Mets 8 Cubs 3
In Tom Glavine’s second attempt at 300, Willie Randolph again removed his cagey veteran before he should have. However, this time, the bullpen didn’t blow the victory.
With one out in the seventh, Glavine spotted a nice change-up on the outside part of the plate, fooling Angel Pagan, but Pagan got lucky, sticking his bat out and bouncing the ball down the third base line. The rhyme or reason behind Willie’s walk out to the mound at that point is anybody’s guess. While it was true that Glavine was on pitch #102, he showed no signs of tiring in that inning nor the inning before. He still had excellent command, and was keeping the Cubs off balance with an array of fastballs in, change-ups, and even curveballs. The deuce, especially, was in his favor — a pitch he normally throws no more than 2-3 times a game as a “show” pitch.
(By the way, I’m writing this WHILE Tommy is walking off the mound, so it’s not a Monday morning quarterback whine.)
I can sort of understand Randolph wanting to insure Glavine’s victory, but there was something he completely missed about this particular evening: Glavine had gotten into the Cubs’ heads. Even if Glavine had been tiring — which he wasn’t — he had won the mental matchup. Anyone who has played baseball at any level knows what I’m talking about. A guy is on the mound, he’s mowing people down, and suddenly, you’re getting yourself out, because the history of outs in previous innings has psyched you out. You’ve convinced yourself it’s that pitcher’s night, and succumbed to the belief that, on this night, there’s no beating the guy. Professionals will never admit to such a thing, but it happens all the time. Glavine had that advantage going for him — the Cubs had accepted the fact that this was his night, and they were going to be part of history — perhaps because the “baseball gods” decided it was time. Once Willie took him out, the veil of doubt had been lifted. Without Glavine on the mound, it was no longer his night. Suddenly, the Cubs had a fighting chance, against fresh meat who had no association with historic achievements nor blessings from baseball gods. In short, Randolph let them back into the game.
(End of fury, back to the game.)
Guillermo Mota came in with Pagan on second and promptly gave up a single to Jason Kendall to move Pagan to third (Pagan held because Shawn Green got to the ball quickly and made a perfect throw to the cutoff man.) That was all for Mota as Randolph returned to the mound and summoned Pedro Feliciano, who retired Jacque Jones on a groundout that allowed Pagan to score. Mike Fontenot followed with a cheap bloop hit down the third base line to score the second run of the inning, and Randolph left the dugout for a third time to bring in Aaron Heilman, who hurried to get loose on the sidelines. Heilman got Ryan Theriot to fly out to center to end the inning.
Jorge Sosa pitched a scoreless eighth to retain the lead. Billy Wagner pitched the ninth with a five-run lead, but had no problem getting amped up for the historic evening. Wags was humming close to triple digits and throwing his typically nasty sharp slider.
Oh, there was more to the game than Glavine’s pitching … there was Glavine’s hitting, for example. Tommy drove in the first run of the game with a two-out single in the second, scoring Lastings Milledge. The Mets tacked on two more runs in the fifth on doubles by Delgado and Green, and extended the lead to five-zip in the sixth on an RBI single by Jose Reyes and a run-scoring groundout by Delgado.
After the Cubs took advantage of Glavine’s absence in the seventh, the Mets marched right back and took two runs back, thanks to another double by Delgado and an RBI single by Paul LoDuca. Delgado’s shot was a screamer into the ivy in the right-center alley, and he lifted it with just his bottom hand; that’s diesel, bro.
Glavine’s line: 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The Wrigley fans gave him an impressive and respectful standing ovation when he walked off the mound in the seventh.
Once again, it appeared that fellow veteran Shawn Green, as well as Carlos Delgado, played just a notch above their normal games in the field. In reality, I’m sure everyone on the field stepped it up, but those two guys are normally so awful, their inspired play is that much more noticeable. Green was getting to balls more quickly, and making throws back to the infield like he was 25 and in Toronto again. Delgado also harked back to his Blue Jays days, reaching down past his waist for balls on at least two occasions. Nice to see the two vets playing like it was the World Series to help Tommy get to 300.
Lastings Milledge had three hits and a walk when he came up in the 8th with the bases loaded and one out, but popped up on the first pitch from reliever Michael Wuertz. Milledge scored twice in the contest.
Luis Castillo was 4-for-5 with two runs scored, but left the game with an undisclosed injury after scoring on Delgado’s double in the top of the eighth.
Delgado was 2-for-4 with 4 RBI. His last RBI came on a line drive to rightfield that nearly took Matt Murton’s glove off. It was a sacrifice liner, not a sacrifice fly, it was hit so hard.
For trivia buffs, Ruben Gotay fielded the last groundout of the game, putout by Delgado, on a grounder by Mike Fontenot.
Shame about the relative lack of celebration on ESPN, in comparison to what we’ll likely have to endure when Barroid hits his 756th homerun (345th tainted). Especially considering that the homerun “record” will likely fall again within the next ten years, while we most likely won’t see another 300-game winner for at least another generation. The media’s got their valuation on records a little mixed up, eh?
The Mets have off on Monday, traveling back to New York to host the second-place Braves. Oliver Perez takes the mound against Buddy Carlyle in a 7:10 PM start. If you go to the game, stop by the Loge, section 20 and say hello. I’ll be wearing a Mr. Met shirt.