200 Miles From the Citi

April 8, 2010 6:31 AM

A Whole Different Ballclub

Tatis_Out.JPGFrittering away a 6-1 lead and wasting a fantastic performance by the starting pitcher.

A bases-loaded walk.

A bases-loaded game-tying balk.

Sound a lot like the modus operandi of the 2009 Mets?

But it's not - it's the 2010 Marlins...and in what is hopefully a good sign for the 2010 Mets, they were able to take advantage of it all.

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn't pull out a win after an impressive comeback, losing 7-6 in 10 innings to the Marlins on Wednesday night.

But a year ago the Mets would have been the team that blew the 6-1 lead, then still lost in extra innings.  A year ago there would have been a lot to feel bad about after a game like Wednesday's.

The way Wednesday shook out, though, there was a lot to feel good about.

Jeff Francoeur and Mike Jacobs, known more as free swingers than pitch-count workers, had some very good at-bats in key situations.

Alex Cora and Gary Matthews, after two games, have been contributors rather than liabilities.

There are still some bugs to be worked out - primarily the fact that John Maine was not effective.

After one non-Johan Santana start, it looks like an attainable goal for the Mets to win on days Santana doesn't pitch would be to just not give up more than 5 runs, and hope the offense can get six.

Also, the bullpen was not great.  Maine gave up four runs himself.  Sean Green, Jenrry Mejia, and Hisanori Takahashi (who gave up the game-winner) were responsible for the other three.  The good news out of the bullpen is that some Major League debuts (Mejia, Takahashi) are out of the way, and maybe that accounts for some of the shakiness in this game.

One last negative is that the Mets' entire comeback consisted of small ball.  The Mets did work counts and had good at-bats, but it's not like they were blasting the ball around the outfield.  In fact, they were outhit 17-6 and oddly, all of their runs were scored without a hit.  I like the comeback, but I'd feel a little more comfortable with a few more explosive at-bats.

One of the positives of the first couple of games has been the headiness with which the Mets have played.  The past couple of years have featured too many boneheaded plays on the basepaths, or lack of hustle, that have fed me up because they shouldn't be happening at the Major League level.

This game could have been very different if Fernando Tatis had not been tagged out at the plate following a pitch to the backstop in the seventh inning.  I'm not ready to chalk this up to boneheadedness.  I like the aggressive call.  Even though the bases were loaded with two outs and David Wright at the plate, I think your automatic reaction in that situation is to send the runner.  I don't think it was a bad idea.  I also forgot how close that backstop at Citi Field is, and that's ultimately what resulted in Tatis being out at the plate.

I'm willing to bet new Mets third base coach Chip Hale let that information (about the backstop) slip out of his head in that situation as well (assuming he sent Tatis).  Mistakes happen.  This was a mistake.  You learn from mistakes, though - I don't want to see the Mets fail in a similar situation in the future.

The signs so far in 2010, though, point to a new brand of ballclub, where the Mets do learn from these types of mistakes.  I don't expect to see that mistake repeated.

I do expect repeat performances when it comes to the never-say-die attitude the Mets displayed.

Things are certainly looking up when a loss feels almost like a win.

ONE OTHER NOTE:  Happy Birthday to Hall of Famer Gary Carter!

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