8.6.05

Pedro Es Magnifico - Nearly No Hits Astros, 3-1



It's something you might have almost expected with Pedro taking the mound against the weak hitting Houston Astros, who had a .244 team batting average coming in, tied for last in the majors with Cleveland, and whose 439 hits and 201 runs were the lowest in the majors. The Astros are now 4-24 when their opponent scores first.

For the first six and a third innings anyway, Pedro outpitched even our own steadily increasing expectations by no-hitting the Astros until Chris Burke, a lifetime .177, going into last night's game, hit the first homerun of his career, spoiling the no-no and the shutout in one swing. Suprisingly, instead of pelting him with curses and garbage as he rounded the bases, Shea fans instead chanted Pedro's name in recognition of his near no-no.

Although disappointing that he wasn't able to complete the first no-hitter in Mets history, Pedro was nonetheless dominating, allowing only two hits all night whilst striking out 12 in pitching his second complete game for the Mets of the season and the 44th of his career. Incredibly, of the 110 pitches he threw, 80 were for strikes. And the blip in the 7th inning, when he allowed the only two hits of the game, was just that, a blip. He went on to retire the game's final seven batters, striking out the final four batters he faced.

Typical were back-to-back strikeouts of Berkman and Morgan Ensberg to open the fifth inning. He got two-strike counts on fastballs and struck out both hitters with changeups.

In addition to his pitching gem, Pedro also singled and scored the Mets' second run in the 5th inning to help give the Mets all the runs they'd need in victory. It was his second hit in as many starts

Of Martínez's 88 innings this season, he has retired the side 49 times - 55.7 percent, the best in baseball. Not sick of Pedro-by-the-numbers yet? This was his fourth double-digit strikeout game this season and the 103rd of his career, which ranks fourth behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Martínez is now 7-1 with a 2.45 earned run average this season.

*****

Pedro's wonderboy, Carlos Beltran continued his torrid hitting with Pedro on the Mound with two hits in four trips and is now 19-for-43 (.442) in games started by Martinez.

Cameron, Beltran and Cliff Floyd all had two hits in the 2-3-4 spots last night, hitting a collective 6 for 11 on the night. Kaz Matsui also had two hits and owed primarily to Pedro's dominance, Mike Piazza didn't allow a single runner to make a fool of him on the basepaths and not once did he need to unveil his blanks-firing arm.

*****

It wasn't all fun and games and happy shiny people for the Mets. Astros starter Roy Oswalt (6-7), who allowed a career-high 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings, hit Cliff Floyd in the arm with a pitch with two out in the bottom of the 7th, nearly sparking a benches-clearing brawl. Floyd, who was hit by Oswalt last season after belting a grand slam, took a step toward the mound, gesturing toward the Houston pitcher before getting hold of himself.

"I know one thing -- he hits people in situations like that," said Floyd, still pissed off more than an hour later. "It's going to get him or someone on his team hurt. ... When you do stupid stuff you take a chance of hurting someone. What if he had hit me in the elbow and ended my season?"

Yeah, especially hitting a guy like Cliff Floyd who is already as fragile as spidersilk as it is. A strong wind has been know to injure Floyd.

*****

The Mets (31-27) moved to four games over .500 for the first time this season although they remain a game behind the still front-running Washington Nats in the National League East. They have now won 8 of their last 10 games and 5 of 8 on the homestand to date.

*****

I have to admit, I'm not one of those who gets excited about the baseball draft. Too often the top picks blow it, too often the selections are meaningless and too much is there guess work. I acknowledge the efforts of MLB and all the sports media lackies who endeavor to create some sort of artificial excitement out of overdrawn coverage, but for me the MLB draft is essentially meaningelss. That it comes in mid-season is proof enough.

Nevertheless, let's all get goose pimples over the Mets first pick this season, 6 foot 7, 210 pound Mike Pelfrey, a 21-year-old right-handed starting pitcher from Wichita State, that bastion of pitching history.

Widely regarded as the most promising starting pitching prospect in the nation, Pelfrey was the third pitcher chosen in the first round, behind left-handed Ricky Romero of Cal State Fullerton and Wade Townsend, formerly of Rice.

In the Universe of Useless Stats you can note that he had an 11-2 record and 1.47 ERA in 16 games this season, his junior season, with Wichita State. He struck out 121 batters in 117 innings, allowed 24 walks and 75 hits. Hang on, let's give you everything! In 52 games at Wichita State, Pelfrey went 33-7 with a 2.18 earned run average. He had 14 complete games in three years.

I'll be impressed if he's still in the organisation in three years.

Meanwhile, keeping it All in the Family, the Astros picked ace Astros pitcher Roger Clemens' oldest son, Koby, with the 254th overall pick in yesterday's Major League Baseball Draft.

*****

More interesting was that the Mets signed righty reliever Danny Graves yesterday.

Graves was released by the Reds for making some obscene gesture to the fans after saving 10 games for the Reds already this season. How he did that with an ERA of 7.36 in 20 appearances is beyond me but he will be the Mets de-facto set up man for Bradon Looper.

*****

On the menu tonight is filet of Zambrano who pitches against righty Brandon Backe,(5-3, 4.54).

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