Met Bats Plead the 5th, Fielders Flubs Earn Yankees Win Opener 5-2

Let's play the old favourite, you guess the outcome: The Scenario: The Mets can only manage three singles and a pair of doubles all night long in support of the Victor Zambrano, the man with the anarchistic arm who has more walks than strikeouts and more hit batsmen than anyone else in the league.

Bing! You guessed it! Mets lose.

It started off bad enough when The Oak Ridge Boys performed Friday's National Anthem. The Oak Ridge Boys for gawd's sake! In Queens. For all those country and western fans living there and for that matter, all three fans around the world who claim to love both country and western music AND the Mets. Oak Ridge Boyz In Da House. Will there be a more memorable moment in Shea this season?

For the first three innings anyway Zambrano looked perfectly capable, as though it was Good Victor day instead of Evil Victor day, walking only one batter and inducing the next into a double play.

Then in the 4th, he walked one, allowed an RBI double, then walked two more to load the bases with one out. This is Zambrano Time, when he starts bouncing pitches ten feet in front of the plate, or twenty feet over Piazza's head, or hitting batters. It's as though his arm takes control and says "Look here Victor, I'm in charge and if I want to throw the pitch into the stands, that's what I'm going to do!" whilst Zambrano is attached to this maniacal arm, unable to do anything in his defence.

However and miraculously so perhaps, considering Zambrano, he was then able to induce Posada to pop up to the infield and struck out Robinson Cano, (who claims he was named after Jackie Robinson but plays more like Robinson Caruso).

In the bottom half of the inning, the Mets answered right back after an error by Derek Jeter allowed David Wright to get on base so Kaz Matsui could double him home. Matsui actually made it all the way to third thanks to another Jeter miscue. However, much like the Yankees, the Mets were unable to take advantage with Zambrano popping out and Hamstring Jose performing his complicated strikeout routine for the crowd to end the inning.

It stayed 1-1 until the 6th when Zambrano allowed Hideki Matsui a leadoff single and an easy steal of second before walking A-Rod. Trouble. Another chance for the Mad Arm to go crazy. Tino Martinez grounded out to advance both runners and leave first base open for Zambrano to walk Posada to load the bases, one out all over again. The inning should have been over when Cano grounded to Matsui for what should have been an inning-ending double play but instead Matsui, OUR Matsui, not the Yankee Matsui, flubbed the ball allowing THEIR Matsui to score (ancient Japanese gesture of respect?) - then ANOTHER error, this time by Doug Mientkiewicz at first base, allowed ANOTHER Yankee to score and make it 3-1. By then, Zambrano, having thrown 108 pitches and only 56 of them for strikes, was removed and replaced with Heath Bell who came in to show him how it's done, striking out Derek Jeter and Tony Womack to end the inning without giving the infield another chance to throw the game away.

Beltran's single to score Reyes in the 7th made the game closer but in truth, that was the end of it, Zambrano keeping us on the edge of our seats and runners on the bases with six walks in five and a third innings of pitching, the infield flubbing two balls to allow to Yankee runs and then the Yankees bullpen shut us down the rest of the game.

The only other excitement came in the Yankee half of the 9th when Roberto Hernandez uncharacteristically allowed the Yankees to put some more distance between them and us with two runs on three hits and a walk in two thirds of an inning of work.

This brought in Aaron Heilman for another bullpen stint. Heilman, who pitched beautifully in relief of Kris Benson's first game back off the DL a few weeks ago, is the honorary reliever bumped as a starter in what was a 6 man rotation.

Against the bullpen trio of former Met Mike Stanton, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, the Mets were powerless, managing only one base runner in the final two innings and allowing the Yankee to breeze to their opening game winner, 5-2.

No comments: