Mets 6 Cubs 2
The Cubs offered the Mets an easy win, and Johan Santana took advantage.
Santana breezed through a Cubs lineup devoid of regulars Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto, allowing just two runs on seven hits through eight innings and 125 pitches. He struck out ten and also had a key broken-bat hit in the fifth that led to two Mets runs.
Santana’s strange single helped the Mets tie the game two-all, and the rest of the lineup scorched Cubs reliever Chad Gaudin for four runs one inning later. The key blow came off the bat of Jose Reyes, who cleared the bases with a bases-loaded triple — his 200th hit of the season.
Strange not to see Jose Reyes running on contact from third in the sixth inning with one out, Luis Castillo at the plate, and a four-run lead. With that kind of cushion, you have the luxury of being overly aggressive. As it turned out, Castillo bounced the ball to Mark DeRosa, and Reyes would have scored easily. Instead he was stranded after David Wright struck out to end the inning. In the end, the run didn’t matter, but still it was a situation that called for aggressiveness, and instead the Mets were passive. At this time of year, with so much at stake, I’d be leaning toward the aggressive side whenever possible.
David Wright had two hits and two RBI. For all the criticism he gets, Wright is hitting .300
Speaking of lack of aggressiveness, some funny quotes by Keith Hernandez in the fifth, regarding Jerry Manuel: “… he’s unpredictable, and he’s hit and run a lot since taking over …”
Actually, Keith, he’s remarkably predictable — you could set a watch by his managerial moves. And as far as the hit and run, no, actually, the Mets run it much LESS often since Jerry took over. It only seems more often because it’s so rare, you notice it. But we’ll excuse Keith — he also thinks the Mets have been stealing more bases since Manuel took over, while the numbers unabashedly prove otherwise. For example, did you know the Mets have stolen all of 12 bases this month? I’m really not understanding where Keith gets this notion of the Mets being “much more aggressive under Manuel” … if anything, JM leans toward the safe / conservative side of baseball.
SNY displayed a line of stats showing how the Mets relievers do not do well against opposite-hitting batters (i.e., lefties vs. righties and vice-versa). This was used as the explanation for why Jerry Manuel “needs” to use so many relievers every game, and work so hard on “matchups”. Well, here’s my theory: if you don’t give a guy a chance to face many opposite-hand hitters, and tell him he’s a specialist, he’ll turn into a specialist. I would have been more curious to see the actual number of at-bats, and the stats month-by-month. I have a funny feeling that these “specialists” were the product of nurture, rather than nature. This situation was created, and remarkably, all the “experts” are knocking their hands against their heads wondering how this happened. Is everyone else really that inattentive?
I’d love to be Luis Ayala’s agent right now … he is the king of the “up-by-three-plus-runs” save. All these easy saves will be wonderful artillery when Ayala goes for a new contract / arbitration this winter.
With Sean Marshall on the mound, Henry Blanco behind the plate, Jason Marquis’ bat on the bench, and a guy named Casey something at third base, the Cubs were clearly giving this game away against Johan Santana. If the Mets lost this one, I might have begun to get concerned. However, since they won, and the Brewers remain a motherless child waiting to be eliminated, I am confident the Mets will cruise into the postseason via the wild card.
The Mets will need an acelike performance from Oliver Perez as he faces Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano in another 7:10 pm start on Wednesday. Ollie’s been remarkably focused and effective in “big” games, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 7- or 8-inning gem from him. For Zambrano, it’s a tune up for the postseason, so I’m liking the Mets’ chances.