Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Game 32 - Mets
The End of an E.R.A.

Diamondbacks 12, Mets 8
Record: 14-18

What goes up - must come down
Spinning wheel - round and round
Tyler Yates - got sent down
James Baldwin came on up and got beat around

[Insert obligatory mention of the Mets shedding blood, sweat and tears here.]

Ty Wigginton goes 5-for-5, Mike Piazza and Eric Valent go 3-for-4, Mike Cameron homers, even Super Joe McEwing gets a double, the Mets tally 17 hits and 8 runs, and it's not even a close game?? That's about the size of it.

James "And the Giant Peach of a Fastball" Baldwin started off well, retiring the first batter on a fly ball. That's about all I can say for Baldwin, who was making his first big league start since . . . the last time Billy Baldwin was seen in an A-list movie. The second batter tripled, and Luis Gonzalez followed with a homer, one of three he'd hit. This after the Mets had spotted Baldwin a 2-0 lead in the 1st. As if sensing their pitcher's long night ahead, the Mets plated two more in the 2nd. Holding the D-Backs to but one run in the bottom of that inning was a moral victory, we soon learned, because after a scoreless New York third, Arizona rallied for six and the game ceased being a game.

Amid that nasty third inning, James Baldwin was yanked with two on, no outs, and the scored tied at 4. Enter Dan Wheeler"s Are Coming Off the Cart." Wheeler threw gasoline, kerosene, butane, turpentine, some crude oil, a little lighter fluid, an aerosol can, a propane tank, a splash of rubbing alcohol, and half a bottle of Bacardi 151 on the fire Baldwin had started. His 60'6" replica of the Great Fire of Chicago also featured more fireworks than at South of the Border. The ESPN Game Log stenographer called in sick today with early onset Carpal Tunnel from Wheeler's stint alone. Dan "Wheeeeeeeee!" Wheeler entered into a 4-4 ballgame, retired four batters, and left with the score 12-6.

Lost was a dynamite performance by the offense and 4 2/3 scoreless relief innings by pitchers not named Dan. These offensive outbursts are simply too rare to be squandered with putrid pitching. Yes, you can tip your cap to professional hitter Luis Gonzalez, but must you also give credit to Chad Tracy, Robby Hammock, Alex Cintron, Matt Kata, and the other lesser-knowns? A 2004 Arizona Diamondback team without Richie Sexson in the lineup should never, ever score a dozen runs. Except maybe in Colorado . . . with the wind blowing out . . . and an ex-Met on the hill.

This 5th starter hole is starting to be a big problem. After shellings with Yates and Baldwin on the mound two days apart, the Mets' team ERA zipped from 4th in the majors to 8th, teetering on the edge of 4.00 for the first time since Week 1. Leiter, Glavine, and Trachsel have been a stellar (overachieving, I fear) 1-2-3, and Jae Weong Seo seems to have righted himself of late. With Scott Erickson giving me all of the "I told you so" fodder I never really wanted, Baldwin not looking terribly promising, and a clear absence of starting material on the roster, Tyler Yates may be back in the bigs before he can enjoy "two with slaw" and a limeade at Doumar's in Norfolk. And that, my friends, is the real tragedy here.

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