Mets Still Struggle (Slightly) in Toss-Up Games

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? A day after the immediate future of the Mets was bemoaned in some circles – this one, in particular – they blasted four homeruns, stroked six doubles and posted a 17-1 rout of the Chicago Cubs. (I almost called them the “Flubs,” but then I remembered the Metsian follies of the previous two days.) After the fourth inning, this one was truly “never in doubt.” Games like this on the Queens side of town have been few and far between.

The old saw goes that there are games you will definitely win and games you will definitely lose. It’s the ones in between where pennants are won or lost. What I mean is what everyone calls “winnable” games: games where a lead was taken, then surrendered, or a furious comeback was required and achieved. So let’s take a look at those ones in between, and what it might mean going forward.

A quick scan of baseball-reference.com reveals that in 76 games this year, they’ve had 30 games where they were going to win, no matter what. They’ve also had 21 losses in similar fashion. That leaves 25 games that could’ve gone either way. For your enjoyment and edification, here they are:

April 9 – Mets were down 3-0 after 3 innings, but came back to tie it in the 4th and win it 4-3 on a Daniel Murphy walk-off single after a throwing error on a bunt. (record: 1-0).

April 15 Mike Pelfrey nursed a 2-0 lead into the 7th against the Phillies, but the bullpen gave up several ghosts and the Mets lose 8-2 (1-1).

April 20 – Mets fall behind early to the Giants at home, tie it in the 9th and lose in the top of the 10th (1-2).

April 21 – Mets gave up a 4-1 lead in the 9th, won it on Aubrey Huff’s shenanigans at second base (2-2).

April 24 Lucas Duda’s 8th inning infield single breaks a 1-1 tie against the Marlins (3-2).

April 26 Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits a walkoff single after Justin Turner’s epic 13-pitch at-bat and the Mets win 3-2 (4-2).

April 27 – If an 18-9 loss in Colorado can be considered a toss-up game, remember the Mets had a 4-run lead as late as the 5th and Scott Hairston hit for the cycle (4-3).

April 29 Frank Francisco’s first blown save of the season accounted for 4 Rockie runs in the 8th, but the Mets won on an Ike Davis base hit in the 11th (5-3).

April 30 – 2 singles and a stolen base in the 8th gave the Astros a 4-3 comeback win (5-4).

May 4Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak and Jon Rauch can’t hold a 4-2 lead in the 8th and the D-Backs take it, 5-4 (5-5).

May 7Jordany Valdespin’s pinch 3-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon, a 5-2 win (6-5).

May 8 – Mets come back from 4 runs down to win 7-4 (7-5).

May 9 – Mets erase a 4-2 deficit in the 7th to win 10-6 (8-5).

May 11 – A furious comeback in Miami goes by the wayside as Francisco can’t contain Giancarlo Stanton and Emilio Bonifacio (8-6).

May 13 – A 6-run 9th sinks Francisco again (8-7).

May 16 – The Reds put up 5 runs over the 7th and 8th and win 6-3 (8-8).

May 17 – The Mets return the favor, erasing an 0-4 deficit and win 9-4 (9-8).

May 21 Johan Santana gives up a tying HR to the Pirates’ Michael McKenry in the 7th and Rauch unties it in the 8th (9-9).

May 22 – Singles and errors give the Mets a late lead over Pittsburgh (10-9).

May 30 – Mets squander a 3-1 lead, Phillies win 10-6 (10-10).

June 4 – The Cards break a 3-all tie to win 5-4 (10-11).

June 5 – The wild Tuesday night, when we all found out Valdespin is not a shortstop (10-12).

June 10 – Rauch gives up Russell Martin’s walk-off homer in the Bronx (10-13).

June 23 – The Yankees win 5-4, despite Chris Young’s outstanding start. (10-14).

June 24 – The Mets tie the game against C.C. Sabathia, but Miguel Batista can’t solve Robinson Cano and the Yankees win 6-5 (10-15).

As we can see, they had a pretty good run early, but have lost their last six “toss-up” games. If they can reverse the trend, the second half could provide a lot of entertainment value.

Follow me on Twitter@CharlieHangley

8 comments for “Mets Still Struggle (Slightly) in Toss-Up Games

  1. June 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I’m surprised the Mets are 31-20 in those “no doubt” games. I’m not sure exactly what it means but any split where we’re 11 games over .500 is okay in my book.

    • June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Actually, that was a typo. My dyslexia got the better of me: it’s actually 30 win and 21 losses. My criteria for “no doubt” games was simple. Games where the Mets never trailed, never led or where there wasn’t a tie after the 3rd inning were classified as “no doubters.”

      • Frank
        June 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm

        I don’t think your requirements for “no doubters” are strict enough. I have watched 95% of met games and i am for sure that mets didn’t have 51 “no doubt” games. You really need to take into consideration the score because it your case a 1-0 lead that holds up until the 9th would be classified as a “no-doubter” under your rules(when it is clearly not).

        • July 2, 2012 at 7:10 am

          Very good point, Frank. This could be adjusted by a game or 2. There certainly can’t be more than 3 or 4 games with the circumstances you mention — Opening Day was one, in fact, that I counted as a “no-doubter.” But whether the score is 1-0 or 9-0, a shutout is a shutout: it’s an absolute fact that you will not win if you don’t score any runs.

  2. June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Well done look back at the season so far. Further illustration that the bullpen sucks and fixing it is going to to take skill, luck, and more than some deadline deal to fix. If the Mets can play .500 ball with all the games they are giving away, that will be something to hang your hat on in 2012.

  3. Metsense
    June 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Great job Charlie! Puts the bullpen into perspective. The bullpen needs external help and Parnell and Ramirez need to step up.

  4. Chris F
    June 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I agree, nicely done Charlie. I am afraid it does highlight a troublesome trend heading into the second half of the season — last nights game not withstanding. I think we hit the Dodgers at the right time without Kemp and Ethier! We clearly need bullpen help, which sadly is the same thing we were saying last year. Between that and the pure sloppiness (fielding, throwing, running errors) we are prone to give up quite a few games.

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