Ollie v Nady Not Always Pretty

With Roberto Hernandez off in Los Angeles blowing leads, last season deadline trade between the Pirates and the Mets boils down to a swap of one solid outfielder, Xavier Nady and one solid but formerly-troubled pitcher, Oliver Perez.

Last night they faced each other for the first time at Shea and for the first five innings the margin was decidedly in Perez's favour. Perez was outstanding those first five innings, allowing only a hit and retiring Nady both times he faced him, first on a fly out to Shawn Green and then looking at strike three.

3-Ribby Nady

Ruinous Error Perez

In the interim the Mets were not exactly pouring down the run support. Of course with Lastings Milledge playing centerfield in place of Carlos Beltran, with Damon Easley patrolling the land in left field long ago vacated by Moises Alou and with Ruben Gotay starting at second base, the Mets were lucky to have fielded a team at all, let alone a team of immense power and run-scoring ferocity.

As it was they managed a lone run in the first inning, a small ball sort of run precipitated by Jose Reyes' 7-pitch single against Mets-Killah Paul Maholm (3 victories in his last 4 starts against the Mets), a stolen base, a fielder's choice from Milledge, and an RBI sac fly from David Wright. Thereafter, the wheels came off.

Consecutive singles as Perez seemed to lose his steam or the Pirates batters decided to be determined (law of averages is that both were likely to happen at some point in this series) - followed by what should have been an innocent sac bunt which Perez turned into the game's turning point by throwing it away, giving the Pirates a 1-1 tie and putting men on second and third with none out, all in one motion.

He induced two Pirates into harmless outs, seeming to reclaim the inning when Nady strolled to the plate with his chance for revenge spat-shined and polished, ready for the trophy case.

Nady ripped a 2-2 slider off of David Wright's knee, knocking the Pirate pitcher and Cezar Itzuris home for a 3-1 lead.

Of course, such a result was to be expected considering Nady's batting average with two men out and runners in scoring position is a robust .411 - the larf is, of course that high-paid team leaders like Beltran and the floundering Carlos Delgado aren't getting the job done in that respect. Unlike Nady, Delgado is hitting a pathetic .162 in a similar situation and the injured Beltran, a puny .111.

The Mets could have used Nady's timely hitting last night but equally, a season without Perez would have been damaging so at the end of the day the debate on who won the trade can continue.

As it stands, Perez completed the meltdown in a deadly inning, Scott Schoenweiss had his typically-embarassing outing (2 runs allowed in 2/3 of an inning to raise his ERA back to an appalling 5.59) and Joe Smith wasn't any antedote allowing three hits of his own in a mere 1/3 of an inning's work. It was actually Joe Smith who allowed Schoenweiss' runners to score so the pair of them were like Spy versus Spy trying to anti-hero each other and see who could surrender or cause to surrender the most runs.

On the bright side, Guillermo Mota pitched another meaningless run of two shutout innings in a game long-lost. Milledge hit a homer to join Reyes in a futile endeavour to score some runs for the Mets and the Pirates avoided getting swept.

Never fear however. Taking two of three every series will mean the Mets would likely have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and even the Pirates have their day on occasion.

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