Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Marlins 1

Oliver Perez ends his July the same way he started it, by being awesome. In five starts this month he allowed only 5 runs for a 1.38 ERA, but thanks to some anemic offense he only went 1-1. But if you throw in his late June start against the Yankees he's been awesome for six straight starts.

In this game though he didn't really have his best stuff and was behind a lot of hitters but somehow found a way to avoid trouble.

Oliver Perez continues his hot July

Carlos Delgado is ridiculous. Another home run, this time coming in a key spot to give the bullpen some breathing room. I have nothing else to say on the matter because I've exhauster all original thoughts I have on the guy. His recent success is mind-blowing.

But how does he even consider bunting there? He can't bunt and he's been hot as a pistol. Plus a sacrifice bunt in that situation doesn't work. We've seen it so many times this year, bunting a guy to second with no outs is a bad percentage play. With Endy Chavez, with a pitcher but especially with Carlos Delgado. Thankfully, he didn't get it down.

Carlos Delgado, you are ridiculous

I don't have a major problem with Jose Reyes's play in the first inning, because I want him to be aggressive, but there are several reasons he should have stayed on second with a double. First of all, the ball was hit to left field, making the throw much shorter. Second, he was the first batter of the game. If you should never make the first out of an inning at third base, it should go double in the first inning. But there's no guarantee that the Mets would have gotten a bigger inning if he stops at second.

Jose Reyes gets thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple

It was nice to see Carlos Beltran get the tie-breaking hit because he's been struggling so much with runners in scoring position and 2 outs. He's now hitting .156 in those situations on the year.

Delgado also deserves credit for working out a walk that pushed Evans to second putting him in position to score on Beltran's single.

And of course Aaron Heilman's 2 scoreless innings were a welcome salve for a troubled bullpen.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 7 Mets 3

An old problem is popping back up and threatening the good feelings that have surrounded the Mets this month. The Mets are 4-3 in the last 7 games and in all 3 losses the bullpen imploded, blowing a lead and allowing at least 4 runs in an inning each time. If they don't figure out something (and I'm not advocating a trade) the bullpen will surely combust at the wrong time and cost the Mets a playoff spot for the second year in a row.

John Maine's health is now another worry. He hasn't been great lately but the Mets can't afford to lose him, especially while we don't know what kind of performance Pedro will provide when he comes back. Maine says he'll be ok but clearly Dan Warthen noticed something in his delivery and the next pitch after their meeting was hit for a home run.

Fernando Tatis drove in 2 more runs.

David Wright scored a run for the 12th straight game, tying a Mets record.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Cardinals 1

That was the Johan Santana Mets fans wanted and needed all season. He was magnificent, and he went the distance. Although with an 8-run lead, as opposed to a 3-run lead, it might not have been so bad to give him an inning off. But I'm not complaining, nor were the Mets fans at the game who gave Santana quite an ovation.

That catch by Beltran was incredible. That was seriously one of the best home run-robbing catches I have ever seen because he reached way past the wall, not just over it. And it almost slipped out of his glove from the impact but somehow he managed to hold on. I think it was definitely better than Endy’s catch in the 2006 NLCS though not nearly as important because of the situation.

Another home run for Ramon Castro, it's becoming quite commonplace these days. Castro is 9 for 22 with 4 homers and 9 RBI in his last 5 starts. And those 5 starts have come over 15 games, why is he only playing a third of the time. He should be playing two-third of the games, at least. If his stats were extrapolated over a full sesaon he'd be one of the top 5 catchers in the majors. Even if he experienced a significant dropoff in his numbers, he'd still be top 10. His .903 OPS is second on the team, behind David Wright.

Ramon Castro comes through with another home run

Right before Castro's 2-run homer was a 2-run homer by Fernando Tatis. Tatis is also having an excellent season and in addition to judging him purely on his numbers it should be noted how many of his hits have come in crucial situations.

I think the problem fans (and management) have with Tatis and Castro is there's a feeling that they will slow down eventually if they play everyday or for too long a stretch. Even if that were true, why not ride them while they're hot and figure out a backup plan later.

This was a nice bounceback game after a tough loss the night before. Santana went the distance to save the bullpen and with 3 more homers the Mets are continuing to bash the ball.

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Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 10 Mets 8

The starting pitching was bad, the relief pitchers allowed 4 runs in one inning and eventually lost the game and the Mets couldn't get a hit with runners in scoring position. This game had all the trappings of an early-season frustration, but there was actually a lot to get excited about here.

Brandon Knight didn't pitch well. But I think nerves were clearly a major factor in the first inning which was compounded by the highly unusual occurrence of Endy Chavez misplaying a flyball. After that Knight settled down and pitched four good innings.

Brandon Knight settled down after a rough first inning

The key to the Mets comeback was getting 2 runs right back in the bottom of the first. The key was Endy Chavez's triple which was the only hit with runners in scoring position in the entire game. After that the Mets went 15 at bats without a hit.

Endy Chavez slides into third after his RBI triple in the first inning

Obviously, another huge game for Carlos Delgado. I think the key to his recent success is that he is laying off bad pitches early in the count. That allows him to get ahead and focus on getting his pitch. Both his homers were hit off pitches down, but in the strike zone. In the 8th, he struck out with a man on second and two outs, in the 10th he grounded into a double play with first and second and one out and in those at bats Cardinals pitchers started to hammer him in, then got him to chase away.

How awesome is Fernando Tatis? Nothing this guy does amazes me anymore. He has gotten so many huge hits and I really thought his homer to tie this one in the 9th would lead to a Mets victory.

Tatis does it again

But my favorite development of this game was that the pitchers were leaning over the dugout rail with their caps inside out. Something has materially changed about this team and I love it. They're having fun, they're playing better and they think they can win every game, no matter how far behind they are. There is a definite link between the emergence of this new attitude and the team's newfound success, this game notwithstanding.

I don't blame Aaron Heilman for the loss, stretching him for a third inning was an unfortunate consequence of some circumstances from earlier in the game. Also, I'm glad he lost on a home run to Pujols instead of a walk and a bleeder by pitching around hitters.

Losses happens but the attitude they showed in this game is going to lead to a lot more wins.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Cardinals 2

This team is back on a roll, great starting pitching, timely hitting and it just seems like they're going to win every night.

Let's start with the great Mike Pelfrey. He's won his last 7 decisions. The Mets won the last 9 games he started. His ERA is 2.12 in the 7 starts he's made since Dan Warthen became the pitching coach. I just can't express how impressed I am with the sudden turnaround he's made this season. And the fact that it coincides with a similar drastic improvement made by Perez, it seems Warthen is definitely having an impact on those two.

Another monster home run by Carlos Delgado. I'm not quite sure how he's doing it but he's definitely changed his approach. Not sure if it's confidence, or laying off the inside pitch, or the slider away but he's doing something different and he's awesome.

Another huge hit with a couple RBI for Jose Reyes.

Argenis Reyes hits his first major league home run, and everyone in the dugout gives him the cold shoulder. Awesome. I love this kid by the way, and wish Luis Castillo would never come back.

What is wrong with Duaner Sanchez. At least this time Manuel yanked him and Feliciano and Heilman cleaned it up for him before it became another blown lead.

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Happy Recap: Mets 3 Phillies 1

Now would be a good time for me to praise Carlos Delgado. For most of the last year I've killed Delgado and said he was washed up. But somehow, some way, Delgado has turned it around and is absolutely killing the ball. And he rescued the Mets from another heartbreaking potential loss to the Phillies. With a left field.

Delgado comes through with the big hit

One guy I was right about the whole time though, is Oliver Perez. People were talking about demoting him to the bullpen and I always advocated that he wasn't as bad as he seemed and that his problems were mental, and therefore, potentially fixable. I'm not sure what Dan Warthen did, but it worked. In his last 5 starts, his ERA is 1.04. And he is only 1-1 over that span because of a lack of run support. In the last 4 starts, the Mets have scored only 6 runs while he was in the game.

oliver perez comes up big again

And one more player who has caught a lot of shit in the papers and from the fans is Billy Wagner. For the second day in a row he mowed down the Phillies for a key save, this one put the Mets in first place.

Now the Mets just need to avoid a letdown against the lesser lights like the Cardinals, but especially the Astros, Padres, Marlins, Nationals and Pirates.

The Mets have won all four series against the Phillies this year for a record of 9-4 against them so far.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Phillies 3

Nice to see the Mets bounce back after a horrible loss. But they've taken so many losses like that this year and last I guess they are used to it.

Good performance by John Maine, throwing strikes, keeping his pitch count down and going deep into the game.

And Mets fans have never been so happy to see Billy Wagner. With all the talk about how he does in big games this was a crucial one, and he nailed it down, 1-2-3.

Huge home run by Jose Reyes, reminds me of back in 2006 when he was in the middle of every big rally, often getting a big hit. His stats this season are remarkably similar to back in 2006, except for RBI.

Jose Reyes celebrates his game winning 3-run homer

Two hits from Brian Schneider, maybe a couple days off did him some good. Or maybe a couple home runs by Ramon Castro scared him.

Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado celebrate a big win over the Phillies

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Phillies 8 Mets 6

Another heartbreaking loss in a long line of devastating defeats that came at the hands of the Phillies.

That winning streak means nothing now, the team still cannot win the big game, and when the chips are down, they always make the key mistake to blow it.

As much as Mets fans are afraid of Billy Wagner but the bullpen doesn't look very good without him. An absolutely horrible implosion, mostly by Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano.

Jose Reyes made a bad play (as he often does by trying to be too aggressive) and I know he needed to make the smart play and get the sure out, but it wouldn't have mattered. The tying run was on second anyway, and I don't think an out there would have changed all that much.

What could have changed this game would have been to leave in Johan Santana. He was finally pitched like we needed him to, and against a big opponent, and without Billy Wagner it should have been a no-brainer to at least give him a chance in the 9th. Manuel has to start realizing that the bullpen is terrible and he has to push the starters further than he'd like.

But it wasn't Santana's fault, he pitched great.

And it wasn't even Endy Chavez's fault. I have no problem with him getting thrown out in the third inning, that was a good, aggressive play. But he should not have tried to score in the 7th because he had to hold up to see if Utley would make the play. And with no one out he should have stayed on third, but he got waved home by Luis Aguayo. I think Chavez also got some bad coaching as he was playing too shallow on So Taguchi's ball and might have been able to catch it if he had been playing deeper.

Also not to blame is Carlos Delgado who has been absolutely perfect lately. He is batting .403 with 5 homers and 14 RBI in July. His 1.213 OPS for the month pushed his season's OPS up to a respectable .818.

And Ramon Castro blasting another home run was also overshadowed by another disastrous meltdown in a crucial game.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Reds 5

A crucial win in a game the Mets absolutely had to have. They couldn't afford to go into a crucial series with the Phillies off a 3-game losing streak. And it looked like that's what would happen as Mike Pelfrey struggled and blew leads.

Pelfrey has been so awesome that he deserves a pass for one bad game but I was shocked and dismayed that he allowed 3 homers in this game, after allowing only 4 through the first half of the season.

Jose Reyes was great in this game reaching base 4 times and scoring 3 runs.

Also awesome was Carlos Delgado who has been on fire lately, and has even been hitting in clutch situations.

The Mets did get a huge break though when Edwin Encarnacion's throwing error brought home the winning run in the 10th.

But none of it would have mattered without Robinson Cancel whose double was the key hit to start the winning rally.

Robinson Cancel becomes the latest bench player to make a key contribution

Another home run for Ramon Castro. In his last 28 at bats (starting July 1), Castro has 10 hits, 2 homers and 8 RBI. In his last 28 at bats (starting July 6), Schneider has 4 hits 0 homers and 3 RBI. I know everyone thinks Castro will slow down, or get hurt, but he needs to play more. He can't possibly be worse than Schneider.

Great relief pitching in this one as Sanchez pitched two hitless innings and Wagner struck out the side in the 10th for the save.

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Unhappy Recap: Reds 7 Mets 2

This game was a throwback to the Mets from May and June. Starting pitching was decent but Perez gave back every run he got. The offense put on tons of base runners, but couldn't get the big hit. Then the bullpen busted it wide open.

Even though they ended up losing by 5 runs I think the Mets could have won this by converting on just a few of the following plays:

3rd inning: Carlos Beltran misplayed Ken Griffey's double, allowing Josh Fogg to score from first.

5th inning: With Perez on second Reyes hit a hard ground ball that was snagged by Brandon Phillips on a great play. Perez probably would have scored if it had gone through. Still with one out the Mets should have gotten a run, but Endy Chavez hit into a double play.

6th inning: Damion Easley grounded into a double play with first and second then Fernando Tatis struck out with two men on.

6th inning: Edwin Encarnacion advances to second on a passed ball that should have been a wild pitch. He scored on a two out single and probably would have been stranded if not for that passed ball.

7th inning: This of course was the most obvious inning. First of all, don't blame Nick Evans for not scoring on Argenis Reyes's single, he had to hold up to make sure that ball fell in. David Wright has to hit a sacrifice fly in this situation and he didn't even get the bat off his shoulder, it looked like he was trying to work out a walk. Then Carlos Beltran struck out too and this game was over.

If the Mets can't get back to doing the little things that win games they're going to get back to being a .500 team, or worse.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Reds 5 Mets 2

Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher and John Maine was awful again. He continues to have bad control, he throws too many pitches, works too many deep counts and is unable to put guys away with 2 strikes. He's been awful 4 straight times now (14 ER in 19 innings) but was the beneficiary of some good luck and the Mets got two wins in his starts during the winning streak. The Mets need him to start pitching better right away.

All that said, sometimes things happen, which is why every team wins 50 and loses 50. 10-game winning streaks wouldn't be so rare if there wasn't a little luck involved. Though Maine made his own bed with 2 walks and a hit batsman (twice forcing in a run with the bases loaded) he also got unlucky as Wright got fancy on an infield chop (he had time to field it normally and step on third) and then a bloop hit to rightfield. But Maine made his own bad luck and those breaks had been going the Mets way for so long they were bound to turn around.

As I've said numerous times the big failing at the beginning of the season, and the biggest reason (bigger than the starting pitching) for the recent resurgence has been timely hitting, and the Mets didn't get any last night. There's no need to panic or point fingers, it's the nature of the game. But I really thought the Mets could make a comeback after Beltran's leadoff triple in the 7th, but Easley struck out and Tatis grounded into a double play. But both of those guys have been excellent so I have no complaints with them, it's just the way the game goes sometimes.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 10 Reds 8

I normally don't believe in momentum in sports because the idea that things will keep going one way, simply because they've been going that way, don't really apply, especially from game to game.

But I do believe in confidence, and early this season the Mets seemed like they were defeated any time they fell behind. Now it seems like they know they are going to win.

Obviously this was a great comeback started by Argenis Reyes, continued by David Wright, huge home run, pushed over the top by Carlos Delgado and punctuated by Fernando Tatis.

If it were not for Heilman and Schoeneweis blowing the lead, I'd be talking about another huge home run by Fernando Tatis that gave the Mets the late lead.

Delgado also had a big home run to give the Mets the early lead, something that has been key to the recent winning streak.

But then Johan Santana went out and blew it by allowing 5 in the 4th. I'm going to panic about Santana because he deserved to get bailed out, but it seems to continue his trend of pitching just well enough to lose.

And I'm not going to panic about Aaron Heilman either. I knew the bullpen had to allow a run eventually.

This was a huge win for the Mets and I can't wait to see how long this winning streak continues.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Rockies 0

Mike Pelfrey is now 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA over his last 9 starts. That's an incredible run for a guy who some people had been writing off at the beginning of this season. And if you remember, he pitched the last game of the Willie Randolph Rick Peterson era, pitching poorly but getting the win. In 5 starts since then he is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Even though it seemed he was pitching better before that point, I have to think Dan Warthen has at least a little something to do with that.

The Mets have allowed only 4 runs over the past 6 games, and the 7 hits let up in this game was actually a disappointment.

And the offense once again contributing their fair share as well as an early 3-run homer by Beltran pretty much sealed the deal.

Carlos Delgado also contributed another home run, his 17th, to tie Wright for the team lead.

Hopefully the Mets can continue this in the second half.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 3 Rockies 0

This is getting ridiculous now. The bullpen has now pitched 18 1/3 innings without giving up a run. That's about 17 1/3 innings more than we normally expect.

Mets pitchers have allowed 4 runs and 13 hits in the last 5 games. That's incredible. 3 hits 4 games in a row followed by a 1-hitter (the 33rd in franchise history).

I guess there might be a little worry about Pedro because he says he hurt his surgically repaired shoulder (though he says it happened because of his injured groin) which could land him back on the disabled list, but things are going too well right now to even worry about it.

Fernando Tatis got another key RBI when his easy grounder pushed through a drawn in infield after Beltran stole third base. That steal was key in setting up the run.

Reyes homered and the Mets tacked on another and that was more than enough to continue this incredible winning streak.

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Happy Recap: Mets 2 Giants 1

Another day, another big home run by a bench player, and the Mets now have a 7 game winning streak, their longest since 2006.

Damion Easley is batting .422 in his last 13 games, while filling in for Castillo, including this huge game-winning home run in the 8th.

I guess those people who wanted to put Oliver Perez in the bullpen can stop complaining about him now. I knew the Mets should have resigned him then when his value was low. But hopefully he can keep this up and earn himself a big contract from the Mets in the offseason. Even Ollie haters among Mets fans would love to see him pitch well enough to get paid millions in the offseason.

I also don't want to hear anymore complaints about poor tough luck Santana. In Perez's last 3 starts he has given up 2 runs in 20 innings (0.90 ERA), and he has 1 win to show for it. In fact over his last 7 starts he has 5 games in which he allowed 1 run or fewer, and he has only 2 wins in those 5 starts. Every starter is the victim of lack of run support at times, especially those who pitch for the Mets.

The bullpen continued its hot pitching, tossing 3 more scoreless innings, but it wasn't so easy this time. Aaron Heilman struck out Tavares and Barmes to strand the bases loaded in the 7th, then Pedro Feliciano came on to get out of a bases loaded jam in the 8th. Billy Wagner cut through the Rockies for the save and the Mets are on a roll!

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Happy Recap: Mets 7 Giants 3

Fernando Tatis comes up with another huge to hit to keep the Mets incredible run going.

I absolutely love this guy. There seems to be some kind of intangible about him that he is able to deliver when the Mets need him most.

Obviously his late home run was huge but his early double was also a key to victory. On this current streak the Mets have been able to take early leads and hold onto them, their formula for success back in 2006.

John Maine has now replaced Oliver Perez as the most frustrating pitcher on the Mets. He continues to throw way too many pitches, which forced him out of this game in the 5th inning. But even when he pitches well his pitch count seems to go too high too soon. He had 3-2 counts on 9 batters in this game, including the first four.

The bullpen was excellent in holding the Giants scoreless for 4 1/3 innings, especially a day after the pen contributed 4 perfect innings.

Now that Alou is out for the season I think he needs to stick with Tatis in left until his bat either slows down or his glove starts to hurt them (which I don't think will happen). Endy Chavez should play right and bat second while Church is hurt.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Giants 0

A 5-game winning streak. 2 straight shutouts. And finally a win for Johan Santana.

He only went 5 innings but that was enough to get him off the schneid and enough for him to show off some really good stuff.

For some reason Manuel elected not to bring him back after the rain delay.

And speaking of the rain, why were the announcers freaking out about the rain delay and if it would be an official game or not. It was never predicted to be a massive storm, they knew the game would be completed. Yet for some reason the announcers acted as if Randy Winn killed the President when he swung at the first pitch. Maybe he thought Santana would throw a fat pitch and if he hit it he could get his team back in the game for after the rain delay.

And of course I thrilled to be able to write that the great Ramon Castro came through with a big 3-run homer to give the Mets an early lead. I love Castro and whenever he plays he seems to contribute to a victory. I love the fact that Jerry Manuel is getting him into more games.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 7 Giants 0

What a game by Mike Pelfrey. I'm so impressed with him lately but I want to point out what impressed me much. So much went wrong for him in the first inning (Easley's error, bad no-call by the umpire when Lewis ran out of the baseline on what should have been called a doubleplay, hitting Molina with an 0-2 pitch) but he didn't get rattled. He kept throwing his pitches and got out of the inning with no runs.

His ERA is now below 4, his record is above .500 and I'm sure his confidence is at an all-time high.

In his last 8 starts (a significant stretch amounting to about a quarter of the season), he is 5-0 with a 2.62 ERA.

He's getting more groundball outs, more strikeouts, fewer walks, everything about Pelfrey has been wonderful.

Mike Pelfrey has been so awesome

He has given up only one home run in his last 12 starts (78 1/3 innings), and only 4 all season.

And the offense is pounding the ball as well racking up another huge night with 14 more hits.

Carlos Beltran hit an early 3-run homer which I think was huge because when the Mets were struggling it seemed if they got down early they felt like they would lose. Now if they get an early lead, they feel like they are going to keep adding on, and hold on to it (as evidenced by the 10-9 win, they did hold on). That attitude reminds me of the 2006 team.

Carlos Beltran celebrates his 3-run homer

There have been false starts for this team before but this is now the longest winning streak since April, and there are many underlying reasons to be encouraged.

Other offensive stars in this game included Jose Reyes (now batting above .300), Damion Easley (continues his hitting streak in lieu of Castillo), Carlos Delgado (16 homers, on pace for 30) and Fernando Tatis (his third homer).

Fernando Tatis celebrates another homer

Weird statistical note: The first 7 players in the Giants lineup (excluding Omar Vizquel) are all batting between .279 and .299. Pretty decent batting averages for a team that is 14th in the league in runs scored. Their team batting average is actually 6th in the NL but they are 13th in OPS because they have only 57 homers, last in the league. Three teams have more than twice that many.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 10 Phillies 9

"They win the damn thing by a score of 10 to 9."

In a blog that pays daily tribute to the memory of Bob Murphy you knew I had to break that one out for this game. This meltdown was actually more subtle than the one in 1990 when Murphy made that comment.

As bad as this game seemed, I really think we should focus on the positive.

The Mets won, they took 3 of 4 from the Phillies, in Philadelphia, after losing the opener, a game in which Johan Santana pitched against J.A. Happ.

The offense is really pounding the ball, they have 48 hits in the last 3 games.

Endy Chavez had 3 more hits. The reaction to him is so funny. When he's playing everyday and doing poorly everyone says "he's exposed," but when he's playing everyday and doing well everyone says "he's in the groove because he's playing everyday." The truth is, he's a decent player who would probably be a weak outfielder if he were an everyday starter. But when he starts only in short spurts he has hot streaks and slumps, just like any other player. But the fact is, he's a near perfect number 2 hitter for this team (he lacks a little patience at the plate) and a Gold Glove caliber outfielder. He's started 8 of the last 9 games and is 16 for 37 (.432) over that span.

Damion Easley is also filling in remarkably well for Castillo, but I expect him to slow down because he is old. With his 3 hits in this one, he is now 14 out of 30 (.467) in 7 starts in July.

David Wright had another good game, bringing him to 70 RBI and Jose Reyes reached base and got things started.

And Pedro Martinez gave his second best effort of the season, looking a lot better in doing so. And dropped his ERA below 7.

pedro about to throw a changeup

But when he started to peter out in the 6th, that's when the trouble started.

Tony Armas allowed 3 runs, the last 2 on a disputed home run by Ryan Howard. It should have been called a double. The obnoxious Phillies fan had his arms so far over the wall it was at least possible the ball wouldn't have gone out. In which case it has to be called a ground rule double. At the time it seemed meaningless, but it loomed large later.

Heilman got out of that inning but allowed 2 more runs of his own.

Then came Billy Wagner. All you can judge a closer on is saves and blown saves. And he got the job done here. So while I am still very worried about him down the stretch in crucial games, he got the save here, and for a closer that's all that matters.

wagner nails it down...barely

And for a team too. If they had held on to the 10-1 lead or if they eked out a 10-9 victory, it counts the same in the standings.

And right now the standings are looking pretty good for the Mets. They're over .500 for the first time in more than a month. They're only 2 losses behind the Phillies and they've possibly exorcised some of last season's demons by beating the Phillies 7 of 10 times so far this season.

A win is a win and the Mets needed one, and got one.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Phillies 2

There is no such thing as a coincidence.

It's not an accident that Billy Wagner keeps blowing saves in crucial situations.

Nor is it a surprise that Fernando Tatis keeps coming through in those big spots.

I can't say enough about how much I love Tatis and his knack for getting that game-winning hit.

Nor can I say how much I despise Billy Wagner for his inability to nail down a game when the Mets need it most. This is now his 6th blown save of the season. I don't care about his 2.31 ERA, that's way too many blown games.

The Mets are now 9-9 in Oliver Perez's starts, the exact same record as they have when Johan Santana starts. That doesn't mean Perez is as good as Santana, but it does show that the Mets are a .500 team, and has bad as Perez has been, he's not killing them. It also demonstrates that when he's on, he's awesome. They just need to figure out how to get him to be on in 75% of his starts, instead of 50%.

In fact Perez seems to only get up for the big games. This year in 3 starts over 18 1/3 innings against the Phillies he has yet to allow an earned run. Against the Yankees over the last 2 years, Perez is 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA and only 7 walks compared to 23 strikeouts. If only he could pitch like that against the bad teams too.

In addition to Perez, perhaps the other most maligned Met was key to yesterday's victory. Carlos Beltran's homer was the only run in the first 8 innings, and his 2 out single in the 9th drove home Reyes with a key insurance run, after David Wright struck out.

Excellent job by Joe Smith in 2 roles he is unfamiliar with, long reliever and closer.

Endy Chavez made another incredible catch. He really could be a gold glover if he hit well enough to play everyday.

another great catch by Endy Chavez

An absolutely huge victory but if form holds, this is a .500 team so they will lose the next game, making it their third straight split of a 4-game series. Pedro Martinez has been awful but the Mets need him to come up big to help give them a leg up on the Phillies.

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Happy Recap: Mets 9 Phillies 4

This was an important win for two reasons. Obviously it was crucial because of the heart-breaking defeat in the first game of the series. But also because of the way this one unfolded. Ever since last year the Phillies have dominated the Mets in terms of bullpen performance. During any game that was close late the Phillies bullpen would shut down the Mets offense, until the Mets bullpen gave it up. The opposite happened here.

Maine actually pitched better than his 3 runs in 5 2/3 innings line would indicate. The only hit he allowed was a homer to Ryan Howard, but it happened to come after a hit by pitch and a walk.

I love Ryan Church batting second, but I think unfortunately they need him to bat 5th.

I also like the fact that Manuel isn't afraid to use his backup catcher as a pinch hitter. Sure it's a risk, but a remote one, and his gamble already paid off as Schneider delivered a big hit. I hope he continues this because Castro is one of his best righthanded bats off the bench.

Damion Easley has been doing a great job during Castillo's absence. He's 10 for 21 with 6 RBI in 5 games during July.

Two injuries put somewhat of a damper on this one, but Maine's problem was in his left arm and shouldn't force him to miss a start, and Church says his migraines are something he's had since his youth (it runs in his family) and not related to that pesky brain injury.

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Unhappy Recap: Phillies 3 Mets 2

The devastating losses keep coming for Johan Santana.

The Mets are now 9-9 when he starts, and they haven't won a game he started since June 1. Even though he has a 2.48 ERA over 6 winless starts since then. The Mets scored a total of 12 runs in those 6 games.

But even though this stretch is not Santana's fault, he's not quite blameless in all of this.

He had a 2 run lead, with 2 out and 2 on in the 6th, and he allowed 2 straight hits, to Howard and Burrell to tie the game.

But of course there are others much more culpable in this loss than Santana.

Starting with David Wright who popped out with Reyes on third and 1 out in the first inning.

Then there's Carlos Beltran who struck out after Wright in the first, then struck out again with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 6th. He is batting .133 (6 for 45) with runners in scoring position and 2 outs.

And of course there's Duaner Sanchez who in this game filled the familiar role of "reliever who blows the game" by allowing 2 out hits to Feliz and Victorino to lose the game.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 11 Cardinals 1

This is the kind of game that's a fan's delight.

The Mets got some breaks early and took advantage of them and starting pounding the ball.

The first inning was a mess. The Mets got three runs on 2 walks, 2 infield hits and an error.

The third started with a little more luck but ended with a single by Pelfrey, a bases loaded triple by Reyes and a double by Chavez.

Then Delgado crushed a meaningless homer (his specialty).

But you can't ignore how great Mike Pelfrey has been. The Mets won the last 5 times he started, and 6 out of his last 7. And the 7th was one of those 2-1 games against the Padres, and he allowed only a run in 6 innings.

The only problem with this game is that David Wright may have gotten hurt.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 8 Mets 7

Another atrocious start by Pedro Martinez. No one has the right to expect him to be the Pedro of old, but this guy is horrible right now. He is getting bombed pretty consistently every time out. If his name were Jose Lima or Claudio Vargas he would have been released by now.

Carlos Beltran did have a big hit but he continues to frustrate me with his inability to get home runners from third with fewer than 2 outs. I cannot understand why it is so hard for the Mets to hit sacrifice flies.

And of course with this horrible bullpen a 2-run lead is not nearly enough.

Pedro Feliciano has been absolutely awful lately, even though his stats don't necessarily reflect that.

The Mets offense battled back from 4-0 and 5-4 deficits but this offense has only so many bullets in their gun.

And that's what makes this loss so heart breaking, because we've been waiting all season for this team to battle back from a deficit, and they finally did, and took the lead, and the bullpen blew it.

Just another example of why this team can't get a foothold and break free above .500.

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Happy Recap: Mets 7 Cardinals 4

A good bounceback performance with the offense working. But good hitting has to come more than 50% of the time.

I hope Jerry Manuel will see that Ramon Castro needs to play more often. He doesn't stay healthy enough to play everyday but for right now I see no reason why he doesn't start against every lefty and even some righties. I know he hit into a key double play against the Yankees but he also had a home run against them, and now two key hits in this game.

Also a big night for David Wright who appears to be breaking out of that little slump he was in.

And a good night for Ryan Church as well. Nice to see him back in the lineup and hitting well again. The Mets really missed his bat while he was injured.

Not a great performance from Tony Armas but certainly passable. Right now the Mets don't need another starter but Pedro will probably end up back on the DL at some point and Armas at least earned himself another chance. Or maybe a role in the bullpen as a setup man.

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Unhappy Recap: Cardinals 7 Mets 1

John Maine was awful in this one but it wouldn't have mattered since the Mets couldn't score any runs of Kyle Lohse.

The defense didn't help him much either as Wright's error led to a run, but at least he was trying to make a play. When Castillo let a grounder go right through his legs for a run it was embarrassing. There was nothing difficult or challenging about that grounder, he just didn't bend, or didn't keep his eye on it.

This is the third time the Mets got blown out in one week. It was 11-0 to the Mariners, then 9-0 to the Yankees, now 7-1.

Maybe that proves the theory that when they get down they don't fight back.

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