13.4.06

Mets Just Play Ball And Play It Well

"Just Play Ball..." immortal words from baseball's vice president Bob Watson to the Mets and Nats prior to tonight's game...

After all the talk of the Milagro Beanball Wars, the official talking-to by MLB parents to both teams, fittingly, the game boiled down in essence to Pedro against Jose Guillen, bases loaded, one out with Pedro clinging to a 3-1 lead in the 6th inning.


(Toe? What Toe? Pedro making a watered-down version of the infamous Pedro pitching face as he pitches the Mets to victory...)

And rather than wreaking sweet vengeance upon Pedro, after digging in knowing that with the bases jacked nary a fortuitous HBP was forthcoming, Guillen grounded a 91 mph Pedro fastball into a 6-4-3 double play, killing the Nats aborted rally, snuffing out Nat hopes, propelling the Mets to their 5th victory in a row and 6th in their first 7 games.

It isn't very hard to win five in a row when everything is falling your way. When your starting pitching are suddenly all aces (the Mets have allowed the lowest number of runs in baseball), the heart of the batting order hits like Murderer's Row and you open your season facing the likes of the Nats and Marlins over your first 7 games, well, as Branch Rickey used to say, luck is the residue of design. This is a precision-engineered beginning.

Pedro deservedly won the 199th game of his career last night with 7 innings of well-rewarded precision, retiring the first 10 in a row, allowing mere three hits and a run in the highly anticipated rematch with the Nats following the near-riot after Pedro hit Nat batters three times in his last start. And yes, Pedro was hitless tonight - not a single Nat was scratched by Pedro pitches and further, Pedro failed to get a hit himself in two official at-bats, dropping the starting pitching batting average to .478 although it should be noted he did manage a walk.

The Mets bats continued their torrid streak as the heart of the order, Beltran (.292), Delgado (.357) and David Wright (.444) each had two hits and accounted in some way for all three of the Mets runs: Beltran and Wright scoring a run apiece whilst Beltran and Delgado each driving in a run. Jose Reyes had "only" a hit in 5 at-bats but that doesn't account for his near-beheading of Nats starter Tony Armas Jr in the second inning with two men on that could have been another hit and perhaps another ribby and a pitching scalp for his collection.

As for the bullpen, Heilman earned his 3rd "hold", allowing a hit in one inning and dropping his ERA to 1.80. Billy Wagner continued his streak of failing to put down one flawless closing inning, allowing one hit but no runs to earn gain his 2nd save of the season and coincidentally lowering his ERA to 1.80 as well.

Better news still as the Mets head into an effort to complete the sweep tomorrow against the Nats is that their NL East opponents continue to flounder. The Nats, as we know, have already lost 4 of 5 against the Mets alone and still have a better record than the miserable Marlins who are now 1-6. The Phillies and Braves, which I am listening to now as I type, are both floundering; the Phillies have won a single game all season and the Braves are struggling to stay at .500. (Going into the bottom of the 9th, the Braves are losing, 7-5, heehee, hoho, haha...) If the Braves lose, the Mets will increase their lead in the NL East to a full three game lead, the largest in any division in baseball.

(PS-It's official, Phillies beat Braves, 7-5...)

(PSS-Rumours swirling that the Marlins are about the complete their "housekeeping" by unloading Miguel Cabrera and D Train and further delete the NL East gene pool...)

*****

Tomorrow, the infamous Victor Zambrano will perform a little voodoo on the Mets starting streak by making his first start of 2006 against the Nats and Livan Hernandez.

2 comments:

crooks banza said...

What gives? No props for Andy Hernandez for that righteous DP pivot in a clutch spot?

Jaap said...

Well crooks, with so much good and so little time to write it, some unfortunate stars get left by the wayside in the blinding phantasm of Met righteousness. Nonetheless, SeƱor Hernandez, although a saviour in the field, will get his due props once his batting average tips the .200 mark...but sweet it was indeed.