Tagged: Ryan Church

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…

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Coming Through…

 

Livan.jpgThat was a must-win.  And, honestly, who has been better in the last few starts than Livan Hernandez?  He pitched well in Pittsburgh, last Monday, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.  From a guy who entered Spring Training fighting for the last spot in the rotation, Livan might be the #2 starter, if the Mets were in the playoffs today.  His ERA has dropped steadily since his only loss on April 23rd (7.31 to 3.88 after today).  He’s only given up 5 runs in his last 28 2/3 innings.  Today, he only added to his great numbers, going 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 4 BBs, and 4 Ks.  He is not scheduled to pitch against the Phillies (obviously) but should take the mound next Friday against the rival Yankees in the Mets first trip to the New Stadium.

The Mets jumped on Stammen early and often.  That is exactly what needed to happen after last night…and against a good, young starter.  5 of the first 6 Mets reached base and all ended up scoring…2 by wild pitch.  After the 1st inning, though, the Mets didn’t do much until the late innings.  Fortunately, Hernandez took care of that.  To me, though, it was important that more runs scored, especially via hits and not on gifts.  In the 7th, Cora singled, stole 2nd, and scored and Wright’s RBI single.  And in the 9th, Martinez reached on an error, but Beltran lined a shot into the right-center gap, gathering an RBI.  On a day when Wright and Beltran each only had an RBI, the Mets still scored 7 runs.  Sure, a couple came on on wild pitches, but Fernando Martinez, Murphy, and Schneider all drove in runs.  Everybody is going to have to get clutch hits until Reyes and Delgado are back.

 

Positives Ending a Negative Road Trip:

  • Ryan Church had a successful return to the lineup.  He has said that he needs to be an everyday player and he backed it up today.  Church went 2 for 5 with a run scored and he hit the ball hard 3 times.  He also played strong in the field, making a couple of nice catches.  It should be interesting how much he plays against the Phillies, as the Mets will be facing 3 lefties…
  • Daniel Murphy also looked solid again, today.  Murph hit well (2 for 4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored) and looked right at home at 1st base.  He fielded a hard hit ball and started a double play, including getting back to the bag from a reasonable distance away.  These are the type of plays that good first basemen make, routinely…and Murph is getting there.
  • Gary Sheffield got to rest his aging body another day.  This is going to be key, as I expect him to start the next 3 games against the Philly lefties.
  • David Wright is quietly getting hot again.  Today, he went 2 for 3 with an RBI, a run scored, and 2 BBs.  On his last 4 games, he went 9 for 13 with 4 RBI, 4 doubles, 5 runs scored, 2 stolen bases, 5 BBs, and NO Ks!!! 
  • Roy Halladay won again today.  He threw his 2nd complete game, allowing 7 hits, 0 runs, 0 BBs, and 6 Ks.  His ERA is not Greinke or Santana-esque, but 2.52 is nothing to fret over.  It is Top 5 in the AL.  Halladay got his 10th win…can he give 30 a run?

 

The Mets are off again tomorrow, so…

Tuesday, 7:10, Citi Field, Happ vs. Santana…

Heroics, Redemption, and Defense…

 

Santos.jpgPerhaps I am a little biased, but this might have been one of the best regular season games I have seen in a while.  The starting pitching was absolutely phenomenal.  Mike Pelfrey threw 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 BB, and 6 Ks.  He did get roughed up a little in the 1st, but settled down and kept his team in the game.  Josh Beckett, on the other side, one-uped Pelfrey going 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 0 BBs, and 5 Ks. 

The Defense was also amazing.  Boston made at least 4 or 5 nice running plays on line drives by the Mets.  They could have had several more hits, had it not been for the nice work of the Red Sox fielders.  In the 9th inning, the Mets defense saved the game for them.  With a runner on 1st and no out, Jason Bay hit a screamer down the line that Wright stabbed and threw to 2nd to get the lead runner.  The throw was off the mark, but Castillo made the stretch and stayed on the bag.  With 2 outs, Mike Lowell hit a ball deep in the hole between short and 3rd and Ramon Martinez dove and got it, rose to his feet and threw him out at 1st to end the game (Martinez also went 1 for 4 at the plate, gathering another hit).  Ramon, I know I have been tough on you, but you made some plays tonight.  Props to you.  Keep it up!

While all of this was great baseball, the highlight came in the top of the 9th.  Facing the most intimidating closer in baseball, Jonathan Papelbon, Gary Sheffield drew a leadoff walk.  Papelbon then absolutely over-powered Wright and Reed for 2 quick outs.  Omir Santos stepped in, looked 1st pitch fastball and launched a shot into deep left-center to give the Mets a 3-2 lead!  The play was reviewed, but it was clearly a HR.  So, the Mets, down 2-1 for almost 8 complete innings, steal a game with one swing of the bat by the backup catcher.  JJ Putz stepped in and closed the deal in the 9th for his 2nd save. 

Those of you who have read my blog consistently know that every game that I feel the Mets let get away (there are 5 or 6 to date, I believe), I tag “One Game.”  This game is the exact opposite of that.  Given all of the ridiculous circumstances and injuries and fatigue, etc that this team is going through, this could be a season-turning game.  Maybe not.  It could be just another win.  But after seeing some of the emotion from some of the players and how this win came from out of thin air, I would not be surprised to see this team rattle off a nice little 5 out of 7 or 8 out of 9 streak.   One more game to this road trip, tomorrow.  The Mets have cemented at least a .500 record.  Even if they lose Sunday, I think the team should be relatively high and positive about this trip and what they have come through…

 

We Want Chow-dah:

  • K-Rod had some serious back spasms on Saturday and was taken to the hospital.  He was not available Saturday night and most likely will not be on Sunday…who else is going to get hurt?
  • Ryan Church announced that he has had a hamstring problem since Spring Training, but wanted to play…well, that seems to have caught up with him.  Hopefully, he will get it worked out and be back soon…
  • Jose Reyes says he felt better today, but probably won’t play for another couple/3 days…
  • There were only 7 official ABs with RISP tonight for both teams combined.  The Mets went 1 for 4 and the BoSox 1 for 3.  There were 10 combined LOB, each team leaving 5…
  • Papelbon blew his 1st save of the year and 1st in his last 17 chances…I love how competitive he is, but I love beating him even more…
  • Daniel Murphy looked solid again in the field at 1st.  Here is a thought: Why not have him be the everyday 1st baseman for years to come?  Given age and injury, I assume the Mets will not re-sign Delgado after the year is done.  If Murph keeps this up (and he has looked as comfortable as he ever has defensively), maybe that is where he plays permanently.  Just a thought…

 

Sunday, 1:35, Fenway Park, Redding vs. Wakefield… 

A New Leader…?

 

Santana.jpgI think that we can remove the word “arguably” as an adjective from describing Johan Santana.  He is the best pitcher in the National League and in baseball.  Zack Greinke may be the future and Roy Halladay provides a great argument, but I think the title goes to Santana.  Given what has been happening to the Mets over the past week (DL trips, potential DL trips, surgeries, no scoring, errors, etc), this was a game the Mets had to win.  The last time the they chalked up a “W” was when he last pitched.  That is what an ace does.  He is a streak stopper.  He takes command of a sinking ship and just says no.  Now, he can’t control how the next few games go, but he gave it his all and was not going to let his franchise down on his watch.  In the midst of a 4 game slide, this was the best chance the Mets had at winning a game.  And he made the most of it.  Santana went 7 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 BB, and 8 Ks.  All of this against as good of a team that there is in baseball.  The last time the Mets were in Boston in 2006, they got swept.  This time, they claimed at least one victory.  On a team that has arguably lacked leadership, maybe they have found one.  In the bottom of the 5th with 2 outs, Santana threw inside to Youkilis (who was all over the plate) and drilled him in the right arm.  Youkilis (who can be very intimidating) didn’t take it very well and yapped at Johan as he walked down the line.  Johan wasn’t going to have any of it and yelled back, motioning for him to shut up and get on 1st.  This is a fight that you don’t see out of this team.  No one seems to take a stand and fight back (David Wright will from time to time…but it’s just not his team, yet).  You need a little cockiness and arrogance to win consistently.  You have to have some fight in you and Santana is showing it.  Not only is he putting up great numbers, but he is throwing this team on his back and dealing with the pressure of having to win, everytime he pitches.  The amount of anticipation and pressure, in such a great spotlight, that is put on Santana is tremendous.  And he is handling it with ease.  Hopefully, some other guys will get fired up and respond and continue to turn things around…

The Mets did a great job of “team hitting” on Friday.  No one was exceptional and no one had more than 1 hit, but they strung a few together and came through in the clutch…something that no one had done in a few games.  They almost matched their run total of the last 5 days, on Friday (scoring 5 compared to the 6 total since last Saturday).  With Reyes still out and not many others getting hot, this lineup is still very fragile.  But, today they got it done.

 

Beans in Beantown:

  • Gary Sheffield hit a HR in the 2nd inning, giving the Mets their 1st HR in 7 games (9 days).  That was their longest stretch since 1983…
  • The Mets have committed 11 of their 35 errors in Santana’s starts…if its not lack of scoring, its lack of fielding?  He seems to be overcoming all of it…
  • Playing a few games in the AL should help the Mets.  They can give Beltran and Wright a couple days off by DHing them.  Carlos took the day off with a sore knee, Friday night.  He played DH.  I look for Wright to DH soon…
  • Reyes was not available for anything tonight…it looks like he is NOT going to the DL, but that remains to be seen…
  • Ryan Church left the game in the 4th inning with an injured leg…his status is “unlikely” for Saturday’s game…
  • I missed this a couple days ago…I want to send a shout-out to Scott Schoenweis and his family…it’s really too bad about his wife.  I know he was ripped on and beared a lot of the bullpen blame, but he was a class guy and I’ve never had anything against him, personally…
  • Zack Greinke and Roy Halladay pitched yesterday and today, respectively…both pitched well and neither figured in the decision of their games.
  • Ramon Martinez FINALLY got a hit and RBI…but then he made 2 errors…why not play Tatis at short?  I know he’s not a natural there, but he can’t be THAT much worse than Martinez and then you would have another bat…I guess I’m just tired of seeing Martinez play…
  • Dice-K made his return to the Red Sox lineup…he went 5 innings and took the loss

 

Saturday, 7:10, Fenway Park, Pelfrey vs. Beckett…

E 5…

Well, a pitching performace it was.  Both starters executed very well and had their opponents at bay.  Randy Wolf worked into the 8th before exiting with a runner on 2nd and Gary Sheffield due up.  Perhaps, he should have stayed in as Wade could not retire Sheffield and Angel Pagan raced home from 2nd on Sheffield’s ground ball to shallow right field, tying the game at 2.  Tim Redding also looked very impressive in his Mets debut.  After a shaky 1st inning where he gave up 2 runs on a hit, Redding settled down and worked a very solid 6 innings.  I believe he could have gone longer, but his place in the order came up in the 7th and Manuel elected to “quit while he was ahead.” 

The Mets, who had scored 24 runs in their first 3 games on this road trip, have been stymied by some quality pitching the last couple games.  They were shut out on Sunday night and scored only 2 runs on Monday night.  The worst part about it is that they don’t seem to be hitting the ball very hard.  No Met had made very good contact on Sunday until Tatis in the 7th.  Tonight, they had a few solidly hit balls, but not to the extent we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks.

 

LA Cars in Traffic:

  • Foot problems again plague the Mets, as Ryan Church skips 3rd base.  With 2 outs in the 11th inning and RC on 1st, Angel Pagan hits a ball deep into the right center gap and Church could walk home.  However, he skipped over 3rd instead of touching it.  The Dodgers appealed and won.  He could have walked home…I don’t understand why he wouldn’t have stopped and just touched it.  Pagan ended up at 3rd, so Church would have had time…the game was all but lost on that play.
  • If you think that was fun, you’ll love this.  With a runner on 1st and no out, Xavier Paul hit a fly ball to left center and Pagan and Beltran were there and neither one caught it.  What an inning…It reminds me exactly of the opening game against the Cardinals when Beltran missed home and the Murphy fell down in left…
  • It get better…After the bases were loaded in the 11th with no out (forcing the Mets to use Beltran as a 5th infielder), Stokes gets a shallow fly ball to left field for an out.  Then, gets a ground ball to 1st that should seemingly end the inning, but Jeremy Reed throws the ball over Castro’s head, allowing the winning run to score…Stokes was absolutely pissed and I don’t blame him an ounce.  He got himself out of the toughest jam in baseball and absolutely no one helped him out…these games happen (I guess), but championship-caliber teams don’t screw up THAT many times in a row in THAT many clutch situations…
  • Jose Reyes missed another game with that calf…Alex Cora was put on the DL with a torn ligament in his thumb…Ramon Martinez was called up from Buffalo and arrived 15 minutes before the game started.
  • 8 of the 11 Mets hits were with 2 outs…nice to see, but would also like the rally to begin a little earlier…
  • Angel Pagan had his first career 4-hit game…

 

Tuesday, 10:10, Dodger Stadium, John Maine vs. Chad Billingsley…

 

We Have a Quarterback!

 

 

Forcier.jpg

Despite reading a lot of articles and hearing plenty of praise about incoming freshman Tate Forcier, I wanted to see it before I believed it.  So, I went to the Michigan Spring Game today.  It was my first, despite being in Ann Arbor 6 years.  The alumni flag football game was a lot of fun, but I got very excited to the winged helmets come running out of the tunnel (especially #5)!  Forcier looked great all day.  He had great footwork and moved around the field very well.  I cannot rmember the last time I’ve seen a Michigan QB as fleet-footed as Forcier.  He also was very accurate, hitting receivers in stride, even while on the move.  The play that really showed me something, though, was in the last play he was in, Forcier made an Elway-esque dive into the end zone on an attempted 2 point conversion.  I know its only April and Forcier’s still undersized, but I’m excited about what I’ve read and now seen about Michigan football!!  September 5th can’t get here soon enough!!

 

As Far As the Mets Are Concerned:

Last night was very frustrating.  John Maine made his return.  Looked ok, other than the 2 solo HRs he allowed.  Went 5 innings, only 2 hits…83 pitches.  It was a game that the Mets just couldn’t get a handle on.  They always seemed to be one step behind.  Even after they tied the game a couple times, they gave up runs in the following inning.  Jeremy Reed came through with a 2 out hit in the 9th to tie the game (his 1st hit as a Met)..  However, the game was lost in the bottom of the inning on a 2 out hit, 5-4.  Murph, Church, and Beltran all had 3 hits.  Just a game of missed opportunites.

 

Tonight, however was a different story.  Livan Hernandez pitched brilliantly, going 6 2/3 and allowing only 2 runs.  If he can give us that as a 5th starter, there’s no reason the Mets can’t hang a couple of pennants next Fall.  We hit a little better with runners in scoring position (yesterday was something like 0 for 10).  Tonight, we had 4 or 5 hits with RISP.  The bullpen created a little chaos in the last couple innings, giving up 2 more runs and allowing the tying run to walk on deck, before K-Rod was summoned to shut things down 8-4.  All in all, we split 2 games with our 4 and 5 going, against a hot Marlins team who always plays us tough…especially in Miami.  Now, we can hand the ball to Johan for the rubber match.  I can live with that.

 

Quick Points:

  • The Mets are showing that they have quite a few quality baserunners (obviously, Reyes, Beltran and Castillo).  But, Murph and Church have shown some promise, not to mention Wright.  Its litle things like baserunning that change the course of games.
  • Ryan Church is a doubles machine.  2 more tonight, give him 5 for the year.  He’s also hitting .526 through the first 5 games.  Perhps, he’s taken the Sheffield signing personally.
  • Luis Castillo was told before the game to be more aggressive.  He went 4 for 4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI.
  • Reyes and Wright get their 1st RBIs of the year…Reyes had 3 and his 1st HR.  Wright needed a hit with RISP and got in in the 8th to tack on the 7th Met run…hopefully, this will get him going.

 

Tomorrow, Santana/Johnson at 1pm on TBS…