Summary: The Mets played a good, crisp game tonight. Mike Pelfrey and Josh Johnson both pitched like aces, with Johnson having to leave after 5 due to a sharp grounder from Beltran striking him in the hand in the bottom of the 5th. Once again, Pelfrey pitched very well at home; the Marlins did not do much against Big Pelf, aside from Mike Stanton’s huge solo HR. Those ridiculously calling for Pelf’s demotion to AAA can give it a well-deserved rest.
Defense was a big factor for the Mets tonight. Willie Harris played an excellent 3rd base, highlighted by a great diving catch to save a run in the top of the 4th. In the next frame, Beltran made a fine catch in right off of a Coghlan liner and doubled Infante off of 2nd.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th on another big hit from Justin Turner, a double in the gap scoring Murphy. The Marlins tied it on on a massive Stanton HR to center in the top of the 7th. Pelf left after seven very strong innings, hitting the mid-90s on the gun and appearing confident and in control.
Mike Dunn looked truly impressive when his batting average against stats were shown upon his entrance in the top of the 7th; when he started pitching, he really impressed. Five Ks in six batters faced, although, to be fair, counting Jason Bay as a batter might be unfair.
KRod was his usual cardiac self in the 9th, hitting Buck to start off the inning, then finishing off the Marlins by inducing a Hanley Ramirez groundout.
Mr. Clutch Jason Turner began the ninth with a slow grounder to Hanley, who continued his abysmal year by throwing the ball away, sending Turner to 2nd. After Pridie failed to bunt and the Marlins walked Thole and Reyes, the man most deserving of being an ex-major leaguer, the abominable Hu, grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the threat.
Mike O’Connor continued the excellent bullpen performance, striking out two in a 1-2-3 10th.
Burke Badenhop began the 10th by walking Beltran. Jason Bay finally contributed to the team offensively, by bunting Beltran over to 2nd; those who hate bunting clearly had a rare moment to enjoy the sacrifice of an out. Murph was then walked to bring Turner to the plate; he hit a sure DP ball to Ramirez who saw a bad hop turn into a DP after all as the errant ball bounced right to Infante at 2nd. Inning over.
After allowing a leadoff single to Stanton and a 2-out hit to Bonifacio, the Marlins were apparently forced to allow pitcher Badenhop to hit. His second career hit was a single up the middle to score the go-ahead run. Hanley then grounded out to end the inning.
The still-perfect Leo Nunez allowed the Mets to nearly equal Badenhop’s feat by giving up a 2-out triple to pinch-hitter Jon Niese. But Jose did as Jose generally does in this type of spot, striking out to end the game.
Another close loss, but still another loss; allowing a pitcher to get the game-winning single does, unfortunately, seem to be the way things go for this team.
The Mets played hard and largely played well, but did just enough to lose. Again.
It’s the Stadium, Stupid: Big Pelf pitched well again, and it seems as though the comments about his catchers might be slightly off the mark. Over his entire career, Pelf has pitched far better in the pitcher-friendly confines of Shea and Citi. 2011 has been no different. Pelf did pitch well in his recent start in Colorado, but his best four other games of the year have been at home, and every time he has been shelled has been on the road; and every time visiting an NL East opponent. Met announcers have made many comments on this, and it seems to speak to the idea often posited that Big Pelf might not be as big mentally as he is physically. He has nine starts, and the four on the road in the division have all been awful; the other five have ranged from decent to excellent. If the team can teach Pelf some visualization which allows him to see Queens in Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia, he might indeed become the number two we have always hoped for.
The Bay-Mendoza Line: It’s time to update this tired old tag, and while Mario Mendoza’s impressive offensive ineptitude should indeed be memorialized eternally, let’s add another ex-Pirate and modernize the epithet. While daft observers continue to mention the utterly irrelevant and meaningless coincidence of Jason Bay’s return and the team’s improved recent record, Bay’s offense has indeed been quite offensive. The second most overpaid Met of the Minaya era of error, Bay’s anemic play could soon result in some FMart sightings in left field. Bay did leg out an infield single tonight, but slid weakly into second, with his primary concern being raising his arms to shield his helmeted head from contact. A true Minaya Met.
Thoughts on Wright: As it now becomes known that David Wright has been playing with a stress fracture in his back, it really is time for the Wright-bashing Met “fans” to ask themselves what fandom means. This winter, Wright was the first high-paid veteran who showed up early to camp, eager to play. And in unusual fashion for recent Mets, Wright clearly WANTS to play. How many Mets of recent years would have begged out of the lineup with an injury like this? How many months would some others be out? Despite the losing, despite media bashing, despite questionable efforts around him, despite a clearly apathetic clubhouse in recent years, and despite constant nonsense from empty-headed “fans,” all we see from Wright is effort and desire. He WANTS to play, and is willing to risk further pain to try to help the team win. This is one player who deserves universal respect from all true fans of this woebegone franchise.
Tomorrow’s Game: The weather again looks questionable, but if Mother Nature allows, Jon Niese will take on Ricky Nolasco with the first pitch at 7:10 PM. The Mets again face a tough task, as approaching .500 seems to be allergic to this team. Losing again to the Fish will put the team four games under; there are no must-wins for a team in the Mets’ current situation, but another loss would indeed be very painful.