Mets Playing For The Pennant!

So now there is only one New York team left in the postseason.

Shawn Green, with 3 hits and 2 RBIs at his former stadium, led attack

The Mets knew with Steve Trachsel taking the hill for them in Game Three of the NLDS they were going to have to score early and score alot if they were to hold the momentum.

The problem was of course, that facing Trachsel and the Mets lineup was going to be Hall of Fame shoo-in Greg Maddux.

Hey auld man, wanna play two tonight?

"What we need out of Greg (today) is exactly what he's going to give us," Dodgers' meat head manager, Grady Little confidently swooned before last night's game. "It could (be) 60 pitches in the fifth inning. It could (be) 80 pitches after eight. ... We are confident in the fact that whatever he gives us out there is going to be the very best he can give us for as long as he can."

OR, it could be...23 pitches in the first inning alone; five consecutive singles with David Wright, Cliff Floyd and Green driving in runs to get the Mets off to the flying start they all knew they needed, a 3-0 lead.

And then it was time to remind everyone that Maddux, Hall of Famer or not, had a 7.36 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Mets this season.

Of course any game with two former Cubs appearing as the starting pitchers is bound to be a real skull rattler and no one believed the lead would hold up very long.

Shockingly, Trachsel wormed and weedled his way through first two innings without surrendering a run.

But the Mets could not rely on the unlikely gift of scoreless Trachsel innings strung together too long.

Thus, Shawn Green, one of three former Dodgers in the Mets starting lineup, doubled off the left-field fence on a shot Marlon Anderson misplayed, scoring Cliff Floyd, who limped home despite an aggravated left Achilles tendon injury to make it 4-0 Mets.

Will Cliff Floyd's free agent road begin with an injury?

Even that lead proved insufficient for Trachsel lasted three innings before running into trouble in the fourth and being replaced by Darren Oliver, who lucked into a line drive double play to end the inning without further damage.

As it was, Trachsel still outpitched Maddux in the end, allowing two less runs (4-2) with four more pitches (65-61). Bloody amazing.

Momentary ephoria for the hapless Dodgers...and a submliminal message to them?

Although Oliver was clutch (or lucky) in the 4th, he wasn't much in the fifth, allowing allowed former Met Jeff Kent (.615 for the series) to tie the game with a 2-run homer. Chad Bradford followed him by allowing a walk and a hit and giving way to Pedro Feliciano who immediately walked in a run to give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead and keep the bases loaded for pinch hitter Nomar Garciaparra and setting the stage for a potential game-breaking clutch at-bat.

Garciaparra of course, was already famous for a walk off grand slam in a key game of the Dodgers' late season charge. Down 5-4 with three arms of the bullpen already having been used, this could have broken the game wide open and potential shifted momentum back to the Dodgers.

Instead, Feliciano induced a grounder back to the mound to end the inning.

Collective sigh of RELIEF.

And after that, it was only a matter of time with no more Maddux and a crap bullpen left to hold a one-run lead before the Mets would begin another rally, one of the hallmarks of their season.

In yet another questionable bullpen move from series goat Grady Little summoned the massive 6'3 290-pound rookie Jonathan Broxton, normally a set-up guy, to pitch in the sixth.

Green opened with a double. One out later, pinch-hitter Michael Tucker drew a walk. Then Jose Reyes, Lo Duca and Beltran delivered consecutive RBI singles bloop/Texas League singles to give the Mets a 7-5 lead and they would never look back again.

Three games, three Mets wins and it's on to the NLCS against either the surprising Cardinals or the Padres to open at Shea Stadium on Wednesday night.

*****Postseason Perspective*****

Willie out-managed the peerless and eternal postseason goat Grady Little

With all the clamour about the loss of Pedro and El Duque, Mets starters threw only 13 2/3 innings, allowing 16 hits but only four earned runs, a 2.63 ERA. And given the fragility of the Mets rotation all season, it was the bullpen yet again that helped pull the team through.

The bullpen threw 13 1/3 innings (just one out less than the starters) allowing 16 hits as well, and 8 earned runs (5.40) ERA, but held when it mattered, as Billy Wagner earned his first two post-season saves.

Jose Reyes, appearing in his first-ever post season hit only .167. Carlos Beltran, in his first post season since the miracluous performance for the Astros, hit a quiet .222, perhaps saving his bat for the next two stages, but the rest of the lineup picked up the slack. Lo Duca hit .455 and the injured Cliff Floyd, who might still play DH in the World Series, hit .444.

Delgado had his four hit opening game and hit .429 for the series but the MVP should go to LoDuca.

According to SI,
As LoDuca popped another bottle of champagne, he was slightly more eloquent in the irony of celebrating the win in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium. "FUCK the Dodgers," he said to one of the clubhouse managers as he opened the bottle.

No comments: