The Mets fell 4-3 to the 9-14 Astros in Houston tonight, failing to muster much offense and playing a somewhat sloppy game overall.
The game was a serious pitcher’s duel through five scoreless innings between R. A. Dickey and Bud Norris, with neither team mustering any offense at all.
Dickey was excellent through 5 hitless frames, but once again succumbed to the longball, allowing a 2-run blast to 1B Matt Downs in the bottom of the 6th to put the Astros ahead 3-0. Dickey was good overall, but the one gopher ball put a serious blemish on an otherwise positive outing.
The Mets were unable to scratch out a single extra base hit, and were only able to score in one frame tonight, putting a 3-spot on the board in the top of the 7th courtesy of four singles and a walk, the big blow being Kirk’s game-tying 2-strike, 2-out, 2-run single.
The game stayed tight until Manny Acosta does what mediocre relievers do. CF Jordan Schafer singled and stole second while Thole bobbled the ball and failed to make a throw, and then scored on SS Jed Lowrie’s laser shot single to center. This made it 4-3, where it would end, as the only Met to reach base the rest of the way was Ike Davis with a 2-out single in the 8th.
Byrdak and Parnell finished off the 8th, but Brett Myers retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the 9th to end the 4-3 win and earn his 5th save.
Overall, a sloppy game-errors, poor baserunning, and some shoddy fielding as well. Let’s hope it is a 1-game trend.
Plays of the Game:
Clearly Downs’s 2-run HR and Lowrie’s game-winning single head the very small list of big plays in this game. Kirk’s 2-run single was perhaps the only big Met play tonight.
What’s to Like:
The continuing development of serious resilience-after the Friday loss at home to SF, after the Monday doubleheader sweep, after the 6 error horror show in the first game in Colorado, the team came back to win the next day each time, and in the same fashion they came right back tonight after giving up 3 runs to tie the game immediately…in addition, even with the loss, the team is now 9-2 in 1- and 2-run games; this is a fabulous sign…Kirk’s plate discipline and maturity-another great at bat and key hit for the rookie…Ike’s baserunning in the 7th-he wisely took 2nd on Baxter’s flyout to right, and also held his ground at 3rd on Thole’s groundout to the pitcher…Baxter’s offense-he continues to hit and have fine at bats…and the continuing fine starting pitching. Dickey is allowing too many HR, but yet another quality start kept the team in the game.
What’s Not to Like:
The defense-it is far from certain that Thole would have thrown Schafer out in his SB attempt in the 8th, but bobbling the ball and not getting a throw off made a SB a certainty; as the announcers mentioned though, the pitchers were not holding runners on as they should be…another problem is Murphy’s 5 errors-tonight’s was a particularly ugly one-not costly, but the type of play which Murph must somehow overcome; 5 errors in 23 games are far too many, and tonight’s was on a play which was definitely not difficult…it is hard to tell if this is due to lack of concentration which seems unlikely, or simply the bad instincts which may prove to doom the Murph-at-second experiment…but overall, this kind of defense will hurt this team.
The continued lack of power is another serious issue-as predicted here and elsewhere and continuing from last season, the Mets continue to hit and get on base, but the near-total lack of power has the NL’s number 2 team in BA and OBP scoring runs at just the 9th best clip. The team needs Ike, Duda, and Wright to start driving the ball to end this disturbing trend.
Astros skipper Brad Mills may not have much to work with, but he seemed to be rolling the dice by continuing to leave the clearly tiring Bud Norris in to face lefties Thole, Duda, and Kirk in the top of the 7th. He then changed pitchers every batter for 5 straight Met PAs in the rest of the 7th and the 8th, managing as though it was extra innings in game 7 of the World Series. It wasn’t.
What’s Trivial But Interesting:
When Bud Norris slipped and threw a wild pitch behind and over Wright’s head in the top of the 4th, granted it was not a blazing fastball, but Wright did not flinch. This seems to be yet another piece of evidence that Wright may indeed be fully recovered from the Cain beaning which robbed him of his excellence for over 2 years.
Tomorrow night at 8:05 PM in Houston, Jon Niese tries to keep his excellent 2012 start going against ex-Phillie J.A. Happ. Happ has been striking out more than 1 per inning, but has been decidedly mediocre thus far in 2012.
This pitching matchup clearly favors the Mets, who look to bounce back from a taut but somewhat sloppy loss to a weak team.
You cannot win them all, and the Mets still have to like where they are, but this was a seemingly winnable game which simply got away. The Mets failed to muster much offense against a pretty poor group of pitchers, and now must win tomorrow to get back on track and put themselves in position to win this series against an eminently beatable team.