Mets Game 66: Win Over Rangers
Mets 7 Rangers 1
Against the best offensive team in MLB, Oliver Perez was terrific. The over-aggressive Rangers batters swung early and swung often, and Ollie gave them a steady diet of sliders out of the strike zone to induce dozens of swings that missed. Against a more patient team, I doubt Perez pitches seven innings of one-run ball. But I’ll take it. He struggled only once in the game, when he loaded the bases in the sixth with two outs, but he struck out David Murphy with a slew of sliders to get out of the inning — and it looked as though Ollie surprised himself by getting out of that jam.
Ollie’s final line: 7 IP | 3 H | 1 ER | 3 BB | 8 K
On the offensive side, Ollie was given plenty of cushion, with a lead he helped extend with a two-run single. After the Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a solo homer by Josh “The Natural” Hamilton, the Mets answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame, and kept tacking on throughout the game. There were no big blasts, and no individual heroes. Rather, it was a collective effort — a TEAM effort. This is all new to us, so it needs to be pointed out. Several players gave up at-bats to move runners along, hustling runners took extra bases, and the lineup as a whole exuded an approach. Batters were taking pitches, being patient, hacking at good pitches, and cutting down the swing to get the bat on the ball with runners on. In short, having “an idea” and EXECUTING.
In the second inning, Ian Kinsler was awarded first base after a slider bounced off his foot. However, he took a check swing at the pitch — enough of an attempt that I would have asked for an appeal — and never made an effort to get out of the way of the ball. As it was, the point was moot when Michael Young grounded into a double play, but little things like this bother me. Why was Kinsler given first base on a pitch he practically swung at? Why wasn’t there a squeak from the Mets regarding the call? Why didn’t the announcers mention it? Am I a nutcase? (Probably)
How about Carlos Delgado? He’s hustling out of the box and running around the bases like a man on a mission. I waited a long while to call him out for dogging it, but I’ll be quick to point out his newfound energy. Kudos to Carlos for finally setting an example on the field. Hopefully it’s not too little, too late to save Willie Randolph’s job.
Speaking of, Kevin Burkhardt mentioned during the broadcast that he spoke to several Mets and got the impression that everyone on the team believed they played hard for Willie. If the players really said that, and really believed it, then there’s been a wide chasm between perception and reality for many of them. Or maybe, they simply don’t know what “playing hard” means. Tonight, it looked like the boys were competing at a high level. Again, let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.
So … Moises Alou goes back to the DL and is replaced with Robinson Cancel. Huh? This means the corner outfield positions will continue to be a weak-hitting conglomeration of Marlon Anderson, Damion Easley, Endy Chavez, and Chris Aguila (sorry, not feeling it on Aguila). On the one hand, I love the gamesmanship, smarts, and hustle brought forth by Marlon, Damion, and Endy. On the other hand, I don’t think a lineup that has Brian Schneider hitting eighth can afford to also have two of those three guys starting as well. Despite the AAA homeruns, Aguila doesn’t appear to be much of an upgrade — I think he’s broken his bat every time he’s made contact thus far. I’d like to see Val Pascucci or Mike Carp brought up here and given a chance to start a few games in left field. But Robinson Cancel? All he does is give Willie the comfort to use Ramon Castro as a pinch-hitter — which to me is a waste of a precious roster spot. In this day and age you can’t carry three guys who can only catch; at least one of them has to have some versatility.
SOOOOOOOOO cool to see and hear Willie Randolph turn into Eddie Murphy during the postgame conference with the media. If you missed it, try to catch some of it on MetsBlog. It was a natural, well-needed release of emotion and enough humor to get me laughing out loud. Those five minutes make me support and root for Willie all the more.
The Mets host the Rangers at Shea in a 7:10 pm start. Pedro Martinez goes against Kason Gabbard. Coverage will be on SNY, WFAN, and XM 189.