Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Phillies’

That Went Well

Posted by JD on April 3, 2011

The Mets beat the Marlins 9-2 today to take the first series of the season 2-1. It’s really hard to draw anything substantial out of a three game series, let alone the season-opening series, but it felt like a big win to me.

Maybe it was because they lost the first game in rather unconvincing fashion. I mean, Josh Johnson is a legitimate Cy Young candidate: there’s no shame in losing to one of the best pitchers in the league. But they were pretty much out of it after John Buck’s grand slam in the fourth inning. According to Baseball-Reference’s Win Probability Chart, the Mets never had more than a 10% chance of coming back. Subjectively, I felt it while watching the game. I kept telling myself that it was only one game, but I think it loomed larger in my mind just because it was the first real game of the season.

When the Mets won yesterday, my first thought was of today’s game: they had a chance to win the series. The 2010 Mets didn’t win a series on the road against a National League opponent until August 16 (they did take consecutive series against the Indians and Orioles during inter-league play in June), and the franchise hadn’t won a series in Florida since September 2009. That recent history was weighing on me, even as I was watching them jump all over Javier Vasquez early on. As the game wore on, a funny thing happened: I started feeling confident that they would win.

There were bumps in the road (for one, Chris Capuano’s debut went less smoothly than hoped), but there always are. Winning a series on the road against a division rival doesn’t guarantee a winning season, but it’s a great start. Right now, that’s enough for me.

Next stop, Philadelphia. I can’t wait to see how the Mets handle the Phillies’ vaunted rotation.

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Game Recap: Dickey Delivers

Posted by JD on May 25, 2010

R.A. Dickey brought his knuckleball to the mound, and it was the first time the Phillies faced knuckleballers in consecutive games since 1983, when they saw Joe and Phil Niekro. The Mets took advantage and had a (relatively) easy time of it. Here are a couple of notes from today’s game:

  • R.A. Dickey gave the Mets exactly what they needed tonight, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven Phillies, but he allowed seven hits, walked three, and worked out of three bases-loaded jams in the top of the second and third. With the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the second, Dickey induced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz into a 1-2-3 double play (I love the 1-2-3 DP: I think it looks awesome on a scorecard). However, he walked Juan Castro to reload the bases before getting Jamie Moyer to strike out to end the inning. Then, in the top of the third, he loaded the bases again before getting Raul Ibanez to line out to Jose Reyes to end that threat. Dickey even survived getting drilled on his left (non-pitching) elbow by a Ryan Howard liner. He played with fire but he didn’t get burned, and the Mets got a quality start from their new knuckleballer.
  • Jamie Moyer also allowed seven hits and only walked two Mets, but he didn’t fare nearly as well as Dickey. Jose Reyes led off the game by grounding one “past a diving Polanco”, advanced to second on a Castillo bunt, stole third, and scored on a hard groundout to short from Jason Bay. It was a classic “Reyes run” and the Mets never looked back (Reyes also had an RBI triple in the top of the ninth).
  • Even though Bay’s streak of reaching base ended at eight consecutive plate appearances, his hard hit grounder was enough to score Reyes. He’s still locked in at the plate and producing.
  • Speaking of producing, Jeff Francoeur had three consecutive productive plate appearances. He missed some very hittable pitches in his first at bat but reached out and pulled an outside change-up to left to knock in the Mets’ second run in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the fourth, he hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score David Wright. He then lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double and scored the Mets’ fifth run on a pinch-hit single from The Animal, Chris Carter. Frenchy is still a below-average hitter, but hopefully tonight’s performance will get him started again.
  • Raul Valdes relieved Dickey in the top of the seventh. He struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and induced Jayson Werth to ground out to Wright. He walked Castro with two outs in the top of the eighth but quickly retired pinch hitter Ben Francisco, then hit a two out, RBI double over Werth’s head in the top of the ninth. He would stay in to finish off the Phightin’s in the top of the ninth, giving the rest of the bullpen an extra day off.
  • The Mets scored three consecutive two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth off of ex-Met Nelson Figueroa, highlighted by Valdes’ double and Reyes’ triple. It was a great relief to see them add to their lead: it’s been awhile since they’ve had nice easy win.

It was a nice, easy win, but tomorrow is another day. Your starters will be Joe Blanton for the Phillies and Hisanori Takahashi for the Mets. Hopefully the Mets will keep the pedal to the medal and pick up some more ground in the NL East. Let’s go Mets!

Posted in Jeff Francoeur, Jose Reyes, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Catching Up

Posted by JD on May 12, 2010

Just got back from a business trip which prevented me from seeing a single pitch of the Mets/Nationals series. Here are some tidbits while I try to figure out whether that was a good thing or not:

  • Eric Byrnes signed with the Cyclones…except he didn’t. Damn. I was hoping it was true if only so seat-buddy Steve would stop arguing that the Mets should sign him for their bench. I understand you want to get rid of GMJ: I do too. But Byrnes (12 OPS+) is actually playing worse than Little Sarge (20 OPS+) with little hope of improving. The Mets should bring up Jason Pridie and stay the heck away from Byrnes.
  • Speaking of former major leaguers with dim futures, looks like it might be time to stick a fork in Kiko Calero. From the Short Hops section of this week’s ESPN New York Farm Report (scroll down) comes news that Calero “allowed 13 runs in 1 2/3 innings in a pair of relief appearances last week”. I thought Calero was a great signing in Spring Training and had (foolish) hopes that he might force the Mets into demoting Jenrry Mejia once he regained his form. Now I’m pinning my hopes on Manny Acosta. Hopefully, Acosta performs well enough that his lack of options forces the Mets to keep him after Ryota Igarashi returns, leading to a Mejia demotion. Yeah, that’ll happen.
  • Chris Carter is now on the Mets and Frank Catalanotto is not. I like Catalanotto (and even advocated signing him), but it just wasn’t working out. Even if we’re only talking about the 25th spot on the roster, it’s past time to see what can Carter can do. Ted Berg sums it up his pinch-hitting debut nicely here and provides some kick-ass video (“The Animal roars into second” indeed).
  • Ike Davis continues to fearlessly dive over dugout railings to snag foul balls and he’s not too shabby with the bat, either. Not much more to ad to that statement. Did I include this bullet just so I could link to those plays? You decide.
  • The Nationals are in second place and off to their best start since moving to Washington in 2005. At 18-15, they’re percentage points better than their 18-16 record that season, which they finished at 81-81. Ryan Zimmerman is healthy, Adam Dunn is rounding into shape (he’s just about doubled his slugging percentage in the past two-ish weeks and currently sports a 143 OPS+), Drew Storen is right around the corner and Stephen Strasburg isn’t be far behind (as I write this, he just wrapped up six no-hit innings in AAA Syracuse). It looks like the Natinals might be hanging around for awhile.
  • Apparently the Phillies are stealing signs. I feel as though I’d be remiss in not mentioning it, but it just doesn’t matter that much to me. Stealing signs has been part of the game for a very, very long time. Is it cheating? Yes, especially when it includes non-playing personnel (according to ESPN.com, this particular scenario featured “bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer…peering through binoculars from the bullpen bench at Coors Field”). But it’s nothing to get worked up over, especially now that it’s been publicized. The Mets should change up their signs, keep an extra eye on the bullpen when they play the Phillies, and take it from there.
  • On a related note, Charlie Manuel tried to deflect the controversy by implicating the Mets. According to Manuel, the Mets must be subjected to the same scrutiny because their home record is so much better than their road record. Yeah, that’s the ticket: they were stealing signs! Forget the Cubs’ pitching woes, the Braves’ brain-freezes, the Dodgers’ general incompetence, and the Giants’ total inability to handle a windy Citi Field: the Mets were stealing signs! I’d be offended if I didn’t love rivalries: anything that adds a level of complexity to an already compelling story line is alright by me. Keep talking, Chuck!
  • Last, but not least, the Mets head down to Ft. Lauderdale to face the Florida Marlins. Here’s a series preview from ESPN New York to get you ready. I must admit that I had my doubts when Adam Rubin moved from the Daily News to ESPN New York, but his coverage has only improved since the switch. The series previews are still excellent, and his Minors Reports are, in my mind, the best single reference point for Mets minor league news. Others may cover the individual minor league teams in more detail, but Rubin summarizes it all better than anyone (and now we get daily updates, too).

And on that note, I bid you adieu.

Posted in Ike Davis, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Rubber Game

Posted by JD on May 2, 2010

After trading blowout wins (9-1 Mets on Friday, 10-0 Phillies yesterday), the Mets and Phillies face off on national television to determine the winner of their first series this season. The Mets have a half-game lead over the Phillies in the standings and Johan Santana on the mound. The Phillies will counter with the “wily-veteran,” Jamie Moyer.

It’s been an interesting series. The Mets came in hot and kept it rolling on Friday night. Mike Pelfrey started on Saturday but couldn’t withstand a couple of near-outs (Jose Reyes and Alex Cora dropped catchable balls in the fourth inning) and departed early after giving up six runs. The Mets never recovered against the Phillies’ ace, Roy Halladay, setting up today’s rubber match.

Jerry Manuel has decided to make things even more interesting, subbing Gary Matthews, Jr. in for Angel Pagan in center field (and the lead-off spot) and Fernando Tatis for Ike Davis. There may be a bit of a method to this madness, as Tatis is 8-22 (.364) vs. Moyer and Matthews Jr. is 7-23 (.304)*.

*Granted, they haven’t faced off in 2006. So, we have that going for us. I guess.

Ike Davis wasn’t going to start every game and he’s had an issue with left-handed pitchers, so it’s not crazy to sit him against Moyer. I guess. Tatis needs some at-bats, and his past success gives Jerry some cover here. Same for GMJ, I suppose. Call me crazy, but I’d love to see the Mets field their best lineup against their division rivals. Yes, it’s still early. I understand that it’s a long series, and the Mets will have plenty of cracks at the Phillies. But it would be nice if they put their best foot forward tonight, no?

Alas, the lineup is already set: these are the players that we have to root for tonight. Let’s hope the sum is greater than the parts, and Let’s Go Mets!

Sidebar: If you’re like me and you have no idea where the term “rubber game” came from, Wikipedia has your answer: “The use of the word “rubber” to describe a tiebreaker is believed to have originated in the English game of bowls.” So there you go.

Posted in Johan Santana, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meaningful Baseball

Posted by JD on April 30, 2010

I should have put quotes around that title, because I believe there’s no such thing as meaningless baseball. Sure, some games have much less meaning than meaning than others: I’m not saying that a game from last September meant the same as Game 6 in ’86. But it’s a sliding scale, and you can always find something important, if you just look hard enough. But I digress…

Tonight’s game, and this weekend’s series, are meaningful games, and the Mets seem to know it. Their coming off an almost serendipitous run: they got hot when three teams got cold, had some big hits, capitalized off some boneheaded plays, and came away with a 9-1 record. They went from last to first in the division and seem to have momentum on their side. The Phillies have scuffled a bit, with a 4-6 record in their last 10 games. But (and do I really have to right this?) they’re the defending NL champs, and they’ll have that until the Mets can knock them off.

It’s an early-season statement series, plain and simple. I hate to put too much into three games in April/May, but I have to think that their collective morale would be greatly boosted by taking the series. I suppose it would also “send a message”. I don’t really buy that, but whatever.

This much is certain: the Mets travel to Cincinnati then host San Francisco and Washington, all winnable series. A nice showing this weekend could set them up for a good week. Here are your starting pitchers:

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (0-1, 3.68) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 7.71), 7:05 p.m. ET (SNY, WFAN)

Saturday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 0.69) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (4-1, 1.80), 3:10 p.m. ET (Fox, WFAN)

Sunday: LHP Johan Santana (3-1, 2.08) vs. LHP Jamie Moyer (2-2, 5.25), 8:07 p.m., ET (ESPN, WFAN)

And a series preview (both courtesy of ESPN New York).

As always, Let’s Go Mets!

UPDATE: Tonight’s game is on WPIX 11.

Posted in Mets | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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