-to guy out of the bullpen right now.

Mike Pelfrey pitched very well he just lost it in the 6th inning. Unfortunately this came right after Keith Hernandez said he was "cruising" and "dominating" and suggested he might be able to pitch another complete game. It was about that time he allowed 2 hits, a walk and another hit, to cut the lead to one. A lead way too small for the bullpen to protect.

And once again the Mets offense got out early, scoring 2 in the first on a David Wright home run. It was the 18th game of the last 22 that the Mets scored in the first inning.

They added a run in the third after a Reyes triple. Before tonight the Mets won 75% of the games in which Reyes scored.

But after that triple the Mets went in a complete funk, and it happens so often, and it's utterly inexplicable. The Mets got no hits from the 5th inning on, until Daniel Murphy led off the 9th with a single.

And then Jerry Manuel bunted him over. That move never works for the Mets. When you do that you are asking two guys to get one hit. In this case it was Easley and Reyes who failed but the Mets never seem to push that run home after a sacrifice bunt.

Another bad loss for a horrible bullpen in a game when Mike Pelfrey deserved better.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Marlins 4

What a win! Following up on the other night's game, this was an absolutely huge come from behind victory for a team that seldom gets those wins.

And the fact that it came off the bat of Carlos Beltran is even better. Now that Delgado has caught fire many Mets fans were turning their dissatisfaction towards Beltran but if Delgados homer the other night saved the season, this one damn near did the same thing, only with less of a psychological aspect because it came against the Marlins and not the Phillies.

Beltran has always fallen just short of expectations during his career with the Mets but he's still an excellent player and he does have a history of some big home runs. An absolutely monumental night for him.

Now if I could say a negative word about the golden boy, David Wright. I know he has an OPS above .900, he has 100 RBI and all his underlying splits are either average or better, but he just doesn't seem (and perceptions can be wrong) to be coming through in the big spots all that often. In the first inning he struck out with a man on third and less than 2 outs, the 9th time in 44 at bats in that situation. That's a strikeout rate only slightly higher than in all his other at bats, but still frustrating. Then he had the chance to make amends in the 7th inning, with 2 outs and the bases loaded, but he struck out again. But in the 9th his single extended the inning for Delgado and eventually Beltran to win it.

Oliver Perez battled but didn't have his best control. He only allowed one earned run and 3 hits in 6 innings but the 5 walks constantly put pressure on him. Still, it's amazing how he only has 9 wins considering this is the 12th start in which he's allowed 1 or 0 earned runs.

Luis Ayala got the save which is all that matters, even though it was definitely a little too scary. But one thing I liked about his performance was that he was throwing strikes. He started Hanley Ramirez with a pitch right down the middle, because he knew Ramirez would be taking. Then he got one on the outside corner to put Ramirez in an 0-2 hole. He eventually got him to hit a weak grounder, but he's just too fast. 95% of hitters would have been out on that play. On a team where every reliever seems scared to throw strikes, at least Ayala is challenging hitters. And what really matters is that in this game he got the job done and the Mets pulled out a huge victory.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Phillies 3

Carlos Delgado is officially off the hook with me. That home run was absolutely huge. It wouldn't be straining credulity at all to suggest that his home run saved the season. If he doesn't hit a home run the Mets don't score in the 8th, and I doubt they'd score in the 9th off Lidge in a save situation. And if they lose that game and fall 1.5 games back, I don't think they'd be able to come back, becaues of the previous game's circumstance. But with one swing (to the opposite field), Delgado put the Mets back on top of the Phillies and maybe gave them a taste of their own medicine.

With three games left in the season series the Mets are 10-5 against the Phillies this year. But it sure doesn't feel that way.

If this two-game series were a basketball game it would have started with a 7-0 run by the Mets. Then the Phillies went on an 11-1 run and the Mets answered with 5 straight runs.

Daniel Murphy also was very impressive because it can be hard for a young player to shake off a slump (he was 0 for his last 16) before hitting that HUGE double to give the Mets the lead.

Brian Schneider got lucky with his bloop double but it still counts, and those two insurance runs were huge.

Carlos Beltran also got lucky a couple times, but his third hit led to the go-ahead run.

If Delgado doesn't bail him out, Johan Santana gets blamed for once again pitching well enough to lose in a huge spot. And while he obviously didn't have a good game (beyond the runs allowed, he put a lot of men on base) he did keep the Mets in the game which allowed them to come back and win it.

Excellent bullpen work from Pedro Feliciano, Joe Smith (ok, so it was only one pitch) and then Luis Ayala nailed the game down.

An absolutely huge victory for the Mets, to avoid feeling like last year is repeating itself.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Phillies 8 Mets 7

Another absolute disaster against the Phillies. This loss was so awful it threatens to torpedo the whole season the way the series of bad losses to them did last year. I just can't fathom how this continues to happen.

Once again the bullpen failed, but it was the least of the team's problems. Pedro Feliciano is not getting anyone out right now. In his last four appearances, totaling 2 innings, he's allowed 6 hits and a walk. So he's more likely to put a man on, then to get him out.

Luis Ayala landed with a thud, blowing his first save as a Met. But Brian Schneider really should have fielded that ball, and Werth would have been out. Amazing how thin a line it is between incredible victory and crushing defeat.

Aaron Heilman actually pitched three scoreless innings, despite his best efforts to blow the game by constantly getting behind hitters and putting men on.

I think Schoeneweis got a little unlucky to lose this game, Victorino just ripped one down the line, putting it in the right spot.

The biggest reason they lost was Pedro Martinez. He was getting a lot of strikeouts but he put so many batters on, eventually it was going to catch up to him and it did in the 5th inning.

But even more inexlpicable is the consistent inability of the offense to score any runs late in games. Even more shocking in contrast to the constant instant offense nearly every first inning.

As bad as this loss was, the Mets have Santana going and can regain first place if he turns in another masterpiece. But he's probably going to need to pitch a complete game to earn the victory.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Astros 1

The Mike Pelfrey and Carlos Delgado show. Delgado was awesome. I've said it all season, when he goes the other way he is a much better hitter. That first home run down the left field line was crucial.

That gave the Mets 3 more 1st inning runs, pushing their league-leading total to 111. That's an incredible 17% of their runs scored in the 1st inning. The only problem is, they usually don't add on to those leads. But they did this time, thanks another homer by Delgado, crushed to dead center. And the Mets cruised from there.

My only question is, why didn't Jerry Manuel get Pelfrey out of there after they took a 7-0 lead in the 7th. I think it's a good idea to try to conserve his innings, but not in close games, they need to do it in blowout games. As bad as the bullpen is, Manuel should have tried to use relievers for 2 innings to hold a 7-run lead.

There is just so much good going on for Pelfrey right now. Over the last 17 starts (exactly half a season's worth) Pelfrey has a 3.00 ERA. But even more impressive than that, his record over that span is 11-2 and the team is 14-3 in those starts. There is a lot of hope for the future for him, he is emerging as a very strong number 2 behind Johan Santana.

And the last time a Mets pitcher won back-to-back complete games was 1995. And it's been 7 years since a Mets pitcher pitched consecutive complete games.

Jose Reyes was in the middle of the action again getting on base both times before Delgado homered, and then tacking on 2 more runs with a triple, and chasing Pelfrey around the bases. The only thing more fun than watching Reyes leg out a triple is watching Reyes leg out a triple with a pitcher running the bases in front of him.

Now Pedro and Johan take the mound in a huge 2-game series with the Phillies.

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Unhappy Recap: Astros 6 Mets 4

If the Mets bullpen gets enough chances, eventually they'll blow the game. This time it was Feliciano but it could have been anyone.

Rough game for Oliver Perez, but as I've said before, his bad starts are getting better, giving the Mets a chance to win them. But Heilman was Heilman and allowed the inherited runner to score. Thankfully he got bailed out by a horrible third base coaching decision.

I have liked just about everything Manuel has done with this team since taking over but I feel that he uses too many relievers. He makes too many changes based on lefty-righty nonsense. With a bullpen this bad if you use every guy someone will be having a bad day. He could have stuck with Schoeneweis, Smith and Ayala a little longer.

The biggest problem with this loss though is that Carlos Beltran's two homers came in vain. He's been struggling recently and if that second homer could have stood up as the winning run it might have been big for him.

Once again the Mets got out early, and couldn't score in the last 7 innings, and the last 15 batters of the game went down in order.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Astros 8 Mets 3

This game was a microcosm for life; some days you get your ass kicked. But in baseball and in life you usually get another chance tomorrow.

So we can't get too upset about one bad loss but there are serious concerns about the health of John Maine. They won't need him should they make the playoffs, but they won't get to the playoffs unless he pitches better down the stretch, especially as they try to take the foot off the gas a little with Mike Pelfrey.

For whatever reason, Maine just doesn't look right out there on the mound. I'm not sure if they need to DL him again, or let him pitch and get stronger, but I know for sure they're not going to move him to the bullpen as speculated about.

I love the new Brian Schneider. Unbelievably he has 4 homers in his last 6 starts.

I also love Daniel Murphy. His star is starting to fade a little bit and his average is dipping, but his approach at the plate is great. He's working counts, getting walks and is really showing that he's ready mentally to be a major league player right now.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 3 Astros 0

Johan Santana was awesome again. He wasn't even at his best but he still dominated the Astros. Where he was losing games earlier this season by allowing one big hit, now he is getting out of every jam.

His first start after the All-Star break was a bad one but in the 7 starts since then he's 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA. He's currently working on an 18-inning scoreless streak.

Once again the Mets took an early lead by getting a Reyes run in the first inning. Gary Cohen gave the stats but I didn't copy them down, but the Mets are on an incredible run of 1st inning scoring, putting the opponent in a hole and giving the starting pitcher confidence.

Brian Schneider has really woken up. The platoon seems to be working for him, even though Castro has slowed down recently.

It's good to see Ryan Church back in the lineup.

Jerry Manuel seems to have gotten the point that he has to extend his starters as deep into games as possible. First it was Pelfrey pitching a complete game, then he sent Pedro out for the 8th inning and now Johan Santana threw a career-high 121 pitches. I agree with the sentiment but I hope he doesn't overdo it and exhaust a starting staff that is carrying this team. He should keep this strategy in close games, but he needs to look for chances to pull his starters if ever the Mets have a big lead.

And the decreased workload seems to be helping the bullpen. Aaron Heilman pitched a good 8th inning, but only after he threw a strike on a 3-2 count to Berkman to leadoff the inning, getting him to ground out. It seems all of his blowups began with a leadoff walk.

And Luis Ayala could be the new closer. His stats with Washington were terrible but so far for the Mets he's been doing just fine.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Braves 4

Another exciting victory where Carlos Delgado came through in the clutch. But you have to admit his 5 for 5 in the box score is a little specious. His last two "hits" were both pretty much errors by the Braves. And if Infante doesn't lose the ball in the lights Delgado is a goat.

And maybe if Ohman covers first on time on Delgado's grounder in the 7th, the Mets would have lost this game.

But once again, the Mets were up against a bad team, a bad team that made mistakes, and the Mets capitalized on them. And that's all that matters.

Pedro pitched pretty well, and settled down after that leadoff homer. Why is he having so many problems in the first inning this year? He's allowed 5 homers and 14 runs in 14 1st innings. But I love the fact that he bounced back from a rough 6th inning and pitched a great 7th, and even tried to get back out there for the 8th.

After Pedro left the Mets got a little bit lucky when a bad bunt turned into a double play. But Pedro Feliciano insisted on trying to blow the game. But evidently Luis Ayala hasn't been here long enough to know he's supposed to blow the game because he cleaned up Feliciano's mess, then pitched a scoreless 9th, and got his second win of the season, first as a Met.

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Happy Recap: Mets 6 Braves 3

This is the Mets formula for success, scoring early with a few key hits then getting good starting pitching and keeping the bullpen out of it.

Pelfrey was great even though he allowed 3 runs. He went 9 innings, threw only 108 pitches and took care of the early lead. The only time he got in real trouble was a bout of wildness in the 6th when after a cheap infield hit (one of only 3 he allowed) he walked 2 guys and threw a wild pitch. But I'm so impressed with him that he was able to shake that off and pitch 3 more good innings, actually 3 more perfect innings.

The Braves defense was so awful, basically gifting the Mets 3 extra runs in the first inning. But you don't win by having teams make mistakes against you. You win by capitalizing on those mistakes and Pelfrey was the one to make them pay.

I love Daniel Murphy, he's slowed down but he's still getting a hit per game pretty much and contributing whenever he's in there.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Braves 3

This may very well have been my last game at Shea Stadium and I thank Carlos Delgado for making it a victory.

Delgado had fallen back in his slump, lunging at pitches and tapping them to the rightside, so when he came up with the bases loaded and one out with the Mets down 1 run in the 8th inning, I just wanted him to avoid a double play. Delgado had been 1 for 10 with the bases loaded so far this season. But he crushed one to left field that was just a couple feet too low to be a grand slam.

Delgado delivers a big double with the bases loaded

After Tatis was walked to set up a doubleplay for Easley, both Easley and Castro came through with run-scoring hits to give the Mets a big lead, a key because they have been notoriously deficient at adding on runs to support a weak bullpen.

Damion Easley doesn't hit into a double-play

But Schoeneweis came in, threw strikes and got through the 9th inning with ease.

Plus the Mets even got a good inning, well a scoreless inning from Aaron Heilman, good enough to earn him his 3rd win to go with his 7 losses.

It was a rough game for Oliver Perez, he was walking guys, getting behind but I was encouraged that Manuel gave him the chance to get through the 7th inning, despite a high pitch count. After that great 6 start stretch where he had an ERA of 1.36, Perez has cooled down significantly. But unlike earlier in the season, his bad starts are a lot better, (4 runs in 6 innings, 3 runs in 6 2/3 and 3 runs and 6 1/3) and the Mets won 2 of those 3 "bad" games and 8 of his last 10 starts overall.

I'll take any game where Jose Reyes walks 3 times.

Before those 2 hits by Delgado and Easley the Mets had been in a 3 for 42 stretch with the bases loaded.

But they came through this time, for an unexpected comeback win, probably the last one I'll ever see at Shea.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Pirates 5 Mets 2

After a 6-game winning streak the Mets returned to their old formula of poor clutch hitting and worse relief pitching.

Let's start in the first inning where the Mets got 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and David Wright struck out, again. Beltran got a run in with an out (I don't complain about that) and Delgado left a runner stranded.

The Mets did get an unlucky break in the 3rd when Joe West ruled Argenis Reyes turned towards second. I guess he did by the strictest letter of the rule, but only much more egregious cases than that get called.

In the fourth it was once again 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Then Delgado hit a weak tapper to first (like he did every at bat for the first 3 months of the season) and after Tatis walked, Easley grounded into a doubleplay.

Easley also grounded into a doubleplay in the 7th, the 4th one he hit into in the past 2 games. He has 13 this season, more than anyone else on the team. He grounds into a double play once every 22 plate appearances, an almost impossible ratio.

Nick Evans led off the 6th with a double and after Wright flied out Beltran struck out (I guess he already reached his productive out quota for the game. And once again Delgado stranded a runner on third.

But he wasn't through, the most disappointing of all the disappointing innings came in the 8th when the Mets could have bounced back to take the lead, only to see Delgado make out again. And of course there's no way Endy should have been bunting on a 2-1 count to lead off that inning. He has no confidence in himself to reach base any other way.

And even though Jerry Manuel got ejected I still think it was his call to take out Maine after 5 innings. I know he had thrown 96 pitches, and gotten through a tough 5th (after a single on a pitchout) but when will they learn that the bullpen will ALWAYS blow these games. I'd rather lose by stretching the starter than asking the bullpen for four innings.

Almost immediately Brian Stokes blew the lead, but got through the inning, and then the 7th with help from Schoeneweis.

Here's where Alomar/Manuel made the biggest tactical error of the game. When Schoeneweis came in he should have double-switched in Jose Reyes and tried to stretch Schoeneweis. This is another huge problem with the Mets, it's as if they are trying to use every reliever in every game. They have so many guys, and they all suck, so when a guy comes in and gets 2 outs, stick with him.

They didn't, Feliciano gave up a hit and then Duaner Sanchez imploded. Something is definitely wrong with him as he nothing like the pitcher he was two years ago before the injury.

We can't complain about a 6-1 road trip except for the fact that it should have been an 8-game winning streak. It seems the only way the Mets can win is if the starters don't give up any runs, because the offense doesn't score enough and the bullpen blows every lead.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Pirates 0

Now that's the Johan Santana we've been waiting to see. Clearly his best performance as a Met. He's been very good, and today he was great. He's always been a second half pitcher, and he's starting to live up to that this season as well.

Through the end of June, he made 17 starts (half of what he'll probably get) and he was 7-7 with a 3.01 ERA, with 103 Ks in 113 2/3 innings.
Since then, in 9 starts, he's 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA. But his strikeout rate is down with only 45 in 63 1/3. Just a great performance by Santana, and he didn't make that same mistake (nor did Manuel let him) of pitching only 8 innings. This bullpen still needs their rest.

Brian Schneider is starting to hit. He had 2 homers through 100 games, and now he has 2 this week. Either he is getting motivated by Ramon Castro or the extra time off is helping him produce better.

Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez had some funny moments on this road trip. There was Keith complaining that the hotel bed hurt his back. Then Gary was explaining different kinds of pierogies, and Keith saying he would prefer cabbage. Gary said "eat that on a day when you're not working with me." And Keith replied "I save the black bean soup for you." To which Gary answered "you're a real gentleman."

Over the last 5 games, one time through the rotation with all 5 starters healthy, the Mets have allowed 0 runs in the first 6 innings of a game. There were 2 shutouts, and in the other games Perez allowed 3 in the 7th, and Pedro allowed 1. And the bullpen allowed 3 in Pedro's start and 1 in Pelfrey's start. So zero runs in 30 innings and 8 runs in 15 innings. The Mets still need to shore up their late game pitching.

But this is a very successful road trip. I said before it started that this 8 game stretch against these two awful teams needed to be no worse than 5-3, but 6-2 would be great. Now 6-2 is a minimum and if not for that collapse at home, they could be going for an 8-game winning streak.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Pirates 4

Once again the Mets bullpen had to make this one exciting. I guess this will end talk that Eddie Kunz should be the closer. I think this is the way Manuel has to do it, rely on matchups.

Another good start by Pedro Martinez, definitely his best of the year. In his last 6 starts Pedro is 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA, not allowing more than 3 runs in any of them. I think he is once again getting back to being a finesse pitcher, throwing more curveballs than fastballs.

The worst moment of the game for Pedro was when he almost got run down by Jose Reyes. Reyes homered in the first and tripled in the second, scoring both times. Right now Reyes has better numbers across the board in the average categories then he did in his breakout season of 2006. He won't do as well in the counting categories of runs and RBI because the team isn't as good. But after one bad month last season, the Mets really have nothing to worry about with him, he's awesome.

Of course, I have to mention Ramon Castro who seems to do something every time he plays.

I know these are bad teams the Mets are playing but winning 5 in a row is winning 5 in a row. The Mets are scoring first, pitching well and avoiding disasters by the bullpen.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 2 Pirates 1

It's never easy, is it?

What a play by Argenis Reyes after Delgado whiffed on that ball in the 9th inning. With Aaron Heilman's weak mental state and fear of throwing strikes, he saved the game with that play.

The Mets also got another huge defensive play from Carlos Beltran, gunning down a Adam LaRoche at home to preserve the 2-0 lead in the 7th inning.

Good defense also helped Pelfrey in the second inning, and in the 6th it was his good play that nailed Nate McLouth at third.

Why do the Mets score so many runs in the first inning (Gary Cohen said second most in the league) and so few after that? We've seen them take an early lead so many times and fail to build on it, only to have the bullpen blow it.

That almost repeated itself here after Duaner Sanchez allowed a homer, but Pedro Feliciano came in close down the 8th.

And a gutsy move by Manuel to give Heilman one more chance as a closer, and this time he got it done. I still have no confidence in him but he can't blow every single game, even though it seems that way.

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Happy Recap: Mets 9 Nationals 3

Another laugher for the Mets, but this one wasn't quite as easy as it could have been.

Oliver Perez pitched really well, he just got in a little trouble he was one pitch away from getting out of, but couldn't quite do it. Amazing how quickly 0 runs in 7 innings can become 3 runs in 6 2/3.

In his first 12 starts Perez was 4-4 with a 5.70 ERA.
In his last 13 starts Perez is 5-3 with a 2.61 ERA.

His walks are way down to just above 3 per 9 innings during that recent stretch. I love what Perez has done and demand he be resigned.

And then there's Joe Smith. He came in to get Perez out of trouble (he's been good with inherited runners) but to start the 8th he refused to throw a strike and had to be pulled from the game.

Duaner Sanchez and Aaron Heilman both had good appearances, much needed.

Before I get to the offense, I want to make it clear that the Nationals suck. But the Mets still need to beat them. The Phillies play them the same number of times, so do the Marlins, so it's all equal. The Mets need to start pounding these inferior opponents. I had hoped for a 6-2 stretch against the Pirates and Nats, which seemed unlikely after Monday's meltdown but now seems possible again.

The way the Mets got on the board in the 4th made me so happy because they drove in runs with a groundout and a sacrifice fly. If the Mets were more effective at scoring runs with outs, they'd have 5 more wins this season.

I guess Brian Schneider likes playing against his old team. He has 2 homers against the Nationals, and 1 against everyone else.

The add-on runs were key, coming as they did from Murphy (now batting .441), Tatis and Easley. The last two runs came courtesy of terrible Washington defense.

A floating Willie Harris couldn't catch Carlos Delgado's home run.  You can see the ball about to land in the flowers

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 12 Nationals 0

It's nice to take a breath and have an easy victory for a change.

Great job by Brian Stokes to give the rest of the bullpen a day off. Maybe he can stick around as a long man.

John Maine looked good through 5 innings and it was nice to be able to work him back in slowly and not worry about the bullpen blowing it.

The offense was just great, everyone deserves to be commended, but a lot of it probably had to do with bad pitching by Jason Bergmann who melted down in the third inning.

David Wright actually got a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

Daniel Murphy is awesome. There's always the doubt that he can keep this up (obviously he can't) but so far so good for this guy.

I heart Daniel Murphy

Ok the third inning was so awesome I have to run it down:
David Wright reached on infield single
Carlos Delgado walked
Carlos Beltran grounded out to first
Daniel Murphy singled to left, Wright scored
Fernando Tatis singled to left, Delgado scored
Brian Schneider walked
John Maine walked, Murphy scored
Jose Reyes singled to left, Tatis and Schneider scored
Argenis Reyes struck out
David Wright walked
Carlos Delgado walked, Maine scored
Carlos Beltran doubled to center, Reyes and Wright scored
Daniel Murphy lined out

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Nationals 3

How's this for a change? Santana pitches less than spectacularly, but the offense bails him out and the bullpen saves the game for him.

It's not like Santana gave up 6 runs, but he still pitched much worse in this victory than he has in many of his no decisions, and even some of his losses. It's a real shame that it took him this long to get to double-digit wins.

The two Carloses came through with RBI hits -- both times with 2 outs -- to give the Mets two early leads. But Santana blew them both putting him in a tenuous position heading into the 8th.

After he allowed the tying home run to Ryan Langerhans the Mets built a big rally with two singles, a walk and a bases loaded hit batsman (sounds like an inning the Mets bullpen usually has)to score a run.

Damion Easley drives in the winning run by getting hit by a pitch

But with one out Daniel Murphy struck out with the bases loaded. Then Brian Schneider pinch hit for Santana, and also struck out. I don't have a problem removing Santana there because a hit is worth 2 runs and Schneider is much more likely to get a hit.

I love David Wright and I know he has a lot of RBI but I still feel he fails in a lot of key spots. With Reyes on third and one out in the 5th, Wright struck out.

Amazingly Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano were able to get through the 8th and 9th without trouble and the Mets got themselves a much-needed win.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Pirates 7 Mets 5

Another unmitigated disaster as the Mets continue to try the same thing, expecting different results. These relief pitchers, in these roles, are not working. Something has to be done beyond crossing our fingers and hoping Aaron Heilman figures it out.

Aaron Heilman sucks. There's no surprise he's lost 7 games each of the past 2 years. He's terrible, especially in the clutch. He should be a mop-up guy and nothing more, ever.

Joe Smith faded at the end of last year and is fading again now. He can't get anyone out and they might need to demote him to make room for someone else.

Pedro Feliciano also sucks, but Manuel doesn't give him a chance, only giving him one batter at a time.

Their ERAs since the All-Star break, Heilman 11.66, Smith 12.91 and Feliciano 7.56. You can't win like that. The Mets need to try something different to get this bullpen, the most obvious of which would be making Eddie Kunz the closer and seeing how he does while Wagner is injured.

Pedro Martinez deserved better. He pitched really well but unfortunately he threw 99 pitches and obviously Jerry Manuel thought his bullpen could hold a 4-run lead, even though they've proven so many times they can't.

The offense produced 5 runs, which should have been enough, but it never is with this bullpen. Which is why the offense needs to pick up the slack and score even more runs.

In the fourth inning, Evans doubled and Wright and Beltran stranded him.
In the seventh, Wright go to third with one out and Tatis couldn't hit a sacrifice fly.
And in the eighth, Wright struck out with two men on.

This is just the latest example of why this team is going nowhere this season. Digusting.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 8 Mets 2

Not much to say about this one, except that Mike Pelfrey got killed. It's too early to get worried about him, but this is 2 out of 3 bad starts and he might be falling into some bad habits again.

Specifically, he gave up 3 straight 2 out hits in the 4th, and he could have gotten out of it by getting the 8th place hitter (I would have walked him to face the pitcher). And again in the 5th, after he got 2 outs he allowed a walk, a double, a hit by pitch and another walk before he got yanked.

The offense wasn't much to speak of, but Daniel Murphy got another hit, but his average fell to .478.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 8 Marlins 6

After a 4-game losing streak the Mets fired back with a 3-game winning streak, thanks to a powerful performance by the offense.

It was key for the Mets to get off to that big start to give Brain Stokes some room to work. Carlos Beltran almost hit a homer in the first inning, but instead it was a 2-run double.

Then when he got up in the 7th SNY showed a stat that Beltran hadn't homered in 82 straight at bats. On the next pitch he homered.

Carlos Delgado also contributed a 2-run homer in the first to help pad the early lead. It was his 25th homer, one more than he had last year. And he will very likely get 15 more RBI to pass last year's total in that category as well.

In addition to pitching capably, Brian Stokes also got his first big league hit. The ball was thrown in so that it could be kept as a souvenir for Stokes. But Mike Jacobs threw the ball on top of the Mets dugout and the ball bounced to a kid. An usher immediately came over, and Carlos Delgado popped out of the dugout and offered the kid a different ball in exchange for Stokes's memento.

Daniel Murphy also got a milestone in this game, his first Major League home run. This kid is absolutely incredible. 10 for 20 so far in the big leagues. Plenty of guys in the history of baseball have come up and had starts like this and never turned into anything but for a franchise starved for good young players, Murphy's early play is a much needed revelation.

As was the relief appearance of Aaron Heilman. After Joe Smith laid the groundwork for another bullpen meltdown, Heilman came in for the save and pitched well. He did walk a batter but it was almost more encouraging that he didn't give up a home run with a man on base for a change.

Scott Schoeneweis was the one who really bailed out Smith, getting an inning-ending doubleplay. It was the second time this week the Mets got a key double in the 8th inning to preserve a lead.

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Happy Recap: Mets 3 Marlins 0

What a game by Oliver Perez. Considering a lot of people wanted to dump him from the rotation earlier this season, his turnaround is nothing short of amazing. The Mets absolutely have to resign him in the offseason and a guy pitching this well, this young, could definitely get a 5-year, $70 million contract. I think once he got out of that trouble in the second inning, he relaxed and got ahead of hitters. And when he pitches that way he is damn near unhittable. I think it was wise for Manuel to stick with him for that extra inning even though his pitch count was high. I don't believe in pushing guys over 100 consistently, but in this case it was warranted.

Who was that guy wearing Aaron Heilman's jersey? Whoever it was retired 6 straight batters and struck out 3. I thought Manuel did the right thing by giving him two innings. First of all, he was going well, so you stick with the hot guy. Also, you give the rest of the bullpen the night off, which will be key with a rookie starting the next game.

In the span of 4 at bats for the Mets, David Wright hit 2 2-run homers.

And I think with Perez especially it's key to get him a lead early because all the starters probably feel if they don't pitch a shutout, and leave with a 4-run lead, the bullpen will blow it. Getting that early lead took some of the edge off.

Carlos Delgado also had a solo homer. He has slowed down a little, but hasn't fallen into that huge slump he was in for 3 months. The Mets need him to be a consistent performer.

Daniel Murphy is awesome. What a start to a major league career.

This was a big victory because the Mets need to take this series and will have trouble winning with Brian Stokes on the mound.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Padres 3

Nothing is ever easy with this team, unless to subscribe to the "all's well that ends well" theory of life.

An exciting game and an exciting moment for David Wright, his first ever walk off home run, but the bullpen's inability to hold a lead is going to doom this team at some point.

Pity poor Johan Santana. I've beat home the point this season that he's the best pitcher in the league, and the highest-paid, and with a bullpen so bad he needs to pitch better and longer, but this is just getting ridiculous.

This was the sixth time in 24 starts this season that the bullpen cost Santana a potential win. Five of those collapses came in the ninth inning. He has eight no-decisions, and in seven of those he allowed two runs or fewer. If he wins 5 of those games he's among the leaders in wins.

What an incredible game-saving double play by Argenis Reyes and Nick Evans.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Padres 4 Mets 2

Another tough loss where the Mets did everything wrong.

They couldn't get a key hit, they made a key error and the bullpen gave up an add-on run making a comeback impossible.

And their starting pitcher dug them an early hole by giving up 2 more home runs. Other than that Pedro was pretty good but I don't understand why he is allowing so many homers this season. He's now allowed 13 homers in 56 innings (roughly 1 in 4) which is absolutely atrocious.

David Wright did not get fooled by the spin on that ball. He took his eye off the ball.

Carlos Beltran is in a terrible slump and he is killing the team right now. It's the same thing we had most of the season with Delgado. A free out in the middle of the lineup, especially when runners are on base.

You can't kill Eddie Kunz for allowing a run but he's going to fight right in with the rest of the Mets bullpen.

Once again the Mets need Santana to pitch a great game to avoid losing a series to the one of the worst teams in the league.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Padres 5

This sure doesn't feel like a happy recap. But maybe there is a bright side (in addition to winning), the Aaron Heilman as closer experiment ended before it started, and without costing the team a single victory.

Obviously Aaron Heilman sucks and there's nothing that's going to fix him. He's allowed runs in four of his last five outings and been the losing pitcher in four of his last seven. He did have a string of 10 scoreless appearances in late June, so he can be effective but right now he's just awful. He's allowed 9 homers in 60 innings but I agree with Jerry Manuel that his big problem last night was the leadoff walk. He had to have known that with a 4-run deficit the first batter would be taking a strike. Yet he didn't throw a fastball and got himself in a hole.

a dejected Heilman gets yanked from another game

I know there were other things affecting him, the dropped popup, the missed double play (though Wright was right to take his time) but he gave up the walk, and the home run, and it falls on him.

Argenis Reyes redeemed himself

But thanks to two other players, the Mets won this game. Mike Pelfrey bounced back from a rough outing with another good performance. He did give up a lot of hits, but always managed to avoid major trouble. That's the key to his growth as a pitcher, being able to work out of jams instead of imploding during them.

And of course there's Fernando Tatis. What amazes me is people still want to get another corner outfielder. How could we get someone better than him? The guy has been absolutely incredible, shows almost no signs of slowing down and almost every home run he hits comes in a key spot.

Fernando Tatis hits another big homer

He has 9 homers this season, let's look at the situations:
5/23 vs. Colorado: 6th inning, Mets leading 3-2, solo homer to make it 4-2, but Mets later lost.
7/6 vs. Philadelphia: 12th inning, tied 2-2, 2-run homer gives Mets 4-2 win in the game Billy Wagner blew.
7/8 vs. San Francisco: 8th inning, Mets leading 6-0, solo homer made it 7-0.
7/10 vs. San Francisco: 7th inning, tied 3-3, 2-run homer gives Mets 5-3 lead, they win 7-3.
7/17 vs. Cincinnati: 6th inning, Mets losing 5-4, 2-run homer gives Mets 6-5 lead, they win 10-8 but not before blowing lead and reclaiming it.
7/26 vs. St. Louis: 9th inning, Mets losing 8-7, solo homer tied the game and sent it to extra innings, where the Mets lost.
7/27 vs. St. Louis: 6th inning, Mets winning 3-0, 2-run homer gave Mets 5-0 lead in game they'd win 9-1.
8/5 vs. San Diego: 4th inning, Mets losing 1-0, solo homer ties game.
8/5 vs. San Diego: 6th inning, Mets losing 2-1, 3-run homer gives Mets 4-2 lead in game they'd win 6-5.

Only one of his homers came before the 6th inning. 4 of his homers gave the Mets the lead, 2 tied games, and 2 were in games they were winning. 2 of them were absolutely huge in addition to some other huge hits he's had. Of all the problems this team has, Fernando Tatis is last on the list. I love Fernando-mania.

Fernando Tatis celebrates a home run in his usual way

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Astros 4 Mets 0

If you needed any more evidence that this is not the team that won 10 games in a row earlier this month, this game was it.

This time it was the offense's turn to shit the bed with some of the worst clutch hitting I've ever seen.

First inning: Beltran singles but gets caught stealing.
Third inning: Robinson Cancel gets caught stealing third with two outs and David Wright up. Why he was running I have no idea.
Fourth inning: Bases loaded and one out for Evans and Cancel and they both strike out. At this point, it's only 1-0 so almost any contact by Evans would tie the game.
Fifth inning: With two on, David Wright hit it hard, but right at the second basemen. Tatis flied out with the bases loaded.

So in five innings the Mets had 6 hits, 3 walks and a hit batsman and didn't score.

And I think this is starting to have an effect on the starting pitchers. They know that if they don't leave the game with at least a 4 run lead the bullpen will blow it. And I think in this game Perez knew if he gave up more than one run he was going to lose. That doesn't explain the four straight 2-out hits but you really can't blame a guy who has been as good as he has been and gotten almost no support.

Bright spots: Nick Evans threw two runners out at second base.
Eddie Kunz made his Major League debut and got out of the inning unscathed, though it wasn't easy.

The Mets got out-homered 6 to 1 in this series. Brandon Backe and Mark Loretta each hit 1 homer, same as the whole Mets team. And Kaz Matsui hit two.

The Mets broke a streak of 7 straight wins on Sunday.

Randy Wolf owns the Mets. He's beaten the Mets in his last 4 starts against them, which he's made for 4 different teams (Phillies, Dodgers, Padres and Astros).

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Astros 5 Mets 4

The disasters never cease with this horrible bullpen. This is now the 5th time since the All-Star break that the bullpen allowed 4 runs or more in a game.

Billy Wagner sucks. I don't want to hear anything about the fact that his ERA is only 2.30. He has 7 blown saves already. That's bad for a hole season, but he's gonna blow 10 games this year. That's awful. Every time you lose a game that you lead going into the 9th it's also a huge mental blow.

That play that tied the score was crazy. Two runners crossing home plate at the saem time. The last time we saw that LoDuca turned 2 in the playoffs against the Dodgers. This time it didn't work out so well. Tough play for Castro but I think if he holds on at least one of the guys is called out.

Ramon Castro gets plowed over by 2 runners at once

This game unfolded in a very similar fashion to a lot of Santana's starts this year. He pitches well but he either gives up a couple runs or doesn't go deep enough. What's happening to him in terms of this tough luck isn't his fault, but he deserves some blame. The Mets bullpen is so bad they need him to pitch a complete game every time. It's not a question of if with this bullpen. In fact, it's not even a question. If this pen has to pitch 2 innings or more, they'll blow it at least 50% of the time.

The Mets offense did enough to win this game, but went into a slumber after the third inning. Once again failing to get that one big hit that makes the difference between winning and losing.

An impressive Major League debut by Daniel Murphy. He singled and scored in his first at bat, then made an incredible catch in left field, right in front of that scoreboard, and fired the ball into second for a double play.

And this is what Keith Hernandez had to say about their pregame introduction:

"I introduced myself to him before he took his swings in the batting cage, and he turned around and said 'Oh, Seinfeld.' I know I'm getting old."

Hernandez also compared the fenced in bullpens in Houston to a concentration camp before quickly correcting himself, "prison camp! Prison camp."

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Astros 7 Mets 3

This is the game that proves the Mets did the right thing by not making any trades at the deadline. This team is a .500 team. Take out that 10-game winning streak and they're actually below .500. They have a hot offense but they still can't get a hit in the clutch. They have a horrible bullpen and they have 3 good starters and 2 huge question marks in the rotation.

It is inexcusable how this team constantly leaves runners on base. Bases loaded and no one out and they don't score? In the 7th inning of a tie game. And it happens all the time with this team. As I've been saying that's the biggest reason this team isn't going anywhere, they can't hit in key spots with men on base. For two weeks they were hitting, not they're back to this mess. It's sickening to watch.

But now as sickening as watching this awful bullpen. This is the fourth time in 10 games that the bullpen has allowed 4 runs or more. This time it was Heilman, but they've all been guilty, except Wagner on this recent stretch.

And Pedro sucked again, but was actually better than he's been. He only allowed solo homers this time. He allows about 2 homers every 9 innings so far this year. If he stayed healthy for a full year he'd allow more than 40.

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Unhappy Recap: Marlins 7 Mets 5

So Mike Pelfrey finally had a bad game. I'm hoping it's just an anomaly but I'm a little worried because he had several chances with 2 outs to get out of the inning and couldn't extricate himself from the situation. That was a problem that plauged him earlier in the year and hopefully it won't start again.

I'm angrier at Joe Smith for allowing that home run to Dan Uggla. I think the Mets have actually lost more games because the bullpen blew close games wide open, then they did because the bullpen blew leads.

Damion Easley sure hits a lot of big home runs, doesn't he?

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