Game 44: Win
Mets 9 Phillies 8
So much for shortening the game …
If nothing else, the Mets have chutzpah. Once again, they fought back in this game, never having the lead until Beltran mashed the ball into the right field stands. Their tenacious, never-say-die attitude is something that has become a characteristic of the club. Even if the Mets don’t finish first, they should continue to provide us with a truly exciting season. This team reminds me a lot of the ’85 and ’86 squads, which had a knack for applying that “Mets magic” to come from behind and win ballgames.
Though Beltran has been very hot in the last few weeks, this walk-off homerun is his second deposit (the homer off Randy Johnson on Sunday the first) in his personal Shea Hero Bank account. A few more deposits and he will have completely won over the fans who booed him in the first week of the season.
For the first time all year, Darren Oliver entered and exited a game without allowing a run, and he chose his longest, most wearing and difficult appearance to pull it off. I’ve been criticizing his existence all year, but tonight I must give him a kudos. Well done, Darren.
Duaner Sanchez is a fun pitcher to watch. Just when you think he’s nothing but a sinker-slider, changeup pitcher, he pulls a curveball out of his butt on a 2-2 pitch to Ryan Howard. That’s gumption. Then in the tenth, he blew away Chase Utley with three fastballs: at 91, 93, then 95 MPH (yes, Mr. Willie left him in to pitch the tenth!).
Where the heck did Jose Reyes come up with that power? From the left side no less! Watching his home run live was surprising, but then watching the slo-mo replay, it was even more impressive. The pitch was a curveball that nearly hit the ground, and Jose merely flicked the head of the bat down there like a pitching wedge and zoom it went over the fence. And then he very nearly hit another one to win it in the 12th. His mechanics look awful, he’s all off balance, but somehow he had the strength to knock it over the wall. Scary to think about how he will mature as he gets past his mid-twenties.
As expected, Steve Trachsel followed up his near-shutout with a crapola five-inning stint, giving up six runs. (Of course, to Mets officials, that’s a “solid” start!) I suppose his issue was getting the day off yesterday; it threw off his whole anal-retentive schedule.
Hey is Cliff Floyd out of his slump or what? Did you notice that he is slamming the ball the other way lately? I wonder if he or Rick Down is reading my blog …
I really thought Kaz was going to win the game for us in the ninth, and he did hit the ball well up the middle. He is really stroking the ball over the last week and a half, but the ball is finding mitts. As long as he keeps the same patient approach, and continues to take good swings at good pitches, I think he will raise his average significantly and become a key cog in the offense. With his speed, he could be a deadly offensive weapon.
In the bottom of the tenth, I thought for sure Paulie was going to drive in Reyes after Jose stole second. He took a poke at what looked like ball four, but (a) he probably figured it was too close to take with two strikes; and (b) he knew if he could drop it into the outfield, Reyes would score. Even though he didn’t come through, that full-count at-bat was a microcosm of why LoDuca is a great clutch hitter.
Where the heck was Mr. Willie in the bottom of the 11th when Beltran was called out after oversliding second base? Though he was likely out, it was a close enough call that it could have been argued, and the umpire was clearly in a poor position to make the call. Randolph should have been out there for two reasons: (1) Beltran was jawing a bit, and he needed to be protected; and (2) it couldn’t hurt to run out there, argue a bit, and force Madson to stand around a few minutes and get a little chilled.
And now that I’ve begun to trash Mr. Willie in this post, his putting up Ramon Castro to pinch-hit in the 12th was extremely questionable. I realize he was the last bat, but he was also the last catcher. The Mets emergency catcher is Chris Woodward, who was long gone from the game. I think I might have considered Tom Glavine as a PH in that situation, especially since he is not only a decent hitter but also a fair baserunner. In fact, since he was pitching the next inning, I’d have had Darren Oliver pinch-hit, as he is a very capable hitter. If LoDuca gets injured, who goes behind the dish? Carlos Delgado?
In regard to Chase Utley getting hit to lead off the 16th, I completely disagree with the call and with the numnut Mets announcers Darling and Hernandez. Utley made no attempt to pull the bat back, nor did he make an attempt to get out of the way, and from what I saw, it looked like he kicked his leg out over the plate and purposely got in the way of the ball. As it was, Paul LoDuca threw him out stealing — thanks to a great pick and tag by Reyes. Utley may have beaten the tag, but the ball beat him, and Reyes made such a great play the ump called him out.
Was that really Sal Fasano behind the plate for the Phils, or was it really Pete Vukovich? Every time he came up to hit, I half-expected to hear “Wild Thing” blast from the stadium speakers, and see a bespectacled Charlie Sheen run out of the bullpen.
Alay Soler might make his MLB debut tomorr… er, tonight …