Dodgers 6 Mets 2
What began as a promising game for John Maine ended a disappointment.
Maine pitched well through the first four innings, showing excellent poise in the fourth by working out of a tough jam (men on first and third with no outs). The fifth inning, however, was not so kind.
The top of the fifth began with, of all things, a leadoff bunt single by David Wells. Right then and there I ran outside to see if there were amphibians falling from the sky. The push bunt by Wells set off an inning full of cheap bloops, seeing-eye singles, and improbable infield hits that produced two runs, putting LA up 3-2.
Meantime, the Goodyear Blimp held the Mets to two runs in five innings of work, throwing 71 curveballs mixed in with one fastball.
If the fifth inning were frustrating, the sixth was disgraceful. Maine got a quick groundout to start the inning, then seemed to get a second from James Loney, who bounced a ball to Jeff Conine at first base. However, the ball careened off Conine’s glove and toward Ruben Gotay, who made a wild throw with Maine covering; Loney was safe. It didn’t seem like too big a deal at the time, because Maine settled down to strike out Mike Lieberthal. But then came Luis Gonzalez, pinch-hitting for the blimp.
After getting ahead of Gonzo 1-2 by getting him to chase high strikes, Maine inexplicably pounded the bottom of the zone against the lowball-hitting Luis. Gonzalez fouled off five pitches and drew two balls, working the count full before drilling another low fastball over Lastings Milledge’s head and off the rightfield wall — scoring Loney easily (since the count was full and there were two out, he was running on the pitch). Why Maine didn’t elevate a pitch after the third pitch is anyone’s guess. That marathon at-bat took a toll on Maine and gave LA new life. First, Rafael Furcal singled up the middle, and then Maine was removed. Scott Blowenweis came in and proceeded to give up singles to Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp (Kemp’s was another cheap infield hit), allowing two more runs. By the time the inning ended, the Dodgers were up 6-2 and the wind had left the sails on Willie Randolph’s ship.
John Maine drilled Jeff Kent with a pitch in the fourth, causing him to leave the game. Maine’s command seemed to be off from that point on, and not sure if one had to do with the other, or if the beanball was merely a product of Maine losing his touch.
David Wright again had two hits in a game; he’s now a shade under .320. Milledge and Jose Reyes also had two hits apiece, and Reyes stole third for his 71st theft of the season.
If there was a silver lining in this contest, it was two strong innings from Guillermo Mota. Considering that he pitches so well in games that have long been decided, I think he’ll make a great mop-up man. Watch out, Aaron Sele — your two appearances per month are suddenly in jeopardy!
The Mets travel down the Jersey Turnpike to play the Phillies in a huge four-game set. Brian Lawrence takes the hill against J.D. Durbin in a 7:05 PM start.