200 Miles From the Citi

April 17, 2010 11:05 PM

Just Your Average Ballgame

Johan_20_innings.JPGI suppose it could have been worse.

I suppose after 20 innings, the Mets could have lost the game and it would have all been for naught.

But after nearly 7 hours, all I feel is like the Mets were even further exposed as a bad team...despite the fact that they managed to pull out the win.

The positive in all of this?  Definitely the pitching - a strong start by Johan Santana, allowing Mets fans to breathe a sigh of relief regarding his health in 2010.  (OK, if not all Mets fans, at least me.  I suppose while I'm in parenthetical form here I might as well add that I saw a good chunk of this game, but not much of Santana.  I went out for a family dinner in the third inning...and was shocked to come home and see the game was still on - in the 12th.)

And the bullpen turned in a great outing.  But here's also where we get into the negatives:

-Francisco Rodriguez is a nightmare.  Like Braden Looper, John Franco, Armando Benitez - I have no confidence in him.  But for a stupid attempted steal by Ryan Ludwick, Rodriguez would not just have blown the save in the 19th, but lost the game.  Instead he gets a vulture win, taking a win away from 32-year-old rookie Raul Valdes.

-I suppose you can turn this argument around to reflect poorly on the Cardinals, too, but 20 innings and 2 runs is a sad reflection on the Mets' offense.  Especially when you factor in that they mustered just two runs in three innings pitched by position players.

-I question a management decision...Tony LaRussa made some mistakes (hitting relief pitchers instead of using his last available bench player on two occasions), and he's a good manager, so I guess I'll excuse Jerry Manuel if nothing bad comes of this and it's the only one I can think of right now late on a Saturday night...but I don't know that I would use Mike Pelfrey in that save situation.  He has been your most consistent pitcher this year, he's performing well above what you hope for...and you use him in relief in an April extra-innings game?  That's a good way to hurt someone's arm.  It's a whole different story if we're talking a game in the playoffs or if you're in contention down the stretch...but I'm not sure I want to see him nailing down this win.  I'd rather see a position player in that spot, I think, than jeopardizing Pelfrey's season.  Or throw Oliver Perez to the wolves.

-9 hits in 20 innings.  Just stressing, again, that this was not a banner day for the Mets' offense.  I'm kind of glad Jeff Francoeur saw his season-opening hitting streak end - I didn't want his name to erase David Wright's from the Mets record books for season-opening hitting streaks (something about Francoeur just rubs me the wrong way...), but at the same time I'm glad he came through in the clutch with the sac fly that put the Mets ahead originally.  But the hitting.  Yikes.  This game does not go far in helping Howard Johnson's status as hitting coach.

I love statistical anomalies.  I love games that go beyond the 13-inning mark or so.  But I love them a whole lot more when they're not exposing the weaknesses that the Mets have this year.  I will still pore over this box score looking for things I've never seen before (like, wow, look at all the players they used!), but something about this game leaves me feeling like it'll end up hurting the Mets rather than helping them.

One more bad omen about the night - the Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter.  The Mets are now one of just three teams left (along with the Rays and Padres) that have never thrown a no-hitter.

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