Saturday, August 28, 2010
By Adam Rubin
The closer call on Friday night? Originally it went to Bobby Parnell, not Hisanori Takahashi -- although Takahashi ultimately earned his second major league save anyway in the Mets’ 2-1 win against the Houston Astros.
With three straight right-handers due up to open the ninth inning, Jerry Manuel called upon Parnell to protect a 2-0 lead for Mike Pelfrey. Parnell opened the frame by striking out Hunter Pence. He then allowed consecutive singles to Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson to place runners at the corners.
With lefty-hitting Brett Wallace due up, Manuel then went to Takahashi. The Astros countered by sending right-handed pinch hitter Jason Michaels to the plate. Michaels singled off Takahashi to pull the Astros within a run.
The comeback ended there, though. Angel Sanchez, after nearly walking, popped out to shortstop. Tommy Manzella then flied out to left field.
Parnell had seven straight scoreless outings before the run scored Friday. The run was unearned, though, since Angel Pagan’s brief misplay in left field had allowed Lee to reach second base on his single.
“He had some success in Houston against that same group,” Manuel said about the original decision to go with Parnell in the ninth. “You try to get what you think is a favorable matchup for him to have some success and obviously gain the confidence to give us the option of using he or Takahashi in that situation. He did a good job on Hunter Pence to get him with a slider. And, you know, Carlos Lee is a veteran hitter. And the other guy [Johnson], he got that ball up and they put it in play.”
.500 CLUB: The Mets have not been two games under .500 since May 22. In fact, the Mets (64-64) have been within a game of .500 for the entire month of August. That’s directly attributable to having not won or lost more than two games in a row this month. … Carlos Beltran had his first steal, and second attempt, since rejoining the Mets. It came 39 games into his 2010 season. Beltran’s last steal came June 19, 2009 against Tampa Bay. “I think Carlos’ legs are feeling OK,” Manuel said. “He’s obviously still making some adjustments from the left side.” … Manuel offered no indication he would consider flipping Beltran and Pagan and have Beltran play a corner outfield spot. “We like what we see because of the size of the left field that we have,” Manuel said, referring to using Pagan in left field. “And we’ll stay with that.” … Jeff Francoeur picked up his National League-leading 10th outfield assist when Chris Johnson misread his third base coach’s sign, thought the top of the fourth inning was over and was tagged out. … Pelfrey’s 124 pitches, in addition to being a career high, were the most by a Mets pitcher this season. It actually was the most by a Mets pitcher since Nelson Figueroa, who opposed Pelfrey on Friday night, also threw 124 pitches, on Sept. 22, 2009 against Atlanta. … The Mets essentially played with a 23-man roster with Manuel unwilling to use Oliver Perez and Jose Reyes unavailable. … Ruben Tejada, with a seventh-inning single, is now 2-for-38 since returning from Buffalo. … Henry Blanco has thrown out 11 of 22 would-base base stealers this season, the best percentage in the majors among catchers who have played 30 games.