Mets Game 78: Win Over Phillies
Message to Cole Hamels: you ain’t so tough.
The Phillies’ young ace was throwing hard and inside from inning one, and took offense to Jose Reyes dancing down the third base line in the first inning. So when Reyes ran the count to 3-0 with Shawn Green on third, Hamels threw right at Reyes. However, Jose got out of the way, the ball went behind his back and rolled to the backstop, and Shawn Green scampered home with the first run of the game.
So much for the tough guy.
Things didn’t get better for Hamels, as Carlos Beltran got back by belting two solo homers — one in the third and one in the fifth. All in all, it wasn’t a bad performance by the young lefty, but the Mets were able to have a lot of long at-bats against him early (huh … what a novel idea), running his pitch count to over 100 by the fifth inning. Geoff Geary came on in relief in the sixth, and gave up a two-run homer to Damion Easley. From there, the Phillies were visibly beaten — physically and emotionally, and it was only a matter of the Mets collecting the rest of the outs to end the game.
And John Maine was the man to get them. Maine pitched eight strong innings, and started the ninth before being replaced after a leadoff double by Jimmy Rollins. Maine struck out six, walked none, and allowed only four hits and one run in one of his most dominating efforts of the season. Good timing, John.
Jose Reyes — who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base — had a feisty day. He argued with the home plate umpire after striking out looking in the first game, argued with the second base umpire after getting thrown out stealing in the same game, and then got really amped up in response to Hamels’ beanball. After being thrown at, Reyes was clearly out of his game, waving over-aggressively at change-ups his next few times at bat.
Reyes stole second immediately after the beanball, then took off for third but Paul LoDuca bounced out on the pitch. I’m 100% convinced that had Paulie let that pitch go, Reyes would have stolen third and then home, just to get back at Hamels.
Easley went 2-for-4 with the dinger, giving Willie Randolph enough reason to start the .250 hitter another 10-15 times over the next three weeks.
Willie, by the way, was not messing around with this game, sending Billy Wagner to the hill for the second time of the day despite a four-run lead. As it turned out, Country Time gave up a run before finishing off the Phils. Not a bad plan by Randolph, as winning the first two guarantees that the Phillies cannot gain any ground via this series. And who knows, with two unknowns starting on Saturday and Sunday, the Mets may have a chance to sweep.
John Maine had some trouble with his command in the first inning, as he was falling off too much toward first and leaving pitches up and away to lefties. However, he corrected the issue quickly and seemed to get better as the game wore on. In the sixth, he hit 96 MPH on at least one fastball — a third strike to Greg Dobbs. Although, Philly may have been running a dialed-up gun, since J.C. Romero was hitting the same number — and I seriously doubt the Red Sox would have released a lefty throwing 96 as long as the Yankees remain in the AL East.
Speaking of Romero, it’s interesting that the Phils were able to sign him to a minor-league deal after being released by the Red Sox — before Omar Minaya got to him. Romero had a 3.15 ERA and 1-0 record with the Bosox, and though those numbers may have belied his true effectiveness, he did it in the AL East and he couldn’t be any worse than The Show. Most likely, Romero saw a better opportunity to be promoted by the Phils, as he otherwise would be a very typical, under-the-radar pickup for Minaya’s staff.
Phillies rightfielder Michael Bourn prevented the game from getting out of hand by making two incredible running catches — one on a surprising blast by John Maine and another off the bat of Carlos Beltran.