Monday, September 8, 2008

Santana Comes Up Big With A Lot Of Help From Delgado

  • Mets 6-Phillies 3:
This was why the Mets needed Johan Santana; this was why they paid the amount of
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money they paid to get Santana to agree to come to the Mets; and this is why no matter what happens the rest of the way, there won't be a collapse like there was in 2007.
The entire game could've blown up in the first inning, but because Santana's Santana and the truly great pitchers have that ability to reach back for that little extra bit of greatness to get themselves out of trouble, he wriggled his way through the first inning. (The old-timers used to call it "pitching in a pinch".) Any of the greats----Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson----it was always said that if you're gonna get them, get them early in the game because once they get into a groove and get their mechanics and focus down, you can pretty much forget about it and that
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was how it was with Santana last night; after the Mets got him a lead, there was even more reason for the Phillies to be start hacking because he was going to start challenging them and, most likely, beating them with pure stuff.
A couple of other interesting notes on this game: Why did Charlie Manuel get so bent out of shape in the first inning? Why was Cole Hamels allowed to hit for himself leading off the fifth when he'd already thrown 90 pitches and clearly wasn't at his best? And Jerry Manuel showed a gambler's mentality in the eighth inning when he used Brian Stokes to pitch to Pat Burrell over Joe Smith.
As soon as Charlie Manuel walked out to discuss that catcher's interference on Chris Coste in the first inning, I could see he was going to get himself ejected; but why? The most telling thing about the call was that Coste himself didn't even utter a peep in protest, so that should've been good enough for Charlie Manuel to come out, ask what happened and go back to the dugout. David Wright immediately started going to first base and pointing after his bat
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hit Coste's glove; umpire Jerry Meals sent Wright to first because he heard the bat hitting leather and Coste didn't say anything; why all the histrionics and combativeness in the first inning? It made him look like he was panicking over a call that wasn't going to cost the Phillies the game one way or the other.
With the score 4-2 in the top of the fifth; Hamels having thrown 90 pitches and clearly not being on his "A" game and leading off the inning; and Carlos Delgado locked in at the plate, batting second in the bottom of the fifth and crushing everything Hamels threw at him, why not send a pinch hitter up to try and start a rally? They pulled Hamels after the fifth anyway; why let the pitcher, even though he's a pretty good hitter (for a pitcher), bat? This isn't second guessing even though Delgado's second homer...hold on a second...yes,
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okay. It juuuuust just landed in Whippany, New Jersey.
Jerry Manuel showed that he's willing to take chances because when he pulled Pedro Feliciano after striking out Ryan Howard, I was expecting to see Joe Smith come trotting in from the bullpen to face Pat Burrell, but instead the increasingly dependable Brian Stokes was called in; Stokes threw one pitch and shattered Burrell's bat in getting him to ground to shortstop. Stokes throws extremely hard, but that took guts to go with him in that situation. I probably would've gone with the sidearming Smith.
  • The upcoming Phillies-Brewers series is now the matchup to watch:
While the Phillies are still harboring thoughts of overtaking the Mets (after last season, how could they not?), they're probably not as self-assured about their chances as they're implying in
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public. With that, I'm sure they're going to try and put a dent in the Wild Card lead held by the Brewers when the teams play four games this weekend.
Just like last year, the Brewers are staggering toward the finish line and taking on the personality of their tightly wound manager Ned Yost. One would think that with all of his experience as a coach under Bobby Cox during much of the Braves streak of division titles, Yost would be able to compartmentalize his feelings and focus on what's right in front of him. Instead, after C.C. Sabathia's disputed no-hitter/one-hitter, the person who was most affronted by the call was Yost himself and he let it distract him from the playoff chase his team is currently on. If the Phillies are within striking distance of the Brewers starting on Friday, I'd be concerned that Yost's propensity to explode will permeate the Brewers clubhouse and they'll turn into this year's version of the Mets and have the Phillies batter them out of the playoffs.
This is when a manager earns his stripes and if Yost's reactions both last year and this year are any indication, if his team makes the playoffs, it will be in spite of him and not because
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of him. For all of his faults, Charlie Manuel has control of his clubhouse, the players like him and never let the gravity of the situation affect them adversely; can the same be said for Yost?
  • Dodgers 5-Diamondbacks 3:
The Diamondbacks are in a lot of trouble.

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