Mets rally but lose in 9th

The New York Mets (43-34) rallied from six runs behind to tie the game in the ninth, only to lose in the bottom of the inning, 7-6 to the Florida Marlins.

The Mets are 0-6 on the road against the Florida Marlins and are now 15-22 on the road overall this season.

New York Mets @ Florida Marlins … recap and boxscore

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Post Game Notes:

Hisanori Takahashi was hit hard in his second straight start. All of the damage was done after two were out and no one on base in the third inning. Takahashi surrendered five hits (including two home runs) and a walk. His final line: 5 2/3 IP, 6 ER, 9 hits, 4 K, 2 BB.

Bobby Parnell pitched 2/3 of a scoreless seventh inning, allowing two hits.  Parnell has not allowed a run in five appearances since being recalled two weeks ago.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the eighth inning, recording two strikeouts.

Pedro Feliciano (2-3, 1.99) pitched the ninth and took the loss, allowing two hits and one earned run.

David Wright is now batting .310, going 3-for-4 in the game.

Ruben Tejada went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Fernando Tatis started at first base. He picked up his first hit since May 23.

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Murphy’s Law rears ugly head again

While it may not have been as damaging as the injuries that piled up last season for the Mets, Daniel Murphy’s season-ending injury will certainly have ramifications with the roster in to the summer.

Murphy was perhaps days away from being recalled before he again was involved in another freak accident. On Wednesday night in Buffalo, while playing second base of all places, Murphy suffered an MCL tear of his right knee after an opposing player slid into him in an awkward manner. Previously, Murphy suffered a right knee sprain in the final week of spring training and was working his way back into shape. Yet another setback in a maddening season filled with its highs and lows.

Murphy was not going to be an everyday starter when he eventually would have been recalled since Ike Davis has taken over that position, but this injury still stings.

The Mets lack punch off the bench and Murphy’s bat could have come in handy for the stretch run. While in the minors, Murphy was trying to get work in at second base, while also playing first and the outfield, and possibly fill in for the oft-injured Luis Castillo, but that point is moot now.

So do the Mets now try to get a second baseman off the trade market? As of now, if Castillo does go on the DL, the plan is for the Mets to recall prospect Ruben Tejada and place him on the bench while Alex Cora plays second base.

That affects the bench now. If Murphy and Castillo are on the shelf, you have to go with Gary Matthews, Fernando Tatis, Chris Carter, Henry Blanco and Tejada.

Is that enough?

Matthews has been nothing short of a disappointment and Tatis is nothing to get too warmed up about. Blanco is what he is, a defensive back-up catcher. Everyone in Mets nation loves “The Animal” Carter, but can he sustain it? He’s great off the bench. However, with the Mets now without Murphy, the team sure could use a utility hitter with pop.

Here’s a name that is sure to conjure some memories — Ty Wigginton.

You know that Baltimore would be willing to ship him off knowing they have no plans for him being with the team long term. Wigginton earlier in the week confessed that he loved his time in New York, but would not get worked up in trade talks.

Wigginton has proved he still has plenty of pop left in his bat (13 home runs) and would be embraced back in New York. Ideally, you would like a lefty bat with power (Russell Branyan?), but if Wigginton and stabilizing pitcher Kevin Millwood could come to New York cheap, I don’t see the possible downside?

Bad Luck With RISP

One day after going 1-12 with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP), the Mets had a much better time of it Thursday, going 4-14. Still, production with RISP has been one of the trouble spots for the Mets early in the 2010 season. After nine games, the team has a .554 OPS with RISP.

How bad is that? The National League average for OPS in RISP is .807. The Mets rank 15th out of 16 teams, 92 points behind the 14th place Washington Nationals. The only team the Mets edge out is the woeful Houston Astros, who have a .529 OPS.

Here are the top six players for the Mets in terms of PA with RISP and what they have done:

Name	                PA	 AVG	OBP	SLG
Jeff Francoeur	        16	.200	.438	.300
Jason Bay	        12	.182	.250	.182
Gary Matthews	        12	.000	.250	.000
Rod Barajas	        11	.333	.273	.444
Fernando Tatis	        11	.222	.364	.222
Alex Cora	        10	.111	.200	.111

The first thing that jumps out is that David Wright is nowhere to be seen in this chart. Ideally, the lineup is situated so that the team’s best hitter comes up with RISP but with Jose Reyes missing time early and still working his way back into shape, the top of the order for the Mets has not been very good.

The next thing to stand out is reason #512 why Gary Matthews should be on the bench. I suppose it is nice that the Mets are keeping their promise to a veteran and giving him a chance to compete for a starting position. But as I have stated earlier, if the choice is between a guy we know is no good (Matthews) and a guy who may or may not be good (Angel Pagan) – always, always, always go with the guy who at least has a chance to be good.

Bay and to a lesser extent Tatis struggling has been a problem. Francoeur has not done as well in these situations as he has done overall, but to suggest that a guy with a .438 OBP is a problem is not a stance I am willing to take. Barajas is right where you would expect him to be in OBP and SLG (maybe a tad high on the SLG end) and Cora is not far from where one would expect.

Right now the Mets are below average in runs scoring. Hopefully once Reyes gets back to 100 percent and Beltran rejoins the lineup next month, things will improve on that end. And the team has a chance to really make a move with just a little better luck with RISP.

Why do I call it luck? Because the NL BABIP with RISP (or National League Batting Average on Balls in Play with Runners in Scoring Position, for those who prefer English) is .291, essentially the same as the .300 BABIP overall this season. The Mets BABIP with RISP is .217, which is simply not going to last over an entire season. Last year the NL overall BABIP was .299 and with RISP it was .292. The lowest BABIP for RISP for a team in 2009 was .275, while the Mets hit .309 for the year.

So, contrary to what some may think, there is no great skill to hitting with RISP. Generally, players hit better with runners on base than they do overall (NL batters have a .762 OPS overall this year compared to a .799 OPS with runners on base and the .807 mark with RISP mentioned earlier). Essentially, the key to having a good offense is to get runners on base. The Mets are currently tied for seventh with 171 PA with runners on base.

As bad as things have been the first two weeks of the season, the offense, when viewed in terms of getting runners on base, shows signs of being above average. Additionally, the early returns on the bullpen are good. Right now the fate of the season rests with the starting pitching.

And a little better luck with RISP.