It was a tight game until ‘that’ inning. Tonight it was the eighth. A 2-2 game was blown open and the Pirates offense was, again, in need of some timely federal funding after blowing several chances to take advantage of a solid starting pitching performance. The Pirates fell 7-3 and dropped to 12-17 on the year.
The Mets had Jon Niese on the bump for Oliver Perez after he suffered a ‘knee’ injury. Perez, who signed a three year deal after a sparkling 4 plus ERA last year, is 36 million richer, but is out of the Mets rotation.
Niese had struggled at AAA this year. But the Pirates bats got that turned around for the Ohio born lefthander who scattered seven hits and struck out five while making his first start of the season.
Two stolen bases by Castillo (after an infield hit) and Jose Reyes on Pirates starter Jeff Karstens and C Robinzon Diaz opened the first inning for the Mets.
This set the table for the NL’s leading hitter, 32 year old Carlos Beltran with runners on second and third and nobody out…..popped out!
Carlos ‘Curtain Call’ Delgado, who was on a .209 tear in his last 13 games then came to the plate in the same situation and hit a two run smash past Sanchez into right field. 2-0 lead for the Mets. It was worse later. Glad we could assist you in getting out of your slump Carlos.
TIMELY help HITTING:
In the third, Brian Bixler got on with an error, scratch that, ahem it was a single, Karstens bunted him over. (Nice one down the first base side) Nyjer Morgan battled Niese and got his 13th RBI on a soft single which scored Bixler.
Freddy Sanchez hit into a fielders choice to Reyes for the second out which moved Morgan to second. Nate McLouth, who had singled in the first, battled to a 3-2 count on Niese. McLouth, hitting .429 with RISP, skied one for a pop out to end the inning. Whoops, the ball fell ten feet to the right center field side of CF Beltran and the late arriving Ryan Church. So, if you prefer, McLouth dropped a double into CF for an RBI in the score book.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Karstens settled down tonight. He pitched aggressively. No walks over six innings. Three strikeouts and 2ER. Some pop on his fastball and good control.
SS Reyes played defense like the catcher for Waynesburg Little League last night.
The Mets defense was bad. Thankfully, they kept us in this game for a while.
Morgan reached on a Reyes error or a basehit depending on how you interrupt it. Niese had him picked and threw it six feet over 1B Delgado’s head which put the go ahead run on second. Freddy who knew he MUST drive him in, swung at one over his head for a strikeout. Stop the pressing Bucs. You hit better than this.
Two more stranded in the fifth inning after singles by the LaRoche brothers, Brandon Moss struck out for the second time (he would get the third one in the eighth) and Diaz lined out to left field.
Then in the seventh inning, Bixler crushed a double off the centerfield wall welcoming reliever Sean Green (8.31ERA) to the ballgame.
Delwyn Young pinch-hit for Karstens. Strikeout. Looking. What a wasted at bat. Bixler still at second.
Nyjer was hit on the shoulder blade by Green.
Freddy came up with the ability to make up for the tomahawk, ball above his eyes strikeout, but instead just popped out to left.
The Mets brought in 40 year old Ken Takahashi to face Nate who hit the first pitch to Delgado to end the seventh inning.
SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT:
Everyone knows Rumbunter was upset when C Robinzon Diaz was sent down earlier in the year. I think you understand after his defensive prowess was on display last night. Diaz can move! He nearly stabbed a low pop up in foul territory which would have stole an out in the fifth inning.
Then he grabbed a bunt right in front of the plate hit by the pitcher Niese and should have had a double play as he fired the ball to second base, but Bixler didn’t even throw the rock to first after a somewhat high slide by Church, but not enough to alter the play significantly. Niese was about halfway to the first base bag when Bixler had the ball in his glove.
The Pirates escaped without a run as Karstens got Castillo and Reyes.
Then in the seventh Diaz showed off his arm. Tyler Yates came in to finish off Karsten’s best outing of the year. Strikeout. Lineout. Long Single by Alex Corra thanks to a great play by Nyjer (it could have easily been a ground rule double.) No worries. Diaz gunned Corra trying to steal second.
Yates was throwing hard. Reyes greeted him in the bottom of the eighth with a single. Castillo wanted to bunt. Yates couldn’t throw a strike. How many times have we seen this? Castillo walked on four pitches.
Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan came out to talk to Yates who had thrown 12 of 18 pitches for strikes prior to Castillo’s walk. Beltran hit a weak single over LaRoche’s head on a pitch that jammed him and scored Reyes. 3-2 Mets.
In came lefty Sean Burnett. Delgado blasted a three run homer to right centerfield for his fifth RBI of the game. He cleared the 415 foot sign easily. 6-2 Mets. What no curtain call? It got worse as Murphy hit a ball off Moss’ glove at the track for a double. He was plated by Santos on a single to center. 7-2 Mets.
Donnie Veal came in to finish off the inning. The Mets sent 11 batters to the plate breaking the game open.
Eric Hinske walked in the ninth inning. Morgan walked. And Freddy came up for the fifth time on the night. And he delivered an RBI single much to the disgust of the Mets faithful. But to the disgust of the Pirate faithful, McLouth flew out to end the game.