How does a baseball team know when they are struggling at the plate? Well, when Randy Wells shuts your offense out for seven innings, that's probably as good a sign as any. Before a resilient four run rally in the bottom of the eighth, this is where the Mets found themselves. Soon, though, the rally started and runs fell like rain! Sadly, once Bobby Parnell came in to try to close the door on the Cubs in the ninth, we saw the old "snagging defeat from the jaws of victory" routine that Mets fans are oh so used to. A David Wright error and a double made the situation sticky and yet Parnell fought back, using his "intestinal fortitude" to induce a groundball back to the originator for one out and a strikeout for the second. But then came the questionable decision of letting Parnell face Aramis Ramirez instead of walking him to get to light-hitting Tony Campana. Then came the go-ahead base hit for Ramirez, a single through the hole on the right side of the infield. And that was your ballgame, folks. A 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Cubbies that could be easily summed up as seven innings of facepalming, followed by one inning of resilience and topped off with one more bonus inning of facepalming.
The rubber game of this series with the Cubs will certainly be an interesting one, albeit probably not for the game on the field considering the pitching matchup and the records of the two teams. 40 year old Miguel Batista starts for the Mets and he'll go up against Matt Garza for Chicago. The big story will likely be the ceremony prior to the game, which will see the Mets mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A number of Mets heroes from the past will be on hand for the ceremony, as John Franco will throw the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Piazza and Marc Anthony will sing the National Anthem.
The game will be televised on ESPN as the Sunday Night game of the week. The 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony begins at 7:30 PM and for all you masochists/non-Jets fans, the game is scheduled to begin at 8:05 PM.
So remember yesterday when it sounded like Johan Santana was on track to pitch in the majors soon? Well, scratch that. Apparently, the Mets have no plans for Johan to throw in the majors this season. Instead, he will either toss another rehab start with one of the minor league affiliates or throw a simulated game in New York should the schedules not work out.
Don't count on seeing Jon Niese or Scott Hairston again this season. Both have seen little progress in their recovery from their simultaneous rib cage injuries and will be shut down for the season.
So what is the status of the minor league affiliates, considering how they apply to Johan's rehab, you say? Well there was some good news on Saturday: Behind the pitching of 2010 24th round overslot pick Erik Goeddel, the Savannah Sand Gnats won the decisive game three over Augusta by a 3-1 score and will be heading to the South Atlantic League Championship series. There they will face off against the Greensboro Grasshoppers in a 5 game series. In not as good news, the Brooklyn Cyclones lost 1-0 to the Staten Island Yankees and thus were knocked out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the St. Lucie Mets fell to Daytona 10-6 in game two of the Florida State League Championship Series. With their backs against the wall, they head back to St. Lucie in do-or-die mode, needing to win all three games.
With Bobby Parnell struggling to adjust to his new role, longtime Mets closer John Franco has volunteered to work with the flamethrowing righty. In case Parnell doesn't figure things out quickly, could Manny Acosta be the closer in 2012? It's incredible that just a month ago, making that suggestion likely would've had you locked up in a padded room and straightjacket.
Speaking of crazy, the Wilpons believe they can actually attract investors by selling $20 million dollar chunks of the team to friends and family. Let's review this for a second: no chance to take over majority control, no voting power on decisions and the added bonus of having morons flush your money down the toilet to pay legal fees? Yup...sounds like a winner to me.
Finally, somebody should probably tell Howard Johnson to keep his mouth shut at this point, just to save his own reputation. "Haji", as calls him, tweeted that the Mets front office is "anti-'86" when a fan asked him if the club was planning an '86 Mets reunion. This comes days after Hojo ignorantly tweeted that "you can’t win with a computer program. one of those theories that looks good, but doesn’t play well" upon seeing a Moneyball commercial. Geez, Hojo...hope those grapes aren't too sour.
Around the NL East
Raul Ibanez doubled in the 10th and then scored on LaTroy Hawkins' error as the Phillies defeated the Brewers 3-2 in 10 innings.
Anibal Sanchez tossed a one hit complete game shutout as the Marlins beat the Pirates 3-0, dropping Pittsburgh to a 66-79 record on the season. Hey, remember when the Pirates were in the playoff race and Clint Hurdle was the greatest thing since sliced bread? Yeah, me neither.
Around the Majors
Hey Red Sox. You hear those steps creeping up behind you? That would be the Tampa Bay Rays, who are just 4.5 games behind you after they beat you 6-5 in eleven innings on Saturday.
The Angels beat the Yankees 6-0 to move just a game and a half behind the Rangers in the AL West race. Dan Haren tossed a complete game four hitter for the Angels. For all the grief the Angels got over the Vernon Wells trade, they certainly deserve credit for robbing Haren from the Diamondbacks.
Unbeknownst to me until a few weeks ago (really...I had no idea), Jacoby Ellsbury is having a pretty incredible little season for the Red Sox. Now his name is being bandied about as a potential MVP candidate, which seems to be taking matters a bit far. Or is it? Fangraphs takes a look at whether his candidacy is legitimate and in the process, further demonstrates that Jimmy Rollins' 2007 was not (it's the little things that I enjoy. Take that, Jimmy!).
Finally, we close out Sunday Applesauce with a dose of FAIL: Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt is done for the season after he sliced open his hand trying to separate a package of frozen burgers. Probably not the smartest idea, Mr. Affeldt. Still, this isn't as strange as the Clint Barmes deer meat story from a few years ago.