In A Big Game, Only The Strong Survive
How bad did Jerry Manuel want last night’s clash with the Phillies? Bad enough to spend his closer’s remaining bullets, Frankie Rodriquez, in a tie game for two innings, no less. Who says games in June don’t have the intensity of September affairs?
Unfortunately, the Mets could not counter the Phighting Phillies number one asset-guile.
As per usual, the Mets jumped ahead and could not handle prosperity. Leading 4-1 (should have been 5-1 but a horrendous call by blue on Carlos Beltran’s ground ball double play cost a crucial tally) they failed to tack on. You leave 16 runners dry docked and that leads to a sheep parade on the bedroom ceiling.
The bases were crowded (and often) as the club car on a Friday evening commute. But, the Mets could not get that one big hit. Again. Seems like a recurring nightmare.
The Phillies need a stake through the heart to be stopped. So, leading 4-1 had to still leave Mets fans squirming in their Laz-Boy’s, especially when the sacks were bumper-to-bumper in the seventh. If it’s not untimely hitting to endure, and keystone kop base running, the gloves cramped up for the Mets in crunch time.
Call it a three-prong approach to losing.
A ball that Beltran catches 99 out of 100 times hits the heal of his glove and keeps the chains moving on the game-tying drive. A slow roller to David Wright ensues, and he boots the short hop it for an error and a 4-4 game. Small consolation is the runner at third had a great jump and a force at home was no lock.
This folly after Mike Pelfrey rebounded with a stirring effort and exited on the long side. He also recorded two hits before hope vanished. However, Big Pelf did lose his composure when Chase Utley, he of two home run fame, innocuously stepped out of the batter’s box.
This combined with his recent balking “yipes” has to alarm the Mets brass. If a batter asking for time to break the pitcher’s rhythm-the intended goal, (and mission accomplished) what happens in the pressure cooker of the post-season?
Pelfrey better get with his Zen Master and eradicate this bubbly behavior pronto before the rest of league bookmarks it as a trend. Over weight old guys in the opposing dugout spend a lifetime keened to spot an opening to drive in a wedge. Baseball is rife with gamesmanship and only the strong survive.
Needless to say, even with the crushing defeat, the Mets can take the series tonight. But their margin of error is slim. Every game that slips through their arthritic fingers nags a little more. Taking the series from Philadelphia with a depleted lineup will speak volumes about this club as the season presses on.
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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