Game 162: Win
Mets 6 Nationals 2
Nice to finish the year on a high note.
The most important issues to address in the final game of the season were as follows: get all the relievers some work; get Cliff Floyd some at-bats; finish with a momentum- and confidence-building win.
Check, check, check.
Uncle Cliffy was inserted as the leadoff man for probably the first and last time in his life, for the sole purpose of maximizing at-bats. Despite his problems with his heel and ankle, our lovable Glass Joe managed to tough it out and looked pretty good at the plate. While he didn’t look fantastic, and we know a strained eyelid can keep him on the bench, he did look healthy enough to make some kind of contribution to the playoffs. With the way Endy Chavez has played this year (and of late), Floyd’s status isn’t much of a concern. It will be great to have Cliff in the starting lineup, but won’t be so bad to have Endy’s defense in the game and Cliff’s big bat waiting to pinch hit.
All the vital bullpen arms sans Billy Wagner got their last-minute tune-ups in, with Aaron Heilman the only one to give up a run. It was actually somewhat of a relief for Heilman to allow a run; it seemed like he was due to allow one, and better now than against the Dodgers.
Shawn Green, Jose Valentin, and David Wright all swung the bat well, with Valentin going 3-3. Since Valentin and Green had been struggling a bit in the last week or so, they picked a great time to get back into the groove.
Somewhat lost in the game was the performance of Oliver Perez, which was very good. He pitched four strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. Perez was especially dominating the first two innings, throwing with precision and efficiency. He struck out two and threw just 21 pitches in those first two, and looked to be on a roll. His third inning was also strong, though not quite as efficient, and the fourth wasn’t awful, despite giving up a run. With Pedro out and a heap of pressure on Steve Trachsel, adding Perez to the roster might not be such a bad idea. While I don’t know that I’d trust him to start a game and count on him going seven innings, he could fill a meaningful role as a 2- or 3-inning reliever. In fact, if things get desperate, I would not be afraid to use him exactly as he was used in this game — as a four-inning starter. Both Perez and John Maine have shown to be strong pitchers the first time through a lineup, so why not combine the two for a fourth starter, if necessary? Yes, it’s unorthodox and unheard-of, but so was the idea of “setup relief” not so long ago. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and are often the mother of invention. With only two legitimate playoff starters — and both El Duque and Tom Glavine could be considered shaky as well — it might be worth trying something crazy to get through a playoff game. Personally, I’d have more faith in giving the first six innings of a game to a Perez-Maine combo than to Steve Trachsel.
We’ll see how it all shakes out very shortly … let the REAL season begin !