Series Preview: Mets vs. Yankees II
The Subway Series Part Deux pits a languishing Mets squad facing a red-hot Yankee team. Here is how it shapes up.
Game One: Oliver Perez vs. Roger Clemens
Mets fans love Roger Clemens — retired, that is. They’d also love him in a wheelchair, or with a splintered Mike Piazza bat stuck into the side of his head. That said, a masterful performance by Clemens tonight would certainly get the Mets fans’ blood boiling — it’s possible we’d rather see Larry Jones hit a walkoff homer than Clemens beat the Mets in a Yankee uniform.
Whether Clemens can pitch at such a level is questionable, however. Certainly, if the Mets bats continue their floundering ways, #22 will resemble the old Roger.
Clemens, though, does not have the skills he did as a youngster. He’s barely throwing 90 now, and relying more on location and a devastating split-finger. At this point, he has to rely more on guile and fooling hitters with the split. If the Mets can somehow harken back to the good old days of early April, keep the bat ON their shoulder, and lay off the split, they have a very good chance of knocking Clemens out of the game by the fifth. If not, they’ll make him look like the hero he thinks he is.
Meanwhile, Oliver Perez needs to regroup after a disappointing start. I’m going to go on a limb and guess that he rebounds mightily, and pitches a gem. This is going on the idea that Ollie will be jacked up for the game, and in line with the theory that Perez pitches better when hyped up for a “big” game.
Game Two: Tom Glavine vs. Tyler Clippard
Tom will make his eighteenth attempt to win #296. OK, it’s been less attempts than that, but enough to have lost count. At this point it may be best for everyone to simply stop counting down.
Glavine handled the Yankees fairly well the last time out, allowing three runs on nine hits in six innings (btw, it was his most recent win). However, that was when the Yankee bats were still struggling, so whether he can mystify them again with his assortment of slow stuff remains to be seen.
Clippard, on the other hand, will no longer have the Wandy Rodriguez Effect on his side. The kid was riding pretty high that day, and hasn’t pitched as well since (unless you count a 5-inning, one-run performance vs. the ChiSox last week). In fact, he has yet to pitch beyond the fifth inning against teams not from New York. Assuming the Mets offense “gets their game on” against The Roger on Friday, Tyler Clippard could have a quick outing.
Game Three: Orlando Hernandez vs. Chien-Ming Wang
El Duque ran out of youth serum before his last start, getting battered by the Dodgers for seven hits and four earned runs in five innings. He’ll need to get that prescription re-filled before facing the Yankees.
Meanwhile, Wang is coming off back-to-back magnificent performances against the Diamondbacks and the White Sox. He is the American League version of Brandon Webb, which means he’ll keep the Mets batters in fits with his sinker. Even if the Mets hitters are hot, Wang would prove to be a tough customer. Hernandez will need to be “on” and keep the ballgame close — allowing three runs or less — for the Mets to have a chance to win.
Grumble, grumble, grumble…
Lately, David Wright has been the only Met capable of hitting water after falling out of a boat. Besides not hitting, the Mets also haven’t drawn a walk since 1973 (and that was an intentional pass to Rusty Staub). Let’s hope they breakout this weekend.
BTW, the Mets batter with the best average in his last seven games played is Ruben Gotay at .500. Remarkably, Willie Randolph can’t find a way to get his bat into the currently decrepit lineup.
Remember all the guys in pinstripes who were struggling three weeks ago? They’re all hot now. Bobby Abreu hasn’t hit like this since his best days in Philly, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui are both scorching the ball, and Alex Rodriguez is hitting on baseballs the way he hits on blondes. And since Doug Mientkiewicz is out with a wrist injury, Joe Torre will be forced to add another legitimate Major League bat to his already powerful lineup.
On paper, the Mets don’t match up well in this series. The paper, however, must be thrown away if the Metropolitans are to compete this weekend. They will need to get back to the basics that won them ten of their first fourteen games of the year: pitchers throwing strikes, the defense making plays, the hitters using a patient, one-run-at-a-time approach.