Bye Bye Braves!

El Duque asks the question, Zito Who?

A sixth inning 7 run explosion led by a three run homer from Beltran, his second of the game and 30th of the season, and capped by El Duque's two run single up the middle (his first career RBI) that realistically deflated any miscreant hopes the Atlanta Braves might have had about continuing their 14 season streak of NL East titles as the Mets crushed their most hated rivals 11-3 at Loser Field.

And perhaps just as big a story as the crushing of the spirit of the Braves was El Duque's sterling performance in which he retired 17 in a row, allowed nil earned runs over 8 innings, no walks and 7 strikeouts and looked very cosy as a postseason solution.

Meanwhile, amid the speculative frenzy, the oft-proclaimed saviour of the Mets postseason rotation, Barry Zito was surrendering a first inning grand slam to the Blue Jays before surging back with six scoreless innings and a victory thereafter.

So forget Zito, (and the Army appears to be quite behind the times - Alyssa Milano is no longer dating him rather she now straddles Dodger pitcher Brad Penny) so perhaps our emphasis in restocking the rotation should be in swooping Penny off his feet to land Milano to Shea for once and for all.

Penny for your thoughts...

Ah but I've been seriously derailed from the topic at hand, the final shovelfuls of dirt being tossed on the grave of the Braves 2006 season.

Yes. Let's savour this moment for a few hours more. The last time the Mets came to Turner in the latter stages of the season with the weight of pressure crushing them only to respond with a pitching gem and an offensive juggernaut? It isn't that I can't remember, it is that there is no such history. Save for Saturday's game.

Not to forget before his predicted late season swoon, Paul LoDuca continues to grind away with 4 hits in for at-bats, raising his season average to .311. In addition to LoDuca, Carlos Beltran, continuing to vindicate his arrival to New York even though his road stats are much better than his Shea stats, hammered two homers and drove in 5 RBIs to put him on pace for 146 on the season. The kind of season of actually earning the millions and millions he is being paid. The kind of season that chases away boo birds like a cat among the pigeons and allows the baseball world to recognise the crown jewel in the future Mets. MVP anyone?

Not to forget the ageless ex-Brave Julio Franco stealing another base, and the relentless Endy Chavez filling in masterfully for the Xavier Experience with a pair of hits and a trio of RBIs. Chavez is hitting .326 over the last month, an unheralded yet clever offseason bargain acquisition for a mere $500,000.

So, on the heels of taking two from the Braves already and with the Braves entrenched hopelessly 14 games behind the mark, the Mets go for the meaningless sweep today, meaningless in the sense the throat has already been cut on the Braves season. A Tom Glavine gem against his former mates would be an appropriate and emphatic conclusion to the NL East race.

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