Game 56: Win
Mets 4 Dodgers 1
After the tough series against the Giants, then no day off and a plane trip to the West Coast, I thought for sure the Mets would come into Dodger Stadium sluggish and groggy. Add to it the fact that Alay Soler was starting, and could very well be facing his last ML start after two unremarkable outings, and things were really looking bad for the Mets.
Thankfully, Jose Reyes led off the game with a home run, Carlos Delgado followed with a two-run shot just a few minutes later, and the Mets never looked back. Alay Soler was magnificent through seven innings, allowing only one run (on a homerun) on six hits and one walk, and struck out seven. Perhaps more importantly, by pitching through the seventh, he gave the Mets’ grossly overworked bullpen a gasp of air. If this is the real Alay Soler, the Mets might not have to worry about making any lopsided deals at the deadline for a veteran arm.
Carlos Beltran had another two hits and a walk, and his batting average is slowly creeping up; it’s now in the .270s. Just a week ago he was under .250, yet still among the NL leaders in slugging and OPS.
Carlos Delgado seems to be working his way out of his slump, with two hits including a homer today. Good thing, too, as the Mets have entered perhaps the most difficult part of their season.
Jose Reyes was called out on strikes in the top of the sixth, and had some choice words for home plate umpire Larry Vanover. It was a strike (sorry, Jose), but Reyes continued to jaw on his way back to the dugout. Vanover jawed back, and told Jose to get back in the dugout. Sorry, but I don’t care what Reyes said; Vanover needs to close his ears and shut his trap. True, Reyes was in the wrong, and shouldn’t have shown up the ump. But, Vanover, like all umpires, has two choices: either run the arguing player out of the game, or ignore him. It is completely unprofessional, and asinine, to retort to a player who is walking away. (If the player gets in his face, that’s another story.) In most cases, the player is simply blowing off steam, and any ump who chooses to argue back is showing a lack of confidence in the call he just made. The ump’s job is to make the call, not defend it. If the player says something foul, then the ump should either run him right there, or look away from the player while voicing a warning. Today’s bush-league umps are too demonstrative, and too wrapped up in trying to confirm their presence the fans and the cameras. They need to remember that nobody cares who they are; there isn’t even a place on the scorecard to write their names. The old-school umps had no problem maintaining order, and earning respect, while remaining nondescript.
Lastings Milledge had another two hits and an RBI. Omar Minaya claimed the reason Lastings was promoted to the big club was because he wanted to see where Milledge was in his development; kind of like a litmus test. Well, if his first six games are any indication, Milledge is for real. While he often looks overmatched or completely fooled on some pitches, he somehow is able to learn from his mistakes and come right back with good solid swings — sometimes in the same at-bat. His presence has not been a detriment in any way, and in fact he seems to be providing something of a spark, with his aggressive style and exuberance. I don’t think anyone has missed Xavier Nady yet. Which begs the question: if he continues to provide a Lastings impression, what happens when Nady returns? It’s a question I hope we need to grapple with about ten days from now; it would be a nice problem. (Can anyone see Nady going to a team that needs a bat in return for an arm?)
Mr. Willie brought in the LOOGY, Pedro Feliciano (again), in the bottom of the eighth because there were lefthanded hitters due up. Interestingly enough, the LOOGY gave up two hits to the batters he’s paid to get out — lefties Kenny Lofton and J.D. Drew — and retired the two righthanded batters he faced. (ROOGY Chad Bradford, however, did his job and retired RH hitter Olmedo Saenz.)
Tomorrow night is Pedro vs. Derek Lowe. Considering the Mets’ struggles with sinkerballers such as Brandon Webb, and the fact they can’t seem to hit for Pedro, I’m a little worried about this contest. But that’s what makes watching so much fun!