Mets Game 65: Win Over Yankees
Jose Reyes may have provided all the offense, but the hero of the game, hands-down, was Oliver Perez.
Ollie threw seven and one-third innings of shutout ball, allowing five hits and three walks and striking out six. He rose to the occasion, and established himself once again as the Mets’ stopper (and nearly fulfilled my prediction of a two-hit shutout).
A defining moment in the game came early. First inning, Derek Jeter on second base, two outs, Alex Rodriguez at the plate. Paul LoDuca looks over at the dugout to see if Willie wants to walk A-Rod with first base open. No way. Perez went right after Rodriguez, and struck him out with a running, 93-MPH fastball. This was signficant because Perez established that he was the top dog in the confrontation, and was not going to pitch around the red-hot slugger. Great pitchers — the Seavers, the Gibsons, the Clemens in his prime — do not shy away from the best hitters. Perez may not quite be at the skill level of the greats, but he does have the attitude, the moxie, and the confidence — and often, that is just as valuable as the skillset, if not more.
One of the key plays in the game came in the bottom of the fourth, with one out and Yankees on first and second. Oliver Perez was struggling with his command, having walked Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano, and going to a full count before getting Josh Phelps to fly out. He needed a double play desperately, and got one, albeit not in the traditional manner. Miguel Cairo lifted a fly ball that nearly found the first row of the leftfield stands, but Carlos Gomez made a big-league catch at the top of the fence, then whirled and threw to second base on one hop to double off Matsui, who unbelievably had rounded third on the play. Luckily, Jeffrey Maier was not assigned by the Brewers to scout the game.
Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith got the key outs in the eighth, and Billy Wagner threw a perfect ninth for his 15th save of the year.
Jose Reyes went 3-for-3 with a walk and a solo homer, and drove in both of the Mets’ runs. He also stole three bases, bringing his MLB-leading total to 35.
Carlos Delgado struck out four times, singlehandedly destroying my fantasy team stats. Keith Hernandez keeps pointing out that he’s swinging under the ball, but in reality he is LATE on his swings, which gives the appearance of being underneath. Delgado was late on two consecutive crap balls by sidewinder Mike Myers — one at 74 MPH, another under 70. Being behind a pitch under seventy is pretty telling; Delgado’s timing is way off.
Once again, Tommy Lasorda and Michael Milken appeared briefly in the broadcast booth to pitch the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Like most men my age, I’m concerned about prostate cancer, and glad that awareness is being spread and inroads toward treatment and prevention being made. But there is something unsettling about Michael Milken, the Junk Bond King, as the leader of the crusade. Yes, it’s great that he’s using his genius ability to raise money for the greater good, but if you are old enough to remember the investigation of Ivan Boesky, you may understand why the mere mention of Milken’s name can put a bad taste in your mouth.
Tom Glavine faces Tyler Clippard at 1:05 PM. It would be nice to see Tommy school Tyler en route to his 296th career win — the kid could use the education.