Well, that wasn't as fun as Opening Day, was it?
The Mets lost by a score of 7-6 in extra innings, and for most of the game, things weren't nearly that close. The Marlins out-hit the Mets 17 to six. The first six-and-a-half innings only took two hours or so, which is just about as much time as the last three-and-a-half required. Ricky Nolasco dominated, the Mets bats -- which had appeared so potent in the first game -- laid dormant.
And then something funny happened in the seventh inning. Nolasco ran out of gas, and the Marlins decided they didn't want to win, and, quite frankly, there's no way they deserved to. They played about as poorly for three innings as I've ever seen a big league team play. They made mental errors, they played poor defense, their relievers couldn't get the ball over the plate -- the Marlins walked eight batters from the seventh inning onward. It was ugly. And the Mets still lost. If you're going to lose, you might as well get it over with quickly.
The negatives are pretty clear. John Maine really didn't show a whole lot. He immediately struggled, giving up a double to Cameron Maybin, who came around to score on a Hanley Ramirez single. Maine was strangely reliant on his offspeed stuff in the opening frame, and he showed little command over his fastball. And he was his usual inefficient self right from the get-go, requiring well over 20 pitches to get through that rocky first. He settled down and found his fastball in the second, but the top of the Marlins order wasn't fooled in the third. Jorge Cantu hit a homerun, Dan Uggla walked, advancing to second on a wild pitch before coming around to score on John Baker's single. Ramirez tacked on another run with a homer in the fifth. Jenrry Mejia, making his major league debut, followed Maine, allowing one run in one inning of work. The Marlins hitters really didn't have much trouble catching up to his heat.
Initially, it didn't look like Nolasco had much, either. Alex Cora led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. But whereas Maine didn't really improve, Nolasco calmed down and entered a groove. The biggest difference between the two pitchers: Nolasco was actually able to throw his breaking pitches for strikes, which was enough to consistently fool the fastball-loving Mets lineup.
The runs the Mets scored were almost entirely the result of the gross incompetence of the Marlins' bullpen, as Renyel Pinto, Jose Veras, and Leo Nunez all lost the strike zone one after the other. Pinto was the culprit in the seventh, giving up a single to Fernando Tatis with a runner on first before hitting Cora with a pitch to load the bases. He then walked Luis Castillo to bring home the Mets' third run. And they may have done more damage if not for a blunder of their own: Veras replaced Pinto and threw a wild pitch on his first toss home, but Tatis must have a severe case of brick blindness and was out by a mile at home plate as the ball bounced back to Baker quickly.
But the Marlins weren't finished trying to out-inept the Mets. Veras gave up a couple singles to start off the eighth, a Dan Uggla throwing error brought home one of those, and then Veras walked the bases loaded. Fredi Gonzalez had seen enough of Veras and brought in his closer, Nunez, for a four-out save. He walked in one run, and balked home another. This is apparently the only way the Mets can score runs; they were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
In the end, it wasn't enough. Hisanori Takahashi, in his major league debut, gave up a run on a couple of singles sandwiched around a sac bunt.
As for positives? There weren't many. Gary Matthews Jr. continues to make us look foolish. Jeff Francoeur drew a walk after falling behind 0-2 in the eighth. David Wright and Jason Bay had solid games.
Mets are hoping for 30 starts from Maine
Marlins bring on gaggle set to relieve
Need just one hit to bring winning run across
Big winners: Gary Matthews, Jr., +18.7% WPA, Francisco Rodriguez, +13.3% WPA
Big losers: Hisanori Takahashi, -36.6% WPA, Rod Barajas, -26.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Eighth-inning balk by Leo Nunez brings home Gary Matthews Jr., +25.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ronnie Paulino RBI single in tenth, +28.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -43.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -6.9% WPA
GWRBI!: Ronnie Paulino
Nice job by Schmidtxc; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.