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Astros 4, Mets 3: Santana Encouraging, Offense Less So

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It might not seem like much, but despite giving up four runs in eight innings -- including two home runs to Hunter Pence -- Johan Santana struck out at least six batters (in this case, seven) for the fourth consecutive start. Prior to this stretch, which has occurred entirely in August, Santana hadn't had two straight six-strikeout performances this season. Moreover, from April through July he had exactly four six-plus-strikeout efforts. This is encouraging.

The only question mark in the starting lineup was Jeff Francoeur, for whom a reasonable argument can be made to start against left-handed pitching if the Mets were actually still in contention. Now that that condition is off the table there's no defensible explanation for starting Francoeur if Carlos Beltran doesn't have the day off. Beltran started tonight -- and looked really good, again -- and Angel Pagan, who actually has a future with the organization, rode the pine. Francoeur went 0-for-3 with a walk and has a lower OPS than Chris Carter.

  • For whatever stock you put in this sort of thing: Santana's ERA is 2.97 and his record is 10-7. With even a league-average offense he could be 16-5 and might be in the Cy Young conversation. Record and ERA notwithstanding, he hasn't been one of the best pitchers in the league, but I feel like we've spent a lot of time talking about the underwhelming season for a pitcher who, given moderate offensive support, would be in the mainstream conversation for pitcher of the year.
  • Ruben Tejada went 0-for-2 and still has no hits since returning last week.
  • David Wright went 1-for-4 with a solo home run, knocking in himself for his first RBI of August.
  • Jose Reyes went 2-for-4 with a walk and his 24th stolen base of the season in 31 chances (77.4%). He is hitting .246/.254/.404 in August.
  • Nelson Figueroa has 32 strikeouts, 12 walks (two intentional), and three home runs allowed in 42.1 innings this season. If the Mets had cut Oliver Perez and kept Figueroa, they could have had the latter's production instead of the former's with only a negligible impact on payroll. They did not do this.

Poem by Howard Megdal

Wright hits a long ball to even the pace
Pence trumps it; home run defeats the Met ace