We were due for this, really. We'd been enjoying such unseasonably warm temperatures, and such unexpectedly good baseball from the Mets, that a chilly, listless evening like this one was bound to happen. It's been a while since we've endured a good slog, so maybe it's nice to get the slog out of the way. Still, I don't know about you, but I could have done with just one slog instead of two.
In game one, Miguel Batista pitched as well as could be expected, which is to say, not very well at all. If you expected more from Mr. Batista, I assume you are related to him. This was evident virtually from the start, when Batista walked the second batter he faced, Melky Cabrera. I have no stats to back me up, but I'm pretty sure that no team that walked Melky Cabrera has ever won a game. The next batter, Pablo Sandoval, singled him home, and though Kung Fu Panda was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, Buster Posey soon made up for it with a solo shot to left field.
The quick 2-0 lead for San Francisco was bad for a multitude of reasons, the biggest perhaps that it gave a struggling Tim Lincecum some wiggle room. In case you haven't heard, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has had a miserable start to his season. His velocity's been down overall and he'd been rocked in all of his starts thus far. This had started the murmurs that maybe something was wrong with Timmy, and what should we do about Timmy, and so on.
If you watched Lincecum in this game, you would not have seen the Tim Lincecum of old. His fastball barely reached 90 mph, he walked five batters, and he needed more than 100 pitches just to get through five innings. But he also managed to strike out 8 batters over that time and stranded 7 runners. Whether you want to ascribe to Lincecum's wiliness or the Mets' hitters' anxiousness is your call; I'd say it's somewhere in between. Whatever the cause, the Mets could not break through against him, save a two-out RBI double by Mike Baxter in the bottom of the second that briefly cut the Giants' lead in half.
Unfortunately, Batista immediately set about Batista-ing again in the top of the third. He was not helped out by a two-out error by Ike Davis, But Batista followed this with a walk Buster Posey, then allowed a three-run shot to Nate Schierholtz.* Batista ceded another run in the top of the fourth, and that was all she wrote, for Batista's outing and--one hopes--his Met career. He seems like a likeable, cultured sort, but he doesn't seem to be very good at pitching, which is a serious hazard when you are a pitcher.
* Going forward, I'm going to bold and italicize home runs hit at CitiField that would not have been homers under the old dimensions, because everyone seems to be very concerned about this detail. I wanted to add some really flashy details, like blinking rainbows or something, but this is the best I can manage in this blog's interface. This will continue until such time as interest in these matters wanes or I forget.
The Mets' best chance to get close in this game came in the bottom of the fifth, when Lincecum clearly began to tire, loading the bases on two walks and a single. Ike Davis had a shot to put a dent in the Giants' 6-1 lead, but had the misfortune of hitting a sharp ball up the middle to Emmanuel Burris, who started an acrobatic double play to end the inning. Had Burris not made such a spectacular play, the Mets would have scored a pair of runs and Lincecum would have exited without a chance for a win. But dem's the breaks, as they say.
The Mets offense was silent otherwise. Even when they got runners to second and third with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed more of a tease than anything else. And as luck would have it, old friend Guillermo Mota found a way to strand the runners there, with some assistance from Jeremy Affeldt. Funny how Mota can deal with this kind of adversity now, but wilted back in game two of the 2006 NLCS. Sigh.
The lone bright spot in this affair was an effective MLB debut for Jeremy Hefner, who contributed three scoreless innings after Batista's exit. Nothing amazing, but a welcome bullpen-saving performance. Hefner was, of course, sent back down to Buffalo immediately after game one. They needn't have bothered calling him up, however, since this contest was over before it began, right around the time Terry Collins penciled in "Batista - P."
Game two gave us more of the same, with Dillon Gee fooling even fewer Giants than Batista had. (No, I wouldn't think it possible if I hadn't seen it.) He was particularly hit hard in the first inning, and especially by Pablo Sandoval, who clubbed a hanging curve into the Pepsi Porch for a two-run homer. Schierholtz killed another Gee offering to straight-away center for a triple, then scored on a scorched sac fly, and just like that, it was 3-0 in favor of the visitors.
Gee tossed scoreless frames in the second and third, though he was still giving up many hard hit balls. It caught up with him in the fourth when he gave up singles to the first two batters, nearly escaped trouble, then allowed a long "double" to Gregor Blanco two score both.
Double gets quotation marks because said double doinked off the glove of Jason Bay in left. It was not an easy play, by any stretch of the imagination. Bay had to run back on the ball and leap just to get his glove on it, and he nearly made an amazing play. Except he didn't, and the ball ricocheted out of his glove about half a second before Bay himself ricocheted off the turf. It was the quintessential Jason-Bay-as-Met play: maximum effort resulting in maximum embarrassment. And also a five-run lead for the Giants. (Click below for maximum giffage.)
I'll give Gee credit for trying to soldier through this game after the earlier debacle, and with Santana due to pitch tomorrow. He nearly made it through seven innings, but ceded a two-out, two-run shot to Hector Sanchez, his first MLB homer, then gave way to
Unlike Lincecum, game two Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was most definitely on his game. The Mets managed to string a few hits together in the fourth, including a two-out RBI single from Justin Turner that may have been done just to infuriate the writers of this web site. Otherwise, Bumgarner did a masterful job of keeping Mets hitters completely off balance. You would not have been blamed for tuning into the Rangers-Senators playoff game, or The Voice, or RuPaul's Drag Race, all of which promised more spirited competition than what the Mets displayed.
Take your pick to who looked the worst today (non-Batista column). Ike Davis looked pretty dreadful at the plate, as did Lucas Duda, which is especially troubling considering that neither player has appeared comfortable at the plate thus far. But they were far from alone. Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Murphy--not a strong swing in the bunch. Even the formerly red-hot David Wright was ice cold today. Virtually no one hit the ball well in either game. Ironically, one of the few to make solid contact all day was Jason Bay, he of the tragi-larious faceplant in left field.
The Mets scratched out a run in the bottom of the eighth and might have had more, but with one out and the bases loaded, pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin (making his MLB debut) swung at the first pitch and popped out to second. Then, Ike Davis (getting a pinch hitting assignment) got a terrible called strike two, and a called third strike that was one of the worst I've ever seen in my life. Home plate ump Dana DeMuth might as well have pulled a gun on Ike and asked for his wallet. Not that the Mets were in any danger of winning this game, but it'd be nice if umpires would call what they see in front of them rather than the ribeye waiting for them back at the hotel.
Well, sometimes you get the slog, and sometimes the slog gets you. At least tomorrow should be nice and distraction-free, right?
Big winners: Mike Baxter, +7.7%, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, +4.4%
Big losers: Miguel Batista, -39.7%, Ike Davis, -18.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Mike Baxter RBI double, bottom second, +10.6%
Teh sux0rest play: Nate Schierholtz three-run homer, top fourth, -24.2%
Total pitcher WPA: -35.7%
Total batter WPA: -14.3%
GWRBI!: Buster Posey solo shot, top first
Big winners: Mike Baxter, +3.4%, Jason Bay, +1.2%
Big losers: Dillon Gee, -28.9%, Scott Hairston, -5.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Justin Turner RBI single, bottom fourth, +4.8%
Teh sux0rest play: Pablo Sandoval two-run homer, top first, -13.2%
Total pitcher WPA: -28.5%
Total batter WPA: -21.5%
GWRBI!:Hector Sanchez RBI sac fly, top first
Nice job by astromets; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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Nice job by astromets pulling off the sweep; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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