Mets 13 Phillies 4
Batting coach Rick Down delivered an aggressive strategy during his pregame talk with the lineup, and the Mets were obviously listening, as they exploded for 16 hits and 13 runs. By the third inning, they had given Tommy Glavine a ten-run lead, and from there on Glavine pitched on autopilot en route to his 280th career win.
Compounding the Phils’ difficulties was their inability to field the ball, as they made four errors, all leading to runs. In contrast, the Mets were nearly flawless, with David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Kaz Matsui all executing web-gem worthy plays during the game. Reyes and Kaz combined on a fantastic double play in the first, which Kaz made look easy. In addition, I want to point out that tonight was another evening where I witnessed Carlos Delgado make some really nice scoops. All I heard about Delgado was that he was nearly as bad as David Ortiz in the field; however, I’ve so far been pretty happy with his performance at first. Sure, he’s no Gold Glove candidate, and his range is limited to balls hit right at him, but he really hangs in there and picks the ball well on short throws. With his bat, I’ll take his scooping as a bonus.
Jose Valentin’s value to the team continues to sink. In the eighth, he was on deck when Kaz Matsui attempted to score on a sac fly, and would have been tagged out if the catcher had not dropped the ball. Where the heck was Valentin? His role was to be directly behind home plate, shouting direction to Kaz as to whether he should slide or come in standing. Instead, Valentin was busy pine-tarring his bat or trimming his mustache or who knows what. Sure, it’s a tiny detail when you’re up by ten runs, but the size of the lead doesn’t mean you stop playing winning baseball. If it were a one-run or tied ballgame, and Matsui gets thrown out because he doesn’t slide, it’s Valentin’s fault.
Jose Reyes hit the only Met homerun of the game, and he did it from the right side. From the left side, he looked absolutely awful, swinging defensively even when ahead on the count, and waving at poor pitches.
Jorge Julio pitched another scoreless (but not adventureless) inning, though he “only” struck out one.
Heath Bell made his first appearance of 2006, and gave up one earned run on three hits, while striking out two with a vicious forkball. While watching the inning on SNY, I was ticked off to hear negative comments by both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez, who seemed very down on Bell’s performance. They made references to Bell being very successful at AAA, but not able to put it together at the ML level. Did either of these kumquats notice that the Mets had a ten-run lead? You pitch differently when you have a huge lead: you throw strikes early and often (Tom Glavine referred to this strategy during an in-game interview, so I didn’t pull it out of my butt). As a result, you are going to give up some hits here and there. The one thing you don’t want to see is a pitcher being too fine and giving up walks. So Bell was doing his job, throwing strikes (20 pitches, 14 strikes, btw), a few Phils stroked some hits, and the dynamic dimwits are all over him.
Hernandez and Darling, by the way, might be the worst broadcast duo in Mets history. The only ones worse were the occasional three-inning episodes of Hernandez and Tom Seaver. Thankfully, Hernandez has backed off a little on his condescending, self-serving, holier-than-thou comments, but he still has too much negativity and anti-Met attitude. Some may say it’s Keith trying not to be a “homer”, but I think it is what I call the waybegone phenomenon: a player who can’t let go of his own past success, to the point where he cannot give credit to anyone succeeding today. He constantly points out everything that every Met is doing wrong (which is my job, by the way), and compares their performance to back when he was playing. That’s nice insight once in a while, but when it is your total MO, it gets a little old, fast. Further, as quick as Hernandez is to bash a Met, he’s just as quick to give credit to opposing players. I guess that’s where he’s trying to be objective/impartial. Whatever … it’s easy to mute the TV, which I normally do.