Game 36: Win
With a pitching matchup of Jeremi Gonzalez vs. Dana Eveland, one would have to think this would be an unusual game, one where anything might happen. And indeed, nearly anything did happen.
If one would have told you, before the game, that Jose Valentin would be an offensive star of the contest, Duaner Sanchez would pitch like Doug Sisk, and the game would be won on a dinger by Paul LoDuca off of Dennis Turnbow, would you have believed it?
Well that’s pretty much the way things went.
As if the starting pitchers weren’t enough, Mr. Willie compounded the uncertainty of the game by starting Jose Valentin in left field. And guess what? He went 2-4 with four RBI, effectively matching his entire 2006 production in one game. If not for his atrocious play in left field, I would even be inclined to state that he’s finally proven useful.
Maybe more mysterious than Valentin’s effectiveness, was the Mets’ bullpen’s ineffectiveness. Aaron Heilman needed 44 pitches to pitch two innings, and gave up three hits and a run. Not awful, but not the usual Aaron. The other half of the dynamic duo—Duaner Sanchez—however, was miserable, giving up four runs on three hits, including back-to-back horme runs, before being tossed by the ump for throwing a beanball. He managed to do all this in one-third of an inning, taking a page out of Bartolome Fortunato’s handbook on pitching.
Even Billy Wagner gave us a scare, despite striking out three in the ninth. The boxscore makes it look like an easy save, but if you watched the game you know it was anything but. The only Met pitcher who you could say had an easy, effective outing would be the winning pitcher, Chad Bradford, who threw eight pitches, seven for strikes, in two-thirds of an inning.
Naturally, there will be some Met correspondents and officials who believe that Jeremi Gonzalez was also effective in this game. But then, I suppose we’ve really lowered the bar to think that a five-inning start — where one gives up three runs — is quality. Heck, I keep hearing about how great Darren Oliver is doing, and I’ve yet to see him enter and exit a game without giving up a run (and most of his outings are one inning or less).
Thankfully, the Mets had enough offense to make up for the pitching deficiency. Carlos Beltran is borderline hot right now, as he hit another bomb, his ninth of the year. We heard all about LoDuca being a clutch hitter and he certainly fulfilled that moniker with the game-winning blast in the ninth. Xavier Nady continues to make me look dumb, and Jose Reyes stole his 13th base of the year. And though Chris Woodward went 0-2, he seems always to be doing something useful, whether it’s working a walk, running the bases intelligently, or advancing a runner.
It was good to see the Mets win a wild one; these are the type of back-and-forth games that good teams win consistently.