Archive: August 25th, 2007

Mets Game 128: Win Over Dodgers

Mets 4 Dodgers 3

This was a great win on many levels. First, winning a one-run game is always a lift. Second, winning a series is the general goal, and the series has now been won. Third, the usually demanding and critical New York crowd did an about-face for change, choosing to cheer rather than boo a player who has been remarkably unproductive of late.

The turning point in the game, and one of the most touching and fascinating moments I’ve witnessed in New York sports in a long time, came in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and men on second and third, lefty starter Eric Stults intentionally walked Jeff Conine to load the bases for Carlos Delgado, who was oh for his last eighteen. As Delgado walked to the batters box, the Shea Stadium crowd rose to its feet and began cheering heartily for the struggling slugger. By the time he took his stance, a stadium-wide standing ovation was taking place, cheering him on without any prompt nor provocation — it was a completely impulsive and spontaneous action that ripped through the park. Perhaps moved by the support, Delgado jumped on the first pitch and drove it into centerfield for a two-run single, putting the Mets up 3-zip. Needless to say, the fans remained on their feet cheering. It couldn’t have been better scripted by Hollywood.

Not to be overlooked was the performance of Orlando Hernandez, who further solidified his position as the Mets’ ace, allowing no runs and only two hits through the first six innings. He finally cracked with two outs in the seventh, allowing back to back solo homers to fellow 40-something Luis Gonzalez and youngster Russell Martin. El Duque settled down to strike out Matt Kemp looking to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Jeff Conine blasted a two-out double off the leftfield wall with David Wright running on the pitch to get back an insurance run, making the score 4-2.

Pedro Feliciano came on in relief in the top of the eighth, and allowed a Shea Hillenbrand fly ball to rightfield that Lastings Milledge misplayed into a triple. It wasn’t so bad that Millz misjudged the ball and made an ill-advised dive, but he then lollygagged after the ball after it rolled behind him, giving Hillenbrand third base. Had he run hard after the ball, Hillenbrand most likely would have stopped at second. Less than a minute later, Hillenbrand scored on a groundout to Delgado.

With Billy Wagner going through a dead arm period, Willie Randolph called on Aaron Heilman to close out the game. Heilman gave up a one-out single to Jeff Kent, but ended the game by inducing his first double play in nine years and notching his first save since 2005.

Notes

El Duque finished with 7 innings pitched, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7.

Early in the game, Russell Martin tried to lean into an inside curveball, which prompted El Duque to say something to both Martin and the home plate umpire. Martin fired back with a comment, and the entire Mets infield gathered around the mound to calm down Hernandez. Not sure what was said, but it got El Duque fired up.

David Wright went 2-for-2 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored, and an RBI. He’s now batting .316 and emerging as an MVP candidate.

Carlos Beltran remained hot as well, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.

Jose Reyes did not have a hit but stole his 70th base.

A wonderful thing to see from the Mets lately, and something they exhibited again in this game, is their ability to immediately answer the opposition’s scoring with runs of their own.

Fox Complaints

The FOX broadcast was insufferable, as usual. The one thing they do that’s occasionally mildly entertaining is having a Met give the opening lineup (I remember Paul LoDuca doing a hysterical bit one time) — but they screwed that up too, having Sean Landeta tell us the lineup. His schtick was was slightly drier than a 1990 Barolo.

But of course we had the comic relief of Tim McCarver regale us with his pearls of wisdom. For example:

– when talking about El Duque’s age: “When Hernandez started his career with the Yankees, he was forty years older than the age on his birth certificate …”

– when referring to Jose Reyes: “he’s the catalytic converter to the Mets’ machine …” Huh? I guess he wanted to refer to Reyes as a catalyst, and refer to the Mets as an engine? (FYI, a catalytic converter in an automobile actually impedes an engine’s performance, rather than enhance it, so it was a bad metaphor all around.)

Next Game

The series finale takes place at 8:05 PM and will be carried by ESPN (fire Joe Morgan!). John Maine will be on the mound for the Mets at the start of the game and in the bottom of the first, David Wells will attempt to climb out of the visitor’s dugout without suffering a heart attack.

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Mets Lunch Box

Mets LunchboxWith the kids going back to school, I found a few cool lunch boxes with the Mets logo. Just go to the Mets Store (link is on the top of the page) and click on Lunch Boxes.

If you’re the type who does the tailgate thing, or simply want to announce your fandom at a Labor Day barbecue, there is also a selection of Mets coolers in that section. Two in particular you have to at least check out — one is a rolling cooler that holds a case of beer (or other canned beverages), and the other is an inflatable floating Mets cooler for the pool. Talk about something for the Mets fan who has everything! Now you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your raft to get a cool drink while floating around the pool — this thing looks kind of like a floating tophat, has 32 quarts of space for cans, bottles, and food, and even includes cup holders around the rim. Nuts!

As I find more fun Mets stuff I’ll post it. I’m starting to look for cool weather gear in anticipation of October games. If you see any unusual or favorite Mets items — anything at all — drop me an email and I’ll add it to the store.

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Questions for Willie

Though the Mets beat the Dodgers on Friday, there are still some questions for Willie Randolph.

  1. Why was there a double steal attempt in the first inning, with Ruben Gotay as the lead runner, one out, and Moises Alou at the plate? Was Willie working against Alou’s penchant for grounding into double plays this year? Did Gotay go on his own (not likely)? I’m loving the Mets’ recent style of running wild on the bases, but there has to be some intelligence. Penny is a guy who gets the ball to the plate in 1.3-1.5 seconds, Russell Martin is a catcher with a gun, and Gotay has decent speed, but not great speed. Personally, the only guy I send in that situation is Reyes, or possibly Beltran.
  2. Why, in the fourth inning with none out and men on first and second, does #8 batter Mike DiFelice sacrifice, setting up the runners for Oliver Perez? Especially with DiFelice swinging a pretty decent bat lately. Further, Penny was was struggling with the strike zone, having walked both Carlos Delgado and Lastings Milledge. Let Penny struggle and beat himself, don’t give him outs. That one was a real head-scratcher.
  3. Against Cy Young candidate Brad Penny, why isn’t Shawn Green in the lineup? Green has a career .419 average against Penny. .419! The rest of MLB is batting around .240 against him. If you want Milledge in the lineup to get exposure to tough righties, that’s fine — put Green at first and give Delgado a breather. A week ago Randolph insisted that Milledge did not win the RF job, and that Green would get worked into the lineup according to “matchups”. I guess by “matchups” he wasn’t talking about putting Green up against pitchers he owns.

Secret to Ollie’s Success

Why did Oliver Perez lose 3-5 MPH of velocity, and his command, for a few starts, then suddenly regain it last night against LA? Some might suggest he was having a “dead arm” period. I have a better explanation. After taking another look at his previous starts and comparing them to his start against the Dodgers on Friday night, there was one glaring difference in his mechanics: his head. When Ollie struggles, his head is all over the place, and his body out of control, after he releases the ball; sometimes, he’s looking at David Wright immediately after releasing the ball. On Friday night, however, after nearly every pitch, Ollie’s eyes and head were fixated on the catcher’s target — throughout his follow-through. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that The Jacket found something in Ollie’s mechanics, had Perez focus on it, and as a result had his good command and velocity back. This is good news — Rick Peterson may have found the key to unlock his greatness.


Endy’s In — Who Goes?

Endy Chavez is reportedly returning to the Mets’ roster any day. I’m hoping it’s due to some kind of rule pertaining to the disabled list, because it would make a heckuva lot more sense to wait until September 1. First of all, the Mets aren’t desperate for his services — Milledge is entrenched as a starter, and Marlon Anderson has filled in heroically in the fourth outfielder spot. Plus, there’s still Shawn Green hanging around. If Chavez is added to the 25-man, who gets dropped? Milledge has options, but you can’t demote him the way he’s been playing. Has Green’s lack of playing time been a precursor to an outright release? The only other person I can see as a candidate for removal is Aaron Sele.

Personally, I’m hoping it’s Sele that goes, because if it’s not then it’s likely to be Green — who can be very helpful off the bench down the stretch and in the postseason. Yes, he’s a shell of his former self, but he’s still hitting over .270, and has been remarkably successful against the best pitchers in the NL.

Time will tell.


Is Wickman an Option?

You may have already heard that the Braves have DFA’s their closer Bob Wickman. Strange, considering the chaos existing in their bullpen. However, he voiced some issues about being put into non-save situations, and Bobby Cox is intolerant of selfishness. With the Mets’ recent relief woes, of course the question is, should they get Wickman?

Yes, the guy is scary, but he’s like Inspector Clouseau — somehow, some way, he bumbles into saves seemingly by accident. Maybe he be similarly effective in a setup or middle relief role. Certainly he can’t be worse than what Guillermo Mota has shown lately.

However, there is little to no chance of the Mets obtaining Wickman. First of all, the Mets probably don’t see him as a better option than Mota — mostly because the organization is very high on Mota’s stuff, and thinks he can eventually “figure it out”. Secondly, why would the Mets bring in a guy into the clubhouse who is leaving his last club because of selfishness? If he wasn’t happy in non-save situations with the Braves, why would he be happy in a secondary role with the Mets? Finally, it’s doubtful the Mets and Braves would get together to make a trade — and more doubtful that Wickman will pass through the rest of the league before the Mets can claim him.

There is a possibility that Wickman will wind up in New York — but not with the Mets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wickman return to the Yankees, and Kyle Farnsworth return to Atlanta.

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