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The Mets and Cardinals played an epic game last night. Kinda.

Apr 18, 2010, 7:46 AM EDT

Mets Cards scoreboard.jpgEpic may be too strong a word, because make no mistake about it kids: this was 20 innings of some really, really dumb baseball. But you know what? I’m going to
give it a “so-bad-it’s-good” rating. There were so many head scratching “I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw” moments that, eventually, it reached the point of the sublime.  Let’s cover the highlights:

  • The winning pitcher was a closer. A starter got the save. The losing pitcher was a backup outfielder. While one guy threw a no-hitter in baseball last night, the Mets pitchers actually threw more combined no-hit innings. It was just one of them nights.
  • The managing here was pretty bad. The worst: in the bottom of the
    19th, trailing 1-0, Tony La Russa put on a pair of Bad Idea jeans and
    called for a steal — or maybe it was a hit-and-run, but either way it was terrible — with Ryan Ludwick on first base and Albert Freakin’
    Pujols at the plate. You know, the Albert Pujols who happens to be the
    best hitter in baseball. Ludwick was out, after which Pujols hit a
    double which would have easily scored Ludwick, and then Yadier Molina
    singled in Pujols. The game could have ended there, but alas it was only
    tied, and on it went to the 20th.
  • Position
    players Joe Mather and Felipe Lopez pitched — the first time two
    position players have pitched in the same game in 20 years — despite
    the fact that Kyle Loshe and Brad Penny probably could have gone an
    inning for St. Louis (Lohse did play left field, though). And heck, even if you’re going to pitch a position player, why not leave Lopez in there? He actually had better stuff than Mather did.
  • Jerry Manuel called for a bunt against Mather in the 19th for reasons I
    still can’t comprehend. And it was with Jose Reyes on first base and a catcher who had played all 19 innings thus far behind the plate and who had to have been totally gassed. You don’t take the bat out of Albert Pujols’ hands, but it seems like you can try to steal with Luis Castillo at the plate with your best baserunner on first and a guy — Mather — with no pickoff move or velocity on the mound.
  • That said, the Mets never really even got to Mather, scoring both of their runs off him on sac flies.
  • K-Rod was the only Mets pitcher in 20 innings to
    give up a run, yet he
    got the win, which means that the next guy who says that wins are the
    mark of a good pitcher is gonna get a talking-to.
  • Mike Pelfrey pitched
    the 20th for the Mets and got the save, which means he now leads the
    team in wins and saves.

But you know what? For as bad as some of this game was, and
for all we’ve said recently about game length, there was a certain
shambling glory to it. A baseball game went 20 innings in seven hours, last night, most of that
time with it being tied 0-0, and multiple astounding things occurred.  I have to say that I loved it.

Best of all: John Maine pitches for the Mets tonight with no bullpen to help him.  Should be fun!

  1. Levi Stahl - Apr 18, 2010 at 8:12 AM

    We were keeping an eye on the gamecast from about the 11th inning on, because by that time we were over at friends’ houses. When Lopez and Mather were listed as replacing one another at pitcher, my first thought–since Lohse’s name had already been mentioned–was that it was a mistake. It was, just not on the part of the MLB.com dudes. (To Mather and Lopez’s credit, though, they weren’t _bad_, at least not in terms of results.)
    The Ludwick CS was really tough to bear, because you just _knew_ that Pujols (who had been IBBed like 100 times already in the game) was going to come through.
    The whole thing was worth it, though, for this: we turned the online radio broadcast back on after about 17 innings, after my parents called to ask if we were listening, and the first thing Mike Shannon said was, “Call your neighbors, folks! We’ve got a wild one here!”

  2. sjp - Apr 18, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    You missed:
    LaRussa allowed pitchers (Motte and Hawks) to bat with the bases loaded in the 12th inning and 14th innings and each time he could have sent up a position player instead.
    LaRussa cleverly gutted his lineup by pitch hitting for Rasmus in the 10th and by removing Holiday in a typical unnecessary double move. In effect, he put the pitchers spot in the order behind Pujols on purpose, essentially guaranteeing the 2 straight IBBs to Pujols with men on base.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 18, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    The only thing about the Holliday move was that someone said he had been sick the past couple of days, so maybe he was removed so as not to tire him out or something.
    But yeah, not pinch hitting for pitchers and leaving Pujols to be “protected” by the pitchers’ slot for most of the game was pretty inexcusable.

  4. JerseyMatt - Apr 18, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    A couple of other moments worth noting in the game:
    — Raul Valdez (yes, Cuban defector, Mexican League Loaner) reached first on an infield single off of Felipe Lopez (the man who stroked the grand slam off him last night), Buddy Ryan threw way to the right of Pujols allowing Valdez to advance to second. The only problem is that Valdez jogged to second and was tagged out.
    — Bryan Anderson hit into the old 4-6-2 double play when LaRussa finally used him as a pinch hitter. It happened on a variation of a play that we practiced in high school: Ludwick took a hard turn around third and despite Jose Ocquendo clearly pointing to third base and telling him to go back, continued on home after the Reyes pivot hoping to catch the Mets unaware. Reyes either a) had the presence of mind to check Ludwick before relaying to first; or b) realized he had no chance to get Anderson and first and held onto the ball.
    Read more baseball commentary at baseballjeremiad.wordpress.com.

  5. Brian - Apr 18, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Allow me to explain something about Jerry Manuel. In his mind, if you get a man on base with no outs and it’s the 9th inning or later, you HAVE to bunt. The only exception is if David Wright is up. In Manuel’s mind it is simply not possible to score unless you bunt. Now, I know you’re thinking that the Mets scored in the 20th without bunting and I assure you, Jerry Manuel is probably convinced that it didn’t happen.

  6. Andrew - Apr 18, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    This game really brought out the worst in LaRussa but found this pretty funny as well
    “Francisco Rodriguez told reporters he threw an estimated 100 pitches between the 9th and 19th innings while waiting for his chance to close out Saturday’s 20-inning war of attrition against the Cardinals.
    He also told reporters that once he finally got into the game in the 19th, his arm was “dead,”
    The mets might as well have used him in the 9th and had him pitch 8 or 9 innings and they’d still have a bullpen today :)

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 18, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    Awesome point, Andrew.

  8. LarryLongBeach - Apr 18, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    I wasn’t going to comment on this post, but given the topic at hand, I saw that my CAPTCHA was “great drudging” and it seemed like a sign from God.
    I’ll say this. Anyone who calls Tony LaRussa a “genius” ever again can piss off. He made so many stupid move last night it was laughable. For all his “brilliance” the man has basically won due to elite hitters/drug users (Canseco, McGwire, Pujols) and, more importantly, because Dave Duncan may actually have magical powers. But LaRussa himself is the most overrated manager east of Joe Torre.
    And on the other side, as a Mets fan, I’ve somewhat defended Jerry Manuel in recent months because I honestly believed very little of what wrong with this team was his fault. But after his “I’ll be happy if we win one game in St. Louis” nonsense, and his overall inability to reign in a team that he openly called “disinterested,” I have lost patience with him. If Pelfrey, who is off to a great start, is somehow worse for wear in his next start because of that inning of work, it’ll be further evidence that the team can get out of its own way, even when something good happens. And then to see Jerry all smiley and hand-shakey after the game ended, I wanted to punch him in the teeth. I still think he gets a bad rap and isn’t nearly as bad as his critics say, but yesterday I reluctantly jumped on board….HE HAS TO BE CANNED.
    P.S. Watching Mike Jacobs fly out harmlessly against Felipe Lopez took at least one year off the end of my life.

  9. JGS - Apr 18, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Also on the steal–even if he was safe, that just takes the bat out of Albert’s hands. With a reliever batting behind him, they would just walk him with first base open

  10. jwb - Apr 18, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    “If Pelfrey, who is off to a great start, is somehow worse for wear in his next start because of that inning of work”
    This should be ok. Today would be his normal day to throw in between starts. Moving that up 15 hours or so shouldn’t be a big deal.

  11. Josh in DC - Apr 18, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Both managers should be utterly embarassed that they allowed their players to swing at the position player-pitchers that came into the game. None of them were really throwing strikes. It would have been VERY likely to score a run for 4 walks if no one ever swung.

  12. jwb - Apr 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    I stand corrected regarding Pelfrey. He threw a 70 pitch side session yesterday afternoon.
    http://www.metsblog.com/2010/04/18/quotes-from-last-nights-game-in-st-louis/

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