Stealing Signals: Do The Collapse.

Marlins 8, Mets 1; Phillies 6, Nationals 1 – When a team blows a division lead of this magnitude in a span of fewer than three weeks, there are so many fingers to point that it’s actually hard to separate the truth from fiction. There was only about a stretch of a couple of months this season where every aspect of the Met machine was clicking on all cylinders; a good deal of this season was spent marveling at how poorly the Mets could play while the Phillies were unable to make headway because its bullpen and/or starting pitching was fouling up just as poorly, if not more so, at the same time. My father and I had several conversations about this, and while still hoping for the Mets to take it, knew that no team could operate on the concept that the team below them would continue to share the same inconsistencies for the rest of the season. Something was always off, and when the wheels completely came off the bullpen last month, everyone else came with it — Carlos Delgado’s problems at the plate, the lack of starting pitching depth that offense could negate, the bats that couldn’t keep the team afloat forever.

Is it Willie Randolph who’s to blame? I’m pretty sure NYC will call for his head, yet they’re being a bit premature. My personal culprit would be pitching coach Rick Peterson, honestly — whose job it was to deal with the shaky pitching staff he was given and coax conssitency out of them, and he wasn’t able to do it in the last three weeks, but the defensive miscues that seemed to be endemic in the collapse are on Randolph, and some of the lack of motivation needs to go there too.

That said, the Phillies seem to take that combustible mix of severe devotion and fatalistic antipathy on the part of some of the fanbase — a telling comment was when RUTS left “I hate it when the Phillies make me care, because I know how this ends” in one of these here Stealing Signals posts and feed off it. Jimmy Rollins needed all 162 games to be proven right from the beginning of the year, but a line-up with Rollins, Chase Utley, Aaron Rowand, and Ryan Howard had to come together for most of the year; it was always a question of whether Philly could get its pitching staff, held together with glue (and in Jamie Moyer’s case, a liberal amount of Ben-Gay, probably), on the same page long enough to take advantage of the swoon. They did it in a fashion that befitted them — assaulting the Nationals early and often, and getting a pitching performance from Old Man Moyer on the heels of Cole Hamels’ disgustingly efficient domination.

Do not forget that the Phillies won this division as much, if not more, than the Mets lost it — because that Philadelphia team was just as capable of awful stretches in the season. To put it all together when it counts and take advantage of a rival’s misfortunes is not an easy task.

Rockies 4, D-backs 3; Brewers 11, Padres 6 – I suspect even the most die hard of NFL fans who happen to like baseball will be watching TBS instead of ESPN Monday night, unless you happen to live in New England or the Midwest. And the odds are greatly in favor of a San Diego team that blew an early lead to a Milwaukee crew that had already imploded in spectacular fashion (no thanks to manager Ned Yost); the Padres will be sending Jake Peavy to the mound (and if he doesn’t win the Cy Young, it’s a traveshamockery, regardless of tomorrow’s outcome.)

I’m not sure exactly why Bud Black thought sending the man I regularly refer to as “Brett Bombko” out for a game that he would have liked to win made any sense outside of playing for a tiebreaker that they probably would have liked to avoid. Given a 3-0 lead, he gave up four runs in the fourth inning, in a display Giant and Dodger fans are more than familiar with — and their bullpen is coming undone quickly. If Peavy struggles in any way, the Rockies will be heading to Philadelphia, because that Padre strength has become a slight liability.

The sentiment for anyone not in SD territory will likely be with the Rockies, a franchise that has not smelled the playoffs since 1995 and has developed the best nucleus of young hitting talent in a pitching-rich division, and managed to develop its own homegrown pitching talent along with castoffs from other teams. Ubaldo Jimenez turned in an amazing pitching performance this afternoon; Jeff Francis has been very good this year; the team will send Josh Fogg against Peavy — Fogg is considered the team’s giant killer. We would not even have this situation without Jimenez’s 6.1 of one-run work.The Diamondback bullpen finally allowed too many runners on base, and Brad Hawpe was able to take advantage.

So, let the game begin. Colorado has played do-or-die for the last two weeks, and the Padres send their best, and the league’s best, to the mound. Hopefully, you’re watching.

Photos: AP/Kathy Willens (Mets), AP/Tom Mihalek (Ryan Howard), AP/Will Powers (Todd Helton)


4 Responses

  1. Still in complete and utter shock. Thank you, Tom Glavine.

  2. I think I might live-blog this Rox/Padres over at AA – want to join me, take turns?

  3. Sadly, I’ll be working.

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