Game 11: Win
Mets 9 Brewers 3
Undeterred by their second loss of the season on Saturday, and in spite of a ninth-inning appearance by Jorge Jorrible, the Mets toppled the Brew Crew for a 9-3 victory.
Hiding like Easter eggs on Saturday, the Mets’ offense was uncovered on Easter Sunday, returning with a vengeance. Jose Reyes walked again — for the second time in two days — and scored twice, as did David Wright. Wright, Xavier Nady, and Paul LoDuca each had two hits, while Nady and Carlos Delgado went deep. Nady’s shot was the go-ahead, Delgado’s blistering line drive was the go-further-ahead. The Delgado home run was hit so hard, I think Shea Stadium moved a few inches from the impact.
Brian Bannister struggled through five innings for the win, giving up six hits, five walks, but only one run. I would have liked to see him pitch at least one more inning, and even pushed him into the seventh if he kept getting outs. He showed great guile and guts in keeping the Mets in the game while obviously not having his best stuff nor his command. Even though Mr. Willie had decided that Bannister would not pitch the sixth, I’d have still let him hit for himself in the bottom of the fifth, rather than allow Jose Valentin a useless at-bat. Though, as my wife pointed out, it was good to eliminate Valentin’s three cool breezes so early in the game.
Speaking of useless mid-to-upper-30-somethings, Darren Oliver turned in another shaky performance, nearly blowing Bannister’s second win by giving up a two-run bomb to Geoff Jenkins. I’m beginning to wonder if my expectation level is too high, as the Mets broadcasters had mentioned that Oliver turned in a “strong” outing the day before. Hmm … on Saturday he pitched two innings and gave up two hits, including a homer to Carlos Lee. How is giving up one run in two innings a “strong” performance? In any case, I’m still not seeing the purpose of carrying a lefty who can’t get out lefties nor righties. Oliver is a nice guy, but remarkably underwhelming and perhaps less than adequate.
How great is the Mets offense this year? So good that they were able to score nine runs despite a lineup featuring Endy Chavez, Anderson Hernandez, and the pitcher batting 7-8-9. Poor AHern looks like a 12-year-old trying to play with the big boys, and Chavez looks like he might struggle against a good high school pitcher. Though the bottom of the lineup makes the days of Al Weis and Wayne Garrett seem dangerous, batters one through six not only have firepower, they sport execution. Nady and Delgado’s bombs were enjoyable, but just as fun to watch was a textbook fourth inning: Wright doubled, Delgado hit an appropriate ground ball to the right side to move Wright to third, and Nady followed with a fly ball to score him easily. Then in the fifth, Reyes reached on an infield single, stole second, and scored on a single by LoDuca. How many more times will we see that this year? 70? 80? LoDuca followed with a stolen base himself, and a head’s up move to 3B on a wild pitch, putting himself into position to score another run had Delgado not ended the inning with a strikeout. Without doubt, the 2006 Mets put themselves into position to score, and will do so regardless of whether the 3-run homer arrives.
Delgado’s rocket gave Billy Wagner a day off and Jorge Julio an opportunity to blow a six run lead. Luckily, Julio was unsuccessful in blowing the lead, instead retiring three out of the four Brewers he faced. Jorge threw 21 pitches, striking out one and giving up no runs for the first time this year. I’m really not sure what Mr. Willie expects to achieve. The obvious plan is to give Julio chances to do well and build his confidence. However, it seems to me to be a recipe for disaster, as I don’t see this guy improving simply by raising his confidence level. It’s clear that Julio’s issue is upstairs, as he turns molehills into mountains. While it’s true that a dose of confidence can help breed success, that only works when a player understands how to overcome adversity. Confidence won’t cause Julio to shake off a bad call by the umpire, or a line drive double off the wall. Further, this guy doesn’t pitch; he rears back and throws. That’s it: no thought, no plan, no location. The only pitcher I recall getting away with that was Rich Gossage, but the Goose knew how to shake off a few hits … plus he was nasty. I don’t see Julio as nasty; he’d have trouble frightening a two-week-old kitten. I hope I’m wrong; I hope that a few confidence-building outings turn his scared look into an intimidating one, and somehow allow him to shake off the inevitable negatives that occur during a game. However, it appears to me that this guy needs to learn a little bit about pitching, and mature a lot — and it needs to be done at the minor league level. In fact, I’d send him to AA, and make him a starter, to give him lots of innings and thus exposure to all kinds of terrible consequences that he’ll eventually learn to overcome.