Monday, September 29, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 4 Mets 2

Another season ends just like the last one, with bitter disappointment.

What happened here was a microcosm of the whole season.

Oliver Perez pitched pretty well but it was clear he ran out of gas in the 6th.

Then the bullpen came in and held it for a while, but Manuel used too many guys and it resulted in back to back home runs.

But the real problem once again was an offense that didn't show up. Three games to determine their playoff lives, and the Mets scored 5 runs total. Absolutely inexcusable.

And it's been such a common theme throughout the season, the Mets just cannot get runs when they need them.

Carlos Beltran once again showed his guts with what at the time was an incredibly clutch 2-run game-tying home run.

Jose Reyes went 2 for 13 in the Marlins series. Carlos Delgado went 2 for 11. Ryan Church went 0 for 9 with 6 strikeouts. All when the Mets needed them most.

An incredibly disappointing ending to another incredibly disappointing season.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 2 Marlins 0

What a performance by Johan Santana!

He was the definition of clutch. When the Mets needed him most he single-handedly won the game for them. On 3 days rest. After throwing a career-high 125 pitches in his previous outing.

Earlier in the season I complained that Santana pitched just well enough to lose (believe me, I feel bad about it now), but in this case he pitched so well he could not lose. For three months and 17 starts now he has been unbeatable (or at least unbeaten) today he was unhittable.

a pumped-up Johan Santana pitches the game of his life when the Mets needed it most

And it didn't even seem for a moment that there was any doubt. Once the Mets gave him one run it seemed like he knew (and his teammates knew) that he was going to make that one run stand up.

With this virtuoso performance Santana earned the eternal respect of all Mets fans, he earned $137 million dollars, he earned a place in the pantheon of great games ever pitched by the Mets (Seaver's near-perfect game, Cone's 19 Ks, Bobby Jones's playoff 1-hitter, Maine's near-no-hitter in the second to last game of last year, Al Leiter in the 1-game playoff in 1999), he earned a reptuation as a clutch pitcher, and he may have earned a Cy Young Award.

An absolutely incredible, wonderful, magnificent, superb, splendid performance by Johan Santana.

But one adjective I didn't use was "inspiring." Hopefully with one game left to go and a possible 1-game playoff looming, this performance by Santana will prove to be an inspiration to his teammates.

David Wright congratulates Johan Santana on one of the msot clutch pitching performances you will ever see

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Marlins 6 Mets 1

It amazes me how a team that showed so much heart the night before, could die like dogs with no fight at all the very next game.

It amazes me how a team that is so good at getting runners on, is so bad at getting runners in.

Once again that's what this game came down to. After the starting pitcher put the Mets in an early hole again Delgado struck out with first and second and Church flied out with the bases loaded in the first inning.

In the second it was Reyes and Murphy who failed with two men on.

And in the third it was Church who evidently didn't break out of his slump, again failing, this time hitting into a double play with 2 on.

The Mets had one more chance in the 7th inning when a base running mistake by Ramon Martinez may have cost them, but best case it would have been a runner on third and 2 out so no big deal. But at the time it seemed big because the lead was only 3-1.

But then the bullpen took over. Of all the horrible games and innings turned in by bullpen this year, this was one of the worst.

Bobby Parnell showed the rest of the relievers have been rubbing off on him as he allowed a walk and a wild pitch, then a hit, allowing a run to score when Daniel Murphy committed another error. Then came Pedro Feliciano who can't get anyone out anymore. He hit the only batter he faced and may way for Aaron Heilman. Heilman actually got two outs, but he also walked 2 batters, including one with the bases loaded. I am so sick of this guy coming and walking batters. It's so sickening to watch. I hope this was his last ever appearance as a Met.

Joe Smith, the only reliable reliever came in to get the last out but it was too little too late as the offense let the Mets down again.

Now it falls to Johan Santana again who is going to come back on 3 days rest, after the most pitches of his career, to try to keep the dream alive for one more day. Doesn't seem like the best situation for him, but we shall see.

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Happy Recap: Mets 7 Cubs 6

Oh the angst of being a Mets fan. After the most disheartening loss of the season, comes the most exhilirating win.

I know there are a lot of complaints about Carlos Beltran but say what you want, add this to a growing list of incredibly clutch base hits he's gotten during his career with the Mets. He'll forever be dogged by the strikeout against Adam Wainwright in the 2006 NLCS, but this was a hit, a run, a game, the Mets absolutely had to have -- and he delivered it.

Meanwhile David Wright struck out again. This time he did it with Reyes on first, but another big situation where he couldn't even put bat to ball. At least he got a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

I'd love to know what was going on with Daniel Murphy there. Did he miss signs, was Manuel giving the swing away motion to trick the Cubs? Either way he never should have been bunting in the first place. The play isn't beneficial to run production even with a good bunter at bat and pparently he's never had a sac bunt in pro baseball. I understand Reyes couldn't steal because it was muddy, but Murphy has a great chance of getting Reyes over by reaching base himself, without using an out. And once he looked so clueless they should have yelled "swing away" to make sure he took his hacks.

Ryan Church was awesome in this game, but his three hits were the least of his contributions. His amazing adroitness to avoid the tag when he scored the tying run was really the key (other than Beltran's hit) to winning this game.

He missed the tag!
Ryan Church avoids the tag from Koyie Hill
Ryan Church elated, Koyie Hill deflated

The Mets also got amazing contributions from Robinson Cancel and Ramon Martinez. I think Manuel has to play Martinez, even if it's only three more good games, that's all they need.

Key contribution from Robinson Cancel

Of course Pedro sucked as he has done so often this year. But after he allowed a run to leadoff the 3rd, he buckled down and gave up only 2 hits, one walk over the next four innings, while striking out 6. He showed some guts which will eventually separate him from the other Hall of Famer whose last Mets start was an absolute disaster.

Stokes, Schoeneweis and Smith all did their jobs to keep the Cubs at 6 long enough for the Mets to stage a comeback. No reliever is blameless in this season but it's no accident that Joe Smith is 6-3 while Aaron Heilman is 3-8.

It should be noted that this monumental win came against a Cubs team that sat its five best offensive players, all of whom hit more than 20 homers this year. And still, someone named Micah Hoffpauir went 5 for 5 with 2 homers and 5 RBI.

But anyway you slice this team has a habit of lifting fans up, then letting them down with a thud. But for now the Mets are tied with the wild card, a game behind the Phillies and looking to make the playoffs, or crash once again.

Let's Go Mets!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 9 Mets 6

Of all the hard losses, and all the monumental disasters and all the unhappy recaps, this has got to be the worst.

And I don't want to hear one thing about Luis Ayala, or even Oliver Perez. The Mets offense is completely to blame for this loss.

Five guys made outs with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs and none were able to hit a deep fly ball to get a run in. That's disgraceful.

First it was Daniel Murphy in the 7th who hit the ball hard but lined into a double play. That was bad luck.
In the 8th inning Ryan Church struck out (make contact, please) and Ramon Castro hit a weak grounder to third.
And in the 9th it was David Wright striking out (how many times have I written that?) and Ryan Church again with a weak grounder.

But let's be fair here, there is plenty of blame to go around. Oliver Perez sucked. I'm not ready to give up on him as a big game pitcher (and I hope this is not his last start as a Met, I don't want him going out in infamy like Tom Glavine) but he did allow 11 base runners in 4 1/3 innnings. You can only walk the tightrope for so long.

And Luis Ayala did give up three runs, but the hit to Lee was an opposite field dunker and it was in his second inning of work, on his third straight day of pitching.

Daniel Murphy's triple was an attempt to atone for an earlier mistake when he misplayed a single to allow the tying run to score. But another hit did come after that, meaning the run would have scored anyway.

I love Ramon Castro but not only did he ground out with 2nd and 3rd and one out in the 8th, he struck out with the bases loaded in the 9th. He's batting .150 in his last 40 at bats, which covers all of August and September.

And let's not leave the coaching staff out of this, they need to be more aggressive. Reyes should have been running in the 7th. Even if Murphy's line drive were still caught, it probably wouldn't have been a double play if Reyes had already been on second base.

And Luis Aguayo needs to be a little more aggressive also. We've seen it several times this year, he holds a runner with no outs, assuming the Mets could get him home, but they can't.

The Mets blew a golden opportunity here to regain control of their destiny. Now they are almost definitely out of the division race, and in a tie with Brewers and fighting for their lives to fend off a second collapse.

But as we've seen so many times before this team always has a little bit left to reel you in again, usually just so they can break your heart one more time.

It saddens me that I wrote this entire post and didn't even think about mentioning Delgado's grand slam, which at the time it was hit, may have been the biggest moment of the season.

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Happy Recap: Mets 6 Cubs 2

Midway through this game it was looking like my worst nightmare, the Mets weren't hitting and Johan Santana was getting clobbered. Then all of the sudden, one lucky bounce completely reversed the course of the game, and possibly the season.

With one out and Nick Evans on first Johan Santana hit what should have been a 1-6-3 doubleplay, but the magic bat not only distracted the pitcher, it ricocheted the ball away from the shortstop, giving Santana an infield hit.

After Reyes struck out an even bigger miracle occurred. Luis Castillo made his first contribution in weeks, working out a walk. Then David Wright ripped a single to left to tie the game. Wright came into that at bat with a .188 batting average with the bases loaded.

David Wright comes through with a clutch bases loaded hit

It was around this time in the game when Johan Santana started to turn it around. Through four innings he gave up 2 runs, 6 hits and 4 doubles. Then he retired the side in the 5th inning on 6 pitches and allowed only 1 hit over the next four innings. Santana once again earned his money, won his 8th straight decision, and hasn't lost in 16 straight starts and he set a new career high in pitches with 125.

Johan Santana is earning every penny with his performance down the stretch

The third piece of our triumverate to build around for the next 6 years came through with his own big hit in the 6th inning. After another lucky break (an infield single for Castro and an error to score Delgado) Jose Reyes came up with the bases loaded. He was only 2 for 19 with the bases loaded so far this season, but he ripped one down the line for the bases clearing triple, and enough runs to let the Mets cruise to the victory.

I love all Reyes triples, but the best are the ones that come with the bases loaded

i love to see a postgame handshake line

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Cubs 9 Mets 5

This game doesn't make me angry. This was a game the Mets were supposed to lose, it was Jon Niese on the mound, against the Cubs, and they got their asses kicked. That happens sometimes. But it just makes all those other games, the ones where one play, one hit, one out could have made a difference, seem even more important.

It does add a little insult to injury that the Mets were done in by Jason Marquis. A grand slam by a pitcher? The last three times a pitcher hit a grand slam were all against the Mets. There was Dontrelle Willis back in 2006, and Felix Hernandez earlier this year.

Even despite that grand slam the Mets did have a lot of chances, going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Even though they got blown out, they had several chances, to come back or at least cut into the lead. In the 4th and 6th they got the first two men on -- and promptly hit into double plays.

It's so frustrating to watch Luis Castillo because he can't even hit the ball out of the infield. And he is signed for 3 more years. I hope Omar can dump him during the offseason (even if he has to eat 90% of his contract) and move Daniel Murphy there next year (assuming he goes to winter ball and becomes proficient enough at the position).

Once again the Mets are putting all their eggs in Johan Santana's basket.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Braves 7 Mets 6

How many times we have seen this same game? I bet there's been at least 25 times this year the Mets played a game with the following characteristics: Mets score early off the starter then go in the tank, the starting pitcher pitches fairly well, but allows too many baserunners and doesn't go deep enough and then the bullpen implodes.

I don't even blame the bullpen all that much for this loss. Schoeneweis, Smith and Heilman all gave up extra base hits in the same inning, but they got a little unlucky and were hindered by a horrible decision by Jerry Manuel.

Why the hell did he intentionally walk two guys in the 8th inning? It made no sense to put extra runners on base. He knew they were going to pinch hit Chipper if he walked Norton. So he added an extra runner AND put him in scoring position, and gained nothing. He should have gone after Norton and at least given the offense a chance.

Not that the offense would have done anything with it. Before I go any further though it's important to mention that you can't view this game as a one-run game. Carlos Delgado's homer only came because Mike Gonzalez was challenging him with a 3-run lead. Without that lead Delgado would have been pitched differently, most likely to a different result.

David Wright and Carlos Delgado are exempt from the blame for this game, they had 5 of the 6 RBI and 6 of the 8 hits. It's everyone else who sucked.

In the 6th the Mets started off with two walks, but Pelfrey couldn't get the bunt down. Inexcuseable. Reyes and Murphy went quietly and that was that.

In the 7th Wright and Delgado got on and on the first pitch to Beltran he squared to bunt? Why? He does this so often, and every time I hear he's doing it on his own. Why doesn't Manuel tell him "don't bunt on your own. Don't bunt ever, you're too good a hitter. Our bullpen is too bad to EVER play for just one run. Get up there and get a hit." Then on 0-1 Beltran swung at a pitch in the dirt and his at bat was wasted. When Church grounded into a double play the Mets had wasted two great chances to add to their lead.

With 17 games to go the Mets held a 3 1/2 game lead over the Phillies. During the last 10 games the Mets went 4-6 and the Phillies went 9-1. Sure seems like a replay of last year.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Braves 4 Mets 2

The Mets can't win when they don't score 5 runs and they can't win when Pedro pitches.

He is absolutely awful. He puts them in a huge hole every time out, usually giving up only one run in the first inning, this time it was 3. But if it weren't for his bat the Mets would have gotten shut out.

A good job by Schoeneweis to at least keep the game close. And it was nice to see Parnell come into the game as well.

The 4th run for the Braves did come as the result of a bad call at second base. Jones was clearly out at second.

I have never seen Ramon Castro look worse in an at bat than he did striking out in the 7th inning with Castillo on base. In fact he looked like Castillo does in every at bat, where he just flails at the ball.

Castillo did get one hit, improving his September batting average to .154.

David Wright got two of the Mets hits which is nice because they really need him to play better at bat and in the field.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Braves 5

In the last 12 games the Mets are 12-0 when the score 5 or more runs. And 1-7 when they scored 4 or fewer. And in those 12 wins they allowed 5 or more runs 5 times. This is how it's going to be for the rest of the season. As Gary Cohen said, they're going to "have to outscore their bullpen.

The big difference so far between this September and last, is Jose Reyes. I don't care what anyone says, he is the unquestioned MVP of this team. The three big boppers are all great, but the Mets can win if one of them isn't hitting, because there are two more just like him. But if Reyes isn't on base, they don't win. And when he starts them off by scoring in the first inning, the Mets usually win. He's also very underrated as a run producer, I feel like he constantly drives in runs when he gets the opportunities.

David Wright also got two running scoring hits, waking up out his doldrums, although the first one was a weak swing that he just got inside the first base line. Good thing because he is absolutely killing this team with his defense. He should have been charged with 2 errors in that second inning, but the official scorer let him off the hook on one of them.

And that's I'm giving Oliver Perez some credit for this outing, even though it was only mediocre. Not only did he have to deal with Wright's bad defense, which cost him 2 runs, he had to deal with the inconsistent and very small strike zone of the home plate umpire.

Jerry Manuel did a good job of mixing and matching pitchers to get through the 7th and I was glad to see Heilman get a big strikeout. And I was glad Manuel left Stokes in for the 9th inning. The guy has been pretty good and I like that he is going with the hot hand. If a guy is having a good night, stick with him, no matter what the matchup says, because chances are bringing in a guy who throws with the correct hand will turn out to be the wrong move.
Oliver Perez bounce back from bad defense and small strike zone

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Happy Recap: Mets 7 Nationals 2

Even the easy wins don't seem so easy.

I really thought the Mets were going to lose after getting only one run in the first inning. Reyes led off with a double down the line, Murphy singled to center and Milledge misplayed it, letting it roll all the way to the wall. I thought Murphy could have scored but I realized it was prudent to leave him on third for Wright and Delgado. And Wright struck out, and Delgado popped out and the Mets stranded Murphy.

Seems like every time this year the Mets left runs on the table like that, it came back to bite them. But thankfully not this time. The Mets continued to pound out hits, scoring in each of the first five innings.

Brian Schneider continues to kill the Nationals. Four of his 9 home runs are against them. He has 3 homers at their home field this season. He had only 2 homers at their home park last year, when he played for them.

David Wright sank back into his slump. After 2 4-hit games in 4 days last week, he went 1 for 18 in this series, with 7 strikeouts. He now has 13 strikeouts in 52 at bats, with a man on third and fewer than 2 outs. He also has 13 hits in those situations.

Johan Santana once again did the job. He now has 15 straight starts without a loss, the second longest streak in Mets history. The Mets are 11-4 in those starts, a streak that began on July 4th, continuing Santana's second half dominance.

I disagreed at the time with bringing in Joe Smith in the 8th inning with a 6-run lead but I understand Manuel's panic. Personally I would have gone with Parnell and saved the better relievers (Smith has been great) for more high-leverage situations, but you can't believe that a 6-run lead is safe.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Nationals 7

This bullpen makes sure there is no such thing as an easy victory. The offense is going to have to keep putting up these huge numbers because the relievers can't hold a lead.

This time there isn't much to blame on Jerry Manuel. Even though he used 8 pitchers his hand was forced in most of those situations. He couldn't leave Brandon Knight in for another inning, he's just not ready go to that long. He showed remarkable restraint not to yank Rincon and Stokes because they were both terrible. And Aaron Heilman made only his 3rd appearance in 14 September games, allowing hits to the first 2 batters he faced.

I even agree with pulling Schoeneweis after he got 2 quick outs, because Joe Smith has been so good lately. Smith hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 13 2/3 innings over 18 appearances. And leaving Smith for the 9th was exactly the correct move, but it didn't work out because of Wright's error, and Smith's walk.

And those mistakes were compounded by the eminently hittable Pedro Feliciano who got two outs before he allowed the hit that drove in 2 runs and put the tying run up to bat.

Thankfully Luis Ayala shut the door or the Mets would have been the Mets would have lost their second game after holding a 7-1 lead.

Thank god the offense finally woke up, the Mets needed every run they could get.

Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado got the evening off to a great start with solo homers in the first, once again the Mets scoring runs in the first inning and going on to win the game.

I was a little worried about Delgado because over the past few games I've seen him jump at balls and tap them to the right side again, but I'm glad to see he isn't falling back into his bad habits.

Carlos Beltran is awesome, I don't care what anyone says. He takes more criticism than any other Met (because of his contract) but he's a really great player. He does everything well and contributes with his bat (two homers) and his glove (turned a double play and went back gracefully to catch Zimmerman's ball that could have been disaster).

Once again the Mets are relying on Johan Santana to pitch them to a victory. Jerry Manuel is counting on him for "Hopefully nine innings, 170 pitches."

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Nationals 1 Mets 0

This is how the meltdown starts. First it was the bullpen, then the starting pitching, now the offense has gone completely in the tank, scoring 2 runs in 2 games against the Nationals.

I'm not ready to give up on this season yet, but this is starting to look exactly like last year. No one can make the play, get the hit, or get the out that's needed to win a game.

The Mets didn't get enough base runners to have a lot of serious chances to score but when they did, it was disaster.

They didn't even get a baserunner in innings 2 through 5 so the first failure came in the 6th inning when with 2 on and 1 out Ryan Church flied out and David Wright hit one hard, but it was caught for the third out.

The only other chance came in the 8th when Ramon Castro and Robinson Cancel singled with one out. Reyes tapped out the pitcher and Ryan Church struck out on a pitch in the dirt. And that was all she wrote.

Mike Pelfrey was excellent again after one bad start, but something always seems to go wrong when the Mets hit one of these skids.

David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado are a combined 1 for 23 so far in this series.

And the Mets lost Fernando Tatis for the season. Tatis was the one guy who had been hitting over this stretch and he is the Met who had proven himself to be most reliable in clutch situations through the year. His absence is going to force Manuel to play Church everyday and platoon Murphy and Evans in left.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Nationals 7 Mets 2

I think I've been on this ride before, and I want to get off. It seems like a lot of things from last year are starting to repeat themselves. Mainly, there was a huge psychological component to last year's meltdown and it already seems that doubt is creeping into the minds of Mets players and especially Mets fans.

I think that's why we saw Mets fans booing Luis Castillo (even though he'd been out for weeks) and Luis Ayala (even though he'd been doing fairly well as closer before Sunday) at Shea this weekend. Or maybe they just don't like players named Luis.

A big question coming down the stretch is going to be about Jerry Manuel's handling of the bullpen. It's clear that his strategy right now is to pitch the starters as long as possible, and the relievers as short as possible. He has shown that he doesn't want righties to face lefties or lefties to face righties. Unfortunately, this strategy maximizes the number of relievers he is going to use in each game. So every time a guy gets a few batters out, Manuel removes him, which is basically rolling the dice.

This bit him in the ass in the 7th inning. After Ricardo Rincon retired 2 batters with no problem, Manuel went to Duaner Sanchez who gave up a walk, a single, a wild pitch and a 3-run homer to put the game completely out of reach.

Before this outing however, Sanchez had pitched 4 1/3 in his last 5 appearances allowing only 1 hit and no runs.

I think Manuel needs to adjust this strategy by leaving in guys who are going good and diminishing the number of pitchers he uses in each game and the number of outings for each pitcher over the next two weeks.

Because this slide (should it continue) has such a huge psychological component, I think David Wright's double play in the 8th was a huge hit to the team's confidence. Even if they could have cut the lead to 7-4 or 7-5 and still lost, it wouldn't seem like such a blowout.

Wright, Beltran and Delgado were a combined 0 for 11 in this game. The Mets need them to regain their form, or they can definitely kiss this season goodbye.

Bobby Parnell looked good in his inning, maybe he can contribute out of the bullpen.

Pedro Martinez is terrible. The Mets are now 7-13 when he starts. First off, he seems to allow a run in the 1st inning of every single game. And as I talk about a lot in this space, the Mets usually pick up an advantage by scoring first, Pedro almost always gives away that advantage. But he just gives up so many hits and so many runs. He has a 5.47 ERA, most guys would be out of the rotation if they pitched that poorly for three straight months, but the Mets continue to rely on him, for at least 2 more starts.

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Unhappy Recap: Braves 7 Mets 4

So much for Luis Ayala as the savior (and saver) out of the bullpen. For the second time in two days the Mets blew a 2-run lead and lost a game they should have won. This time however the lead was blown in the 9th, making it the 7th time the Mets lost a game they were winning after 8 innings. That's just an astronomical number.

Maybe the offense can stay hot and get the Mets back into the playoffs but with the bullpen the way it is there is just no way a Met fan can be confident at all.

And it wasn't just Ayala who sucked, Pedro Feliciano got the first man he faced, then put on four batters in a row. He'd been doing better recently (6 straight hitless appearances) but I have no confidence in him either.

Joe Smith came in and did his job though, striking out two batters with two men on in the 8th inning.

Oliver Perez wasn't bad but his pitch count was very high and he was constantly in trouble, but 2 runs in 7 innings certainly should have been good enough.

David Wright is now officially on fire. In the last 5 games he is 12 for 19 (.632) with 4 homers and 9 RBI.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 5 Braves 0

What a performance by Jon Niese. He obviously shook off the nerves that affected him in his first start. He was in control the whole time because he was able to control his curveball. His curveball was awesome and he was able to get it over for strikes. I think we're going to see with him throughout his career that when he can get that curveball over for strikes he'll be very hard to hit.

And I love the fact that Jerry Manuel let him pitch into the 8th inning, and left him in there even though he allowed a hit to the first batter of the inning.

There wasn't much for Niese to worry about because once again the Mets jumped out to a big lead with 3 first inning runs.

David Wright looks like he might be starting to get hot.

Beltran also getting hot hitting a home run and raising his batting average to .285, which is higher than he's had in any season with the Mets.

If Carlos Delgado continues his hot streak while Wright and Beltran are hitting this way, the Mets are going to be very dangerous.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Braves 3 Mets 2

The Mets lost this game when they reverted to their former ways and were unable to get runners home. Particularly when Schneider and Easley both grounded into double plays with the bases loaded and none out.

Schneider's came in the 4th and did bring a run home, but Easley's hurt a lot more. He got doubled up after the Braves cut off the run at home and the inning ended without the Mets get anything home.

And that failure to tack on runs cost the Mets when Santana faltered in the 8th. Manuel did the right thing by trying to stretch Santana but he faded because he threw too many pitches early in the game.

The Mets bullpen has been pretty decent but when Santana put the first two men on in the 8th, Schoeneweis and Stokes each allowed a hit to the first batter they faced.

Santana allowed 9 hits and struck out only 4 in 7 innings, a disappointing outing for him.

Carlos Delgado stayed hot with two more hits.

The Mets must win game 2 of this doubleheader.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 13 Nationals 10

I've said all season that the Mets biggest problem isn't their bullpen, but the lack of clutch hitting. That doesn't seem to be a problem anymore. The Mets are getting every key hit and are winning despite bad starting pitching.

Carlos Delgado went 0 for 3 but I'm still impressed by him. With the game tied in the 7th inning he went the other way and hit a sacrifice fly to score Wright with the go-ahead run. Home runs come and go but making contact with runners on 3rd and 1 out will always be there.

Carlos Beltran had another big game with 3 hits and 2 RBI, including a 2-out hit to drive in the first run.

And David Wright may have finally broken out. Four hits in four at bats culminating in that crucial home run to give Ayala some breathing room. Jerry Manuel says the extra time Wright has been spending in the batting cage with Howard Johnson is starting to pay off. If the Mets can ever get Wright, Beltran and Delgado all hitting at the same time, they're going to be very tough to beat.

Of course, the Mets seldom get this much offense with contrbutions from Jose Reyes who was on base 3 times. He also broke the Mets record for career stolen bases with 282. A record he later extended to 283. I expect Reyes to hold this record quite possibly forever.

Unfortunately Mike Pelfrey followed up a bad outing by Oliver Perez with a bad outing of his own. But this is a team game and it's so encouraging to see this team pick up their teammates during bad games.

With 17 games left the Mets now have exactly half the lead they had last year with 17 games left. But I'm much more confident they can hold it this time.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 10 Nationals 8

Carlos Delgado is absolutely incredible right now. There doesn't seem to be anything else to say about him. He's on one of the greatest rolls I've ever seen. And when you compare it to the way he was (or wasn't) hitting earlier this season, it's even more remarkable. And he's not just hitting homers and driving in runs, he's doing it at crucial times.

For the second straight game he hit 2 home runs and once again they were both big shots in distance and in consequence. Both times he extended a 1-run lead, and in the second case, gave the bullpen a much needed insurance run. Not lost in all this is his single that started a rally in the second inning.

Carlos Beltran also delivered a big home run, turning an 8-7 deficit into a 9-8 lead. Beltran has had a subpar season but he has come up with a number of big home runs.

David Wright also got his first big hit in what seems like weeks. In the first inning with Church on first, Ron Darling said Manuel shouldn't send Church with a struggling Wright at the plate. He did, and Wright struck out and Church was caught stealing to end the inning. But in the 4th inning Wright got a key 2-out hit to tie the game.

Oliver Perez was awful, but it was his first truly putrid start (more than 4 runs) since June, so I'll give him a pass. I'm encouraged that walks weren't his undoing this time.

I'm also incredibly impressed with the bullpen, which held the Nationals without a run for the last 4 innings. Joe Smith got to pitch to more than one batter for a chance, and he was excellent. And Luis Ayala continues to try to erase the memory of Billy Wagner. He's now 6 of 7 in save chances as a Met.

This is the third time this season the Mets won a game in which they allowed 8 runs or more.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 6 Phillies 3

Carlos Delgado is absolutely ridiculous right now. I can't believe what's going on with him. If he can keep this up for 3 more weeks he could very well be the first MVP in Mets history.

The two home runs were nice and showy, but the big hit was the single that scored 2 runs and put the Mets right back in the lead after the Phillies had scored in the top of the 1st.

This is excatly the reason they got Johan Santana. They needed him for these big games down the stretch and he's been stepping up big time. The Mets have won his last 7 starts.

The Mets did get a couple of lucky breaks starting with the catcher's interference that put Wright on first and set up Delgado's big hit in the first.

Then there was the neighborhood play by Chase Utley, when he was clearly off the bag before he caught the ball.

Unfortunately they didn't convert on that opportunity because of David Wright. He has been absolutely horrible lately, striking out almost every time he's had a man on third and fewer than 2 outs.

As hot as Delgado is I don't know how much longer he can carry this team if Wright doesn't start hitting.

This was a game the Mets absolutely had to have, and they got it. It wasn't the best result for this 3-game series but at least they still have a lead on the Phillies and they don't have to play them anymore this season.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Phillies 6 Mets 2

The Mets picked the wrong time to play one of their worst games of the year.

The offense was non-existent as the Mets didn't get a hit to the outfield until the 8th inning, when they got 2 runs.

But it was too little too late because Pedro got bombed.

There isn't too much else to analyze from this game because the Mets never really had a chance. There were no strategic turning points. The Mets couldn't hit Moyer and Pedro got bombed, that's the recap in its simplest form.

Greg Dobbs has 3 of his 8 home runs this season against the Mets.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Unhappy Recap: Phillies 3 Mets 0

This was a tough game to lose, but not really a bad loss, Brett Myers was just too good. His curveball was incredible. They just couldn't hit him.

They did get a couple of good chances, but just couldn't get that key hit. Their best chance came in the ninth inning against Brad Lidge but Church's ball couldn't find the gap.

Mike Pelfrey was great again, but that homer by Dobbs really hurt. If Church had jumped a little higher, or a little straighter he might have been able to catch it.

I love the way Daniel Murphy plays. Two more doubles plus a great at bat against Lidge in the 9th, which unfortunately didn't end in a walk or a hit.

David Wright continues to struggle, especially with men on base.

I liked what I saw out of Ricardo Rincon against two very tough lefties.

The Mets need to get at least one of the next two games to avoid complete disaster.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 9 Brewers 2

The Mets complete a huge sweep of a potential postseason opponent.

Once again the Mets got off to a fast start and were able to hold on to the lead, with a little help from the bullpen. And also some tack on runs.

It's amazing that the Mets struggled so much early in the season with the bases loaded and now they have two grand slams in one week. Ryan Church really improves the lineup when he is batting 6th and hitting for power.

Brian Schneider's power surge continues but I'm not quite sure why Manuel hit him behind Castillo.

Daniel Murphy survived his first slump as a Major Leaguer and is 9 for his last 18 starting with that key double against the Phillies.

Another good start for Oliver Perez. Too many walks, too many pitches and too many deep counts, but if a bad start for him is two runs in nearly 7 innings then I think the Mets will take it.

Once again the Mets bullpen came through with 2 1/3 scoreless innings this time. But I don't understand why Manuel went to Sanchez and Schoeneweis with a 6-run leads. He needs to be judicious in the way he uses those guys down the stretch. And a huge lead like that probably would have been a good time to get Carlos Muniz, Al Reyes or even Bobby Parnell in the game.

But other than that there is nothing to criticize about the job Jerry Manuel is doing. Let's hope he can keep it up against the Phillies.

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Happy Recap: Mets 6 Brewers 5

Another huge win and this time the big contributions came from some unexpected sources.

The bullpen pitched 7 shutout innings, which is quite remarkable. Nelson Figueroa and Brian Stokes are proving to be very valubale additions to the bullpen. It seems clear that Manuel is not going to use Smith or Feliciano for more than one batter for the rest of the season. And Ayala got another save, but it's never easy.

But the Mets pitchers also got help from some great defense. David Wright is playing a great third base even though he hasn't been hitting.

But Carlos Beltran came up big with the glove and the bat. First was his 3-run homer in the third to give the Mets the big lead. It was his 5th homer in the past 9 games, maybe a sign that is going to get hot at the right time. But he also made the biggest play of the game by nailing J.J. Hardy at the plate to end the 4th inning and keep the Mets out of further trouble. And a great job blocking the plate by Robinson Cancel.

Robinson Cancel blocks the plate

Also coming up big with the bat and glove was Endy Chavez. What a beautiful throw he made to second to get Weeks. And then he hit the game-winning sacrifice fly. It shocked me to learn this but the Mets actually lead the NL in sac flies.

Endy Chavez comes through again

And the Mets capitalized on a huge mistake by the Brewers. Jose Reyes should not have been bunting in the 10th inning, he's too good a hitter. But because he did, and because Weeks was late covering and because Kendall's throw was into the runner, the Mets won the game.

Now on to Jonathon Niese. I put no stock in his performance in this game. He was clearly nervous in the first inning. And he may have run out of gas by the fourth. Hopefully he can come out on a more even keel next time, start better and last longer. But if we've learned anything this season, it is not to write off a young pitcher too soon.

An inauspicious debut for Jon Niese
Jose Reyes celebrates another Met win in the usual way

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy Recap: Mets 4 Brewers 2

Carlos Delgado is absolutely unbelievable right now. For the third time in 2 weeks he got an absolutely huge late game hit to turn a likely loss into a win. His turnaround is just incredible.

I said through most of the early part of the season that the Mets struggles were mostly caused by lack of timely hitting. Well, they are certainly starting to get timely hitting now. Three of the last four wins have come on huge late game home runs that turned deficits into leads.

Delgado is awesome

Excellent performance by Johan Santana, after the first inning he was dominant, striking out nearly everyone, and I think he might have gotten out of that mess in the 6th had it not been for that balk. Which was a good call by the way.

The Mets dodged a major bullet when Ben Sheets left the game.

The bullpen was also excellent and Feliciano and Joe Smith struck out all 3 batters they faced. Hopefully they can excel in reduced roles.

And Luis Ayala racking up another save. They are going need him to continue to nail down that closer's role.

Carlos Beltran has two more hits, but let's hope he wasn't seriously hurt when he slid into the umpire.

carlos beltran takes out the home plate umpire

What is wrong with David Wright? He struck out again with a man on third and only one out. Then he struck out with a man on second and nobody out. In man on third, fewer than 2 out situation he has 9 sacrifice flies, and 9 strikeouts.

Why was Daniel Murphy bunting in the first inning? What a horrible decision. It's too early to play for one run and worst-case a lefty should be able to make an out to the right side that gets Reyes to third.

Here are the stats on Delgado's turnaround:
Before June 26: 280 at bats, 11 homers, 35 RBI, .232 BA, .304 OBP, .400 SLUG
After June 26: 225 at bats, 20 homers, 60 RBI, .298 BA, .385 OBP, .627 SLUG

Delgado has done this home run trot 20 times since June 26

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