Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Rodriguez’

In Defeat, Mets Showcase Three Very Good Pitchers

August 21, 2009

Aside from participating in another series loss, this time to the Atlanta Braves, Mets fans last night were given the chance to witness three of the league’s more dominant pitchers. The night began with Mets left-hander, Johan Santana, who despite picking up his ninth loss of the season pitched seven strong innings. Nonetheless, the stage belonged to former Mets closer Billy Wagner. The veteran left-hander was activated prior to the game on Thursday and then asked to start the eighth inning. Wagner did not disappoint. After warming up to his signature theme song, “Enter Sandman,” he went on to pitch a one-two-three-inning. In addition to a scoreless eighth, Wagner struck out two and retired Mets fans’ ultimate arch-enemy, Chipper Jones.

Taking advantage of Wagner’s return, the Mets were able to close the gap, 3-2, by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Playing to win at home, Mets manager Jerry Manuel brought in his closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who managed to get himself out of a jam with runners on first and second and one out by inducing a double-play. The Mets failed to tie the score in the bottom half of the ninth as they picked up their 65th loss of the season and fell fourteen-and-a-half games in back of the Phillies.

Wait, it gets worse, the Mets open up a four-game series against those first-place Phillies tonight at Citi Field.

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Manuel Takes a Strength and Turns It into a Weakness

August 5, 2009

With a record that has incurred more losses than wins, the Mets and their fans must savor any chance they can get in witnessing a victory. Heading into the top of the ninth inning last night, the Mets were leading by two runs and they had their All-Star closer, Francisco Rodriguez, on the mound to save it. To make a long story short, he blew the save and the Mets went on to lose the game in extra innings by the dreadful score of 12-7. Prior to the start of the game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel admitted that Rodriguez was being used sporadically. He also made reference to the fact that his closer loves to pitch and would have no qualms with being called upon to throw four out of five days. Manuel also reiterated these comments after the game as well.

After placing my violin back into its case, I waited for one of the many beat reporters to inquire why the Mets manager had pulled right hander Brian Stokes so quickly in the tenth. With the score tied at seven, Stokes was able to induce a ground ball that registered the first out of the inning. For his success, Stokes was taken out and replaced with left-hander Pedro Feliciano. If you haven’t noticed yet, Manuel loves to matchup his relievers, lefty-on-lefty, and then proceed by rolling the dice. After allowing the bases to load, Feliciano battled back to strike out Cardinals Skip Schumaker for the second out. Feliciano’s reward? An early trip to the showers. In comes, you guessed it, Sean Green. Not only does Green hit Cardinals Mark DeRosa with the first pitch he throws but he then goes on to surrender a grand slam to who else? Albert Pujols. I guess the only positive you could take from that hit was that unlike Pujols’ first home run of the game, this one didn’t land inside the Mets apple.

It’s Official, Rodriguez Blows a Save

June 19, 2009

The top of the ninth inning had just come to a close. With the Mets up by just one run, it meant only one thing; Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was coming into the game. After taking a chug of his water, he then ceremoniously chucked it to the side and made his way from the bullpen. Mets manager Jerry Manuel so far has mixed and matched all other Mets relievers in his bullpen but not when it comes to the ninth. With 17 saves out of 18 opportunities, it’s no secret that the Mets die with their closer. Along with the Philadelphia Phillies dropping their third straight game to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the day and the Mets looking at a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning over the last-place team in the AL East, it was a perfect time for their closer to finish what his team had started.

The bottom half of the inning for Rodriguez began on the wrong foot as Baltimore Orioles rookie catcher, Matt Wieters, smacked a lead-off double into left-center field. Wieters’ extra-base hit was then followed by a walk to another rising prospect, Nolan Reimold. With runners on first and second and nobody out and the Orioles still down by a run, Baltimore’s manager, Dave Trembley, decided to have second baseman Brian Roberts lay down a bunt. Roberts’ bunt was a good one as it proceeded to dribble towards the third base side. Mets catcher Omir Santos grabbed it and threw a strike to David Wright who was covering third base. “Safe,” was the call from umpire, Tim Timmons, causing manager Jerry Manuel to storm from the Mets dugout. Manual pleaded his case for a minute or two. Unfortunately, his attempt was made in vain as a close play went in favor of the Orioles.

With the bases loaded and no one out, the Mets decided to bring outfielder Carlos Beltran in from center field to act as a fifth infielder. After a 1-1 count, Baltimore’s Adam Jones swung and missed at strike two, a tough pitch to lay off. Rodriguez, looking for a strike out, allowed the count to go 2-2, then 3-2. Could the Mets indestructible closer actually walk in the tying run? If you haven’t heard, he did, bringing in the tying run and officially blowing his first save. Unbelievable, another wasted effort from one of the Mets starting pitchers.

Nick Markakis then strode to the plate with a chance to drive in the winning run well aware that Rodriquez was having trouble finding the plate. The count quickly went in favor of the hitter at two balls and no strikes. Is is possible that K-rod would not only blow the save but lose the game without retiring a single batter? Finally, a strike on a change-up, 2-1, then 2-2, in there for a called third strike, bases loaded, one out, placing Beltran back into centerfield. With that, all the Mets and their fans needed in the worst way was a routine double play to force extra innings.

With Aubrey Huff due up next, that outcome for the Mets was highly unlikely. The left-handed hitting Huff had already blasted a two-run shot in the eighth inning off the Mets premier left-handed specialist, Pedro Feliciano, the night before. With that, Huff lined a base hit into right field, scoring Reimold that gave the Orioles another late-inning victory against the reeling New York Mets. Instead of heading back to Citi Field just two games behind in the standings, the Mets end up just two games over five hundred.

Bruised and Battered, the Mets Find a Way to Win

May 26, 2009

It’s safe to say that on any given night this season the New York Mets have given themselves a good chance at winning. However, for the last week and a half that chance has been met with the question of which players will be asked to uphold it. With one third of their active roster decimated by injury, the Mets everyday lineup card these days can look as unpredictable as an Oliver Perez start. Prior to last night’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel delayed his decision to start centerfielder Carlos Beltran and back-up shortstop Ramon Martinez until thirty minutes before the start of the game. Reason being, Beltran was nursing a sore knee and Martinez was ailing from a bad back. Fortunately for the Mets, both players made their starts and helped the team to a 5-2 victory over the last place Washington Nationals.

Last night’s win earned Mets starter John Maine his fourth victory of the season. Maine looked well in command throughout the game, although he was not asked to pitch the seventh inning. Manuel was given the opportunity after the game to respond to why he opted for a reliever in the seventh instead of continuing with his starter. Manuel felt that too much time elapsed between the umpire’s review of Gary Sheffield’s three-run homerun and the start of the seventh inning. In hindsight, reliever Bobby Parnell began the seventh inning and surrendered three walks (the Mets pitchers had nine overall) which led to a run. Parnell was yanked and it took two more Mets relievers to limit the damage in the seventh.

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes continues his recovery from tendinitis of the calf and left fielder Ryan Church was again unavailable for the second straight game. On the bright side, closer Francisco Rodriguez kept his perfect save streak going last night and earned his thirteenth save of the season. If you remember, Rodriguez collapsed on Saturday in Boston from back spasms. He was rushed to the hospital where he received treatment and was then cleared to play.

With the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves losing their games yesterday, the Mets are now all alone in second place just one-half game back.

Avoiding a Total Meltdown, K-Rod Solidifies His Role with Mets

May 6, 2009

On his way out towards the mound last night in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez looked up at the score and noticed that his team was up by three runs. For Rodriguez, closing out a game with that type of margin constitutes not only a job well done but another save under his belt. However, those of us who have been around prior to the present-day K-Rod era know all too well that when the Mets play the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, anything can happen.

With runners on first and second and two out, the Braves leadoff man Omar Infante hit a routine fly ball in the direction of first base. Mets Carlos Delgado proceeded to camp under it, when something unbelievable happened that made Mets manager Jerry Manuel “age two more years”, as he said, in an instant. Delgado dropped the ball. Kelly Johnson rambled home and the Braves were now within two. When asked how a pitcher handles a situation like that, Rodriguez basically said, “You have to maintain your focus, have a short-term memory, and go after the hitters.”

After surrendering an RBI single to Yunel Escobar which made the score, 4-3, Rodriguez got Chipper Jones to fly out to right and the Mets successfully completed the abbreviated two-game sweep of the Braves. Tonight, weather permitting, the Mets return home to begin another two game series against the owners of first place in the NL East, the Philadelphia Phillies. Scheduled to start for the Mets is their ace, Johan Santana.