By Mike Steffanos
Marlins 6 - Mets 5
This one was looking a lot like a very satisfying Mets win, right up until Billy Wagner grooved a fastball to pinch hitter Josh Willingham. It turned into a very tough loss, but not even Wagner's fifth blown save of the season could completely ruin a decent day for the Mets.
Mike Pelfrey hadn't pitched for nine days, and didn't look sharp, but was still able to turn in a decent performance. He was charged with 4 runs in 6 innings pitched, but the first run wouldn't have scored if Lastings Milledge hadn't lost a fly ball in the sun, and Pelfrey did manage to work his way out of a couple of jams. What we didn't see from Mike tonight was the mastery of his slider and changeup that would warrant another major league start. While Pelfrey could look on his time in New York as a positive, I think he needs to be sent down, pitch on turn, and keep working on developing his pitches.
For that reason, I'm not in favor of keeping him in the bullpen at this time. I'd rather see him work on those secondary pitches. This 6-man rotation is not an ideal situation for anyone, and John Maine in particular needs to get some regular work and a chance to possibly show that he's a better option than Trachsel right now. I still have my sincere doubts about Steve Trachsel, so I wouldn't rule out Mike Pelfrey or possibly Brian Bannister coming up and replacing this year's Kaz Ishii at some point in August.
Thoughts on the game
I've had a rough day, it's hot in my home office, and that was a depressing end -- so you'll forgive me if I'm a little brief in this recap. Wagner certainly wasn't great tonight. It's hard to feel good about Billy's fifth blown save of the season, but it was reflective of making one terrible pitch rather than terrible pitching. To me anyway, that makes it easier to live with than some of those excruciating games he had in May, particularly when he was walking a lot of guys. I'm always more forgiving when my pitcher gets beat than when he gives it away.
Wagner made one pitch to each of the 3 batters he faced. He threw a good slider in on Olivio's hands that he fisted just out of Valentin's reach for a single. He threw another good slider that Helms bunted for a successful sacrifice. He threw a fastball to Willingham that Lo Duca wanted him to go inside with, and he left it belt high and over the plate for your classic "oops" pitch. Sometimes you get lucky and the guy misses it, but this season hasn't been lucky for Wagner. It sucked, but what I want to see from him is a new string of good performances. Don't let this one get in your head, that's all I ask.
Wright had another bad day today. I really hope he skips the home run derby next year -- there's something about that event that messes with guy's swings. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but please, indulge me David.
Enough of the ugly. Beltran and Lo Duca continued their hot hitting. Reyes is coming out of it and heating up again. Aaron Heilman needs to step up and, at least for today, proved that he was equal to the task. Bradford also pitched well in his inning, it's clear that both him and Pedro Feliciano will need to pick up some of Sanchez' slack.
Milledge showed patience with 3 walks today. I saw the alleged "incident" with Randolph in the dugout, and honestly think it was overblown. I also don't think Randolph would take crap from the kid an cover for him later, for whatever that's worth.
I hate walkoff losses, but honestly, this wasn't a killer. What's tougher is the thought of watching the human rain delay tomorrow.
This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.