Tagged: Johan Santana

Crucial Times…

As I sit here writing this, the Mets are in extras against the Reds.  After what was a phenomenal week, ending the home stand, the Mets have hit a skid.  Granted, I will take a 5-1 week all the time (Sun-Sat).  But the end of the series in Philly has left a horrid taste in my mouth.  After dominating 3 less-than-stellar teams and going 9-1 on a critical home stand, NY has dropped its last 2 against its main rival.  I was not as frustrated about Saturday’s loss (although, I always hate to them…and watching Pelfrey get blitzed).  After winning 8 in a row, losses are to be expected and a lot of times, crushing losses.  That’s just baseball.  -side note: what a play by Davis to get Votto at first…love this kid.  Love his defense- It was more Sunday’s loss that was so disheartening.  Although it is still early in May, this was a big series.   The Mets were hot and had a big test.  Played a great game on Friday to get at least a win and got bombed on Saturday…how would they respond?  Especially in the lion’s den?  Coming right out of the gate and watching DW5 hit that bomb…I was psyched and thought that Saturday was behind us.  Even after Santana gave up the 2 HRs (both were after he had 0-2 counts), he still looked good.  And then Barajas’ huge 2 run shot…it just looked like they were over the hump and going to make a statement.  Especially with Santana on the mound.  And then it happened…the walk to Moyer was the breaker…after that, everything was a blur.  I didn’t even make it through the inning before catching up on my DVRed tv shows.  -side note: I have a feeling that Chuck is ending, unfortunately- 

This brings me to my point…can the Mets respond from such a disheartening weekend?  And what does this team want from this year?  They have showed how much potential they have, pitching the way they have (both starting and relieving).  With no one other than Wright (and not BA-wise) really on track (maybe Francoeur), only good things should be coming from the offensive department, right?  Well, tonight, they start a 3 game series in Cincy…a team they can take 2 of 3 from.  And then back home.  So, this is a time to show that the speed bump was just that…and not a huge pothole.  -game has gone to Top 11, now-  Ollie looked solid, tonight, going 6 innings, only 2 runs.  4 BBs, though.  But, again, I will take that from him. 

So, I might have been wrong about hitting Reyes in the 3 hole…sort of.  They have won 7 of 9 games, entering tonight, with him hitting in that spot.  But, it has not been due to Reyes, whose average is down to .217.  I think that they have to continue as things are…but only because there’s not a lot better option.  Bay finally hit a HR last week…but still waiting for him to break out.

Ok, so, I also want to bring up something else that is going on in sports…the NBA Playoffs.  More specifically, the Spurs/Suns series.  I’ve been a Suns fan for years (don’t ask) and definitely have my feelings about the Spurs.  But this is going to be a tremendous series.  With all of the history between the teams and the Spurs maybe reaching the edge of their dominance and the Suns playing better defense.  This is what the playoffs are all about.  People are finally starting to come around on the Suns and pick them to actually beat San Antonio.  They have home-court.  Amare has been playing out of his mind; Grant Hill has revived his career.  -Game to Bot 11, Acosta in-  I know the Cavs/C’s series is going to be great, as well, but this should be a series that goes at least 6 games. Its tough for me to see either team beat the Lakers, but…to finally vanquish the Spurs might give Amare just enough reasons to stay in the Valley of the Sun.   

Hopefully, the Mets will pull this one out and can go for the series win, tomorrow…and…no…Nix homers off of Acosta for a 3-2 win…3rd loss in a row

Tuesday, 7:10, Great American Ballpark, Maine vs. Arroyo…

 

A Week in Review…

Over the last week, the Mets have been on a tear.  And the key has been the starting pitching.  Oliver Perez had the iffy start on Wednesday against the Cubs that resulted in the Mets only loss, since last Sunday.  I think he did enough to keep the heat off of himself in the rotation.  He went 5 innings and only allowed 3 runs.  That’s…ok, not terrible…and that is what the Mets need (at the minimum) from him and John Maine.  The problem on Wednesday was the bullpen.  Newly-acquired Manny Acosta got wrecked in that game…as did Takahashi.  John Maine got hurt in his start on Friday against the Braves.  He was pitching better than his first few starts, but then he got hurt.  That just seems to be how it goes for Maine, unfortunately.  I’m not entirely sure what needs to be done with him.  It’s really hard for me to see the Mets re-signing him in the off-season.  I would wish him well and enjoy it if he succeeds some place else…but he just has been so inconsistent over the last 2-3 years, whether it be pitching or injury. 

Jon Niese had 2 very nice starts last week.  Not quite what I want to eventually get out of him (5 and 2/3 with 1 run and 5 and 1/3 with 1 run).  But he’s not getting crushed and he is striking out people (7 and 6, respectively).  Unfortunately, a lack of run support has stopped him from getting a win, in either game.  Still, I am liking what I am seeing from him and look forward to his starts, now. 

Johan and Pelfrey are both looking amazing.  Each got a win last week and looked very strong, doing so.  Pelfrey could get another win, tonight, pending the outcome (which is stuck in the 6th due to a rain delay…Mets are up 1-0, though).  Pelf looked good (but not), tonight.  He did not have the control we’ve seen him exhibit this year.  He allowed 10 baserunners in 5 innings, but still managed to get out of it every time, extending his scoreless streak to 24 innings.  If he does win tonight, he will be 4-0 with a .69 ERA…early Cy Young candidate, anyone?

Now…to the hitting.  Sigh.  Still…not good.  Its getting better, as they are getting timelier hits…but, no one is tearing the cover off the ball.  They still only have 50 hits over the last 7 games (including tonight’s that hasn’t been called yet).  Yet, assuming they win tonight, will be 6-1??  That’s just baseball, I guess.  Still waiting for the Jason Bay that we heard about all off-season.  He’s picked it up the last couple games, but still no HRs and 5 RBI, while hitting .269.  David Wright is a little better, but not much 3 HRs, 10 RBI, .222.  Francoeur: 3, 10, .286.  That’s around what I expect from him. 

The Mets have called up Ike Davis.  I was originally against it, but it seems that maybe its what this team has needed.  He has looked right at home, playing 1st base.  He’s also hit very nicely in his 7 games.  1 HR, a couple RBI, and a .318 average.  Granted, its only a week, but he looks like he could be the real deal.  And to have left-handed power is only going to help.  

So, there has been a lot of talk about Jose Reyes hitting in the 3rd spot in the lineup.  It has been thrown around quite a bit over the past couple years.  I’ve thought about it in different circumstances and I finally made a decision as to what I feel about it.  Under ideal circumstances (Beltran being back, Wright and Bay hitting like they are capable, etc), I am supremely against it.  However, given what is going on now, I absolutely love the idea.  And for these reasons:

  • David Wright has not been (W)right.  I still think something is up with him.  Maybe its mental.  Maybe there’s an injury somewhere that no one knows about.  Maybe he’s just trying too hard.  Or maybe (gulp) he’s not as good as we all thought he was??  I hope like everything that its not the last one.  But…whatever the reason…he is not the center-piece of this lineup, right now. 
  • Carlos Beltran is not healthy and it doesn’t look like he will be, anytime soon.  Hopefully before the All-Star Break, but…I’m not holding my breath.  So, we need to move on…at least for a while. 
  • I know his average doesn’t reflect it now (but who on the Mets is sporting a nice BA), but I think that Angel Pagan belongs near the top of the lineup.  He is making strides as a base runner.  He has the speed.  You can hit him in the leadoff spot, followed by Castillo, Reyes, etc..

Monday, 7:10, Citi Field, Kuroda vs. Perez…

Not in the Cards…

The series with the Cardinals was very similar to that with the Rockies.  The Mets didn’t necessarily play that bad…they just didn’t win a majority of the games.  Which…is not good…but at least the games were watchable.  Actually, the Mets were only losing for 5 of the 38 innings played.

The one very good thing has been the starting pitching (ironically) has been the starting pitching.  Oliver Perez threw a nice outing on Friday night: 6.1 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 BBs and 4 Ks.  I will take that from Ollie every single outing.  But…that is not likely.  Bullpen blew his chance for a win, though.  On Saturday…(well, Saturday is a story in and of itself) Santana did a wonderful job starting as well, pitching 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB and 9 Ks.  A nice rebound from has last performance against the Nats, where he gave up a 1st inning grand slam.  And the much awaited 3rd start of John Maine on Sunday did not go terribly.  He gave up a 3 run shot to tie the game in the 5th inning.  That was so disheartening to watch b/c he always seems to get by the one inning.  His pitch count got obscenely high for only 5 innings and not a lot of runs (115). 

We just still can’t hit.  At all.  The Mets did scrap together 9 hits on Friday and did fight back to get a couple runs in the 9th, but still fell a run short.  Saturday…was awful.  They went hitless until the 7th when Pagan blooped a single in.  Despite the game going 20 innings, they could still only manage another 6 hits.  So, the got 7.  In 20 innings.  And the last 3 innings were against non-pitchers.  On Sunday, the Mets got 4 hits…and none of them after the 2nd inning.  That’s just ridiculous.  I mean, I know they faced Carpenter and Wainwright in the series, but still.  That’s 20 hits in 38 innings.  And only 2 of them were extra base hits.  And both were on Friday.  That’s just…not how you win games…regardless of how good your pitching is.  I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but…they just need to hit better.  It also would be more interesting to watch the games if you actually felt like you didn’t need 3 hits in an inning to score a run. 


Points:

  • Jeff Francoeur has cooled off considerably…coming into Monday night, he was 0 for his last 11…
  • Mike Jacobs was FINALLY sent down to Buffalo…in favor of Tobi Stoner, in order to save arms in the bullpen
  • Stoner was then sent back down in favor of much-heralded Ike Davis, who made his MLB debut Monday night…
  • Coming into Monday, the Mets are last in the NL in BA with RISP…still
  • Mike Pelfrey has more saves this year than K-Rod…1
  • Also, Craig Anderson of the Colorado Avalanche, had one of the best goalie performances I have ever seen in the NHL playoffs on Sunday night…saving all 51 shots in a 1-0 OT win over the Sharks…

Next up for the Mets: 4 games against the Cubs at Citi Field…

Weekend Mess…

What a series with that Nationals.  They say that you can’t tell anything in the first month or so of the season.  And that you spend the first couple months figuring out who your team is and what you’ve got to work with.  Unless, either, the results are similar to the previous year or spring training.  I believe both to be the case for the Mets.  Examining how the Mets have played in their first few games reminds me exactly of what I watched all of last year.  The pitching has been average at best.  The offense is odd.  There are some proven hitters, but no one has been consistent.  And no one wants to hit in the clutch.  In the 2 wins, the Mets have scored 15 runs.  In their 4 losses, they have scored 12 runs.  Now, you would expect that to a certain degree b/c runs are how you win games.  But this is what the team did all of last year.  They would get red hot and win a game or 2, and then go ice cold and lose 3-4.  The Mets start the season with a relatively easy schedule (at least a home-favored one) and these are wins that need to be had.  Losing series at home to Florida and Washington are just unacceptable.  Granted (again), its still very early, but the way this club has been playing…I don’t see a lot of reasons why the culture of this club should change.  Getting Reyes into mid-season form and getting Beltran back with both help, but there is something deeper with this team that needs to be addressed.  And until that happens, one or two players will not make a difference.


The Good:

  • Mike Pelfrey: pitched a good game on Friday and picked up the win.  He went 6, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs, 4 BBs, and 4 Ks.  He also only threw 94 pitches, so he would have been in good shape to pitch the 7th if needed…
  • Jeff Francoeur: off to a tremendous start, hitting .476.  He leads the team in BA, hits, RBI, doubles, tied for 1st in HRs and has only stuck out twice…
  • Jose Reyes has returned…I think that’s good.  We’ll soon see…

The Bad:

  • Starting Pitching: no starters’ ERA is under 3.00.  Also, no one has gone more than 6 innings in a start.  Ok, maybe the starting pitching isn’t bad, but…it could definitely be a lot better.
  • Mike Jacobs: Cut him.  Now.  With a Knife.  Or else I will.  He has 2 hits in 15 ABs…and has 4 K’s.  Thankfully, he did not start the last 2 games.  Again, is it kind of early to be wanting to cut someone?  Maybe…but the 4th or 5th place hitter cannot only have 2 hits and 4 Ks in 15 ABs…not on this team, anyway…

The Ugly:

  • Hitting with RISP:  here is why the Mets don’t score runs.  If you don’t hit HRs, then you need to get hits with people on base.  The Mets are the worst team in the NL, hitting .188 with runners in scoring position.  Tell me you don’t remember THAT from last year…
  • Santana’s 1st Inning on Sunday:  Yikes.  This was bad.  2 hits, 4 runs, 2 BBs.  He only gave up one more run in his next 4 innings, but if Santana is pitching like that (at all), this team doesn’t have a prayer.  Ron and Keith were talking during Sunday’s broadcast and said that the Mets are going to need to win pretty much all of Santana’s starts.  Is that unrealistic?  Yeah.  But, is it necessary?  Probably.
  • Starting From Behind:  The only game that the Mets did not give up a 1st or 2nd inning run was in the 1st game of the season.  The way this offense has performed this year, playing from behind from the beginning does not bode well.

Tuesday, 8:40pm, Coors Field, Maine vs. Smith…

  

The Way It Needs to Be…

If the Mets are to succeed this year, this game will be a prototype.  First of all, Santana is going to need to pitch amazing.  And…they are going to have to win his starts.  In addition, they will need to play solid defense and have timely hitting.  Well, all of those aspects came together on Monday.  Johan pitched very well, going 6 innings, allowing 2 hits, a run, walking 2, and striking out 5.  He got into a little trouble in the 6th which raised his pitch count.  Otherwise, it looked like he would go 7 strong.  The bullpen did a great job finishing off the game, allowing only 2 hits in the final 3 innings.  However, before Santana officially left the game, the Met offense had all but finished the game off.  And did it in great team style.  Four different players contributed RBI in the late innings.  The newcomers -Bay, Matthews, and Barajas) (minus Jacobs) went 6 for 11 with 3 RBI and 4 runs scored.  Nobody had an amazing day, but enough players had solid days, which is something that will need to be the case this year.  The Marlins defense also helped the Mets with 3 key errors. 

So, pitching?  Check.  Defense?  Check.  Timely hitting?  Check.  So far, so good…

Opening Day Figures:

  • After a year of struggling for power, David Wright homered in his 1st AB.  He now has 10% of his total from last year…
  • Fernando Nieve looked great in his 2 innings of relief.  With only K-Rod and Feliciano returning as dependable arms in the bullpen, Nieve is going to be very under-valued this year…
  • One thing that was nice to see was the potential speed of Jason Bay.  Leading off the 6th inning, he turned an easy double into a hustling triple.  He was also thrown out on an infield ground out, but he turned what looked like an easy out into a close play…
  • Josh Johnson had previously never lost to the Mets, including a stellar defeat of Santana last April in an epic 2-1 game…
  • My favorite part of Opening Day is the pitching match-ups.  It is always something to relish because there is never another day throughout the regular season that teams always have their aces on the mound.  Hopefully, throughout the year, we will see these pitchers face off, again…     

Wednesday, 7:10, Citi Field, Nolasco vs. Maine…

Show Me The Apple!

 

CitiApple.jpgThis was just an amazing game.  There was quality pitching, quality hitting, punches and counter-punches, comebacks, lead changes, great plays, and lots of gut-wrenching drama…

First, in the top of the 8th, my MLB.TV DVR stopped and I was help in purgatory-limbo for another hour+…but, I did manage to stay away from all scoreboards and see the end of great Stanley Cup and NBA Finals games…

This might have been the best game Johan Santana has played in as a Met.  Yes, he did give up 4 HRs (3 of the were solo…and to lefties), but he contributed in other ways.  His pitching line was 7+ innings, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 BB, and 2 Ks.  Yeah, not that great of a pitching night, but for the run support given to him, I’ll take it.  Just seeing his emotion and the way he got out of innings showed his leadership.  You could tell by his expressions that he knew how much this game meant and that his team needed him out there.  After giving up a 3-run lead in the top of the 6th, Santana came through with his bat.  With Santos and Church on 1st and 2nd and one out, Santana could not get the sac bunt down in 2 attempts.  On an 0-2 pitch, Johan lines a ball into the corner to tie the game with his first RBI of the season.  In the top of the 7th, with a runner on 1st and 1 out,  Shane Victorino lined a shot back up the middle that Santana snagged and tossed over to 1st to complete the double play.  When Manuel finally went out to get him after his 4th HR, Santana was not so pleased and tried to stay in.  This was his game and he wanted to finish.  That is what the Mets need to show more of.  Yes, he has been giving up more runs in his last few starts and he did give up 4 HRs on Tuesday, but he used the run support he was given and he hung in the game long enough to get his team to the back end of the bullpen.  The Mets had to have this game and Santana got them to the end.  There are more aspects to leading a team than pitching your best game, statistically and Santana did that.

Major props to Pedro Feliciano and K-Rod for their solid performances in the 8th and 9th.  Pedro threw 4 pitches and got Howard to hit into a double play and Ibanez to ground out, ending the 8th.  K-Rod made his way through the 9th, including 2 Ks of Feliz and Dobbs.

As for the offense, they hit HRs!  That’s plural…and more than 2!!  Woohoo!!!  David Wright hit his 1st HR in 100 ABs in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  Carlos Beltran added a 2 run shot after a Cora double.  To add to the power surge, Ryan Church hit a deep ball in the 7th inning.  To top it off, Church hit the ball INTO the Apple well!  It turned out to just be enough, as the Mets held on, 6-5. 

 

Relief Points:

  • Not to complain, but in the bottom of the 6th, after Tatis doubled and reached 3rd via a bad throw on a pickoff by Ruiz, Church grounded to 1st and Tatis was thrown out at home.  Except that he wasn’t…the replay clearly showed that Tatis was under the tag. 
  • There is still no timetable on Reyes…its better that he not rush back.  We are going to need a healthy Reyes for the last couple months…
  • Every Phillies starter (except Ruiz and Happ) got at least 1 hit and Rollins continued his dominance over the Mets by going 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored…
  • The Mets, again, showed great team hitting.  Wright and Cora each had a couple hits, but everyone in the starting lineup got a hit (except Castillo)…
  • The Nationals picked Stephen Strasburg with the #1 overall pick in the MLB Draft…it would be tough to turn him down.

 

Wednesday, 7:10, Citi Field, Hamels vs. Pelfrey…

The Murph…and a review

 

murphy.jpgThis might have been Santana’s worst start of the year…and it wasn’t really that bad.  In some ways, he was in complete control (11 Ks).  And in others he was definitely not (6 BBs…including walking the pitcher and then Guzman to follow, forcing in a run).  But, like a true ace, he gutted his way through the 6th inning, still giving himself a chance for the win.  All in all, he went 6 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs, 6 BBs, and 11 Ks.  His ERA did climb to 1.77.  However, on the day that he might have needed it the most, the Mets offense responded, scoring 7 runs.  K-Rod did allow a run in the 9th, but other than that, the bullpen did their job, holding Santana’s win, 7-4.

Again, the offense played very well.  Pagan and Castillo each had a couple hits; Murphy chipped in with 3, as well.  Murphy, however, was the beneficiary of the Pagan and Castillo hits as he collected 5 RBI, tying a career high.  Sheffield got the offense going with a 2 run double in the 1st.  He is now starting to command the attention the way he did for years, in his prime.  And, without Delgado, that is exactly what the Mets need.  With Wright and Beltran both on fire (but neither with a lot of power), Sheffield can be the cornerstone of threat in the Mets lineup.  He drew 2 more BBs tonight, as well.  Murphy had the biggest hit of the night, though.  He hit a deep fly to right, that was initially called a double.  But, after Manuel complained, the umpires went to the replay booth (for the 4th time in 5 games, for the Mets).  It was then ruled a HR.  Now, I saw the replay a handful of times, and I don’t believe the ball ever left the yard…but I will take it.  And so will Murphy…and Johan.  Murphy would then add a 2 RBI insurance double in the 7th, all but securing the win. 

 

Interesting Facts:

  • Fernando Martinez should have been pulled out of this game.  In the 6th inning, he popped a ball up right in front of the mound.  Catcher Wil Nieves dropped the ball.  But instead of rounding 1st, Martinez was standing in the batter’s box.  Now, I don’t think Martinez is a lazy player and Manuel probably didn’t want to embarrass him, but that kind of effort will not stand…this is the Major Leagues.  We run everything out, Fernando…It also didn’t help that he went 0 for 4.
  • Ramon Martinez had his 2nd double in as many days…
  • Wilson Valdez got into his first game as a pinch hitter…he grounded to 2nd with the bases loaded…
  • The Mets are now 5 for 5 in replay reviews…they have had part in 5 of the 12 total reviews, the most in MLB…
  • Nick Johnson had a nice night, going 3 for 5 with an RBI…will he be a Met before July 31st?
  • Roy Halladay has his 9th win spoiled as the Blue Jay bullpen blew his 5 run lead…
  • My favorite play of the day was Jason LaRue coming out of the dugout in Milwaukee and almost getting stampeded by the Milwaukee Sausage Race…http://www.faniq.com/blog/Video-Jason-LaRue-Almost-Gets-Run-Over-By-Racing-Sausages-Blog-24546

 

The Mets are off tomorrow…but Friday, 7:10, Citi Field, West vs. Pelfrey…