Game 134: Win
Mets 4 Astros 2
With each start, John Maine is making it more and more difficult for Mr. Willie to deny him a postseason start.
Maine went six and one-third innings, allowing only two hits and a walk. Unfortunately, the two hits were solo homers, and he left the game with a slim 3-2 lead. After giving up a solo shot to Mike Lamb, he settled down to retire the always-dangerous Lance Berkman — who hit the other homer. At 97 pitches and still looking pretty strong, he probably could have finished the seventh, but Mr. Willie thought better of it, bringing in Pedro Feliciano to face lefthanded hitters Aubrey Huff and Luke Scott. Feliciano retired both, and Aaron Heilman set the ‘Stros down in order on 11 pitches in the eighth to bridge the gap to Billy Wagner.
The Mets batters had some trouble with rookie Jason Hirsh, which should come as no surprise; the Mets have had trouble with nearly every rookie pitcher they’ve faced for the first time this year. Hirsh came into the game with an ERA around seven, but held the Mets to three runs — only one earned — over six innings. Of course, it didn’t help that the Mets had two automatic outs at the end of the lineup in the pitcher and Anderson Hernandez. AHern, giving Jose Reyes a well-deserved rest, showed about as much offense as Team Trinidad-Tobago did in the World Cup.
Carlos Beltran made a fantastic, game-saving catch in the bottom of the ninth on a blast by Lance Berkman. However, he looked to either twist or bruise his left knee while flying into the centerfield fence, and left the game. He did walk off the field, so hopefully it is not a major injury. Goodness knows we can’t afford to lose him for the playoffs, so hopefully it’s something he can shake off over the next few weeks.
Uncle Cliffy returned to the lineup and looked pretty good, stroking a bullet in the eighth to add an insurance run. On that double, he took a nice, short, soft step, and blasted a low fastball to the right field wall. He finished the day with 2 RBI, as he also had a sac fly. If tonight is any indication, the Mets will have a scary lineup with a rejuvenated Floyd and Shawn Green hitting toward the bottom.
David Wright had two more hits, going 2-3, with a walk, a run, and an RBI.
Paul LoDuca went 1-4, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Oh, by the way … LoDuca is leading the Mets in batting average at .318.
Billy Wagner is throwing an awful lot of sliders lately. Now that he’s touching triple digits occasionally, and humming around 97-98 consistently, I’d like to see him spotting that to inside and outside locations instead of screwing around with the slider so much. When he’s on, he throws a nearly unhittable, moving fastball right at the knees — which makes his love of the slider all the more baffling. It’s as if he has no confidence in the heater. In any case, he seems to be enjoying keeping us all in stitches in his appearances, doing his best to make things interesting.
El Duque vs. Roy Oswalt in Sunday afternoon’s game. Wonder which Hernandez will show up for this one?