Game 68: Win
Mets 9 Orioles 4
Tommy wasn’t “Vintage Glavine” in this game, but he nevertheless became the first Major League pitcher to reach ten wins, and is establishing himself as the stopper, if not ace, of the Mets staff.
Sure, Pedro Martinez is probably the better pitcher, but it’s been Tom Glavine who has come up with wins after Mets losses, thus keeping the Mets out of extended losing streaks. He performed a similar role on a team in the south that had some success in the 1990s and early 21st century.
For the second straight outing, Glavine pitched under-par, but good enough to win. Maybe it’s karma. After all, he’s pitched several gems over the last two years but received either a loss or no-decision due to a lack of support from the Mets bats. What goes around comes around, and now the offense is coming around, picking up for his lackluster performances.
Wouldn’t you know it was David Wright who provided the most punishing blow of the game, bases-loaded, two-out blast in the fifth inning. Glavine gave up two runs in the top of the sixth to allow the O’s within striking distance, but held the lead. In the bottom of the sixth, Ramon Castro added a solo homer for cushion, which turned out to be needed as the O’s struck again in the top of the seventh.
The 5-4 lead didn’t last long as the Mets pounded out another three runs in the bottom of the seventh frame to put the game away for good.
Though Glavine gave up more hits and runs than he’d like, he didn’t seem to be too far off with his command. It seemed that he was getting a little squeezed, and instead of continuing to peck at the corners, put the ball further into the hitting zone. You can’t fault him for forcing the Orioles batters to earn their runs — he walked no one in his six innings of work. He pitched the way a pitcher with a lead should pitch: throw strikes, and if they score, so what, so long as you hold the lead. Most of the pitches he missed with, looked to be just slightly down in the zone, which is a good place to miss. I think other teams might have swung at a lot of those low balls and grounded out.
Interestingly, Mr. Willie allowed Glavine to bat in the bottom of the sixth, despite the fact he was struggling all day and nearing the 100-pitch count. I guess the alarm doesn’t go off until the pitcher makes exactly 100 pitches.
Aaron Heilman closed out a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. It looks to me like his arm angle is back UP where it’s supposed to be, and he’s getting his fingers on top of the ball most of time upon release. He was putting most of his pitches exactly where he wanted them, and the results were obvious. But I suppose the naysayers will claim that the reason for his success was because the Orioles never saw Heilman before. Some people spend too much time looking at the batter vs. pitcher in their cause-and-effect analysis, rather than watching “glove to glove” (studying the ball from the pitcher’s glove to the catcher’s glove, and everything affecting that two-second process). That’s OK … most US corporations work the same way: looking only at the bottom line. But I digress …
Once again, the Mets look to have timing on their side. They open against the Reds at a time when Cincinnati seems to be slipping. The surprising Bronson Arroyo comes to Shea against El Duque.