Here is the dry, objective capsule of the game:
The Houston Astros rode the arm of All-Star Roy Oswalt for seven solid innings, supporting him with eight runs on eleven hits and six walks in beating the NL East-leading New York Mets 8-3 to close out the first half of the 2007 season.
Now, the diehard Mets fans capsule:
In yet another lackluster effort, the New York Mets sleptwalked their way through nine excruciating innings, offering no tangible reason for fans to keep the game displayed on their television sets beyond the first ten minutes of the contest.
Yeah … that’s pretty much the way it went.
Just hours after their most inspiring performance of the year, the dogs in orange and blue rolled over and played dead. We had an inkling of what might happen when Willie Randolph published a lineup of AAA players to face one of the best three pitchers in the National League. But while we may have not been surprised the game ended in a loss, we did not expect the team to give up after the first inning.
It all began with Dave Williams, making his first MLB appearance since suffering from a herniated disc in his neck in early spring. From the first few batters, it was clearly apparent that he needed at least a few more weeks of minor league rehab, as he barely cracked 83 MPH on his best fastballs. Unfortunately, the MLB roster rules regarding the 60-day disabled list precluded him from an extended stay, and the Mets had no choice but to add him to the roster — or face the possibility of losing him through waivers.
It’s really a shame, because Williams may help the Mets at some point in the season — but it won’t be anytime soon. His velocity is still down, his command is awful, and he simply doesn’t look comfortable on the mound — but that’s to be expected from someone who’s been off the field for nearly ten months. No one thought he would match Oswalt pitch for pitch in his first game back, but after the tough 17-inning game of the previous inning, there was hope that he’d give the Mets four or five innings. However, a 44-pitch first frame put the kabosh on that idea.
To say he struggled would be too kind. To compare his outing to a 12-year-old girl just learning to windmill would be more appropriate. When he wasn’t walking people, he was giving up hard basehits. The only saving grace, it seemed, was that he wasn’t throwing hard enough to allow a homerun. But that grace was erased in the fourth, by a fly ball off the bat of Chris Burke that extended the lead to 7-zip but still wasn’t enough to chase Williams from the game. Two doubles and another run later, Willie Randolph finally threw in the towel and pushed Aaron Sele to the mound — who pitched very well, especially considering his two-inning effort on Saturday night.
It remained eight-nothing until the top of the sixth, when Carlos Beltran hit a meaningless two-run homer to put the Mets’ B-squad on the board. Thanks, Carlos — but where were you in the first inning, with runners on first and third and none out and it still a ballgame? Oh, that’s right — you struck out looking in a situation where even a double play would have scored a run.
Sele and Scott Schoeneweis combined for four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, though it may have been more a matter of the Astros being too tired to hit after all that swinging in the first three innings, than anything special from either of these janitors.
After a three-hit game, Ruben Gotay was, predictably, not in the starting lineup. He did, however, make the most of a pinch-hit appearance, stroking a double to deep right off of Dan Wheeler. One must wonder, if Gotay went 7-for-7 on Saturday, would he still have sat? (The answer is, yes — of course.) Maybe if Gotay can get his average up closer to .500, Willie will consider using him, say, twice a week.
Though Gotay rode the pine, Randolph did manage to get 41-year-old Sandy Alomar, Jr., .240-hitting Jose Valentin, and the freshly promoted, .210-hitting David Newhan into the starting lineup. Newhan, in fact, batted second, and went 2-for-4. That’s why Willie is such a great manager — he gets these brilliant hunches.
In the bottom of the second inning, Dave Williams nearly walked opposing pitcher Roy Oswalt to lead off the inning. He fell behind 3-0, but managed to retire him with a strikeout, expending six pitches. In the top of the third, with the Mets down by three, Oswalt retired the Mets 1-2-3 on nine pitches. The only reason he had to use nine was because it took him five pitches to erase Williams.
Shawn Green was an extreme disappointment in this game, going 0-for-4 with zero quality at-bats. He’s paying too much attention to the other amateurs in the Mets lineup.
The Cincinnati Redlegs come to Shea to face the Mets on Thursday, July 12th, in a 7:10PM start. The scheduled starters are Orlando Hernandez and Bronson Arroyo.