John Maine made his return to the Mets after a three month absence from the team following the world’s longest rehab stint. Although he was limited to a pitch count of 60 pitches, he took the loss when the bullpen failed to keep the Phillies in the park. The efforts (or lack thereof) of Tobi Stoner and Lance Broadway prevented the Mets from pulling off another late-inning comeback, although they did try valiantly to do so. Nevertheless, the comeback was all for naught as Brad Lidge gave up as much of the lead as he could without blowing the save in the 5-4 Phillies victory in game one of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader.
Maine came into the game with a 5-0 career record against the Phillies and only gave up one run and two hits in his three innings of work. However, since the demolition team of Stoner and Broadway gave up four runs on eight hits in their five innings, the late rally by the Mets was not enough, even with Armando Benitez-in-training Brad Lidge pitching the ninth inning.
Perhaps if Lance Broadway hadn’t given up an insurance run to the Phillies in the eighth inning, we’d be talking about another great Mets comeback, but alas, that run ended up being the difference of the game.
Maine did pitch well. Although he still has to work on keeping his pitch count low (he averaged 19 pitches per inning today), he threw strikes (only one walk) and did not appear to feel any discomfort. It’s unfortunate that he had to pick up the loss in today’s game, considering he pitched the best of the three pitchers the Mets trotted out to the mound. Alas, the rules of major league baseball say that he has to get the loss and so he shall.
Other highlights for the Mets included the shocking two-run HR to center field by light-hitting second baseman Anderson Hernandez in the eighth inning, although that ball probably would have been a pop-up in the vicinity of second base at Citi Field. You know how crazy Citizen’s Bank Park plays! Even the Cryin’ Hawaiian himself, Shane Victorino, could not believe Hernandez could hit a ball that far to that part of the ballpark. As the photo to the right suggests, Victorino remained frozen at the top of the fence, perhaps in disbelief, that the ball carried out. Fortunately for him, Mr. Shades was standing behind the wall and helped pry Victorino off the fence.
If Jeff Francoeur continues to hit like this, he might always want to play with an injured thumb. He picked up three more hits for his third three-hit game in the last four days. He now has 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats, raising his batting average to a season-high .275. Since his trade to the Mets, he is hitting .311 (68 for 219).
Last but not least, how can we forget Josh Thole? By going 4 for 4, he continued his hot start in the majors, raising his average to .444. If Brian Schneider was already saying that he’s preparing to be playing elsewhere in 2010, today’s performance by Thole did nothing to make him want to retract his statement. Thole just missed his first major league home run in the ninth inning when he hit a long single off the top of the right field wall.
It won’t take long for the Mets to try to take the finale from the Phillies, as Game 2 of the day-nighter will begin at 8:05 PM. Pedro Martinez will face Tim Redding in the nightcap. As a reminder to you, the game will be televised on ESPN so please do your best to increase WFAN’s ratings. After all, Jerry Manuel already said in the SNY post-game show that Carlos Beltran will be starting the second game. We don’t need to hear Jon Miller call him Bel-TRON throughout the game, do we? The mute button. Best. Invention. Ever.
Useless stat of the day (but I’m telling you anyway): With today’s win in Game 1, the Phillies have now defeated the Mets 11 times this season. All of the wins have been credited to different pitchers (Jack Taschner, Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Rodrigo Lopez, Rip Van Winkle (Jamie Moyer), Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick). We don’t need to see a 12th name tonight…
Useless stat of the day (because one useless stat just isn’t enough): If the Mets lose tonight’s second game, they will be mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, as they would have lost 81 games while the division-leading Phillies would have 82 wins. That is the same amount of wins the wild card-leading Rockies have entering today’s games. On a positive note, the Mets magic number to eliminate the Washington Nationals from fourth-place contention is now down to 7.