Game 103: Win
Mets 11 Braves 3
Reporting again from “HOTlanta”, where the temperature cooled down to 99 degrees …
The final score does not properly portray this game, as it was a very tight contest until the dam broke in the sixth inning.
At the beginning, it looked like it might be another one of those bad games for Orlando Hernandez. His starts seem to go one of two ways: magnificently, or horribly, with no in-between. After giving up three runs in the first two innings, and having no command of the strike zone, I was looking for Darren Oliver to run in from the bullpen early. But for the second day in a row, the starter righted himself: El Duque — like Pedro the day before — settled down and pitched an outstanding game. The three runs in the first two were also the end of the Braves scoring, and he did not give up another hit until the eighth inning. Despite throwing 113 pitches, I’m sure El Duque could have finished the game, as he was cruising and setting down the Braves batters like it was nobody’s business. However, with an eight-run lead, it made perfect sense to hand over the last inning to ChadBrad, who yielded a double to some nobody named Thormon and otherwise pitched a perfect ninth.
Outside of El Duque’s performance, the story of the game was Carlos Beltran, who went two for five with five RBI and a home run. Oh, yeah, and Paul LoDuca had a nice game, going 4-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored; he’s now batting .313.
Before the game, the Braves announced the trade of Wilson Betemit to the Dodgers for Danys Baez and Willy Aybar. Fascinating deal on both sides, for several reasons. First, Betemit seems to finally be coming into his own, after years of teasing the Braves with his “high ceiling” tag, and would seem to be a very important player with all the issues Chipper Jones and Marcus Giles have suffered this year. At the same time, Aybar looks to be, potentially, a similar player to Betemit, but a few years away from that level. Baez is a guy the Mets have been after since last year, but has struggled mightily in 2006 after saving over 40 games last year; he’d lost his job as LA’s replacement closer. It is a strange deal on the Dodgers’ end, since they seem to have 22 infielders on their roster so what are they going to do with another one? You would think they’d be able to get more for Baez, as every team is looking for quality pitching at the deadline. Straight up (Baez for Betemit), the deal seems more even; I think the Dodgers overpaid for Betemit, a guy who won’t have a position in a few weeks when Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent return from the DL. It’s hard to believe that Aybar, Joel Guzman, Cesar Izturis, and the other Dodger youngsters aren’t enough to get them through the next two weeks.