Mets 5 Braves 4
It was a tight ballgame all night, and was a 4-4 tie going into the ninth. However, the dynamic duo of David Wright and Carlos Delgado — who were the stars all night — fittingly produced the winning run.
In that final frame, Wright smacked a one-out double, and Carlos Beltran was walked intentionally to set the stage for Delgado. Delgado — who was already 4-for-4 on the evening, kept it a perfect night and played the knight in shining armor by singling in Wright to win the ballgame.
Pedro Martinez had nothing … I mean nothing … but wiled his way to a win through wits and guile. He didn’t get the win, but he deserved it, setting down the Braves through seven frames. Yes, he gave up four runs, which isn’t magnificent, but it was the way that he “gutted” his way through the game that was so impressive — and he kept the Mets in the game longer than anyone could have expected. His assortment of slowballs and benders kept the Braves batters off balance, and every once in a while he’d keep ’em honest with an 89-MPH heater that looked like 99 after all the junk. The man remains an artist.
Meantime, the Mets offense was stymied by Mike Hampton, who allowed only three runs in six innings. I think the batters, like me, were so stunned to see him participating in a Major League game, their concentration was thrown off. Hampton threw 100 pitches and didn’t even sprain an eyelash.
Two men who DID assert themselves offensively were Carlos Delgado and David Wright, who provided all the scoring. Delgado was a perfect 5-for-5, driving in three runs, including the winning one (driving in Wright) on a clutch single in the ninth. In fact, you could argue that Delgado drove in the tying run — his infield single in the seventh was speared by Martin Prado, but thrown away, allowing Nick Evans to score the Mets’ fourth run. Wright was less than perfect — “only” 3-for-4 — including a solo homer, two doubles, and three runs scored.
Luis Ayala got the last four outs to pick up his first win as a Met.
In truth, the Mets were kind of lucky in this game. Firstly, the historically strong fundamentally Braves made several mistakes on both defense and offense, many of which either led to runs for the Mets or prevented the Braves from scoring. Secondly, the Mets were helped by a botched out call in the top of the 9th that ended the inning. Carlos Delgado screened the first base umpire, who called Gregor Blanco out on a play in which he was clearly safe. It was the third out of the inning and it stranded Martin Prado on third base. Ironically, Delgado’s two most clutch hits could have been called errors. We already pointed out the one thrown away by Prado that tied the game. Delgado’s game-winning hit was actually a fly ball that bounced out of Omar Infante’s glove in left field (looked like he lost the ball in the lights). That’s OK — the Mets had their share of bad luck in the first half of this season … it’s nice to see things balancing out.
Fernando Tatis just missed a three-run homer in the seventh that would have wrapped up the game, but his fly ball was caught at the leftfield wall by Omar Infante.
Ramon Castro and Jose Reyes pulled off a brilliant double play in the eighth on a bunt in front of home plate, each throwing bullets. I think that DP took the air out of Atlanta — a team that in past years would have done a much better job of executing.
Luis Ayala pitched another effective outing, further making me look like an idiot. I would very much like him to continue getting outs, and hope he does. I’m a bit concerned about how many of his pitches finish high in the strike zone — especially considering he’s a sinkerball pitcher. What I do like is his previous experience pitching in the late innings of tight ballgames.
Julian Tavarez remains the ugliest active MLB player.
When he was a Mets announcer, I absolutely, positively, could not stomach listening to Tom Seaver. At the same time, I respected his achievements and, moreso, his intense study and knowledge of the art of pitching (I give pitching lessons, and look to Seaver as the IDEAL when it comes to mechanics and approach). So when he joined Gary, Keith, and Ron during the game, it was an extremely enlightening and enjoyable inning. I particularly appreciated his take on pitch counts — maybe because I share his opinion. If you missed it, Seaver said, in a nutshell, that everyone is different, and therefore everyone should have different limits — it makes no sense to have a “blanket” limit that applies to all pitchers. Personally, I think 100 pitches should be the MINIMUM limit, not maximum. If a pitcher has sound mechanics, is in shape, and throws a minimum of damaging pitches (i.e., sliders), then he should be allowed to go to 130-135 or more in an outing. Al Leiter went to 140-150 all the time and had no arm problems in the latter part of his career.
Did anyone else laugh during SNY’s Wheelhouse, when the usually elegant-speaking Brian Custer asked Mike Pelfrey, “get real with me here, Mike, were you trippin’ when Jerry Manuel said you might be used as a closer?” Jerry’s “goin gangsta” routine seems to have affected Custer just a little.
Mets start a new series on Friday night, hosting the Houston Astros for a three-game set. The opener will be a battle of the aces – Johan Santana vs. Roy Oswalt. Game time is 7:10 pm.
I’ll be at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant as of 6pm to do the “Live From Mickey Mantle’s” radio show. Come on by and I’ll buy you a refreshing beverage.