>If someone had told me before last night’s game that Angel Pagan would hit an inside-the-park home run, the Mets would turn a triple play, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey would pitch six innings and give up two runs — remember, all in the same game — I would have put a great deal of theoretical money on the Mets winning that game. Maybe not any real money, because it’s the Mets, but I would feel fairly confident wagering theoretical money on the outcome. If you threw in that Livan Hernandez would be pitching for the Nationals, I might have even put down non-theoretical money on the Mets winning. Maybe.
But the Mets are not terribly good at baseball, and they managed to do all those things in last night’s game and still lose — and in it’s own way, that’s quite the impressive feat. I mean, think about who they ran out on the mound last night. The Mets
- started a 35-year-old missing the UCL in his elbow
- followed him up with a 32-year-old rookie pitcher on loan from Tobasco
- brought in a reliever who has appeared in 24 of his team’s 41 games
- relieved him with a banished starting pitcher whose ERA is 6.52 over the past two seasons
- and then finished it all off with Manny Acosta. Whoever that is.
And all those pitchers — R.A. Dickey, Raul Valdes, Fernando Nieve, Oliver Perez, and Manny Acosta, whoever that is — only gave up 5 runs. For the sorts of careers those players have had, combining to surrender 5 runs really isn’t all that bad. The average National League team allows 4.50 runs a game this season. Basically the Mets got something resembling an average performance out of a group of misfit pitchers, most of who were picked up off the scrap heap or are Oliver Perez.
Right here, after the part about the scrap heap pitchers and Oliver Perez, is probably a good place to remind everyone the Mets have a $126 million payroll. Reminder: The Mets have a $126 million dollar payroll.
But, despite the halfway decent pitching, the Mets lost because they only scored three runs, despite hitting two home runs. (This is becoming a common occurrence by the way — the Mets have hit 34 home runs this season, and 24 have been solo shots. Of the 10 hit with men on base, 9 have been with just one man on.)
It’s so hard to pinpoint what is wrong with this team. You can point to the pitching/defense, but the Mets have given up 4.15 runs per game going into last night, and the league average is 4.50. So the pitching/defense, no matter how bad it’s looked at times, has actually been better than the norm. At least so far. Again, they pitched Dickey, Valdes, Nieve, Perez, and Acosta last night — in the same game. A close game. One they were supposedly trying to win. Based on that fact, I would bet the pitching/defense is likely going to get worse, but it has been good so far, so no finger pointing that way yet.
This leaves the offense as the main offender, which makes sense when you consider that Jason Bay and Jose Reyes are underperforming in the ways that they are, and Jeff Francoeur has gone back to being Jeff Francoeur. Still, the Mets have managed to score 4.30 runs per game — below the league average of 4.50 — but is still more than the 4.15 they’re allowing per game. So they’ve actually scored more runs than they’ve allowed. In fact, Sabermetrics 101 tells us that the Mets should have a record of something like 21-19 going into last night, based on how many runs they’ve scored and how many they’ve allowed. The basic idea is that when you score more runs than your opponent, you probably have a winning record.
Only, instead, the Mets have almost the mirror image of that record. They’re playing four or five games behind where they should be. They really don’t score runs on the nights they pitch well, and do score runs on the nights they don’t. They’ve gotten quite good at doing that, and that’s how you lose more baseball games than you should.
That and the manager — and, oh my word, the manager — but he deserves to get his own post instead of something just thrown off here.
It’s almost as if last season the Mets figured out every possible way to lose a baseball games through doing new, creative, bad things, and now for their encore this season, they’re figuring out new, creative, good things to do on the baseball field . . . and then still lose. Instead of hitting into triple plays and losing, they’re turning triple plays and losing.
Angel Pagan may have played the game of his life last night, RA Dickey pitched better than expected, they turned an umpire-assisted triple play — and all was wasted because the Mets managed just five hits and three walks off Livan Hernandez and the Washington Nationals. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, and it hasn’t been a lot of fun to watch.