Game 160: Win
Mets 4 Nationals 3
John Maine pitched well … actually cruised … until the fourth inning, when he suddenly had trouble spotting his pitches, fell behind batters, walked a couple, and then lost a 1-0 lead. But, he kept the bleeding to a minimum, allowing two runs. In addition, he helped himself in the top of the next inning by hitting a one-out double (his first hit of 2006) and scoring on a double by Paul LoDuca.
He pitched two more innings, giving up a bomb to Ryan Church in the sixth, but looked like he could continue cruising. However, Willie Randolph removed him, as he had thrown 92 pitches and there wasn’t much sense in pushing him when the postseason plan is to use the relievers — and the bullpen needed some work. Though, even if it were earlier in the season, it’s likely that Maine would have been removed from the game anyway, considering the Mets’ strategy of “shortening” games.
In the end, Maine went six solid innings, throwing 92 pitches (57 for strikes) and giving up three runs on three hits and three walks. The walk total is alarming for Maine, but if you watched the game you know at least two of those walks were the result of very close 3-2 pitches that could have gone either way. As mentioned earlier, Maine would really benefit from developing a two-strike breaking pitch that breaks out of the strike zone, such as a splitter or slider. I really believe such a pitch added to his repertoire and used 5-7 times per game would turn him into a 15-17-win per season pitcher.
After Maine, the Mets bullpen did their usual excellent routine, though Pedro Feliciano struggled. Feliciano did not give up any runs, but it took him 25 pitches (only 12 for strikes) to get through the seventh inning. If Steve Trachsel were lefthanded and a relief pitcher, he might be Feliciano, who tends to rely on the batters swinging at bad pitches just outside the strike zone. A disciplined lineup (read: NY Yankees), would have an easy time with Feliciano, as they would just sit back and wait for a strike. Ironically, it was Feliciano who earned the win.
Guillermo Mota and Billy Wagner were nearly perfect in closing out the game, throwing for a combined 23 pitches, 16 for strikes (Wagner was 9/12 with two K’s).
Paul LoDuca hit his 39th double of the year, and went 2-5 in raising his average to .319.
Wagner saved his 40th game, only the second time in his career he’s reached that milestone. He did save 39 twice and 38 last year.