FLUSHING, NY – There may still be some interest at Citi Field the next few days but it won’t be what happens on the field with the New York Mets. Saturday evening the 1969 world champion Mets team will be recognized in pre game ceremonies. Sunday afternoon. Pedro Martinez makes the start for first place Philadelphia against his former team.
So when the Atlanta Braves scored eight runs in the second inning Wednesday evening, all off Mets starter Bobby Parnell, Mets fans had to look forward to memories of that championship team of 40 years ago. This Mets team is not that team of 1969. They, more and more are reliving memories of those 1962 Mets that could do nothing right.
Luis Castillo has had a positive season at the plate. Since July 1, The Mets second baseman has led the National League in on base percentage ,but he opened the door for the Braves in that second inning by failing to cover second base that would have got the Mets out of the inning. That paved the way for the Braves to continue their onslaught, a 15-2 rout.
Five more runs would score after Castillo failed to cover second on a two-out grounder to Anderson Hernandez off the bat of Garett Anderson with runners at the corners. “When Garret Anderson hit the ball Anderson kind of thought Luis would be covering,” was the explanation from Mets manager Jerry Manuel.
But it was more than the Castillo blunder and big inning for Atlanta that caused most of the 38,602 fans at Citi Field to leave the ballpark after the sixth inning. Manuel would manage the game as if it was a spring training contest. He would constantly make changes to the lineup, switched Castillo and Anderson from second to short two different times before Castillo was lifted for good in the fourth inning.
By that time the Mets were on their way to losing their 64th game of the season, and now for sure are playing the role of spoilers against division opponents Atlanta, Florida and Philadelphia. “Luis has been playing extremely well and I wanted to give him a little break,” explained Manuel about his decision to lift him early.
Parnell, making his third Major League start would allow nine runs and nine hits in three innings. And it all went downhill for him after Castillo failed to cover second. “My game plan is to make them hit the ball,” said Parnell. He added, “Ground balls got through.”
Former Met Ryan Church reached base three times, the Braves hit three home runs including two long balls that landed on the bridge out in right field at Citi Field. The 15 runs allowed tied a season high which was also done on June 14th against the Yankees.
Atlanta had a season high 18 hits and their highest scoring game of the season.
So perhaps Manuel, with all the changes from the fourth inning on, was starting to see what could be done for next season. “It gives us an opportunity to see guys get at bats,” he said. “See if they can get some enthusiasm and energy in those situations,” said Manuel.
But energy and enthusiasm, at least on this night left the ballpark in that second inning moments after Castillo failed to cover second base. The only bright spot was for the Braves who managed to score the eight runs after giving up eight in an inning the night before as they kept pace with Colorado in the NL wild card standings.
“They got to communicate before the play,” commented Manuel about the Castillo-Anderson play. Interesting to see what Manuel does in the rubber game of the three-game series Thursday evening with his infielders. Johan Santana (13-8) gets the start for New York against (5-9) Kenshin Kawakami of the Braves.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]