Archive: August 24th, 2007

Mets Game 127: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 5 Dodgers 2

You know it’s a good win when you can’t decide who is more deserving of the proverbial “game ball”.

David Wright did it with his bat, legs, and glove, and Oliver Perez did it with his arm as the Mets dropped the Dodgers on Fiesta Latina Night at Shea.

As requested in our “quick preview”, Oliver Perez came out with his dominating stuff, throwing up zeroes over seven innings. He allowed just three hits and struck out six, the one negative being five walks. However, the Dodgers only threatened in the first and third frames, and Ollie pitched out of trouble both times. It was exactly the kind of performance he needed to boost his confidence.

Meantime, Wright went 2-for-3 with a walk, a homerun, a run scored, and two RBI, and he made two outstanding plays in the field during the sixth to deny Dodger hits. He’s now lifted his average to .314 and showing no signs of slowing down.

Ruben Gotay — a surprise starter at second base — also went 2-for-3, and drove in Jose Reyes with a double down the rightfield line for the first run of the game in the first inning. Reyes had walked and stolen second to start things off against Los Angeles loser Brad Penny. Reyes scored again in the third, after hitting a double of his own and being driven in by Wright on a single up the middle. Two innings later, Wright smashed his 23rd homer of the year — a line drive the opposite way that barely skimmed over the 338 mark in right — to put the Mets up three-zip.

The Dodgers finally scored in the eighth, mounting a rally against Jorge Sosa. After Sosa retired leadoff batter Matt Kemp, LA loaded the bases on a Jeff Kent single, a ground-rule double by Andre Ethier, and a walk to Russell Martin. At that point Willie Randolph summoned Pedro Feliciano from the ‘pen, who got a quick groundout that scored a run, and induced Shea Hillenbrand to hit a hot liner right at Wright to end the threat.

However, the Mets piled on two more runs in the bottom of the inning. With Scott Proctor on the mound in relief, Carlos Beltran walked to open the inning and Moises Alou followed with a single. Predictably, Carlos Delgado did his best impression of a spinning top and struck out, but Lastings Milledge ripped a single to left to score Beltran. After a Mike DiFelice single pushed Alou to third, pinch-hitter extraordinaire Marlon Anderson lifted a sacrifice fly to score Alou.

The Dodgers put together a feeble rally in the ninth, scoring a second run, but Billy Wagner hung on to finish the game without further incident.

Notes

DiFelice went 3-for-3 and is now batting .281. Where did that come from?

Will Ruben Gotay ever stop hitting? His average is now back at .340, the same place it’s been all year. But, as Willie says, it’s not all about the numbers. (What the hell IS it about, then???)

Penny didn’t pitch poorly — he gave up three runs in six innings of work — but he was far from the dominating beast he’s been this season. Like ERA leader Chris Young on Tuesday, he looked rather ordinary — nothing special. Is it something about pitching in New York?

Should you start panicking over Wagner giving up another run? Not really. It looks like he’s a little run down — his fastball was around 93-94, only touching 95 once or twice. That’s still pretty damn hard, but when Billy is dominating he’s north of 95, and nearing 98. Call it exhaustion or a dead arm period or what have you — the point is, it’s better that he goes through it now, rather in October. In a few weeks, if the Mets can pull ahead by a few more games, Wagner can rest and let the September callups take some of those late innings, so he can be fresh for the postseason.

Delgado had another oh-fer, with one strikeout, batting in the sixth spot in the order. I’m not sure why Willie didn’t give him a day off, and let Shawn Green start against Penny — on the argument that Green has a lifetime .419 average against the big righthander (seriously, someone explain why Green wasn’t in there? oh yeah, it’s not only about the numbers). It would have been an ideal way to buy Carlos a breather, without hurting his pride.

Next Game

Orlando Hernandez goes against Eric Stults in a made-for-FOX starting time of 3:55 PM. I strongly suggest you hit the mute button on your TV remote, or better yet, listen to the game on WFAN.

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Mets vs. Dodgers: Quick Preview

Game 1: Oliver Perez vs. Brad Penny

It’s time for Ollie to forget what he was doing in his last five starts to step it up. Though, if you watched those games, the statlines looked worse than he did on the mound. For whatever reason, he’s been the victim of some poor fielding (some of it on his part), bad bounces, and guys hitting good pitches. Still, we haven’t seen Ollie dominate like we know he can since … the last time he faced the Dodgers! Maybe tonight he can recapture the magic.

Meantime, Penny has returned to form after a tough July. The cocky sonofagun with the whiny mouth is putting up fantastic numbers — he’s one of the top three starters in the NL this year. He pitched a great game against the Mets in June, but was only so-so in his July start — though that was during his “slump”. The Mets would do best by being patient, and letting him beat himself; all it takes is one bad call by the ump and his head could leave the game. Note to Willie Randolph: please make sure Shawn Green is in the lineup, as he rips Penny.

Game Two: Orlando Hernandez vs. Eric Stults

El Duque has been a godsend this year, and let’s hope he continues rolling. Stults has five career MLB starts, and three of them are against the Mets. Therefore, the Wandy Rodriguez Effect no longer applies. Time to mash, boys.

Game Three: John Maine vs. David Wells

Maine finally put forth a decent outing in his last start, though it was still a bit under what we’ve come to expect from him. I’m greedy, and I want to see more from Maine, starting on Sunday.

Wells was just signed by the Dodgers and the rumor is that he’ll start on Sunday — he’s damn lucky ESPN changed the game time to 8:05 PM. Had it remained an afternoon game, under the bright sun and in the late summer heat, the Mets were guaranteed to knock out the heart attack waiting to happen by the second inning. Unfortunately for him, around here it stays humid at night — so he should be gone by the fourth instead. The only question is whether he’ll be leaving the mound on his own power, or if he’ll have to be wheeled off in a stretcher. Scary to see a guy start sweating and panting after walking three steps out of the dugout.

Bottom Line

The Mets lost two of three to the Padres, but I didn’t necessarily see failure. Rather, I saw a lot of fight in these pennant-smelling Mets, and I like it. The “never say die” attitude and dramatic endings have returned to Shea after a long hiatus. In other words, the magic is back! Whether they win this series is of no consequence, since neither the Phillies nor the Braves seem interested in gaining ground. Let’s keep seeing the Mets playing hard, being aggressive, manufacturing runs, getting good at-bats, mounting comebacks, and terrorizing opposing bullpens — eventually, with that formula, good things will happen.

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