Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Game 39 - Mets
Cheers! Cliff Back to His Norm

Mets 5, Cardinals 4
Record: 19-20

Mike Piazza said Sunday that he liked the energy of the team, that there was a definite difference between this club and that of the past two seasons. Not exactly a Tug nugget, but even mildly optimistic vibes are welcome these days. Last night against St. Louis the New York Mets added another chapter of what I thought I overstated yesterday as "inspired play." This team has considerably more scrap to them than we've seen in Mets uni's in some time.

Tom Glavine allowed four in six, which marked his worst start of the year -- but would have been a pretty decent outing for him last season. He's pitched brilliantly thus far, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed this was an aberration. His successors on the night, Orber Moreno and Ricky Bottalico, held fast and, with the aid of an amazing Jason Phillips double play in the top of the ninth, kept a 4-3 Cards lead from expansion. Bottom 9, down 1, time for more Mets drama.

Mike Cameron walked, and Joe McEwing bunted him over. I tend to take the whiz out of Super Joe for his overly emphatic scrappy hustler rep that belies an absence of talent, but laying down a bunt to advance a runner who'd eventually score the tying run during go-time -- well, his fundamentals are super-solid, and I have to tip my cap. With two on and two out, Kaz Matsui splintered his bat but muscled one into shallow right, scoring Mike Cameron and sending Karim Abdul Garcia to third. A minute later, Cliff Floyd lined one to right that dropped in, scoring Garcia and winning the game.

Former Met Jason Isringhausen took the loss, and former Cardinal Bottalico got the victory. Bottalico, the third member of the triumvirate of aged arms left for dead by the rest of the league but scooped up by the Mets this offseason, has been a pleasant surprise. While James Baldwin and Scott Erickson have had seasons soon to be protested by right-to-lifers, Ricky Bottalico has, in a small period of time so far, gotten the job done. At the very least, he helped the Mets win this one.

Jason Phillips hit another home run, was 2-for-4, and made the great play; Jason, if you need a refill on that dosage of ragging at any point, just say the word. I'm good for it.

Steve Trachsel takes the mound against the Cards and Jeff Suppan tonight. Every time it's looked like a game the Mets should win, they've fumbled it, so I'll just say this: Trachsel's due for a letdown, Suppan is underrated, Scott Rolen is on fire, Ty Wigginton should throw his bat in the fire (0 for his last 18), and any time the Mets get close to a breakthrough (a win tonight puts them at .500), they usually find a way to lose.

And one last thing. The Atlanta Braves watched Randy Johnson hurl a perfect game against them last night, one game after Ben Sheets stuck out 18 Braves batters. As the season wears on, it may become more obvious that Atlanta is not the key divisional adversary to root against, but old habits die hard. Heh heh heh.

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