Mets 4 Nationals 3
The Mets won … but barely.
Once again, Johan Santana was very good, allowing three runs in seven strong innings. Finally, he was handed a “W”, as this time the Mets bullpen held down the fort.
In stark contrast to their performances of the last few days, Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano delivered six outs without allowing a run, saving Santana’s gem.
Offensively, the Mets were underwhelming, but good enough. Carlos Delgado opened the scoring with a two-run single in the first, Carlos Beltran drove home David Wright with a double in the third, and Damion Easley pushed home the Mets’ fourth run with a clutch hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Beltran finally did something of substance, going 3-for-4. Now would be a GREAT time for him to break out and go on one of his six-week hot streaks.
David Wright had two hits and scored two runs, but will continue to get lambasted by the pundits for not producing enough. His .387 OBP, .911 OPS, and 93 RBI (2nd best in the NL) are viewed as “underachieving”. Huh.
Jose Reyes had two hits and stole his 40th base. He leads the NL in hits (153) and is second in stolen bases to Willy Taveras’ 51. Reyes, of course, is “overrated”.
The “jenius” of Jerry Manuel, or, “how to think yourself out of a rally”: let’s pinch-hit for Ramon Castro, who’s hitting .339 with runners on base, because he’s a righty and the pitcher is a righty … never mind that righties hit Saul Rivera 30 points higher than lefties.
Which in turn sets up a situation where your best option to pinch-hit for Johan Santana is Brian Schneider. First, are you SURE you want to remove Johan, at 94 pitches, in the top of the 8th of a game he’s pitching well, knowing you have no closer and no reliable setup man? Second, even if you have decided Johan will not throw another pitch, do you really believe Schneider is a better hitter than Santana? This is the same Schneider who in 200 more at-bats has only 2 more doubles than Santana.
As it turned out, the nonsensical moves of the 8th inning had no bearing on the outcome of the game. Further, we can thank Manuel for the bullpen’s spotless performance in this game. After all, Keith Hernandez suggested that Jerry “must have told the relievers that they need to throw strikes”. (Pardon me while I throw up in my mouth.)
Annoying SNY cheerleading aside, this was a nice win. Glad to see it IS possible to win games without a closer. That said — Billy, get back soon, please!
Jerry Manuel’s Mets face the Nationals again on Wednesday at 7:10 pm. Jerry will send John Maine to the mound against Jason Bergmann.