Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mets phlop in Philly

Pedro Martinez pitched well last night. In six innings he gave up five hits and just one unearned run. Unfortunately for the Mets, he was pitching in the Florida State League. However, Martinez's success could mean that Brian Lawrence's name won't be on the New York Mets roster much longer.

And if Martinez doesn't make onto the Mets roster within the week, expect Philip Humber to. Last night in Triple-A, Humber limited Oklahoma to two hits and no earned runs in five innings to notch his eleventh win, throwing only 58 pitches. It was Humber's second well-pitched game in a row. On August 22 he held Iowa to one hit and one run in eight and a third innings.

Whichever pitcher gets recalled will likely replace Brian Lawrence. Lawrence was one of four Mets pitchers who got pummeled for 18 hits in the series opener in Citizens Bank Park.

Lawrence had an excuse for his underwhelming performance. "I've been disappointed the last couple games," Lawrence said. "I'm a ground ball pitcher and balls have been finding holes," the New York Post reported.

Excuses don't win games.

The balls weren't finding holes because Lawrence's command of his pitches lacked precision. The Phillies were "hitting them where they ain't" because he was throwing them where their bats were.

Lawrence wasn't the only Mets pitcher who was ineffective. Of the three relievers who followed him, Sosa, Schoeneweis, and Sele, only Sele didn't give up a run. But his ERA's 4.70.

Why Minaya considered them worthy of being on a team capable of contending for a division title mystifies me? What did he see in them? If this season has done anything, it's tarnished in my mind Minaya's reputation as a skilled talent scout. The relievers he let go, such as Chad Bradford, have pitched more effectively this season than have their replacements.

On the mound, the Mets pitchers didn't seem to have any "fire in their eyes," but then neither did Willie Randolph in the one shot of him in the dugout that I saw. In comparison, on the Phillies both Chase Utley and Jason Worth's eyes were aflame. They came to play and their performances were as hot as their eyes.

Lo Duca summed up the Mets problem. "You've got to have the attitude [of] no mercy," the Post reported. "Come out and play hard."

Was he implying that the Mets didn't play hard last night?

I can't say that they didn't play hard, but I can say that they neither pitched nor hit well.

Reyes and Castillo reached base once. They went 1-8. Neither walked. They weren't alone. Not one Met got a base on balls.

And neither Reyes nor Castillo seemed to know how to work a pitcher. In fact, yesterday no Met showed that ability.

When a pitcher's mowing you down as Durbin was doing, make him throw more pitches. Try to increase his pitch count earlier. Tire him. Unfortunately, that didn't seem part of the Mets' strategy. Worse, I couldn't even tell what their strategy was for the game.

Not only did they seem to lack a game strategy, their advance scouting paled in comparison to the Phillies. The Phillies knew the Mets batters' weaknesses and pitched to them effectively. The Mets pitchers seem to have either less knowledge of the Phillies batters' weaknesses or an inability to pitch to them.

Hitting-wise it looked like the Mets hitters should have been using lighter bats. Delgado struck out three times. The last time his bat didn't seem to budge. Too heavy?

Wright also struck out three times, blaming home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor for his first strikeout. That strikeout pitch did look high.

And Phillies reliever J. C. Romero made pinch-hitter Lastings Milledge look foolish with slow stuff and a sweeping curve that almost scraped home plate, a pitch that Milledge struck out on. He swung fruitlessly at it, stranding two runners on base. Only a good golf swing would have made contact with that ball.

It was a bad day at the ballpark for a team that can't afford many more of them against a pennant contender.

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