Braves 7 Mets 4
If the Mets played high school rules — seven-inning games — they’d have this NL East title wrapped up. Unfortunately, the games in MLB go nine, which means that every contest is a crapshoot.
Oliver Perez spun seven stellar frames, allowing only two runs on four hits and three walks, striking out 8, and left the game with a two run lead. From this point of view, he wasn’t dominating, but he pitched well enough to win. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
Because for the second time in two days, the Mets bullpen blew the game and wasted a valiant effort from the starting pitcher. Once Oliver exited, Scott Schoeneweis and Joe Smith squeaked through a stressful eighth, then handed the game over to “closer” Luis Ayala. Ayala, who had converted seven saves in eight opportunities, did not gain an eighth. In fact, he did not retire a batter, allowing three hits, the third a three-run homer that put the Braves ahead 5-4. Ayala was replaced by Pedro Feliciano, who helped the Braves ignite a second rally in the inning by giving up two hits and two walks. Brian Stokes was brought in to throw more gas on the fire, and by the time the top of the ninth inning closed, it was 7-4 Braves.
The Mets were unable to come back from the three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, and ended the game with the tying run at the plate.
Former Met Jorge Julio earned his second victory of the season in relief for the Bravos.
David Wright went 4-for-5 with 2 homers and 3 RBI. Carlos Delgado had three hits but neither a run nor a run driven in. No one else in the lineup did anything of consequence, as the offense stranded a dozen runners.
Speaking of Wright, did anyone else notice his slight change in approach? Over a week ago I mentioned that he was over-rotating during his stride, and no longer doing his “toe-tap”. In this game, however, the stride, toe-tap, and waiting back returned, and he wasn’t “winding up” that front shoulder. The result? Four hits including two homers, and one of those blasts going to the opposite field. David, don’t go changin’ — we love you just the way you are!
Strange to see the same relief pitchers two days in a row, particularly after getting two days off and having 18 pitchers on the roster. It’s sort of like deja vu, like we’ve seen this type of (mis)management before, at a similar time of year.
Though, I find Jerry Manuel’s relief strategy very smart — borderline genius, in fact. If you haven’t noticed, he puts a pitcher in until that pitcher gives up a run, and then replaces him with someone else. That pitcher remains in the game until he gives up a run, and so on. If a pitcher doesn’t give up a run at all, then he pitches again, either the next inning or the next day. Manuel is really “reinventing” the bullpen by committee, if you ask me.
Corky Miller, batting .086 on the season, drove a 1-2 pitch from Brian Stokes to center for a sac fly to drive in the Braves’ seventh run of the game.
The Phillies won both ends of their doubleheader, and now sit one game behind in the standings. Thank goodness Jon Niese pulled that amazing performance out of his keister, or the Mets would be in deep doo-doo right now.
The Mets play another “easy” team, the Nationals, in a four-game series in Washington. Pedro Martinez faces John Lannan in the opener. I’m nervous.
If you care, the Phillies have Monday off, then face the Braves, who will be throwing James Parr (who?) and Jo-Jo Reyes in two of the three games. Again, I’m nervous.