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Late Inning Heroics Fry the Fish

Mike SteffanosWednesday, September 13, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 6 - Marlins 4

On the verge of another flat September loss, the Mets rallied in the late innings to come back and defeat the Marlins on a long, rainy evening in South Florida.

Oliver Perez started for the Mets. He wasn't as sharp as he was in shutting out the Braves last week, but he wasn't as bad as a final line of 4 earned runs in 5 innings would indicate. All four runs came on 2 bad pitches, including a 2-run first inning double that Cliff Floyd would have caught on 2 good legs. Games like this don't earn Perez playoff consideration, but they do make next season all the more intriguing.

Florida starter Josh Johnson survived 2 hours of rain delay to pitch 5 effective innings against the Mets. However, the decision to lift him with a 4-0 lead after 5 innings and less than 75 pitches would ultimately doom the Fish. Their bullpen is awful. Ricky Nolasco got touched up for a run in the seventh before being bailed out by Taylor Tankersley and home plate umpire Brian O'Nora's atrocious ball and strike calls.

Tankersley's luck ran out in the eighth when Lo Duca and Beltran led off with base hits and Delgado followed with a game-tying homer to dead center that is still orbiting the earth. Chris Resop replaced Tankersley, and Wright followed with a double off the left-field wall that just missed going out. Lefty Renyel Pinto came in to face Floyd. Cliff's long opposite field double put the Mets up 5-4, and Aaron Heilman held the fish at bay in the bottom of the eighth.

The Mets scored an insurance run off Fish closer Joe Borowski in the ninth that they owed partly to O'Nora's Schizophrenic strike zone. (Note to Marlins fans -- all 6 of you -- don't even go there. You got more from O'Nora's incompetence tonight than we did.) Then, as they so often do, things got interesting for Wagner in the ninth. A couple of soft hits put the tying runs on base with 1 out, but Wagner came back to pop up Uggla, and then struck out Miguel Cabrera on a 3-2 pitch to end it. It was save number 37 on the year for Wagner, and the 15th consecutive opportunity he has converted.

Thoughts on the game
Oliver Perez first. Updating the chart:

Oliver Perez

I guess if you're the "glass half empty" type, you would say that Perez' tenure in New York so far has resulted in three bad starts and one very good. I look at the 11 strike outs and the improved control, and am more convinced then ever that Perez could help this team as a starter next year. When I heard that the Mets had interest in this kid earlier in the year I was dead set against it. I thought he was damaged goods physically and a head case to boot. What I see after 4 games is a 25-year-old with electric stuff whose mechanics are inconsistent. More importantly, I see someone who has already made some strides under Rick Peterson's tutelage. If this kid pans out, this would be an incredible pickup for a farm system that isn't exactly busting at the seems with top-tier talent.

Now to Billy Wagner: as stated above, last night's save was Wagner's fifteenth consecutive, dating back to that game he lost in Florida on August 1 when he gave up the 2-run bomb to Willingham in the ninth. These saves seldom seem to come easy for Wagner. In only 5 of the 15 has he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but he's been getting the job done. I suspect he's never going to be one of those "game over" guys like Gagne used to be, but should get credit for doing a terrific job. Going back further, after blowing 3 of his first 10 save chances through early May, Wagner is 30 of his last 32. When he does get in trouble in games, you never sense any panic. He deserves more credit than he gets.

After busting out last week, Shawn Green has gone 2 for his last 16, including stranding 7 men on base last night and striking out 4 times. The Mets really need him to settle down and provide some stability at the bottom of the order. Jose Valentin's recent struggles haven't helped any, either.

Reyes was 0-5 last night and looked bad at the plate. Lo Duca picked him up with 3 hits. Cliff Floyd had a huge game. The order is much tougher to pitch to when Uncle Cliffy is contributing. Last night the quartet of Beltran, Delgado, Wright and Floyd went 9-17 with all 6 of the team's RBIs. If Cliff can stay on his feet, this 3-6 in the order is as tough as any in baseball.

Earlier in the year, I opined that a domed stadium would help baseball to thrive in the large Miami market. I take it back. The Marlins have some loyal fans, as all teams do, but if this team can't draw with the terrific story that they are in 2006, there's no hope for this market. I'm sure a dome would improve things, but this is a town that does not embrace baseball. I don't want to hear how ownership has torn the team down twice. True enough, but they also bought 2 championships in a short period of time. If I owned this team, I'd be looking elsewhere for a permanent home.

Box Score

Comments (13)

As odd as it may be the Marlins TV ratings are among the highest in the entire MLB.
People watch them... just not at the stadium.
Thier ratings also increased by 41% between May and June. So who knows how it is now.

Dead-set against it? When I first heard Omar had interest in re-acquiring Bert, I thought "if we have to give up anyone of value to get him, we better get Perez as a throw-in."

You may remember I wasn't exactly thrilled at the possibilty of then flipping this kid over for Linebrink. But, like you say - Ollie's making his case for next year and hopefully it'll deter Omar from giving Barry Zito a Pujolsian contract.

AS far as Oliver Perez goes, I'm gonna get real hyped next season. After he hangs out in the off-season with Petterson and goes to his Alabama science lab, lol.
Then Spring Training with more chill session with Petterson and the 2007 season will be O-Dog's year.

Hi Mike- Hate to play the part of the dog catcher here, but that was the night before's score-it was Mets 6- Marlins 4.
Sorrry to be such a stickler......

Correcting myself- I think that 9-1 was the score of last Sundays Mets-Dodgers game.

Benny -- If they don't come out to the ballpark, what good is it? Why wouldn't you support that team?
Joe -- You think San Diego might regret not doing the deal?
Benny -- If it happens, you think any of the guys who accused Omar of a panic move will retract?
Shari -- Don't apologize, you caught an embarassing mistake and pointed it out to me.

Mike- Dont be so hard on yourself- its not embarrassing, I make worse mistakes when I'm writing in a rush which is alot of the time.
My readers always call me on it though-thats whats so great about Met fans-they know every detail of whats happened.

1. I am waming up my beer nuts.

2. I LOVE your charts. I know its time consuming but USA today used to do the charts on pitchers last 7 days...I'd love to see Ollie's #s when compared with the other starters.

3. Your chart is not considering two gross misplays; last night Cliff. Then bad umpiring in the Philly game. One other point, I think the mechanics are nearly there but his command of the strikezone...how to get HIS calls is not quite there. BUT he is missing bats in the heart of the plate (excpt that Willingham HR which was up on the inside part of the plate). His slider still needs some help in its consistency, too many down low taken for balls....that pitch needs to get more of the zone.

4. One thing I disagree with is Willie's inclination NOT to split catching duties. I'd like to see DiFelice/Stinnet work exclusively with Ollie/Pedro and Loduca to catch Maine, el Duque and Glavine. Its an issue of rythm and timing.

5. I think Ollie has this team alot more energized than you give credit for. He could have collapsed behind the distractions of rain, bad fielding and umpiring. But OLLIE KEPT the game close by HIMSELF!!!!

Daydreaming upon the possibility of Perez somehow getting onto the post-season roster brought to mind an episode in one of the C. S. Forester Hornblower tales. Hornblower is a young midshipman, being bullied by a much older middie, a fellow passed up for promotion. Anyway, Hornblower is challanged to a duel; and since the man is far more accomplished both with the sword and the pistol, Hornblower chooses pistols -- one to be loaded, the other not. A blood-curdling option, but one that improved Horatio's chances of surviving the day way up to 50%.

That's about what we could expect of Perez, if he should come into a game that the opposition had just tied in the 4th inning; that he would either blow away the side, or else hand the opponents a lopsided loss. It'd still only count as one loss.

Do I think San Diego regrets it?

Let me put it this way - if San Diego makes the playoffs, having Ollie on their staff could've been seriously detrimental to a certain team that falls asleep against wacky left-handers.

Shari -- I'm not going to beat myself up for it, but it was embarrassing. It was nice of you to point it out. Some people get weird when you point out a mistake they made, they take it for criticism. I take it as a favor. I don't want a glaring error like that on my blog. Thanks again.
Micalpalyn -- How much more credit do you want me to give him? I'm heterosexual, but I'd marry Ollie if he asked me. Hopefully Lisa would understand. My reservations against him in the playoffs is with his consistency, and my not wanting him to fail in a big spot right now. I want him to build up confidence and win 18 games for the Mets next year.
dd -- you have the soul of a poet...
Joe -- everyone in the media says San Diego will beat us, anyway.

dd: That was soo Hemingway.

Mike: In 1986 I decried the use of Sid Fernandez only for him to steal game & of the WS. In 1988 the "rookie" David Cone was a game 2 starter and "bombed' then win game 6 of that series. This yr has long featured lamentations of the kazmir of shea. Now we hold up a lamp for the dawning of Prince Ollie's reign in 2007. I too am optimistic and hope Ollie trancends his critics. Note to fans; David Cone also reminds of Ollie...remember the 8-0 lead he gave up in Philly?.....But Cone now basks somewhere in the hall of heroes.

Micalpalyn -- Sid pitched well all year in 1986, as did Cone in 1988. Perez would be a total crapshoot for this year. I'm not even saying he couldn't do well, but I think dd is right in that almost anything could happen in a Perez start.

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