You Can’t Win When You’re In Passive Mode
The fears broached in spring training are coming to fruition in the first month of the season. Will the Mets be competitive when spots 2-5 come up in the rotation? The answer this week was a resounding NO. After Johan Santana pitched another one of his signature games last Saturday, it’s been all downhill.
Oliver Perez and John Maine are hard-pressed to get through five innings and Mike Pelfrey is not sound. Livan Hernandez was shelled yesterday afternoon in St. Louis. The Cards look to be a scrappy team, or unMetslike. They run the bases hard, flash the leather, and come up with the timely hit. It doesn’t hurt to have the game’s best hitter, Albert Pujols anchoring the lineup.
Basically, the Mets had their lunch money stolen by the Cardinals along with their dignity. There were some very disturbing signs on display at the house that Budweiser built. First of all, when you score eight runs, that should suffice. When your starter allows seven, and the next man out of the pen (Sean Green) yields five tack-ons, there’s not much hope of a rousing comeback.
In fact, when the Mets have trailed this year they have shown little moxie or spirit. Mostly, they have folded up their tent and gone home. Yesterday, after they fell behind 4-1 did anyone believe they would rally? Homers by Beltran and Ryan Church were window dressing.
Besides the lack of proficient starts, the base running so far has been abysmal. Daniel Murphy one of the main culprits.
However, yesterday, they went station to station all game, needing seemingly four hits to score a run. They need to push the envelope more than once a game on the base paths. Moreover, where has the stolen base gone in the arsenal?
Jose’ Reyes will get his. David Wright and Carlos Beltran have fastened themselves down as if preparing for rough seas. Beltran’s base running blunder on Wednesday night raised some eyebrows. He has scored standing up before and not been caught. Not this time. In a tight game (remember, the Mets lost a division each of the last two seasons by a game) he made a wonderful aggressive play by tagging from second and drawing a throw.
Nevertheless, he managed to be hero and goat on both ends of the same play.
Once you commit to scoring there is absolutely no need to look back at the fielder. It only slows you down. What Beltran did was a Cardinal (no pun) sin-that is Assume in baseball. That Thurston (who made a great play) could or would get to the ball is irrelevant. Put your head down and steam toward the finish line and kick up some dust..
A player with Beltran’s immense ability was caught with his pants down.
Another play in the series was endemic of how the Mets are playing passively. On a play at the plate, Ramon Castro made no attempt to block the path of the base runner, a pitcher no less. He received the throw behind the plate and did not ward off the charging runner. The runner slid underneath the throw for a run.
If you are not going to be aggressive on the diamond you will lose a lot of games.
If your starters cannot complete five innings you are going to lose. Thankfully, the Nationals come to town and the Mets should get healthy. If not, the humidity around Jerry Manuel’s collar should percolate.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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