Mets Game 99: Win Over Pirates
Wow … where to start?
John Maine pulled a little league feat, pitching and hitting his team to victory. Lastings Milledge was 3-for-3. Ruben Gotay had two more hits, with an RBI and a run. Paul LoDuca had two hits and two runs. Even Shawn Green was inspiring, with his clutch single and hustle around the bases.
In short, it was a good evening all around — and a great game for a Mets fan.
Maine was the hero, pitching seven solid innings of five-hit ball, allowing two runs, one walk, and striking out 7 en route to his 11th victory. Message to the rest of the National League: he’s back in form. Maine also helped himself with the bat, dropping two perfect sacrifice bunts to advance runners. Oh, and in his one official at-bat of the evening, he sent an Ian Snell fastball about 380 feet into the visitor’s bullpen — his first homer as a professional. The two-run shot put the Mets ahead 6-2, and capped a four-run fourth.
In the first inning, the Pirates got on the board when ex-Met Xavier Nady doubled in Adam LaRoche, who stroked a two-out single. The Mets, however, came right back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to back-to-back doubles by Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay, a single by Carlos Beltran, and a sac fly by David Wright.
That fourth frame began with a Ryan Doumit groundout, but proceeded with the previously slumping Jason Bay crushing a fastball — dropping it over leftfield fence and nearly into the bleachers. Maine settled down after that, though, and didn’t allow another run to the Bucs. With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the inning, Paul LoDuca doubled with one out. Shawn Green jumped on the first pitch he saw and ripped a shot up the middle to score LoDuca easily to put the Mets ahead. Green then advanced to second on a ball that got away from catcher Ronny Paulino. Lastings Milledge then fought off a full-count pitch and hit a bullet through the legs of third baseman Matt Kata’s legs. Kata recovered to chase down the ball, but Green never hesitated rounding third, and was sent home by the perpetual windmill known as Sandy Alomar Sr. Ball and Green arrived at the same time, but Green slid away from Paulino’s tag for the Mets’ fourth run. If Alomar had a crystal ball, he might not have sent Green — but with the light-hitting Maine on deck and one out, it was a fairly justifiable gamble. Maine, however, sent the second pitch he saw — a high fastball — over the fence to make the score 6-2.
The hot-hitting Milledge blasted a two-run tater inside the leftfield foul pole to extend the lead to 8-2. Which was a nice touch, because it meant Billy Wagner could take the day off, and Guillermo Mota had the luxury of allowing two runs in the ninth without anyone getting nervous.
Gotay is now hitting .342, and Milledge has raised his average to .262 — it was about 100 points lower a few days ago. So much for the idea of relying on old veteran bats, eh?
Gotay also made some slick, athletic plays around the second base bag. I’m still not convinced his glove is “suspect” — regardless of his zone rating.
Maine had a nice sequence vs. Xavier Nady in the third. Nady, who dives into the plate, was dusted by a 2-1 purpose pitch under his chin. That moved his butt a few feet further, and Maine then painted a fastball on the outside edge of the dish that Nady took for strike two. With the count full, Maine threw another good strike, and Nady grounded out to short. I’m really liking this mean streak that Maine’s been showing since his start in Houston — it’s an edge that will help him dominate hitters in the future.
What was great about this game — and the last few games in particular — was seeing the Mets come right back and score immediately after losing the lead. These boys got fight in ’em!
Moises Alou arrived at Shea with a healed quad and damaged shoulder. The MRI says he has tendinitis and some irritation in his rotator cuff — yet, somehow, he’ll be able to play three days from now. Huh. I’ll believe it when I see it. What’s the possibility that Alou was in the dugout just for show, and his coming back by the end of the week is really a bunch of horse manure? Wouldn’t other teams have the upper hand in trade negotiations, knowing the Mets are desperate to for a veteran outfielder?
Tommy Glavine goes against Tom Gorzelanny in “Tommy G Night” at Shea (not to be confused with “Ali G Night”, which is later in the summer). Glavine should have a lot of fun with the overaggressive hitters in the Pittsburgh lineup. Game time is 7:10 PM.