By Mike Steffanos
Phillies 5 - Mets 3
Another disappointing result against a team in our division, another repeated failure to get that one clutch hit or sacrifice fly. As we head into the dog days of August, with two months left to go in a regular season and the Mets sitting on a big lead, I think my biggest worry as a Mets fan now is the fear of consistently seeing the kind of mediocre baseball out of the Mets that we've seen from them since the Atlanta series.
Orlando Hernandez started for the Mets tonight, and for a little while it looked like he was primed for a quick exit. He walked Jimmy Rollins and David Dellucci leading off the game, and didn't come close with the first few fastballs he threw. But then he came back to strike out Utley, Howard and Rowand to get out of that one, and looked as good doing it as he looked bad previously. Still, it was a struggle for El Duque in the six innings he lasted. His final line was 3 runs on 7 hits. He struck out 7 and walked 3. He was hurt by a showboat umpire that called 2 balks on him, including one to score a run. He wasn't great, but he kept the Mets in the game and lasted 6 innings in a 115 pitch effort.
The story again for the Mets offense was a failure to deliver in the clutch. They had 2 on and 1 out in the first and couldn't score with Delgado and Wright at the plate. They had other opportunities to get the big 2-out hit and couldn't. In the seventh, down by a run, they had Delgado on third with one out. Cliff Floyd needed to put a ball in play but struck out, then Julio Franco struck out to end the threat. You get the idea.
For icing on the cake, Philadelphia's last two runs came on solo home runs by lefties David Dellucci and Ryan Howard against lefties Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano. The Mets have a lefty-heavy bullpen to use against the lefty-heavy Phillies and still can't make it work.
Thoughts on the game
Since my silly little charts make me happy, let's update El Duque since June 1:
What I still like from El Duque, even in a mediocre game like tonight's, was that he's still throwing strikes. Even despite walking the first two batters, he only walked 3 for the outing. For a guy that is at least 41, he's striking out an impressive amount of batters. With a break here and there he could have had the "W". Still, it wasn't a memorable performance, although he did hit a triple.
Reyes and the overworked Lo Duca remain hot at the top of the order, with 3-5 and 2-4, respectively. The problem was that Beltran, Delgado, Wright and Floyd combined to leave 13 men on base. Floyd has cooled off again after heating up for much of July, and he simply isn't driving in runs. With Nady gone, Floyd is going to play a lot, and needs to pick it up. Willie might want to consider giving Wright the day off just to change things up, he still doesn't look great at the plate.
Let's get them tomorrow.