Mets 7 Pirates 4
So far, the Mets are making the most of the “soft” part of their schedule.
Pedro Martinez threw seven strong innings in leading the Mets to their fifth straight victory, and his fourth win of the year. Petey allowed only one run in a 95-pitch effort, scattering eight hits, walking one, and striking out four.
While Martinez was mowing down the Bucs, the bats were battering starter and loser Zach Duke. Jose Reyes led off the game with a homerun, then tripled and scored in the second as the Mets jumped out to a four-nothing lead. They tacked on another two in the sixth on a two-run blast by Ramon Castro, and closed their effort when Daniel Murphy forced home a run with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth.
However, the game wasn’t exactly in the bag.
Leading 7-1 going into the ninth, Mets manager Jerry Manuel finally had what he believed was the exact, perfect situation to use the well-rested Eddie Kunz. Kunz responded by allowing two singles and a double, hitting a batter, and uncorking a wild pitch with a man on third. By the time he was removed, the Pirates had pulled to within three, setting up a save situation for Joe Smith.
But Smith gave up a single, so Manuel had to replace him with Pedro Feliciano, who induced a flyout and a grounder to end the game and earn the save.
Brian Stokes pitched a scoreless eighth in his first setup situation. It’s only a matter of hours before every shortsighted fan and pundit start hailing him as the Mets’ bullpen savior, and wondering aloud why he isn’t given save chances while Billy Wagner remains on the DL.
Carlos Beltran roped an RBI double and Fernando Tatis singled him in for the other two runs scored in the first.
I wonder if Kunz was so awful because he hadn’t pitched in six days? Hmm … reminds me a LOT of how another manager used to handle Aaron Sele (among others). Since Kunz relies on a heavy sinker and control, it was no surprise he crapped the bed. You can’t just bury a guy for a week and expect him to be sharp — just like you can’t expect a guy to pitch 5 days out of seven and not get worn out. It’s called “bullpen management”, and it’s a delicate balance.
Speaking of the bullpen, I will continue to harp on my brilliant strategy of scoring lots of runs while Wags is out, to provide enough cushion at the end of the game so that it doesn’t matter who is pitching the final two innings.
The Mets go for six in a row when they face the Buccos at 1:35 pm on Sunday afternoon. Johan Santana faces the surprising Jeff Karstens.