Preview: Mets vs. Giants II
The Mets are riding high, coming off a 3-game sweep of the Florida Marlins and ahead of the second-place Braves by 4 full games. Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants come into Shea Stadium for a three game set.
Game One: Oliver Perez vs. Tim Lincecum
Lincecum, a draft-eligible sophmore, was not supposed to still be available when the Giants took him with the tenth overall pick in the 2006 draft. His undersized body, unusual delivery, and bargaining power let him slip that far, as most scouts projected him to be ready for the big leagues within a year. They were right; Lincecum throws a fastball that gets into the mid-90s and the best curveball of an amateur pitcher since Kerry Wood. This spring he blew through five starts at AAA Fresno in the PCL — a hitter’s league — posting a 4-0 record, striking out 46 and allowing only 12 hits in 31 innings. He’s made four Major League starts thus far, and is 2-0 with 25 Ks in 26 IP and a 1.03 WHIP. Batters are hitting .208 against him.
Ollie Perez is stepping into the role of stopper, with a 3-0 record and 1.17 ERA in his last three starts. While the meltdowns are not necessarily a thing of the past, they seem to be more affected by biorhythms rather than anything tangible — and he’s on a rhythmic high right now.
Game Two: Barry Zito vs. Tom Glavine
What an ideal matchup: pussballer present vs. pussballer past. The Mets had a bit of trouble with Zito in his debut appearance against them, but did manage to score three runs in his six innings of work. If his curveball is on — the Mets’ kryptonite — it could be difficult for the Flushing Fabulosos. Glavine was stellar in his May 8th start against the Giants, allowing only one run in seven innings. This could be a pitcher’s duel.
Game Three: Orlando Hernandez vs. Matt Cain
El Duque was magnificent in his first start since coming off the DL last Friday, and hopes to build off that. Meanwhile, Matt Cain has pitched in tough luck all year, with a 2-4 record despite a sparkling 3.32 ERA. The Mets had their way with Cain in their previous meeting, pounding him for 10 hits and 4 runs in seven innings. However, he’s no walk in the park when he’s on. Another potential pitcher’s duel.
Nearly everyone is hitting, with Carlos Delgado finally finding his homerun stroke over the weekend. The only question mark is rightfield, where Shawn Green is not expected to play due to a fractured foot. Carlos Gomez is day-to-day with a strained hamstring, and word is that Ben Johnson is on his way to New York. It’s possible that we’ll see Damion Easley in the outfield again, with Ruben Gotay at second base.
Barry Bonds will not play on Tuesday, and it is not known if he will play against Tom Glavine in game two. He’s been struggling a bit lately, plus the Giants want to make sure he hits numbers 755 and 756 in San Francisco. The rest of the Giants’ lineup remains dubious, though Bengie Molina has been swinging a hot stick lately. Ryan Klesko is likely their best hitter next to Bonds, but he never plays — especially not against lefties — so no need to worry about him until the Giants need to pinch-hit.
This series has some very interesting, potentially exciting pitcher’s matchups. However, the Giants’ offense is currently reminiscent of the 1974 Mets, so there isn’t too much to fear. Chances are, these games will become a battle of the setup relievers, and with Guillermo Mota back for the second two games, and Armando Benitez still closing for San Francisco, I’m liking the Mets chances.