Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Yeah Mets! New York scored four runs in a sloppy top of the eighth at Philadelphia to win 6-5 and send the Phils 1.5 games behind us.

The Astros had a much needed off day today. Hopefully we'll regroup from a pair of one-run losses in Chicago. Our remaining six games won't be much easier. Here are the matchups:

Tuesday in St. Louis, 8 p.m. EDT: Oswalt vs. Morris
Wednesday in St. Louis, 8 p.m. EDT: Backe vs. Carpenter
Thursday vs. Cubs, 8 p.m. EDT: Wandy vs. Rusch
Friday vs. Cubs, 8 p.m. EDT: Clemens vs. Zambrano
Saturday vs. Cubs, 4 p.m. EDT: Pettitte vs. Williams
Sunday vs. Cubs, 2 p.m. EDT: Oswalt vs. Maddux

I didn't think we'd face Carpenter again, but it looks like LaRussa has worked it so that we will face him. (I wonder if LaRussa wants us out of the playoffs? If we win the WC, the Cardinals face the Padres, if we don't, they'll play the Phillies... hmmmm). Looks like we'll get the same matchups we got in Chicago.

Here's how it went in Philly today: To start of the eighth, Charlie Manuel pulled Brett Myers, who had pitched seven solid innings and had thrown 110 pitches. Good move. Ugueth Urbina comes in and immediately gives up a double to Marlon Anderson. He then proceeds to walk the nigh un-walkable Jose Reyes. With closer Billy Wagner waiting in the bullpen, Manuel elects to stay with Urbina, who serves up a run-scoring double to Miguel Cairo. Beltran (who has been beyond terrible this year) taps a slow roller to second, whereupon Chase Utley (who has been beyond incredible this year) throws it away and allows two runs to score. Two pitchers later, Ryan Madson gives up a bases-loaded sac fly to rookie Mike Jacobs. Mets up, 6-5.

This loss can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Charlie Manuel. As soon as Ugueth got in trouble in the eighth, he should have brought in Wagner. Manuel claims Wagner had tightness in his peft shoulder, but Wagner had other ideas:

"Everybody's got soreness. Don't make no (stuff) up," he said, also mentioning he was able to pitch. Wagner is a big talker, especially when he's pissed off. But this was completely on the mark.

Too many times I see good teams lose close games with a crappy pitcher on the mound. Some managers wait to use their closers until the ninth inning, when a three-run lead isn't all that hard to protect. Sometimes the most important pitches are made in the seventh or eighth innings, and it's obvious that you best pitchers throwing your most important pitches to get the most important outs.

GArner has shown he's not afraid to use Lidge whenever it's necessary. We could have brought him in on Sunday to face Burnitz (or left in Qualls, who's tougher on lefties...). But his three-inning saves in last year's playoffs were genius. Every one of our six remaining games should be managed as if it were a playoff game, so I hope Lidge is ready for his best stuff yet. And Qualls and Wheeler, you guys are gonna have to bring it.

Let's go, Roy! Show those Cards what they're gonna see in the NLCS!

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