Thursday, May 17, 2012

Talking Baseball...Are these the NY Mets?

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that the Mets would be 21-17 in the middle of May, I would have said you were crazy. Yet, after today's 9-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, that's is their record-- 21 wins and 17 loses. Still doesn't get them higher than third in the NL East--toughest division in baseball right now. (Washington and Atlanta are currently ahead of the Mets. Miami and Philly are right behind. Even the 5th place Phils are at .500!)

The Mets should be better than 21-17, though. The Mets' bullpen, to put it mildly, really sucks. They have blown more saves and frustrated more fans than you could imaging. Probably have caused a few TVs to get broken, too.

Why, just in the last five games, they have managed to seize defeat from the jaws of victory twice. Sunday in Miami the Mets led 4-2 going to the bottom of the 9th. First they yielded the tying runs, then loaded the bases only to see a rarity: a walk-off grand slam home run, ruin the day. Last night they lead 3-2 going into the top of the 8th at home against the Reds the bullpen needed to get six outs. The Mets lost 6-3 as the Reds scored 4 runs in the 8th.

The Mets are using that cardiac kid Frank Francisco as their closer. While he has 9 saves, he can probably be credited with giving Terry Collins as many heart attacks. Francisco coming into a one or two run game int he ninth inning is like tossing gasoline on an open fire and hooping it doesn't go BOOM! Even today, leading 9-4 he could NOT get three consecutive outs in the ninth. He got the first two men up on a blooper and a ground out, but then walked the third. All he has to do is throw strikes in that situation. Let the man put the ball in play. But, no, he has to give him a free pass. Luckily, the next batter proved over eager and grounded out to second on the first pitch.

So why are the Mets doing as well as they are? Second baseman Daniel Murphy is hitting .331; Mike Baxter, part time outfielder and pinch hitter extraordinaire, is hitting .364; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who came up from Buffalo to play left field when Jason Bay broke a rib, is hitting .291; and David Wright, who struggled all of last season, is leading the major leagues with a .411 batting average. (In today's game Wright was 2-for-2 with three walks, three runs scored--including the tying run in the seventh--and the go ahead RBI in the eight. Oh, and he stole third, too.)

Will they continue to hit this well? I'd be surprised if the continue to have the third best BA in the National League (second in the NL East), but I'd be willing to see their hitting go down if their bullpen would start doing its freakin' job and hold/save the games when the team is ahead in the 8th and 9th innings. Until that happens, the late innings will be finger-nail biting time.

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