Browsing Archive May, 2007

Game 52: Win over Giants

Mets 4 Giants 2

Barry Bonds pops out against Orlando HernandezOrlando Hernandez had some first-inning issues, giving up a leadoff single, a triple, and a sac fly to give the Giants a quick two-run lead. However, the Mets matched that output in the bottom of the inning, then added another two in the second to give El Duque a lead and a cushion. From there, Hernandez went into cruise control, mowing down the Giants with ease.

El Duque finished seven full innings, allowing just two hits, two runs, one walk, and struck out three, using 95 pitches in the process. Mighty Joe Smith pitched a perfect eighth (13 pitches, 10 for strikes), and Billy Wagner spun another 1-2-3 ninth to close out the game and earn his 13th save.

All the action of the game occurred in the first two innings. After the Giants jumped out to the two-zip advantage, Jose Reyes (who else?) began the response with a leadoff walk, steal of second, was advanced to third on a grounder, then scored on an infield single by Carlos Beltran. Two batters later, Beltran was chased home on a double by David Wright to tie up the game.

In the second inning, Damion Easley led off with a double, Ben Johnson walked, both were pushed ahead another base by an El Duque bunt, and Jose Reyes drove home Easley with the go-ahead run — the result of a finely fought at-bat. Reyes was caught stealing on the next pitch for the second out, but Endy Chavez dumped a bunt down the third base line that scored Johnson for the insurance run.

Notes

Jose Reyes is getting back to watching the ball longer, and as a result having better at-bats. His at-bat in the second inning was particularly good, as he worked the count full, then took a defensive swing on a pitcher’s pitch on the low outside corner of the plate, and poked the ball into leftfield to drive in the go-ahead run.

In the first, Carlos Delgado hit a bomb to dead center that would have been a homer had the wind not knocked it down. He’s seeing the ball fairly well now and taking good, healthy cuts. That’s bad news for National League pitchers, good news for the Mets (and my fantasy team).

Jose Reyes and Carlos Gomez celebrate the Mets win over the GiantsCarlos Beltran injured himself in a collision with first baseman Rich Aurilia in the first. Beltran eventually scored on the double by D-Wright, but was replaced the next inning by Carlos Gomez.

Gomez is incredibly aggressive, and will need to become more selective if he wants to stay up in the bigs.

Ben Johnson got his first start since being acquired by the Mets. He had a sharp basehit to center in the fourth and walked, going 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Next Game

The Arizona Diamondbacks come to town, sending Brandon Webb to the hill against John Maine in a battle of sinkerballers. Game time is 7:10 PM. I’ll be in the Loge, Section 20, if you want to stop by for some free peanuts.

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Mets Game 51: Loss to Giants

Giants 3 Mets 0

The overhand curveball remains the Mets’ kryptonite. And if Pedro Feliz sat out, the game might still be going on.

Barry Zito had a pocketful of kryptonite in this ballgame, scattering six hits over seven innings, striking out seven, walking one, and allowing no runs. Manager Bruce Bochy was interested in winning the game, so Armando Benitez remained on the bench and the Mets fared no better against Giants relievers Jack Taschner and Brad Hennessey.

The Mets could get nothing started the entire evening, offering nothing in the way of offensive support for Tom Glavine, who had an otherwise excellent performance. Glavine pitched seven strong innings, allowing nine hits, two walks, and three runs — all driven in by Feliz on a first-inning single and a third-inning triple. A wasted effort in his bid for career win #296.

Notes

Paul LoDuca went 2-for-4 with a double, lifting his average to .327.

Carlos Beltran also doubled, his 14th of the season.

In a matchup of similarly styled pitchers at different phases of their respective careers, Zito threw 122 pitches, 77 for strikes, in 7 innings, while Glavine threw 122 pitches, 77 for strikes, in seven innings.

Barry Bonds started in leftfield. Nobody cared.

Speaking of steroid users, Guillermo Mota made his 2007 debut, pitching two scoreless innings, striking out two.

Next Game

The rubber match pits Orlando Hernandez vs. Matt Cain in another 7:10 PM start.

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Cheer Mota, Boo Barry

Pitcher Guillermo Mota of the New York MetsThere’s at least one pundit pleading that Mets fans who cheer Guillermo Mota and boo Barry Bonds are hypocrites.

Actually, just about every media outlet looking to stir up a story and have little other material are belaboring this point.

Not to worry, Mets fans: you are NOT a hypocrite if you boo Barroid and clap for Guillermo.

There are two reasons it’s OK to cheer Guillermo Mota. First, he admitted to, and owned up to his mistake, apologized immediately, and did his time. Personally, I’m strongly — no, vociferously — against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in our national pastime. At the same time, I’m just as human as Mota, and have had my hand caught in the cookie jar (not for steroids, but for things like speeding on the Garden State Parkway). What is it that the bible states? He without sin may cast the first stone?

I was greatly disappointed to find out that Mota was on steroids during his remarkable run at the end of last summer, and somewhat surprised the Mets gave him a multiyear contract. However, he’s one of the first players caught redhanded to openly admit to his mistake — and there’s something to say for that. It’s bad enough that scumbags such as Rafael Palmeiro are caught cheating, but to then not only claim he didn’t “know”, and then finger a teammate for giving him a “B-12 shot”. Please. Be a man, admit your mistake, and work on regaining your respect.

The second reason it’s OK to give a hand to Guillermo Mota is because he’s one of our Mets, and as such deserves some unconditional support. We know he did bad, he knows he did bad. He did the crime, he did the time, and now he’s on our team for the next year and a half. Does it help the Mets, or Mota, to boo him? Of course not. If you’re a diehard fan, you want Mota to get beyond this black cloud as soon as possible. It’s not easy being the first MLB player to admit taking steroids, so why not give him at least a golf clap, to let him know that despite what he did, that’s in the past and we’re behind him going forward. He doesn’t need — nor deserve — a thuderous, standing ovation. But a nice little cheer will do wonders for his psyche.

Now, let’s discuss Barroid, and why it’s OK to boo him.

First of all, there is the FACT that he’s done steroids. I am sick and tired of hearing Jon Miller, Rob Dibble, Kevin Kennedy, and every other ass-kissing head-in-the-sand jackass who asserts that Barry never admitted to doing steroids, and has never failed a drugs test. PUH-LEEZE, people … do you really expect us to be that stupid? Or are we to believe that YOU are that stupid? Please STOP with the, “oh, barry admitted to perhaps taking arthritis cream, flaxseed oil, or some other perfectly legal supplement, but had no idea he took any illegal steroid.” STOP. STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP with the absolute stupidity. Barry Bonds gains 25 pounds of muscle in a five-month offseason, his head increases by three sizes, he loses all his hair, and hits 73 homeruns at age 36, and you can look people in the face and say he did it naturally? C’mon!

Even if you didn’t read Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports“>Game of Shadows — which was too strange to be fiction — you have to know that Barry Bonds did steroids. And, if you know anything about Barry Bonds, you know implicitly that Bonds would never put anything in his body unless he knew exactly what it was. He did steroids, or HGH, or something else, plain and simple. Yet he continues to deny it, and assume that we the fans are that stupid to believe that a man could possibly get bigger, stronger, faster, and have better eyesight as he gets closer to 40, while every other human being on planet Earth regresses during the same age span. If his name were Steve Austin, and he were a retired astronaut, that’s one thing. But he’s not, and he’s a cheater, and he has the audacity to assume that we the people will buy his sales story that he built himself into the most prolific homerun hitter of all-time thanks to some extra time in the weight room. Sorry, pal.

And that’s why it’s OK to boo Barry: because he assumes that you, the fan, are that stupid and gullible. He hasn’t been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but believes that we should acknowledge and respect what he does despite the fact that there are chocolate chips stuck to his cheeks. Personally, I don’t enjoy being the butt of a joke, or looked at as the donkey. Further, I don’t enjoy my face being rubbed in someone else’s feces — particularly when that feces is presented as solid gold.

So if you’ll be at Shea this week, feel free to boo Barry and cheer Guillermo — you have justification for both actions.

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Mets Game 50: Win over Giants

Mets 5 Giants 4

New York Mets Carlos Delgado scores after hitting the game-winning homerun against the San Francisco GiantsOliver Perez pitched seven solid innings, and gave up three solo homers. Looking at it, it was a very good performance — he gave up only five hits total, walked none, and struck out 8 in throwing 98 pitches over the 7 frames. It’s safe to say that Ollie has regained the form that made him one of the most coveted young lefties in MLB in 2004.

The three Giant dingers were answered by Carlos X two production: a two-run homer by Carlos Delgado and a one-run double by Carlos Beltran. The score remained that way through 12 innings, when San Francisco broke through with a run against Mighty Joe Smith on a groundout to untie the game. However, Giants manager Bruce Bochy thought it appropriate to give the Mets a fair chance in the bottom of the inning, and sent Armando Benitez to the mound.

Predictably, Benitez had a meltdown. It began with a walk to Jose Reyes, who was balked to second base and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Endy Chavez. Benitez balked for the second time in the inning to score Reyes with the tying run. Five pitches later, Carlos Delgado mashed his second homerun of the game to win the contest for the Mets, 5-4.

Notes

Reyes and Delgado scored two runs each, and Beltran scored the other Met run.

Aaron Heilman pitched one and a third innings of perfect relief before allowing Smith to scavenge the victory. Heilman squeaked the Mets out of tough spot in the 10th, getting Rich Aurilia to line out with Barry Bonds standing on third base with the go-ahead run.

The Mets had only six hits on the night, and the suddenly hot Delgado had two of them (plus 3 RBI).

Ruben Gotay had a pinch-hit in the eleventh, his third pinch-hit of the year (he’s 3-for-8, .375 in that role).

Carlos Gomez started in rightfield and was hitless with two strikeouts, and Ben Johnson took over and went 0-for-2. Johnson was added to the roster when Shawn Green was put on the DL for the first time in his 15-year career.

Next Game

Tom Glavine (5-2, 3.39) faces Barry Zito (4-5, 4.70) in an epic battle of soft-tossers. Game time is 7:35 PM.

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Preview: Mets vs. Giants II

San Francisco Giants baseball logoThe Mets are riding high, coming off a 3-game sweep of the Florida Marlins and ahead of the second-place Braves by 4 full games. Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants come into Shea Stadium for a three game set.

Game One: Oliver Perez vs. Tim Lincecum

Lincecum, a draft-eligible sophmore, was not supposed to still be available when the Giants took him with the tenth overall pick in the 2006 draft. His undersized body, unusual delivery, and bargaining power let him slip that far, as most scouts projected him to be ready for the big leagues within a year. They were right; Lincecum throws a fastball that gets into the mid-90s and the best curveball of an amateur pitcher since Kerry Wood. This spring he blew through five starts at AAA Fresno in the PCL — a hitter’s league — posting a 4-0 record, striking out 46 and allowing only 12 hits in 31 innings. He’s made four Major League starts thus far, and is 2-0 with 25 Ks in 26 IP and a 1.03 WHIP. Batters are hitting .208 against him.

Ollie Perez is stepping into the role of stopper, with a 3-0 record and 1.17 ERA in his last three starts. While the meltdowns are not necessarily a thing of the past, they seem to be more affected by biorhythms rather than anything tangible — and he’s on a rhythmic high right now.

Game Two: Barry Zito vs. Tom Glavine

What an ideal matchup: pussballer present vs. pussballer past. The Mets had a bit of trouble with Zito in his debut appearance against them, but did manage to score three runs in his six innings of work. If his curveball is on — the Mets’ kryptonite — it could be difficult for the Flushing Fabulosos. Glavine was stellar in his May 8th start against the Giants, allowing only one run in seven innings. This could be a pitcher’s duel.

Game Three: Orlando Hernandez vs. Matt Cain

El Duque was magnificent in his first start since coming off the DL last Friday, and hopes to build off that. Meanwhile, Matt Cain has pitched in tough luck all year, with a 2-4 record despite a sparkling 3.32 ERA. The Mets had their way with Cain in their previous meeting, pounding him for 10 hits and 4 runs in seven innings. However, he’s no walk in the park when he’s on. Another potential pitcher’s duel.

Mets Bats

Nearly everyone is hitting, with Carlos Delgado finally finding his homerun stroke over the weekend. The only question mark is rightfield, where Shawn Green is not expected to play due to a fractured foot. Carlos Gomez is day-to-day with a strained hamstring, and word is that Ben Johnson is on his way to New York. It’s possible that we’ll see Damion Easley in the outfield again, with Ruben Gotay at second base.

Giants Bats

Barry Bonds will not play on Tuesday, and it is not known if he will play against Tom Glavine in game two. He’s been struggling a bit lately, plus the Giants want to make sure he hits numbers 755 and 756 in San Francisco. The rest of the Giants’ lineup remains dubious, though Bengie Molina has been swinging a hot stick lately. Ryan Klesko is likely their best hitter next to Bonds, but he never plays — especially not against lefties — so no need to worry about him until the Giants need to pinch-hit.

Bottom Line

This series has some very interesting, potentially exciting pitcher’s matchups. However, the Giants’ offense is currently reminiscent of the 1974 Mets, so there isn’t too much to fear. Chances are, these games will become a battle of the setup relievers, and with Guillermo Mota back for the second two games, and Armando Benitez still closing for San Francisco, I’m liking the Mets chances.

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