15.5.07

Mets Walk Into First Place

It might not be the most heroic of stories. Poets won't recreate Carlos Delgado's 10 pitch, tension-filled walk with the bases loaded last night to squeeze home the winning run in the Mets' 5-4 win over the Cubs. But it was still the Night A Walk Moved The Mets Into First.


A comparatively mild regular season homeplate walk-off victory celebration even by It's Mets For Me standards.

Forget about the entirety of the game leading up to the bottom of the 9th for a moment.

Point is, the stage was set for an extra inning affair. It could have gone on for hours, days, weeks. Anything is possible. The Mets were one out away from moving the game into the 10th and Michael Wuertz was in to make it stay that way. Not that the Cubby bullpen wouldn't have been battered an inning or two later anyway but Cubby bullpen ineptitude is not necessarily something you want to be counting on if you're hoping to get to bed before dawn.

But then Jose Reyes, the second-to-last Met to shave his head and the single most exciting player in baseball singled to exhale a gasp of hope. Reyes then distracted Wuertz from first causing him to throw innumberable times over to first, over to first, over to first for what? To keep the fastest man on the basepaths from doing the inevitable?

Ha. The entire stadium knew what was coming. Even those poor little Cub fans glued to their transister radios and WGN plasma screens knew what was coming.

When Wuertz finally threw home instead of first, it was a pitch-out, the sort of thing that's supposed to catch runners trying to steal second but not Reyes. No sir. Wuertz could have spun and thrown directly to second instead of home and Reyes still would have beaten the throw.

You remember what they used to say about Cool Papa Bell?

The same applies to Reyes. He's so fast he can turn off the light and be in bed before the room gets dark!

So now Wuertz is rattled. There's the winning run dancing off of second ready to run like the wind and naturally, Wuertz proceeds to walk Endy Chavez on four straight pitches. I mean, naturally. Shea is going crazy and Wuertz is seeing his life flash before his eyes stuck all alone out there on the mound with Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado to follow.


Life isn't over, it just feels that way for a few hours...

Now we all remember a little too bitterly perhaps, how Beltran stood there with the bat on his shoulders in Game 7 of the NLCS. He did the same again only this time, the pitcher on the mound wasn't made of ice and stone and this time the first three pitches weren't strikes, but balls. One pitch later Beltran had his Ball Four to load the bases.

And then came Carlos Delgado.

Frankly, if your Wuertz you've got to be almost happy to see this guy. Delgado is sort of the weak link in the lineup these days. If there was anyone lumbering to the plate that might have picked up Wuertz's spirit, it would have been the .212-hitting Carlos Delgado, even if he had managed to get his weekly hit already that night.

But here was where Delgado showed his years of experience, his irreproachable character, his courage, distinct un-Alyssa Milano-hood, his charms even for a man struggling to hit his own weight which, according to mlb.com, hovers around the 265 pound mark and would be a struggle for quite alot of players to reach whether they were Bud Harrelson paper thin or humming to themselves in a designer track suit with their middle fingers pressed against the thumbs humming for world peace and harmony whilst hitting .221...

Oops, off on a tagent for a moment there...pernt is, Delgado was not some stiff who was going to rest his bat on his shoulder whilst three straight strikes flew down the pipe, even if he wasn't hitting his weight. It was the Cubby bullpen who had to be worried.

"The bullpen -- we thought that would be the strong point of our pitching staff," Piniella muttered prophetically, "I haven't seen it."

10 pitches, let me count the ways...(and let's not forget here that Wuertz is STILL on the mound, Loooooou is still motionless in the visitor's dugout, thinking about his options in Triple-A...)

Two balls to start it rolling. Couldn't you just sense that Wuertz's career was flashing before his eyes, that this might be his moment of zen when he realised he'd be better suited selling life insurance door-to-door than sticking himself in incomphrensible jams like this with over 37,000 people screaming for his failure?

And then somehow, perhaps the ump taking pity, the next two pitches were called strikes. It made sense that Delgado wasn't going to swing unless Wuertz made him do it by throwing in the strike zone. So the tension, my god, the tension!

And then a fouled pitch. And then Delgado fouled off pitch number 6 and Wuertz lost it for a moment, throwing ball 3 with pitch number 7. Ohhh, just one sweet ball out of the strike zone and steady plate discipline by Delgado and this game was over!

Then with the runners going, Delgado fouled off pitch number 8. More tension building...how long could this last?

"I'm going to find out if there are some kids down in Triple-A throwing the ball," Piniella also threatened. "Maybe that's the answer -- get some different kids up here who can throw the ball. I don't know what else to say. I've tried everybody out there. You keep hoping it comes around, but we're getting into the middle of May now."

Then with the runners going, Delgado fouled off pitch number 9 and you're thinking to yourself sweet jesus, can you imagine if this were Carlos Beltran in Game 7 last year? I mean, can you imagine?

And as we now know, pitch number 10 came up over Delgado's head almost and that was the game. Did you notice Delgado subtly clapping the barrel of his bat as Shea danced and celebrated?

*****

Do we even remember that Tom Glavine failed to get a decision for the 4th time in his last 9 games? Oh right, the Mets were dug into a 4-0 hole by the bottom of the 2nd inning and it wasn't looking good, I recall.

It wasn't really all his fault though, if we can remember back that far. But there's no point in pointing fingers on a night they won anyway. It just wasn't Glavine's night, really. Not like the 5th inning where he walked Soriano, Ramirez and Matt Murton in order to load the bases with two outs. Fortunately for Glavine the Cubbies are 0-15 with the bases loaded this month.

And forget about David Wright's April. He is hitting .435 (10-for-23) with four homers and 11 RBIs in 13 games this month. His two-run homer brought a little life back into the game.

*****

Cliffy, We Hardly Missed Yea...

Hey, we did the maths. Subtract one outspoken injury-prone left fielder.
Add one soft-spoken injury prone left fielder.
It's a zero sum game, baby.

Tonight Carlos Zambrano will face the thus undefeated right-hander John Maine. I don't want to jinx anybody but here's my fix: Maine shaves his head despite his undefeated record and the following outing pitches like crap only to be saved by miraculous Mets bats.

Tonight, not so lucky, Joe. Best hope is a Zambrano meltdown and a massive Met attack...on the other hand, this is Zambrano's first game back after they've been tinkering with his delivery, trying to right the wrongs...could spell trouble.

*****

Lastly but not leastly - the goddamned Braves finally lost and you'd never believe it but it was the bloody Nats who beat them! With John Smoltz on the mound, no less!

Regardless of the improbability, there are the Mets sat in first, a half game ahead of the Braves. Well done, lads.

1 comment:

sanchez said...

It'll be a battle right down to the wire - which "contender" has the worst bullpen, the Cubs or the Phillies?