I suppose the consolation of this past week's series against the Marlins is that even though the Mets managed just a single win against those Floridian upstarts, they still went 4-2 on the road against divisional opponents, which is better than a losing record any day. The seething disappointment comes as a result of the two losses which could have easily been victories with:
1) a little more clutch hitting, and
2) a little more clutch pitching
Aaron Heilman, who pitched so well in the first two games of the series, had all sorts of control problems tonight, walking two batters and allowing three runs to score, blowing open what had previously been a 1-1 deadlock. Pitching three days in a row is tough for anyone, but I think Heilman's performance would be given more of a pass had he allowed those runs on hits instead of as a result of walks.
The walk is probably my favorite counting stat in all of baseball. There's nothing I like more than a hitter who knows how to work a count and take a walk. Conversely, there's nothing I hate more than a pitcher who won't challenge a hitter and consequently gives away bases. Though it's a stretch to say so, I would almost prefer a pitching allow a double than a walk. Unless it's a clear pitcharound situation, walking opposing batters is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
Even though the Mets lost the game, there were some bits of good news. For instance, prior to the game I hedged my bets and started Dontrelle Willis in one of my fantasy leagues. On the one hand (the "bad" one) the Mets lost. On the other hand (the "good" one), I padded my fantasy stats.
The other good thing that came out of this game was the performance of Pedro Martinez, who was basically awesome. He went six strong innings, allowing four hits and zero walks while striking out nine. His only mistake was a fat fastball over the middle of the plate that Mike Jacobs sent seat-ward. Otherwise, Pedro was dominant. With question marks hanging over much of the rest of the rotation it was encouraging to see the staff ace go out there and pitch like one.
Here's one thing I don't understand, and maybe some of you can fill in the blanks for me because I'm having a tough time piecing this one together. Let's say you're the Mets' coaching staff. Let's say you're heading into a series against the Marlins and you're, I don't know, putting together a game plan. You look up and down the lineup and you see a bevy of green rookies. You look up and down the lineup and you identify the big bat that anchors the offense. You see Miguel Cabrera, and you see that he's hitting 40 points better than anyone else on the team, and you see that he's the only regular with more than a season of big league seasoning under his belt. You say to yourself, "Self, this Cabrera cat is a tough customer. There are some pretty good players in this lineup, but I'd really consider pitching around Cabrera. If the rookies beat us, we tip our cap to them, but we can't let Cabrera hurt us."
Three games later, Cabrera has gone 6-for-12 with 7 RBI. Yea, he punished the Mets in this series. Here's who batted behind Cabrera in the three games:
Cody Ross has some pop, as does Willingham. Miguel Cabrera is hitting .329/.427/.554. What am I missing here? Three of his RBIs came in the eighth inning tonight with the bases loaded, so it's not like Heilman could have pitched around him. And, he drove in four runs in game two, which the Mets wound up winning anyway. But the Mets almost blew the lead in game two, and if they did then Cabrera would have been the hero.
The Phillies roll into town tomorrow for three games at Shea, and tomorrow night is the inaugural voyage of the New York Water Taxi to Shea. The taxi has stops at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the South Street Seaport and E. 34th St. and it arrives at Shea about a half hour before gametime. Tickets are normally $18 for roundtrip (the return trip leaves a half hour after the game ends), but we've worked out a deal with them that will allow you to buy tickets through their website for half-price ($9) by entering promo code "BLOG". Unfortunately, I don't get a cut of ticket sales, but if you know me I'm working on it! Anyway, it sounds like a good time. The boat has a cash bar with beer, wine and soda.
I'll probably try it out at some point, though it's such an incredible pain in the ass to get to Shea from North Jersey via any means, including this one. Here are my options if I want to ride the water taxi, and keep in mind that these would be during rush hour for weeknights. Weekend day games may be more manageable:
1) Drive to Hoboken, Path to 33rd St., Walk to Taxi
2) Train to Hoboken, Path to 33rd St., Walk to Taxi
3) Train to Secaucus, Train to Penn Station, Walk to Taxi
Those are my reasonable options, and each would be something like an hour commute just to get to the taxi, which would then take another 45 minutes to get to Shea. Thanks to HDTV I'm not missing much!