Mets’ Excellent starter steps Aside for ineffective Bull Pen

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Nothing will make even the most mild mannered starting pitcher swear like a sailor any quicker than watching his evening’s work demolished by a few unwise pitches. Though it happens more and more every year as starters work fewer innings and relievers become more overworked, it figures that starters still have a hard time getting used to it. Think back for a moment to Steve Carlton of the 1972 Phillies. As dreadful as they were, 59-97 with 6 games cancelled by the strike opening that year, Lefty was 27-10. Think on that-he won 27 of the team’s 59 wins. He made 41 starts, threw 30 complete games and 346 innings.

Now fast forward to last night’s Mets starter Matt Harvey. The game was vital for the Flushing 9. Washington had won earlier, so if the Mets didn’t win their lead would be down to 6 over the Nats. As bad as Yankees starter C. C. Sabathia had done, 4-9 for the season, it figured to be a win for the man Mets fans know as the Dark Knight. It would be a needed win, after an awful performance in Washington on Sept. 8. Before describing what happened, it needs to be said that Harvey is 12-7, has now made 27 starts and worked 176 innings. Look back at Carlton’s numbers and Harvey’s. Harvey’s are at least partially governed by his agent Scott Boras, the worst thing to happen to baseball since Marvin Miller in the ’60’s. There were no agents for players in Carlton’s day. Mets manager Terry Collins made it known Harvey would go 5 innings at most in this vital game.

At first the game went according to the Mets plan. Harvey eased through the Yankees’ first 3 hitters with 2 strikeouts. The Mets’ first two hitters, Ruben Tejada and David Wright hit booming doubles good for a run, and after two strikeouts Travis D’Arnaud and Lucas Duda walked. Yankees fans groaned. This looked like the same old C. C. they’d seen for the past two seasons. Somehow this time, he reached back and found some of his old form, getting Michael Cuddyer to foul out and retiring the Mets from there on.

As Collins had stated, Harvey left after 5, which is when the Mets bull pen, which did so well in their series in Washington imploded. Hansel Robles, who had recently served up a grand slam in a loss to the Padres allowed a 3-run home run to Dustin Ackley to culminate a five-run Yankee sixth. Before Ackley’s blast, Carlos Beltran had doubled two runs home to put the Yankees ahead.  An inning later, Eric O’Flaherty loaded the bases with Bombers, and was relieved by Eric Goeddel who promptly walked Chase Headley with the bases full for another run. In the top of the eighth, the always in and out Carlos Torres came on to pitch for the Mets. He walked pinch hitter Alex Rodriguez whose pinch runner Rico Noel stole second. An RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury made it 7-1 Yankees. After he walked Carlos Beltran, Torres gave way to Tim Stauffer. At first I thought I was hearing a commercial for frozen pizzas, but in fact this Stauffer is a ten-year journeyman pitcher between the bigs and AAA. He didn’t help the cause any better than any of the other relievers, giving up an RBI single to Brian McCann and a 3-run home run to Greg Bird. The final was 11-2, putting the Yankees 2.5 games behind Toronto as they head north of the border for a make or break series. After a fantastic road trip to Washington and Atlanta, the Mets have not helped their cause losing 4 of 6 at home, and too many times the bull pen has sabotaged the best overall starting rotation in the game.

The Cardinals finally derailed the Cubs 5-game winning streak with a 4-3 win behind home runs by rookies Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty. This keeps the RedBirds 4 games ahead of Pittsburgh and 6 over the Cubs. The Pirates took two out of 3 from the Dodgers this weekend, rebounding nicely following the horrific injury to Jung-Ho Kang in their last game in Chicago Thursday afternoon. The Rangers are only a game and a half up on the Astros in the AL West, with the Angels still hanging around in the wild card race. The Angels and Astros meet in Houston tonight to begin a series with serious playoff implications. The series between the Yankees and Bluejays in Toronto is equally vital. But that’s just as I see it.

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