Series Preview: Mets vs. Marlins II
Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty of the season — the “stretch run” at the end of the season when it’s time to “turn it on”. We’ve been deluded into thinking that games in April, May, and June are not nearly as important as August and September, which of course is ludicrous. Nevertheless, if that’s the message Willie Randolph and co. want to send, we’ll oblige by buying into the concept and expect the Mets to suddenly become a wrecking crew, inflicting their wrath on their National League East rivals from this point forward.
In other words, we want sweeps. Get out the broom and whisk away the Marlins, the Nationals, and the Phillies, please. Part one starts today (weather permitting).
Game One: Brian Lawrence vs. Scott Olsen
If it were truly Lawrence vs. Olsen, such as in a caged fight to determine the ultimate warrior, I’d put my money on the fists of Olsen. However, since it’s a baseball game, and it doesn’t take much to break Olsen’s concentration, I’m liking the Mets chances.
Though the big lefty has superior stuff, his two-cent head and previous poor outings versus the Mets go against him. The Mets need to get to him early, or do something to get under his skin, and the ballgame is theirs. The longer they allow him to remain in the game, and confident, the more dominant his 93-MPH fastball, biting slider, and fair change-up will be.
Game Two: Tom Glavine vs. Daniel Barone
Two things have me worried about this one. First, the denouement / crescendo following the historical 300th win may cause Glavine’s guard to go down. Then again, the pressure off, his routine back to normal, could be a godsend. The second concern is the fact that Barone is making his Major League debut, and we all know that means the Wandy Rodriguez Effect comes into play. Independent of all outside influences, Glavine should enjoy teasing Florida’s young and aggressive hitters — assuming they’re still about as smart as a box of rocks.
Game Three: Oliver Perez vs. Rick VandenHurk
Ollie, like John Maine, needs to get back on track ASAP. This would be a fine time to get back in the saddle. At the same time, he shouldn’t have to worry about giving up five runs, as the Mets really should pound the bejesus out of VandenHurk, as they did the last time they faced him, and as every other NL team has this season — his ERA is 7.49. This is the “gimme” game, and the Mets better take what’s been given.
… should not come into play as a factor. The Mets’ starters should keep the Marlins at bay (pardon the pun) until the offense has established a lead no one this side of Scott Schoeneweis can blow. Lawrence may need help, but Glavine and Perez should go 7-8 innings in their outings. The Marlins have very little in the way of firefighters — unless you’re talking about the firemen of Fahrenheit 451 — and therefore the Mets’ batters should feast on their offerings. If Willie needs to play the shell game with his setup men in this series, the Mets are in deep doo doo.
David Wright is still fairly hot, and Moises Alou is swinging a good stick when he’s not grounding into double plays, but at this point it shouldn’t matter who’s hot and who’s not. Against the Marlins’ pitching — which won’t include D-Train nor Sergio Mitre — the Mets must score early and often. Anything less than six runs per game will be a disappointment and travesty.
Hanley Ramirez is arguably a more impactful all-around offensive force than Jose Reyes this year. If only he’d wear his cap on straight someone might pay attention to him. Miguel Cabrera remains the best young slugger this side of Albert Pujols. After that there is a tremendous dropoff, as the next-best threats are sluggers Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham, who do a lot of swinging and missing.
The Mets really need to sweep. It’s clear they can’t match up, head to head, with the Braves, and are a crapshoot against similarly talented teams. Therefore, they must beat up on the lesser teams, and beat up on them good. The Marlins are currently sharing the basement with the Nationals, eleven and a half games back. If the Mets can win the first two of this series, the third is in the bag. It’s time to bury the bottom-feeders of the division.