Mets Game 36: Win Over Giants
Mets 9 Giants 6
Johan Santana finally figured out how to earn a victory — by pitching like a journeyman instead of a Cy Young candidate.
Santana, who had allowed only four earned runs in his first seven starts combined, equaled that amount in seven innings of one game in San Francisco. But for once, the Mets supported their ace with offensive production.
In those previous seven starts, the otherwise potent Mets offense could manage only 2 runs a game and a .245 batting average. That changed on Saturday, as the lineup supplied 9 runs on 16 hits, including 11 off future HOFer Randy Johnson in the first four frames.
The meat of the order — Carlos Beltran, Gary Sheffield, and David Wright — led the way with a combined 6 runs scored, 6 RBI, and 9 hits in 14 at-bats. Not one of those three batters left a runner stranded on base the entire game.
Santana, meanwhile, had the type of game you’d expect to see from a mere mortal, rather than an extraterrestrial species who holds a sub-one ERA. Johan allowed six runs — 4 earned — on 11 hits in 7 innings. He picked a great day to have a bad day.
As per the daily script, the Mets jumped out to an early lead, scoring three in the first off Johnson. The San Francisco bats tied it up with one score in the third and another in the fourth, but the Mets immediately responded with a 4-run fifth that knocked Johnson out of the game. The Giants chipped away with three runs over the 6th and 7th, making the score a tight 7-6, but the Mets added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth (remarkably, NOT against Brian Wilson). Talk about scoring runs in bunches.
J.J. Putz, fresh off a cortisone shot and two days’ rest, pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season. Thirteen pitches, eleven for strikes.
Johnson remains stuck on 298 wins. Judging by how he looked today, he may be stuck there for a while. Can you say ‘Steve Carlton’ ?
Can you hear that low-pitched mumbling sound? It’s the sound of all the Gary Sheffield detractors, trying to explain how he’s 9-for-18 over the last four games, despite being “finished”. His average has jumped to .270 and his OBP to .410, after spending most of the season below the Mendoza Line. Would you believe me if I told you he already has three more walks than Danny Murphy, despite coming to the plate 40 less times? Look it up.
Could it be that Santana’s fall from the stratosphere took pressure off the Mets? Perhaps after seeing that he is indeed made of flesh and bone, and puts his pants on one leg at a time, they were able to loosen the noose around their necks in their effort to play up to his level. Now, if they can just repeat that loosening in September.
But maybe they won’t need to worry about pressure in September. Consider: the Mets entered the series without Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Brian Schneider, and J.J. Putz; add to that the fact that Danny Murphy has been on the bench. When the series began, they and the Giants had identical records, with the Giants owning a strong winning record at home. Despite all this, the Mets are on the verge of sweeping the Giants in San Francisco. Which means it’s safe to say that the Mets are among the elite teams in the National League and will likely wrap up the NL East in early September, much like they did in 2006. Slam dunk. It’s almost not fair, seeing how much better the Mets are in comparison to the rest of the National League. Bud Selig may have to do another “restructuring” and send them to the AL West next year.
Next Mets Game
The Mets finish off the Giants on Sunday night at 8 PM EST. Mike Pelfrey takes the hill against Matt Cain. The game will be televised on ESPN.