Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The BB’s Will Bite You

The Mets fought. They battled. They came from behind twice to tie the game with 2 2-run home runs. But it wasn’t enough. The walks burned, some opportunities were missed, and at the end of the day, the Phillies prevailed, 4-8, on a warm, sunny Memorial Day at the Citi.

Where to begin with this one…Well, with all the men in uniform scattered throughout the stadium on Memorial Day, Jon Niese labored from the beginning. It took him over 30 pitches to get out of the 1st, receiving no help from the men behind him with 2 errors by David Wright and Daniel Murphy. While no runs scored, it was clear by the 3rd he wasn’t his sharpest self. He walked a pair in the inning after getting the first 2 out, and that led to a Ty Wigginton 2-run double. He had 105 pitches going into the 6th inning, and one could argue he could have been pinch-hit for in the 5th with a rally going. Who could fault Terry, however, for wanting to avoid his bullpen for 1 more inning? It wasn’t meant to be, with 1 more walk and a John Mayberry, Jr. home run. Regroup and get ‘em next time, Jonny.

Cole Hamels was dealing from the get-go. He was much more efficient than Niese, which is what made the bottom of the 3rd so frustrating. After Ike Davis grounded out, Rob Johnson, who has had much more offense than any of us could have expected, singled to left. Jon Niese bunted him over nicely, and a pure hitter in Justin Turner strolled to the plate with a runner in scoring position, looking to at least cut the 2-0 deficit in half. He hit a single to right field, and Rob Johnson took a big turn around 3rd. It was clear he would be thrown out so Tim Teufel stopped him, at least a third of the way home, if not more. The throw came into the catcher, Carlos Ruiz, who cut it off between the mound and the plate. Turner had taken too wide a turn at 1st, thinking about going to 2nd, and the catcher threw to 1st, pegging Justin by a mile. He started the rundown, and Rob Johnson hopped back and forth, not sure where to go. I watched, as many did in the ballpark and on TV, with frustration in my eyes, wanting Johnson to take off while the Phils concerned themselves with Turner. He broke way too late for the run to score, and Turner went into 1st spraining his ankle. None of that had to occur, and I appreciate everyone being a little aggressive against a great pitcher and all, but that was one of the most frustrating plays I have witnessed all year and it cost us our back-up infielder for a few weeks, who is as clutch as anyone on the team.

I can't stress enough how awesome the home runs to tie the games were. Firstly, since Vinny Rottino had come up in the 2nd inning, I kept saying it would be awesome to see another Buffalo Bison 1st baseman smash a home run off Hamels, eluding to last September 24 when Val Pascucci hit a game-tying solo shot off the right-hander. When Vinny hit the game-tying 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 5th, I was absolutely ecstatic. Scott Hairston's was just as awesome from a game perspective, but Rottino's just felt a little more sweet for me. Hairston, however, continues to prove me wrong when it comes to putting him in the clean-up spot, and while he is not even close to the ideal 4-hitter, he could be if he keeps hitting bombs like this. he won't, though, and I'll revert back to old form when he grounds into a double play with 2 on and 1 out.

It really is a shame Bobby Parnell could not hold the tie. Yes, we suffered from having David Wright at short on what could have been a double play in the 7th (he had moved over there when Turner went down), but once again walks killed us (Bobby issued one to Hunter Pence.) I also believe Parnell made the incorrect pitch to Ty Wigginton on the 2-strike, 2-out count with Jimmy Rollins on 3rd. He had thrown fastball after fastball to Ty, and a change-up in that situation would have been ideal. Oh, well. Bobby has made such strides this year, and these kinds of outings have been rare.

Daniel Murphy was the key to the 8th inning. Andres Torres, who has been slumping, showed the hustle we got him for when he single to left-center to open the inning and turned that into a double. Kirk Nieuwenhuis grounded out to 2nd, moving Torres to 3rd. There aren't many people I would rather have up there with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 out that Daniel Murphy. With the Phillies' infield in, Murph got a little over-anxious, swinging at the 1st pitch and grounding it to 2nd. Very uncharacteristic of Murph, but another sign of many signs throughout this game that it just wasn't meant to be for the Metsies.

Fantasic diving catch, though, Murph.

You know what? With the many roster moves that have to be made because of the injuries to both Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner, including 40-man issues, I do not fault Terry for bringing Manny Acosta into a 1-run game. He has been struggling (which is an understatement), and decisions have to be made. Here's your last chance to see if you belong in the Major Leagues, Manny. And you blew it. Good luck out there in the baseball world.

The Mets aim to tie up the series tonight at 7:10PM. Jeremy Hefner tries again, facing Officer Joe Blanton. Let's get back to 6 over.


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Bye-bye, Manny.

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