NEW YORK -- Jerry Manuel could only laugh and let out a sigh.
After watching Phillies starter Roy Oswalt dominate his team in a 3-0 Philadelphia win Sunday afternoon, the Mets manager was asked if Oswalt’s performance made the skipper wonder what would’ve happened had the righty been shipped to Queens, instead of Philadelphia, at this year’s trade deadline.
Cue the laugh and sigh from Manuel, along with two successive words, said multiple times in a joking manner that all but summed up his thoughts on the topic:
Said Manuel: “Next question.”
Facing Oswalt for the first time since his trade to Philadelphia on July 29, the Mets offense was M.I.A. as Oswalt hurled a complete-game shutout in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win at Citi Field. The Mets managed just two hits over the final eight innings and did not put one runner in scoring position the entire game. New York (70-73) is now 12.5 games behind first-place Philadelphia in the National League East.
“He was good, he was real good, kept us off-balance, he threw his changeup, slider, pitches behind in the count,” Manuel said. “A few guys hit the ball on the nose, but (Chase) Utley made some nice plays for him behind him and he pretty much cruised through us with no problem.”
Back when the Mets were still hanging around in the NL playoff race in July, the Mets and Oswalt seemed like a perfect couple. The former Astros ace was envisioned as the perfect complement to Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey as the Mets tried to make a push for a playoff spot.
Instead of coming to Queens, though, the Phillies acquired Oswalt for prospects and he is now helping them toward their quest for a fourth-straight NL East championship. The Mets? Well, they’re fighting to try and reach the .500 mark, and fell further behind in their quest as the result of a masterful performance by Oswalt.
The Mets offense struggled to put up much of a fight against Oswalt, failing to put together quality at-bats. The Mets grounded into 15 outs, compared to just four fly outs, and had just one inning in which they had multiple hits.
Trailing 1-0 in the first as the result of a Utley RBI single, Angel Pagan singled to right field, but was caught stealing second base for the second out. Carlos Beltran then singled to right, but David Wright followed with the first of his three strikeouts in the game.
The Mets also added singles to lead off the sixth inning and the ninth inning, but neither time could advance a runner to second. They only left three men on base in the loss.
“He throws strikes with any pitch at any time,” catcher Josh Thole said. “Anytime you face a guy like that you know you’re going to have your hands full, but you see the way he gets off to that kind of start in the first few innings, and you’re going to have to grind and put at-bats together.”
Oswalt’s dominance ruined a quality start by Jon Niese, who looked much improved on two extra days of rest. The Mets rookie gave up just three runs over seven innings, but battled out of several jams, including runners on second and third with zero outs in the top of the seventh. Niese fell to 9-8 on the year.
“What else can I say besides he pitched a gem,” Niese said of Oswalt. “It’s tough to win ballgames when you got a guy like that pitching as well as he did.”