Game 20: Win
Mets 4 Giants 1
Steve Trachsel is proving me wrong with every start. He threw extremely well for six innings, throwing only 72 pitches and holding the Giants to one run, on a homerun to Barry Steroids.
Another Met proving me wrong is Xavier Nady, who despite the holes in his swing is getting good wood on the ball often enough to be batting close to .340 with homerun power.
However, Mr. Willie has yet to prove me wrong. After his nonsensical strategy vs. Barry Bonds in the opener, Randolph continued to confound by pulling Trax in the top of the 7th with a one-run lead and Kaz Matsui on second with one out. Now, this wouldn’t be such a bad plan if you had Marlon Anderson or Lenny Harris on the bench. However, the Mets have Jose Valentin, who is not a better hitter than Trachsel. In fact, I’d reckon that Rusty Staub, Ron Hodges, and Danny Heep are all better options, if we can convince any of them to come out of retirement. To make matters worse, Valentin dogged it coming out of the box, and didn’t start running hard until he saw Vizcaino mishandle the ball. As it turned out, he was out by a half-step, and definitely would have been safe had he hustled all the way. You would think that a guy like Valentin, who has been waving a lot of air this year, would run like hell just from the excitement of making contact. Oh, and nice example, Jose, you’re a real leader (great job, Omar, of getting veterans like him to show the youngins how to play the game).
Beyond the fact that I truly believe Trachsel had a better shot than Valentin of driving in Matsui, I didn’t see a point in taking out Trachsel when he was dominating the Giants hitters and had a low pitch count. Sure, Duaner Sanchez was fresh and throwing bullets, but there are times when you should let your starter keep rolling, for three reasons. First, to keep your bullpen rested and fresh, second, to give your starting pitcher the confidence and belief that he can pitch deep into a game, and third, and most importantly, because there is no guarantee that the reliever is going to perform as well or better than the hot man on the mound. While it’s true that Sanchez and Wagner were perfect, thus supporting Willie’s decision, I’m not a Monday morning quarterback. I stand by my opinion that Trachsel should have gone at least another inning, if not the complete game.
A move I liked: Duaner Sanchez’s first pitch to Barry Bonds in the bottom of the 7th. Not sure whether it was Sanchez or LoDuca calling the location, but whoever it was, it was good: a moving fastball targeted directly at Bonds’ knees. With Barry Bodyarmor’s medieval shield blocking his front elbow (and eclipsing the sun during day games), it’s impossible to move him off the plate by going up and in. However, he has no protection on his legs, and he is hobbling around on a bad knee. Directing a ball in that area makes him very vulnerable, and probably causes him extreme discomfort as he tries to jump out of the way.
By the way, it was mentioned during the SNY telecast that David Wright is suffering from a strained / sore groin. How the heck is he running as hard and as well as he is with that kind of a nuisance? I hope he doesn’t overextend himself and do real damage. Amazing, though, that he can leg out an infield hit and steal bases while Jose Valentin, with fresh legs, can’t hustle enough to beat out a would-be error by Jose Vizcaino.
Other than the cheesy mustache, Kaz Matsui is looking pretty good so far, both in the field and at bat. In fact, he may very well be a real threat on the bases, as his legs are moving well.
Speaking of facial hair, what IS the deal with all the cheesy mustaches this year? These guys look like a bunch of 16-year-olds trying to look tough for the JV team. Beltran, Nady, Matsui, Woodward, Heilman, and a few other guys need to dab a little milk above their lip and let the cat lick off that dirt. And what happened to Mr. Willie’s “no facial hair” edict?
A final note: based on Cliff Floyd’s non-steroid-enhanced blast into McCovey Cove, as well as several hard-hit line-outs, I think it’s safe to say he’s out of his slump. Look for him to do some real damage in the next week or so … just in time for the Braves!