Mets 4 Pirates 3
In a swamp-soaked game, Pedro Martinez pitched as though the game were meant to be played under a waterfall. For at least three innings, the conditions were so awful that it was difficult to watch the game on TV, as the rain was coming down hard enough to obscure the cameras. Yet through it all, Pedro smiled, slung, and swashbuckled through the Pirates batters, mowing them down like an overgrown lawn.
Despite pitching brilliantly through six, and throwing only 72 pitches, Pedro was lifted for pinch hitter Jose (ugh) Valentin, just after Endy Chavez doubled in Cliff Floyd for the go-ahead run. Why? We’re not sure. I’m going to guess that Mr. Willie was looking out for Pedro’s health; with the conditions the way they were, there had to be concern for Pedro accidentally slipping — with the Mets’ hopes for 2006 sliding with him. If the conditions were dry and warm, I have to believe that Pedro stays in to hit for himself, and quite possibly finishes the game.
As it was, Aaron Heilman came in and threw two perfect innings before yielding the 3-1 lead to Billy Wagner to close out the game. The minute Wagner came into the game, I knew it was a mistake, for several reasons. First, if you are going to take out Pedro for safety reasons, why would you risk Wagner, who may very well have as much value this year? Second, Heilman was dominating in his two-inning stint, and considering the conditions, it would seem that one would leave him out there, as he’d conquered the mud, the rain, the mound, and was ready to keep on plowing. Third, since Heilman had already thrown two innings, he was already a scratch for the next game, so why not leave him in for one more? Whether he pitches two or three innings makes no difference in regard to his availability on Friday. Finally, because of the wet conditions, it did not make sense to bring in a fresh pitcher, who would have to adjust to the game mound, when the current hurler was doing just fine. But Willie being Willie, and going by that godforsaken “book” he stole from Joe Torre, he had to bring in Billy to save the day.
As it turned out, Billy barely got his footing, and was throwing all over the place. I’m surprised he didn’t hurt himself, especially with his six and a half foot stride. By the time it was all over, it was a tie ballgame.
Thankfully, we have Carlos Delgado this year, and he took the game back in the 12th with an opposite-field bomb.
Note: Endy Minaya — er, Chavez — went 4-5 and could have easily gone 5-5 if the official scorer didn’t score his last time on base as an error (it could have gone either way). He also made an unbelievable diving catch that the post-Cameron Carlos Beltran was definitely not diving for. Though I still think he looks more like an American Legion player than a MLB player, he’s starting to grow on me. With his speed and hustle, and penchant for comign up with big hits, he looks like he’ll be a significant sub on this potentially playoff-bound team.