Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Drowning in Coors

Games 96 through 101 – Mets

Dodgers 6, Mets 5
Mets 7, Dodgers 5
Mets 6, Dodgers 0
Rockies 5, Mets 3
Rockies 4, Mets 3
Mets 9, Rockies 3
Record: 52-49

I decided to shake off the rust with a good, old-fashioned simul-blog of the Mets’ big game against the Colorado Rockies. After dropping the first two games of this series in rather atrocious fashion, somebody needed to do something to jar the pieces back into place. I’ll address those two losses amid the comments of this game, but let’s just jump right in.

Jose Reyes pops out weakly to lead off the game. Nice tone-setter. Up comes Miguel Cairo – it seems Mike Cameron has the night off. Let’s delve into why that might be.

Mike Cameron: wow, what a stellar and decidedly clutch performance he had last night. Top of the seventh, two down, down two, bases teeming with Mets runners. He was facing Mike “Back From” DeJean – yes, the same Mike DeJean who sported Met colors for a shining latter half of ’04 and a first half of ’05 that was something out of The Shining. The same Mike DeJean who earned – earned, mind you – the nickname “Hitaway” from my peer Metsradamus. The same Mike DeJean who’d just walked Jose Reyes to load the bases on a plate appearance that featured a rare sighting of a pitch that hits the backstop on the fly. Cameron flicked a couple of half-swing accidents, and a couple of pitches later was frozen on a breaking ball in the heart of the plate for an energy-sapping strike three.

Fast forward about 15 minutes and two innings later. Mike Cameron up again, two down, down one, tying run on second base (Jose Reyes on a huge upswing lately), Brian “Daisy” Fuentes looking for the save. A chance for redemption, or, in a surprising plot twist, a chance for déjà vu. Strike one (another glorious half-swing, as if he were conserving swings), strike two (looking . . . lost), ball, ball, and ugh, another ball down the middle that fooled Cameron again. Game over. Hence, the seat on the pine tonight. Well, these at-bats plus his steady march towards the .230 he hit last year.

Cairo doubles to left, but Carlos Beltran seemed distracted by a runner in scoring position, as he often is. His whiff, and a Cliff Floyd broken-bat groundout later, and another goose egg goes up for the Mets. You know how difficult it can be to score runs here in Coors Field. The Mets scored 3 runs on 5 hits two nights ago – that’s the equivalent of a 2-hit shutout in other, real parks. Last night they managed 3 runs once again. Somebody call HoJo – it’s time to start corking.

Victor Zambrano’s on the hill for the Metros tonight. This could be . . . unpleasant.

Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountains (a treat for the eyes and ears, three nights running) just posted the Colorado lineup:
Cory Sullivan CF
Aaron Miles 2B
Matt Holliday LF
Garrett Atkins 3B
Eric Byrnes RF
Ryan Shealy 1B
Desi Relaford SS
Danny Ardoin C
J Wright P

And Rob thought today's Sox lineup was weak? Willie Randolph is currently channeling Jon Lovitz: “I can’t believe I’m losing to these guys.”

Three singles = 1 run for Colorado. You know how people’s proverbial “15 minutes of fame” really translates into a few months or a year? I think Rick Peterson’s “10 minutes to fix Victor Zambrano” can actually be translated into 8 years. 1-0 after one.

I’ve liked Clint Hurdle since he managed the Tides, but really, guys, this three-game quest to save his job is a bit over the top.

Right-fielder Marlon Anderson homers to right! Mike Cameron’s Day Off has me issuing a Ferris Bueller memo to Mr. Minaya: When Cameron was in Omar’s hands..."Let Mike Cameron go!" Trade him. 1-1.

First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz hits a single+error that gets ruled a double. In case you were thinking last night’s loss was Mike Cameron’s fault, think again. In the middle innings, Jose Reyes fielded a grounder with two outs and fired a decent throw that did not bounce in the dirt but did bounce off Chris Woodward’s glove. The runner took second, was driven home with an ensuing single, and was immediately followed by a two-run home run. Three unnecessary runs, and the obvious difference in what would end a one-run loss. Woodward’s done too much good to come down overly hard on him with “jack of all trades, master of none” slags, but it hurt. Enter glove-handy Mientkiewicz tonight. Alas, he’s stranded, though.

Three up, three down. To Victor goes this spoiled egg salad sandwich of a bottom of the lineup.

Any inning in which Reyes singles to lead off is instantly one worth watching closely. Hold on a sec . . .

Any inning in which Miguel Cairo lines to right and doubles off a would-be stealing Reyes is one that chafes with all the friction of a sandpaper jock strap. Remind me not to watch the Mets too closely in this series. It’s like staring at the sun . . . above the image of a fat guy bending over naked. Beltran strikes out. Again.

Bottom 3. Two quick outs, but then a walk. A nice play by David Wright to bookend the inning that began with a nice play by . . . Doug. (Twice is plenty to type that last name.) 1-1 after three.

This Rockies telecast seems to interject a whole lot of extra fluff into nine innings of ball. Multiple interviews with fans in the stands, answering e-mails every other inning, random staffers brought into the booth, and an excess of explanations about nuances of the game (like how to throw a curveball). Since the first pitch, we’ve seen three times as much of the two cats in the booth than we’ve seen of the Mets players. Right now we’re getting to know Kim Hawpe. You know, Brad Hawpe’s wife (duh). She’s talking about Brad’s rehab from injury and an upcoming food drive. Who knew the Rockies played on public access channels?

MARLON ANDERSON DOES IT AGAIN. Honestly, this guy has had a more exciting season (pinch-hits galore, that crazy inside-the-park job, now this) than most of the regulars. More important than this, though, Brad and Kim Hawpe have been dating since high school.

Ramon Castro makes it consecutive executives! (I’m sick of “back-to-back jacks,” so I came up with this phrase, which should stick about as long as the Brian Daubach era.) In case it’s not obvious, he homered, too, making Willie Randolph the Manager of the Hour for benching Cameron & Piazza in this game. 3-1.

This just in: Rockies outfielder Danny Ardoin tells us his favorite movie is Top Gun. “Never gets old,” he proclaims. I can’t tell you any of the Mets’ favorite movies, and my question is – why the hell not, MSG???

Zambrano bunted his way on to open the 5th, startlingly. Reyes singles up the middle – the kid is hot these days. And Cairo singles in a run. 4-1. Finally the Mets crash through that stingy three-run-threshold at Coors. There’s action in the Rockies’ bullpen, or I should say, the Rockies’ little rock and fern garden where their relief pitchers warm up. Stuart Smalley owns this team, correct?

The home-plate umpire just called time at the last second and sprinted out from behind the catcher as if being pursued by a swarm of bees. I’m looking for these broadcasters to bring him a shawl and some tea to console him.

Beltran sensed the lack of critical need from the team and doubled in a run. Like clockwork. Now the Rocks walk Cliff Floyd to get to David Wright. I’m going to call this a mistake now.

Wright’s low liner gets by a diving Eric Byrnes (Rob Russell’s favorite hyperactive) to plate two more. 7-1 now, and Jamey Wright hits the showers.

Castro doubles in two more. The Mets’ lineup, featuring a few benchies, has notched nine earned runs in 4.1 innings. The “starters” could only muster three in nine. Twice. Baseball is funny. Life is funny. Losing a series to the worst team in the National League is not as funny.

Doug gets punched out to end the inning, then gets tossed as he adds a piece of commentary on his way back out to first base. Enter Chris Woodward. In right field, of course, as Marlon Anderson goes to first with the underlying Willie-message, “We want someone who can catch to play first.”

Coloradical scores on a single/stolen base/double. 9-2 now. You know . . . this team, with this guy pitching, in this ballpark . . . the deep exhale hasn’t been breathed just yet.

By the way, third-base coach Mike Gallego is miked tonight. So far we’ve been treated to gems like “Hold up” and “You’re scoring.” Well worth the replays. Now we’re up in the upper deck with the boys and girls club being interviewed. Not a single mention of “baseball,” “Rockies,” or “team,” but everyone agreed that “the sunset was spectacular.” This is the ultimate anti-New York telecast. I’m not judging it; not at all. I’m just stunned by the feelgood nature of this broadcast after watching New York coverage for so long. Everyone in Denver seems so happy, or so stoned, or both.

As if sensing that the game might still be in reach for the Rockies, Beltran fans for the third time.

Marlon Anderson makes a fine play at first as Spazmo-D Byrnes head-first leaps and slides through the bag. Chris Woodward is heard yelling, “Nice play,” from right field.

I don’t really want to talk about Tuesday night’s loss, either, except to say that a crap call at first gave the Rockies a fairly important run (at least one), Willie argued the call as if he were in a library, and Jose “Friggin’” Acevedo stymied the Mets like he did two years ago with the Reds. Memo to the Metropolitans: the rest of the league seems to like to tee off on Jose Acevedo; it’s not “bandwagoning” to do the same.

Floyd doubles to deep center, then makes a lazy error on the basepaths to get caught in a rundown, then makes a clever hustle play to ensure David Wright makes it to second, neutralizing his mistake. It’s a roller coaster of emotions here, people.

9-2 through six and a half. Every Met starter, including the pitcher, has at least one hit. 15 runs in three games is good; two losses out of three to the baseball equivalent of office temps is not as good.

Things are moving quickly, like everyone on both teams wants to go home. Even Danny Graves can’t sustain a Rockies rally, inducing a GIDP in the eighth after two guys get on. He’s pretty lousy, though, by the way.

Bottom of the 9th, still 9-2. After a walk and a double, Graves strikes out two. After a walk and a single, it’s 9-3. The Reds knew what they were doing, all right – a General Manager hasn’t made such a wise move in Cincinnati since Arthur Carlson hired Andy Travis as program director. Ah, a popout ends it. A nice comfortable win to blur the dreadful vision of those first two games. A more-than-solid outing by Zambrano, a Mets lineup hitting as if they were playing in thin air, and a nice welcome back for me after I ignored MLC for too long. Life is so swell, everyone is so wonderful, and the Mets are . . . still pretty damn average. Sorry, I must have gotten some Rocky Mountain contact high for a second.

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