If the Mets wanted to exact a measure of revenge against the Cubs for their role in keeping them out of the playoffs last season, they sure aren’t going about it the right way. Fernando Tatis became the sixteenth Met to run his way into a crucial out at home plate when he ignored the stop sign by Razor Shines and Jake Fox hit a grand slam against losing pitcher Bobby Parnell as the Mets lost for the ninth time in their last 11 games, this time by the final score of 11-4.
Early on, the game was a back and forth affair, as the Mets and Cubs exchanged leads on a number of occasions. The Mets scored two runs in the first inning when Jeff Francoeur and his torn thumb ligament roped a double to left field, scoring Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy. The lead was short-lived as the Cubs scored one in the second and two more in the third, wresting the lead away from the Mets.
The lead changed hands again in the top of the fourth inning. The Mets were able to load the bases against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster on a single by Jeff Francoeur, a walk to Cory Sullivan and a single by Fernando Tatis. Brian Schneider followed with a line drive double into the right field corner, easily scoring Francoeur and Sullivan to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.
The Mets appeared to have a big rally going. Razor Shines had stopped Tatis at third base, setting up a second and third, no out situation. However, Tatis inexplicably restarted his engines just in time to pose for this lovely picture.
In becoming the latest victim at home plate (kids, collect all sixteen!), Tatis left the Mets with only one runner in scoring position and one out. The Mets did not score again in the inning, despite an infield hit by the next batter, Anderson Hernandez. Bobby Parnell sacrificed Hernandez to second for out number two and Angel Pagan grounded out to end the inning.
Parnell was still in the game when the Cubs came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. They had two outs and two on, leaving Parnell one out to go to qualify for the victory. Aramis Ramirez ended any hopes of that when he picked up an RBI single to knot the game at 4. Jerry Manuel could have taken Parnell out of the game at that point, but did not.
After starting off Kosuke Fukudome with two strikes, Parnell lost him. Fukudome walked to load the bases. Did Jerry pop his head out of his Cubbie hole? Nope. The hell caused by Parnell was left for him to quell. Again, Parnell started off the next hitter, Jake Fox, with a two-strike count. Instead of wasting a pitch in the hopes that Fox would get himself out, Parnell throw a cookie that Fox munched on all the way to the left field bleachers. It was the first grand slam in Fox’s young career and marked the end of the day for Bobby Parnell. In 4.2 innings, he threw 109 pitches, giving up eight runs on nine hits, walking two and striking out two. The failure to retire Fukudome and Fox after starting them out with 0-2 counts were his undoing.
Ken Takahashi gave up a run and Lance Broadway gave up the final two runs, but the last insult was tossed by Cubs’ reliever Aaron Heilman. After being claimed off waivers, Heilman proceeded to pitch two effective innings against the team that traded him away during the offseason. His only blemish was a meaningless two-out single to Mr. Impatient, Fernando Tatis in the eighth inning.
Today’s loss was the 21st in the Mets’ last thirty games. For Bobby Parnell, his record dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-4 since being inserted into the starting rotation. His recent outings have made me long for the days that Fernando Nieve was coming in to pick up victories. Tomorrow the Mets will send out Nelson Figueroa against the Cubs’ resident headcase, Carlos Zambrano in a 2:20 PM start.
The championship of the Little League World Series will take place at about the same time as Sunday’s series finale between the Mets and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. That game seems more appealing to me than watching the Little Leaguers currently disguised as Mets players. Unfortunately, Fernando Tatis will be unavailable to watch that game, but perhaps someone can DVR the game for him. Maybe that way he can bone up on some pointers on how to pick up his third base coach in order to score a run properly without running his team out of a rally.