Mets Game 95: Win Over Dodgers
Mets 13 Dodgers 9
Why can’t these games happen on the East Coast, during reasonable hours of the evening?
After a six-run first inning, it appeared that Tom Glavine would have an easy cruise toward his 299th career win.
However, by the bottom of the second, the score was 6-4, as Glavine struggled with his command — or rather, couldn’t get the batters to swing at his slop (see notes below). It was a good old-fashioned slugfest from there on.
Tommy had a hard time hitting spots, missing badly or leaving balls over the middle of the plate — and the new offensive-minded Dodgers took advantage. They scored two runs in the first, but it could have been more had Shawn Green not made a perfect throw to nail Jeff Kent trying to go from first to third on a two-run single by Luis Gonzalez. The Dodgers added another two in the second, via a two-run homer by Matt Kemp (thereby making up for the two-run error Kemp made in the first). By the end of the second inning, Glavine had already thrown over 50 pitches, and it appeared he’d be laboring throughout his time on the mound.
The Mets exploded for six runs in the first by hitting single after single after single against sinkerballer Derek Lowe (though, David Wright mixed in a two-run double). Wright, Ramon Castro, Shawn Green, and Ruben Gotay all drove in runs in the inning, with an extra run scoring on Green’s basehit when rightfielder Matt Kemp forgot to field the ball and let it skip behind him.
Lowe rebounded to pitch an uneventful second inning, but got into trouble again in third. After leadoff hitter Ramon Castro grounded out, Shawn Green doubled, Ruben Gotay singled, and then Lowe walked Glavine — who was attempting to bunt. With the bases loaded, Jose Reyes bounced out to first to score Green, and new arrival Marlon Anderson lined a single to center to score both Gotay and Glavine to make the score 9-4. Luckily for Lowe, perpetual rally killer Carlos Beltran was the next batter, and he, predictably, bounced out meekly to the right side to end the inning.
Glavine promptly gave up a leadoff homer to Jeff Kent on his first pitch of the third inning, then allowed a hard-hit single to Gonzalez, making one wonder if he really was interested in winning his 299th. Just as promptly, Rick Peterson got on the phone to get former Dodger Aaron Sele warming up. Glavine then gave up another hard-hit single, and the look on is face was one of a man who had soiled his pants. Glavine had no idea what to do next, and had to face the Dodgers’ two hottest hitters — James Loney and Matt Kemp. As you might guess, Loney singled — the fourth straight hit of the inning — to load the bases for Kemp. That was enough for Willie Randolph, who sent The Jacket back out to the mound to remove Tommy.
Aaron Sele came on with the bases drunk and got Kemp to hit a short fly that couldn’t score Gonzalez for the first out. Grady Little then sent Olmedo Saenz — his best pinch-hitter — in to hit, clearly understanding the importance of the moment. Saenz hit a fly ball to center to score Gonzalez, but Garciaparra was cut down trying to advance to third after Beltran hit cutoff man Carlos Delgado with a perfect strike, and Delgado relayed to Wright. So what could have been a big chance for the Dodgers, fizzled fast, though they cut the lead to 9-6.
The Mets tacked on their tenth run in the top of the fifth. After Green flied out, Gotay singled (again), and Aaron Sele walked — again, a Mets pitcher walked while attempting a sacrifice bunt (how happy about that were Grady Little and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt?). Jose Reyes followed with a single up the middle to score Gotay to make the score 10-6.
But the scoring still wasn’t done. Sele pitched fairly well in his relief stint, and seemed to have a scoreless fifth inning in the plans after inducing a ground ball double play from Loney. However, Wright threw away a routine grounder off the bat of Kemp, sending him to second. Pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit lashed a single to score Kemp to put the Dodgers back within three.
The Mets answered quickly, and soundly. With one out in the sixth, Carlos Delgado hit a solo ba-HOMB to dead centerfield, and Ramon Castro followed with a far-gone tater of his own over the leftfield stands. Shawn Green very nearly made it three in a row, but fell about ten feet short with his own long drive to right-center. By the end of the inning, it was 12-7, Mets.
Aaron Heilman kept the score there for one inning, but toward the end of the seventh, he was running out of gas and throwing from a very low release point, and gave up a double to Rafael Furcal on a 3-2 pitch to score Betemit from first (who had reached on an infield single). Heilman barely managed to retire Pierre to end the inning — it took a nice running catch by Beltran, who tracked the long fly into deep right-center.
However, Carlos Beltran got the run back with a laser shot into the leftfield stands (batting righty) to lead off the eighth against reliever Mark Hendrickson (who by the way is Sunday’s scheduled starter), making the score 13-8 (LoDuca missed the extra-point).
Guillermo Mota came on in the bottom of the eighth and was about to complete the first one-two-three inning for the Mets, until Gary Cohen announced the possibility and thereby jinxed it from happening. Mota gave up three consecutive singles, scoring another run — making it 13-9.
The Mets did not score in the top of the ninth, and Mota returned to pitch the bottom of the frame. He looked to have an easy first out, as Andre Ethier bounced the first pitch he saw to Delgado. However, Mota missed the bag covering first, and Ethier was safe. Furcal then lined a shot into left that looked to be a basehit, but Marlon Anderson made a great diving catch to get the first out. Pinch hitter Mike Lieberthal than dropped a Texas leaguer in front of Anderson, but Russell Martin flew out to right for the second out. With Billy Wagner warming in the bullpen, Jeff Kent skied to Anderson to end the game — at 1:50 AM EST (zzzzzzzzzzz).
The SNY team discussed a startling fact about Tom Glavine — he leads the league in the lowest percentage of strikes thrown (about 57%), and that is not an aberration. As Ron Darling pointed out, he is a guy who throws a strike early in the count, and then throws around the zone until the batter gets himself out. Now, I knew he’s always picked around the zone, but never realized he threw so few strikes. It’s amazing, and goes against all logic, that he’s been so successful for so many years by throwing balls instead of strikes.
Besides doing his usual damaging hitting, Ramon Castro also caught a nice game behind the plate, blocking several pitches in the dirt with ease. It’s amazing how sharp he can be on offense and defense despite playing only once a month. He must be playing in a rec league every afternoon before the Mets’ night games.
Heilman was working on three days’ rest, but still fatigued after about 30 pitches. His mechanics are an absolute mess, as he’s releasing the ball at an angle similar to Joe Smith. My guess is fatigue — the guy just isn’t built for relief, and no one in the Mets organization seems to realize the folly of keeping him in the bullpen.
Ruben Gotay went 3-for-4 before Willie finally figured out how that double-switch thing works, and replaced him with Jose Valentin when Mota came on in relief.
Is it me, or do Marlon Anderson and Orlando Hernandez look like brothers?
Bad news for the St. Louis Cardinals — Chris Carpenter is undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending this season as well as most of 2008.
The Mets send Oliver Perez to the hill against Brett Tomko in a game that must be won. Since a 10 PM start isn’t aggravating enough for us Right Coasters, the game will start at 10:40 PM EST. Yawn.