Monday, May 3, 2010

Not quite a lost weekend, but close

I had prepared myself mentally for the Mets dropping two of three against the Phillies this weekend.

Not that I expected it — on the contrary, I thought the pitching match-ups were very favorable to the Mets, particularly Johan Santana against Jamie Moyer on Sunday night. But, being a Mets fan, I readied myself for the possibility of two losses and was OK with it, knowing that if it came to pass, the Mets would only be a half-game out of first when it was all over.

Monday morning, I'm not as OK with it as I thought I'd be.

That's because after hammering the Phils in game one, getting another strong performance from Jonathan Niese, you had to think the Mets were in great position to take the series. Sure, Roy (I refuse to ever refer to him as 'Doc') Halladay shut the Mets down completely in game two, when the dam burst against Mike Pelfrey, but then we had Johan against Moyer, who looked like a street person Sunday night, unshaven, sweaty and worn.

And sure enough, the Mets were lighting up Moyer in the first four innings, scoring five on a three-run blast by David Wright and two more on a dinger by former Phillie Rod Barajas, who loves the joke of a park known as Citizens Bank as much as Wright does. So when the Mets were exchanging the Phillies' solo shots with two- and three-run bombs, things looked good.

Then things got ugly for the Mets' ace. Two outs, runner on third, a three-run lead and the bottom of the order coming up. Somehow, before that final out was recorded, the Phillies scored nine runs.

Sure, you could bemoan the fact that the Mets' offense went to sleep after witnessing the barrage, that you'd have liked to see more fight in the dog. But make no mistake about it — this loss is completely on Santana.

Not Jerry Manuel for batting Gary Matthews Jr. leadoff (hey Jerry, you could bat Castillo leadoff every once in a while instead of that black hole), or even for not having anyone warming up in the pen to take Johan out earlier. I can't blame Jerry for that. This was his ace, in a huge early-season game against the bitterest of rivals on national TV, needing just one lousy out to end the inning with the Mets still ahead. Certainly he can do that, right?

No. No, he could not.

Single to Ibanez scores one run. A single by Castro. Then a walk to Ruiz, the eight hitter, bad enough but you figure, OK, just blow away Moyer and let's end this.

I find it incredible that the ESPN crew floated the possibility that Moyer's solidly-hit ground ball in his first at-bat somehow affected how Santana pitched to him in the fourth. This is Johan Freakin' Santana pitching against an almost 50-year-old Moyer. I don't care how well Moyer "handles the bat." You HAVE TO put him away.

Walk to Moyer, grand slam to Victorino, single and then a homer by Utley (of course) and it was over. See you in Cincinnati. U-G-L-Y.

Sunday's game was similar to Saturday's in that small events led to bigger things. Saturday, Jose Reyes and Alex Cora had chances to make catches that, had they been outs, would have altered the course of the game. They were tough plays, not made, and then the runs flowed like water. Although with Halladay dealing the way he was, the outcome likely would have been the same.

Only two things about Sunday's loss took the edge off for me. I DVR'd the game and was about 90 minutes behind, so once ALL THAT happened I watched the rest of the game on fast forward. Also, I have Victorino and Polanco on my fantasy team (Wright, too).

I think it's safe to chalk this up as just a rare bad night for Santana, one that doesn't portend anything worse down the line. And I think the makeup of this Mets team is positive enough to put the last two games behind it, without a losing streak being triggered.

I think. Meanwhile, we have Ollie Perez stepping up as the stopper Monday night against the Reds. 'Ollie Perez' and 'stopper' in the same sentence? Yikes.


  1. One of the strangest games I've seen in a while. It was bad enough watching Johan struggle. Then not only the Mets but the Phillies went quiet after the fourth. Like something truly upsetting had happened in the ballpark and both teams said, "Let's end this as quickly as possible so we can all go home and be with our families."

  2. That is a great description of what happened after the fourth.