Mets 9 Brewers 1
As poorly as the Mets played on Saturday, they were the inverse on Sunday. Saturday’s poor pitching, weak hitting, and sloppy fielding was replaced by excellent pitching, strong hitting, and solid fielding in this 9-1 rubber game victory.
So … for everyone looking at this series as some kind of test for the Mets … it’s fair to say they passed (while the Brewers failed).
Oliver Perez was outstanding, taking a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning before allowing a solo homer to Billy Hall. The crazy thing is, the one hit given up in the previous eight innings was a fluke single to opposing starting pitcher Chris Capuano — to give you an idea of how close Ollie was to pitching the eternally elusive no-hitter.
The most difficult situation Perez faced all day was in the first inning, when he walked Rickie Weeks to start the game. After that, he retired the next 25 out of 29 batters before Hall’s homer — with two of the four baserunners reaching by error. Over 8 1/3, Perez threw an economical 109 pitches, struck out 6, walked 2, allowed 2 hits, and gave up one earned run. He’s now 2-0 in weekend afternoon starts at Shea.
Supporting Perez was the powerful bat of Damion Easley, who drove in three of the Mets’ first four runs, added a fourth ribbie in the eighth, and accounted for 6 of the Mets’ 9 runs. Easley’s two-run homer into — where else? — the leftfield bleachers in the first inning gave the Mets a lead they’d never relinquished as well as all the runs Perez would need on the day. Ramon Castro drove in David Wright later in the inning to make the score 3-zip, and Easley drove in rookie Carlos Gomez for the Mets’ fourth run in the second.
No more noise came from the home team until the 8th, when the Mets barraged reliever Elmer Dessens for 5 runs on 5 hits — all with two outs — including an RBI single by Oliver Perez, a triple by Jose Reyes, and a two-run homer by Carlos Beltran.
Perez had a chance to pitch a complete-game shutout before the Hall homer, and was removed immediately afterward. Aaron Heilman came on to get the final two outs on nine pitches.
Rookie Carlos Gomez had an exciting debut, going 2-for-4 with a double in his first at-bat, two runs scored, a stolen base, and an ESPN-web-gem-worthy diving catch in rightfield. He was visibly amped up for the game, exuding enthusiasm and aggressiveness. While it’s not fair to judge him based on one ballgame, from what he showed, he looks far more advanced all-around than Lastings Milledge at this point in time. While Milledge may have a quicker bat and a stronger arm, Gomez is faster, a smarter baserunner, and much more confident and skilled in the field. His aggressive nature at the plate is typical of a 21-year-old, but the rest of his game is much more polished than had been advertised. It’s easy to see why the Mets are so high on this 6’4″ speedster.
David Wright batted cleanup and swung the bat with more authority than he has all year. He looked extremely confident, taking good level swings and getting the sweet spot of the bat on the ball. He also stole three bases in the game for the first time in his career.
Ramon Castro went 2-for-4 in his weekly start, further advancing the legend of the Mets’ high-performance bench.
Jose Reyes went 2-for-4 as well, with a walk, 2 runs scored, and his 21st stolen base.
Who would have believed that at this point in time, Damion Easley would have one less homerun than the combined output of David Wright and Carlos Delgado?
The Mets begin a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs at 7:10 PM on Monday night. Tom Glavine faces Long Island native Jason Marquis.
Check back here on Monday afternoon for a series preview, including insights from Al Yellon of BleedCubbieBlue.