Series Preview: Mets vs. Dodgers
The Mets’ recent taste of American League baseball left an awful flavor in their collective mouths. It appears the lineup can’t keep up with the offensive-minded teams in the junior circuit — at least, not without sluggers such as Shawn Green and Moises Alou available. No matter, as it’s hard to describe what they do in the AL as “baseball” anyway (whoever heard of using a “designated hitter”? why not just make it like football and field one squad for offense, and another for defense?).
Luckily, the Mets return to real baseball, facing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. If you missed it, Aaron Sapiro gave us an Inside Look on the Dodgers, and now I’ll give you a quick preview of the series. As always, head over to MetsGeek for a detailed analysis on the pitching matchups.
Game 1: Orlando Hernandez (3-1, 1.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (7-4, 4.03)
El Duque must stop the madness and return the starting rotation’s ERA to a respectable level. Randy Wolf has been remarkably effective for Los Angeles this year, sporting a 7-4 record and 4.03 ERA. I’m not buying it, and expect the suddenly inspired Mets offense to pound him in the opening game — assuming his curveball does not suddenly become Koufax-like.
Game 2: John Maine (6-3, 2.78) vs. Hong-Chih Kuo (0-1, 4.85)
Our Maine man has provided stellar performances in his last three starts, but has only one win to show for it. If he can continue with what he’s done recently, and the Mets consider providing offensive support, he may finally earn a victory.
Kuo pitched the game of his life last September against the Mets on — fittingly — Taiwan Night at Shea (ironically, John Maine was on the mound that game as well). This time around he will not have the benefit of his countrymen in the stands, nor will the Wandy Rodriguez Effect be in place.
Game 3: Jorge Sosa (6-1, 2.64) vs. Brad Penny (7-1, 2.26)
A month ago, who would have believed that Sosa and Penny would have comparable numbers?
Penny has been lights-out so far this year, though he gave up four runs in six innings against the
Pirates in his last start — so maybe this rollercoaster is about to roll down? Assuming not, Penny will be tough, as his evil sinker and overpowering fastball can make mincemeat out of a highly-tuned Mets lineup, much less one that is struggling.
Every week I think Sosa is going to fall back to Earth, and each time he’s proved me wrong. He’ll likely need to remain on Planet Jorge to keep the Mets in this game … let’s hope he does.
The bats are finally back, as the Mets scored 15 runs in their last two games. Shawn Green should also be back in the lineup, adding extra boost. David Wright is hitting .333 over the last week and carries a streak of one homerun in each of his last four games. Strangely enough, the Mets with the best averages over their respective last seven games are Ruben Gotay (.429), Tommy Glavine (.357), and Oliver Perez(.357). Too bad we won’t see any of those bats in the lineup in this series.
The reason the Dodgers are no longer in first place is because the 1974 Mets had more punch than this lineup of judys. If not for the woeful Washington Nationals, the Dodgers would be last in all of baseball in homeruns — as a team, they’ve knocked 39 over the fence, which is one less than the combined effort of Alex Rodriguez and J.J. Hardy. No one in the lineup strikes fear in a pitcher’s heart, though they do have a lot of pesky singles hitters. They’ve promoted James Loney to provide some punch, but the big righthanded batter had hit only one dinger while playing for Las Vegas in the homer-happy PCL (and, it was on the first pitch of the season; he hasn’t hit one since). Nomar Garciaparra is healthy but hitting only .273, though Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez are providing some power. Matt Kemp is red-hot, hitting .471 over his last seven games, and may be the Dodgers’ most fearsome hitter. And while they have speedsters Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal, don’t be surprised to see catcher Russell Martin take off — he has 10 DWright-like stolen bases this year.
The pitching matchups would appear to favor the Mets in this series, which is good news for our battered gladiators. However, matchups have not been indicative of eventual outcomes recently, so who knows? The Dodgers — like the Mets — are currently in a downward spiral, and both teams are desperate for a spark of some kind to reverse their fortune. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that whoever wins the opener, gains much-needed momentum and wins the series. Let’s go El Duque!