For One Day It's Better, Sorta

Well I dunno about the rest of the Mets world but even in victory yesterday, the kind of rousing victory that can snap tailspins, this game almost seemed more like a win by default than the Mets really seizing control.

Willie survived the first game - what will happen if the Mets lose Sunday? Does the chorus calling for his head grow louder?

Not just because the Mets went down like lambs against Petitte in the first inning or even Jeter's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.

But also because in the early stages of this game, the sense of fragility on this team was almost palpable. Yes, things began to break their way as early as the 3rd inning when Johnny Damon was thrown out at the plate. Like the Mets, the Yankees hitting is spotty at best and like the Mets, to overcompensate for this lack of hitting, they have been forced to take chances. Damon was one such chance and the Mets made them pay.

Yet it wasn't a game to feel comfortable in. Even the 4th inning, when Petitte needed 41 pitches to even survive, the Mets had a golden opportunity to bust the game wide open yet, despite getting three runs, one couldn't help feel more relieved than confident. Especially in that brief nerve-wracking period when, with the bases juiced, Carlos Delgado was induced into a completely useless pop up and Damon Easley struck out.

First Yankees base running mistake cost them a run.

Fortunately for the Mets, Brian Schneider, whose plate-blocking heroics the inning before had helped save a run, was able to work Petitte for a run-scoring walk and Luis Castillo's infield tapper scored another. Yet still, once the inning was over you couldn't help but believe the Mets had encountered a little good fortune to overcome the ineptitude of pounding runs home forcefully when you begin an inning by scoring a run and loading the bases before a single out was recorded.

Good enough to win but not in the way an ace-stopper should

Importantly, Johan Santana, the ace who only sorta looks like an ace, held the fabric of the game together, even as he surrendered 3 homers and 4 runs over nearly 8 innings of work. It wasn't a gem by any stretch of the imagination but like the Mets' performance generally yesterday, it was sufficient to gain the Mets an important victory.

Greed is not always good

A second key yet questionable base-running gaffe by the Yankees came in the 6th when Jeter tried to stretch a single into a double and was thrown out by Beltran. Whilst it didn't seem so at the time, this was probably the back-breaking moment of the game as when the Mets next came to the plate, on the heels of Jose Reyes' inning-opening homer came David Wright's two-run homer to widen the lead to 6-2 and give the Mets a sense of space.

And kudos to Billy Wagner, who has appopriately opened his mouth twice this season to single out teammates (some of which he admits to, some of which he denies), for closing out the 8th and then finishing off the Yankees in the 9th although not without the requisite fingernail chewing melodrama which started by surrending back to back singles and finally, mercifully ended with him striking out Morgan Ensberg to give the Mets the victory.

Does the 4-out outing mean Billy won't be a hero Sunday night?


sanchez said...

You've got to figure that the first time Wagner blows a save there's going to be about 10 Mets waiting in the clubhouse to criticize him in the media and deservedly so for airing dirty laundry in public.
A good game yesterday - jesus - the Mets get slammed for losing and criticized for not winning pretty enough or forcefully enough - it's a little harsh. Let's enjoy the fucking victory for the few hours we have before the next series of incomprehensible failures!

Jaap said...

fair enough, sanchez - but let's face it, one game won more by the virtue of Yankee failures (whilst enjoyable) than Met success does not derail the train of dissatisfaction that has been gaining momentum since last fall. When/If the Mets go on a sustained winning streak and maintain consistency over the course of a few months then yes, give them a break but until then, well, we can't simply rely on other teams failing more than us. It isn't a winning formula