Mike Pelfrey did not have his best stuff, pitched inefficiently, but was nonetheless impressive.
What made the outing impressive was the fact that he battled, despite lack of command, and worked his way through four walks and six hits in five and two-thirds innings, and managed to allow just two runs. The 97-pitch effort began well, as Pelfrey zipped through an easy 1-2-3 first inning. The second inning was not quite cruise control, as the Nationals loaded the bases with a single and two walks before an out was made. Behind the sinker, Pelfrey somehow escaped the inning by giving up only two runs. He breezed through a 1-2-3 third inning, and had a quick fourth and fifth thanks to the pitcher’s best friend, the double-play.
In the sixth, he struggled a bit, and might have been able to get through, but being so close to the century mark, Willie Randolph made the right decision and removed Pelfrey from the game. Pedro Feliciano worked out of the jam to close out the inning, then retired the first two batters in the seventh before Ronny Belliard punched an infield single. Aaron Heilman was summoned immediately stifle the Nationals, and his one-batter, 7-pitch performance was all he needed to earn the victory.
Scott Schoeneweis came on to pitch a perfect eighth — throwing only eight pitches — in notching his fourth hold of the year. Billy Wagner closed things out without incident in gaining his third save of the season.
On the offensive side, the Mets continue to struggle. Not sure if it is the cold weather, difficulty in finding their timing, or some other issue, but the Mets’ bats match the Shea breezes: icy cold. Carlos Delgado finally hit the ball hard, flying out deep to center and mashing a long single off the leftfield wall (he was thrown out at second trying to make it a double). David Wright had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 20 games (10 at the end of last year, 10 this year), and Jose Reyes remained hot, going 1-3 with another walk and another stolen base. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Jose Reyes will walk at least 85 times this year. No one else in the starting lineup had a base hit, though Shawn Green hit the ball both long and far on two occasions. He’s really seeing the ball well and getting good swings. Julio Franco had the Mets’ only other hit, a clutch pinch single up the middle that scored David Wright with the game-winning run.
Tomorrow’s afternoon game begins at 1:10 PM, and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez takes the hill against, um, Shawn Hill.