Who's The Daddy Of The National League? Pedro Pitches Mets Past D'Backs 6-1

"He's one of the fiercest competitors you'll ever see. He's incredibly special. He's Pedro. One of those people you know by one name. Pedro, Elvis, Bruce, Ali..." - Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson disseminating the growing legend of Pedro Martinez.

It's nice having an ace. For years we've survived on a bland diet of banality from the likes of the Al Leiters, Tom Glavines, Pedro Estacios, Kevin Appiers, Glendon Rusch's, Rick Reeds of the world, and now we stand at the buffet of Pedro where one heaping dollop of great pitching follows another. We finally have a pitcher whom the rest of the league follows, covets and even admires.

And we can say we have something that the Red Sox and Yankees both wish they had right now: a dependable ace to steer them through the choppy waters of an inconsistent season.

Last night with the first series of a 12 game homestand hanging in the balance, Pedro once again put on a performance worthy of all the hype his signing attracted: 8 innings, 101 pitches, 79 for strikes, 5 hits, one run and 9 strikeouts. He even withstood an incomprehensible sprinkler system drenching in the first inning which he took in typical Pedro fashion, dancing and slurping it up for the fans and his mates, the acts of a man who remembers the boy sitting under mango tree without 50 cents to pay for the bus before he goes out and tosses another gem. For good measure, he even collected his first hit since Sept. 4, 1997, (when he tripled for Montreal off Philadelphia's Matt Beech), snapping a 0-for-58 skid with a single.

As has been his habit since joining the Mets, the other annointed one, Carlos Beltran, saved the homers in his bat for Pedro, hitting one in the 4th inning off Estes to tie the score, his 7th homer of the season, ALL of which have come in a game Pedro was pitching. In fact, Beltran is hitting .436 (17-for-39) in games Pedro pitches in. And isn't it ironic, the two coverboys of the New Mets taking so many games by the throat and leading the Mets beyond the stasis of their traditional mediciocrity?

After a second inning homer by Tony Clark gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead, the Mets, as they always seem to do when Pedro surrenders an early run or two, stormed back to give him a lead to hold.

In the 4th, after a combination of errors, walks, doubles, singles and Beltran's early homer, the Mets scored 3 runs, enough of a cushion for the rest for the rest of the game as it turned out. Matsui's two-run double in the 6th sealed it for certain and allowed me to go to bed at 3 in the morning with the belief that not even the bullpen would blow a 6-1 lead.

And they didn't. Of course, Koo, our only lefty in the pen, the Krazy Korean who has pitched so poorly his last several outings, is on the DL. It is a relief to note there was a reason for the last two games he's blown for the Mets; a bruised left rotator cuff which happened all the way back against the Yankees, suffered during his nearly-infamous head-first slide at home which he never told them about, presumbably because he is the stoic type, not a Piazza sort who will beg out of a game at the first twinge of fatigue or discomfort or perhaps just because there aren't enough Korean translators on the team - in any event, Koo has been replaced by another left-hander, Royce Ring called up to the mothership from Norfolk which, if you've ever been in Norfolk before, must have been a massive relief to Royce, whether for the protypical cup of coffee or an entire Starbucks franchise. We could use another lefty out of the pen, even when Koo returns.

In any case, no lefty was needed. Manger Willie decided to give Aaron Heilman a little work instead. Heilman, who hasn't allowed any of his eight inherited runners to score since coming out of the bullpen instead of starting, allowed consecutive singles to Troy Glaus and Shawn Green after striking out Luis Gonzalez but escaped the top of the 9th without further incident, setting the Met victory in stone as well as the series win, their second straight against a winning team.

This victory doesn't define the season but it is a smidgeon of momentum for the rest of the homestand and might possibly kick-off, considering the competition coming up on the homestand in the form of the Giants and weak-hitting Astros before the "now we're LA now we're Anaheim" Angels, a prolonged stretch of success to keep us in the NL East race. As it stands now, with the Braves having lost again to the Nats and the Marlins and Phillies both keeping pace, the Mets are a mere game and a half out of first place.


Tonight they begin a three game series against the Barry Bonds-less San Francisco Giants with Tom Glavine 3-5 5.05 taking the mound to face the relatively unheralded Noah Lowry (2-5 5.37) - Glavine has pitched well enough in his last four starts giving us hints and indications that perhaps he's mastered himself enough not to be an embrassment. He will rarily if ever have brilliant outings again (suffering from Al Leiter Disease, it appears) but he historically, he's pitched well against the Giants, allowing only one run over 15 1/3 innings in two victories over the last three years without a loss.

The scouting report on Lowry notes he "is now in a good groove, sporting a 1.93 ERA over his last two outings and going seven innings each time. The second-year star's vaunted changeup had been up in the zone and hitters were keying on other pitches, but he's been sharper lately."

The rest of the series will likely see Brett Tomko, RHP (4-7, 4.14) pitching against Ishii (1-3, 4.79), fresh off his first victory as a Met and then the once-formidable now predictably disabled Jason Schmidt (remember how many games he pitched last season well over 110 pitches?) against our hopeful second ace-in-the-making, Kris Benson.

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