There were plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about Sunday's game. Carlos Beltran was out sick. Mike Pelfrey was starting against the lefty-heavy Phillies. Willie Harris was hitting third. Jason Bay was still in the lineup.
But then, for four-pus innings, we were treated to the good version of Mike Pelfrey and there was hope in the air. His fastball was crisp, averaging almost 93 MPH. The booth was talking about the late bite on his slider, which had almost an inch of extra drop over his yearly averages. He was throwing his slider, curve and splitter more often than he has all year. He was getting some swinging strikes.
Oh, it was still Peflrey. He only struck out two on the night and even with more swinging strikes he was putting up a modest line. But he had almost twice as many grounders as fly balls and, generally, he was keeping the ball down and placing it effectively. Maybe it was a bad idea to manipulate the rotation to have Pelfrey pitching against Philadelphia, but for four innings it was fine. All he'd given up was a Chase Utley manufactured run in the first inning. Having Chase Utley walk, steal second, take third on an out, and score on a Ryan Howard groundball to Justin Turner just didn't seem like a big deal.
It all fell apart in the fifth inning. Kyle Kendrick singled for the second time in the game, almost taking Pelfrey's cap off and causing curses throughout the Mets fanosphere. Jimmy Rollins singled, but thanks to the Phillies making a lineup mistake of their own, it seemed that Pelfrey could still escape with a well-timed ground ball off of the light-hitting rule five draft pick Michael Martinez. Yeah, no. Instead Michael Martinez hit his first major league home run of the year and all the air left the stadium.
Deserving of special anger in this game was Jason Bay. A couple days after getting a hopeful C+ grade in our grades, Bay showed all of his worst aspects Sunday. Well, he didn't strike out, but he did just about everything else wrong. In the first, he came on with two men on after Willie Harris and Daniel Murphy hit back-to-back singles. Grounder to short. In the third inning, he came up with Angel Pagan and Daniel Murphy on base when Kyle Kendrick lost the plate a bit. Grounder to short. In the sixth, he flied out to right. In the eighth, he dropped a fly ball inexplicably and allowed Ryan Howard to get on base. In the ninth, he fouled out to Ryan Howard with Daniel Murphy on second base.
Hey, he did add a walk, but his error in the sixth led to game-breaking inning for the Phils. Once Howard was on base, Pedro Beato couldn't find the plate. Maybe it had something to do with his nine days off, or so came the theory from the booth. Beato strung together three walks in order to plate Howard before leaving the bases loaded for Ryota Igarashi to irrigate with his Toyota. After Igarashi allowed a Jimmy Rollins single that plated two, the game was done.
Well, maybe not quite. Philly reliever Juan Perez did his own version of Beato's walkathon by walking the bases loaded in he eighth. After a Lucas Duda RBI double play and a Ronny Paulino RBI single, Ruben Tejada was hit. Nick Evans walkd and the bases were loaded with two outs and the Mets down by five. Angel Pagan lifted hearts and hopes with a single to shallow right, bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the eighth. Sadly, Justin Turner didn't have the ginger power with him last night and struck out. In the ninth a one-out double from Daniel Murphy and then Lucas Duda hit a two-out triple with one hand, but that was all she wrote.
Willie Harris getting on base three times in order to make hitting him third seem less ridiculous might teach Terry Collins the wrong lessons. Hopefully Mike Pelfrey can retain some the gains he made in this game. Lucas Duda got two hits, made a great sliding catch and drove two runs in, so we're starting to see some of his promise. Daniel Murphy had another strong game. Ronny Paulino started and got two hits against righties. In many ways, Kyle Kendrick was lucky to hold this team to one run in his seven innings - he didn't strike out a Met and walked three of them. He had as many ground balls as fly balls. Timing was his friend.
Still, not a ton of fun in the end.
Big winners: Daniel Murphy, +4.4%, Jason Pridie, +3.1%, Scott Hairston, +2.4%, Lucas Duda +2.4%
Big losers: Mike Pelfrey, -18.6%, Justin Turner, -18.5%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda doubled, +7.3%
Teh sux0rest play: Michael Martinez homered, Kyle Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins scored, -21.6%
Total pitcher WPA: -21.5%
Total batter WPA: -27.1%
GWRBI!: Ross Gload walked, Ryan Howard scored
Nice job by Brooklyn Dodgers Mets Fan; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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