31.8.05

Half Game Away: What A Difference A Year Makes

"We've got a lot of young guys on that field. On the positive side of it, they don't really understand what's at stake." - Cliff Floyd, finger on the pulse of the Mets success.

Isn't it nice when someone else's bullpen blows it for the night?



Just listen to the disgust from Philly's Daily News in the aftermath:

"As they entered their 22-game stretch against playoff contenders, the Phillies needed to be sharp in every aspect. They knew this.

They were anything but...The Phillies stranded two runners in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. That is their chronic problem. Only the Diamondbacks have stranded more runners."


Come from behind, 6-4 victory for the Mets. It isn't hard to imagine the shoe being on the other foot.


(Charlie Manuel lets Fieldin Culbreth have it over Culbreth's call of Kenny Lofton out at homeplate, who tried to score on Chase Utley's single in the fifth inning. Manuel was ejected from the game by Culbreth.)

I wondered if it could have gone the other way. In fact, I thought about this after Cliff Floyd struck out in the 7th with the bases nearly loaded, down 4-2, the whim of the baseball gods or the cumulative synergy of the season reigning down upon the field like an early evening thundershower. I thought about it early in the game when Seo had appeared to lose his mystical, magical touch.

I thought about Carlos Beltran stepping up - his furious performance when it counted last season almost propelled the Astros to the World Series and here he was in the opening game of the Mets biggest stretch of games all season, going 3 for 3, walking, driving in a run with a single, driving a homerun, throwing out a runner at the plate. Quality.

And yet more importantly, fueling this sudden run we have been waiting for all season was once again, a backup: Ramon Castro, replacing the almost-forgotten Mike Piazza hits the three-run homer that seals it for the Mets and you recall that this is what fuels the historical sagas of sports: the nowhere men popping up into the spotlight to suddenly become the somewhere men. Victor Diaz, Jae Seo, Mike Jacobs, Ramon Castro, SeƱor Hernandez (can we honestly say we expected this kind of season from him to anchor the flimsy bullpen?) and the multitude of contributions from our unsung bench, the best pinch hitters in baseball.

And yet, the Mets, 18-4 in their home openers so perhaps we shouldn't allow ourselves to get into too much of a tizzy about this opening victory. There are still two more against these resiliant Phillies and then the deadly road trip.

But for a night anyway, we can rejoice that it was not our bullpen that failed tonight, it was theirs and although you can view success from the point of the winners, you must also give thought to the success gained because of the failure of the others.

*****

We could have all been writing about Seo allowing more runs in the first 1 2/3 innings - four - than he had in his last five big-league starts combined.

We could have all been writing about Floyd's big K in the 7th that gutted what seemed to be the rally we were waiting for and his 0 for 4 night in general.

Instead, we can note that Reyes, Beltan, Wright, Diaz and Castro went a combined 10 for 18 at the plate, scored six times and drove in five runs collectively.

*****

The others in the wild card chase all won: The Marlins managed to beat the Cardinals to move into a tie with the Phillies for the top spot in the WC lead. The Astros beat the surging Reds and the Phillies of course, lost their 29th game to a National League East rival, the most intra-divisional losses of any team.

*****

Kudos to the NY Post for jumping on the Met bandwagon quickly with a clever headline:
Mets Celebrate Ramon Holiday.

*****

Whilst all this goes on, Mike Piazza nurses his disabled limb by giving the horns (gracias a Mets Blog) - I saw Mike Cameron in the dugout wearing his Mets jersey and rooting on the team - did anyone see Piazza out there?

I'm rather disappointed to see him busier playing playing rock critic diva than playing catcher and hitting homers for the Mets but I guess that's what the career has boiled down towards the end. He's got his All-Time Homers For A Catcher record. I hope he goes to the Hall of Fame in a Marlins cap. Bitter? Naah. I just can't get it out of my head that he compare meeting Rush Limbaugh to meeting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, General Douglas MacArthur and the Pope.

By the way, if you hadn't heard, busy as he is, Piazza managed to make it as the starting catcher on the All Porn Mustache Team (as did Manager Willie, cha!)

*****

The easiest preview of all for tonight's game comes from The Sports Network:

"A pair of fire-throwing righthanders will face off this evening in the Big Apple, as Philadelphia's Brett Myers and New York's Pedro Martinez will attempt to get their respective teams a leg up in the hotly contested NL wild card race.

Martinez is 1-0 over his last two starts and is working on a 12-inning scoreless streak. The 33-year-old allowed just two hits through six frames versus Arizona last Thursday, fanning six and walking four. Martinez is tops in the majors in WHIP (0.89), while ranking second in the NL in BAA (.192), third in strikeouts (182) and sixth in ERA (2.77).

Martinez has been dominant against the Phillies this season, registering a 2-0 mark with a 2.08 ERA in two starts. For his career, Martinez is 7-3 with a 2.59 ERA versus Philadelphia.

Myers is 1-0 over his last two starts, including a no-decision versus Arizona last Friday. In that game, Myers was limited to just four innings, allowing four hits and three runs while fanning and walking four. Myers was pulled early by Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel due to his ineffectiveness. The 25-year-old has still won five of his last six decisions overall.

Myers is 5-5 with a 6.19 ERA in his lifetime versus the Mets. This year, Myers is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA against New York."

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