It was not a great day to be a Mets fan yesterday. New York’s National League team lost not once, but twice to the San Francisco Giants, and neither game was particularly close. In the first game, the Mets lost 6-1, mainly because Miguel Batista imploded right at the start of the game.
It was nice that former Met Angel Pagan led off the game with a grounder to first, but then Melky Cabrera walked and stole second. Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, followed with an RBI hit into right-center field. It’s a good thing that Lucas Duda threw out the Panda as he tried for a double, because the next batter Buster Posey hit a home run. 2-0 Giants was the score after one.
For a second, it looked like the Mets would make a game out of the pitching mismatch that saw Tim Lincecum starting against the overwhelmed Batista. In the second inning Ruben Tejada walked with two outs, stole second base and was doubled home by Mike Baxter, who was in the lineup to give Jason Bay a breather.
However, the Giants would put the game out of reach in the top of the third. Batista got the first two men out, but Ike Davis misplayed a Panda groundball to extend the inning. Posey followed with a walk, which set the table for a Nate Schierholtz three-run bomb into the Mo’s Zone to make the score 5-1. Last season, that would have only scored a pair of runs, but it didn’t matter, because Tim Lincecum had the good stuff today.
The two-time Cy Young winner did have some control issues (five walks in five innings), but he also struck out eight. Unlike his previous starts, Lincecum did not surrender an obscene amount of hits, and his defense helped tremendously when Ike Davis came to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth.
Davis hit the ball reasonably hard up the middle, but second baseman Emmanuel Burriss made an amazing play. He snagged the grounder and flipped it with his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford standing on second base. Crawford caught the ball with his bare hand and threw over to first in time to complete the inning-ending double play.
The one bright spot for the Mets was Jeremy Hefner pitching three scoreless innings in his MLB debut. Hefner allowed three hits and one walk without striking out anybody, but he appeared to be able to get ground balls with his curveball when he needed them. Although Hefner was sent back to Buffalo in between games to make room on the roster for Jordany Valdespin, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him replace Batista as the long reliever/spot starter in the near future.
Game Two got off to a very similar start to Game One. Gregor Blanco led off with a single the Giants took a quick 2-0 lead on a very, very long home run from Sandoval off of Mets starter Dillon Gee. That was followed by a Schierholtz triple and a Hector Sanchez sac fly to give the Giants a 3-0 advantage.
Gee would settle down for the next two innings while the Mets managed to do very little on offense versus Giants starter Madison Bumgarner. However, in the fourth, San Francisco got two more runs on a two-out double by Blanco that Jason Bay should have been able to catch. Alas, the ball bounced out of his glove and the Mets were in a 5-0 hole.
The rest of the game was not very exciting. The Mets got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Justin Turner singled home David Wright with two outs. However, the Giants in the seventh made the score 7-1 on backup backstop Hector Sanchez’s two-run homer. That ended Gee’s night with five strikeouts and one walked allowed in 6.2 innings. If you consider that Bay absolutely should have caught the Blanco double, it was the two home runs that did a great majority of the damage. That’s why it’s important to judge pitchers on walks, strikeouts and home runs instead of ERA or the amount of hits they give up.
Valdespin made his big league debut in this game while pinch hitting for Manny Acosta in the eight inning. He popped up on the first pitch he saw. I’m not sure exactly sure how the Mets plan on using Valdespin in the majors. He’s on the roster because reserve infielder Ronny Cedeño has a strained intercostal muscle that landed him on the DL. However, if the Mets use Valdespin in strictly a reserve role, they would be wasting development at-bats that he could be getting in Buffalo.
It’s true that Valdespin is 24 years old already and in the future he could be the Mets version of Emilio Bonifacio, but right now I think he’s better off getting minor league at-bats until the Mets have a full time role for him. Valdespin can play multiple positions in the infield and outfield, so he is quite versatile, but the Mets don’t have any glaring holes where he can help them every day. We’ll see what Terry Collins decides to do with him, starting with tonight’s game against the Miami Marlins.