Pirates 6, Mets 5

(even the promise of a postgame Half Life reunion wasn’t enough to cheer up David Wright and Cliff Floyd.

If I’m gonna spend much of the day quoting myself, I might as well keep it up.

From CSTB, July 8, 2005

Braden Looper pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 19th save in 22 opportunities. Now might be a good time for me to admit that Looper™s handful of meltdowns, all of ˜em morale killers at the time, aren™t nearly as plentiful as those of say, Keith Foulke, and in fairness, he is not the biggest reason the Mets are merely a .500 team.

And to be honest, he’s one of several reasons. An inconsistent offense helmed by free swingers (Reyes), under achievers (Beltran) and the rapidly aging (Piazza). Middle relievers that have stretches of brilliance followed by utter futility, Aaron Heilman followed one of his finest performances two days ago with one of his worst tonight. Errors by the usually dependable Miguel Cairo and Cliff Floyd (a dark horse candidate for a Gold Glove in left field prior to this evening) handed the game over to Pittsburgh, though much credit has to go to Tiki Redman for his two run single in the 9th off Looper, having fouled off 6 pitches with a 2-2 count and 2 outs.

This was without question the worst loss of the season for New York. Opening Day’s defeat to Cincinnati obviously comes to mind, but while that disaster could be laid squarely at Looper’s feet, this capitulation was a team effort in every sense of the word.

Lost amidst the wreckage was a superlative performance by the much maligned Victor Zambrano, who is making a case of late, for deserving the spot in the rotation that many of us would’ve rather seen Heilman or Jae Seo occupy. In Zambrano’s last 11 starts (71.2 IP, 39 K’s, 33 BB) his ERA is a stingy 2.76. But that is slim consolation considering the way Heilman and Looper were unable to retire hitters who’d struggle to make the 25 man roster of other clubs not named the Royals or Devil Rays.

With the break looming in two days, there is nothing deceptive about the Mets’ won-loss record. With the presence of Floyd and Pedro Martinez, they are just good enough to hang in the wild card race a while longer — as are several other flawed NL clubs. Their bullpen is far from the league’s worst, but not nearly a finished product either. Defensively, the miscues seem less frequent than those of 2004’s squad, but only slightly less so. Contributions from any number of role players have been greater that we were accustomed to in the Joe McEwing Era, but there are too many square pegs being plugged into round holes. After a season in which Mike Piazza and Jason Philips combined to shoot their own “How Not To Play 1B” DVD, the loss of Doug Mientkiewicz means that Jose Offerman and Marlon Anderson are given too many opportunities (in the former’s case any number greater than zero is too many) to screw up.