Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Games 36 through 38 - Mets
Twists, Turns, Free Falls, Spins, and Loop-a-Circles

Mets 8, Astros 3
Astros 7, Mets 4
Mets 3, Astros 2 (13)
Record: 18-20

You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
-- Grandma's wisdom in Parenthood

I guess I'm like Grandma, and I like these ups and downs, even through it takes so much out of you. Of course, maybe I'm like Grandma and I'm sitting in the neighbor's car.

The Mets lined up against the SportsCenter-worthy fearsome fivesome and emerged with four wins out of five. Not bad. Not bad at all. Now the stretch where they lost four of five last week has been bookended by an earlier four-game win streak and winning four of five through Sunday. This is Mets baseball: a crazier rollercoaster than any on Coney Island, it induces just as much nausea and clearly isn't for everyone, but for those who are into it, it can be a lot of fun.

Yes, the Mets own an unsightly 18-20 mark now, but you have to feel as though that record could be a hell of a lot worse were it not for patches of inspired play. Sunday's win in Houston was one example of it. Roger Clemens shut the Mets down for seven innings (2 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts). After 91 pitches, though, he exited. Jimy Williams claims he asked out of the game with a blister on his finger; Clemens claims he never did. (Oh, sorry, wrong game.) And although I'd written before that this bleak scenario could only be salvaged with a beanball in Clemens's ear, I was wrong. (Not wrong because it's immoral to wish pain on those you dislike, no, no, wrong because there was a better option.)

Astros closer and former Met Octavio "Don't Ask" Dotel surrendered a leadoff double to ever-improving youngster Eric Valent, then struck out a pair, then got a couple of strikes on Mike Piazza, then threw something that Piazza rocketed over the right-field wall. The shot tied the game and blew Rajah's chance for a record-tying (a stupid, USA Today-type record) eighth consecutive win after changing leagues. More importantly, it pissed Clemens off, which Piazza had to love.

On that note, briefly, here are two passages from the AP recap of the game, just a few paragraphs apart:

"Clemens brought a little heat to their simmering rivalry: he threw a 92 mph fastball high and inside to Piazza in the second, forcing the All-Star slugger to take a step back."

"Clemens didn't have much to say about Piazza afterward. 'I think he's a good hitter. You have to pitch him away,' Clemens said before bolting quickly out of the clubhouse."

What a jackass.

Later in the 13th, in a moment seemingly right out of Rob's blog, Jason Phillips took in the deriding I posted last week, pondered it all for a moment, and jacked one out for the win. Right in my mug. His good couple of games at the plate in Houston only raised his average to .178, but if Derek Jeter can approach June with sub-Mendoza Line numbers, so can Jason Phillips, right?

The only loss of the five featured another spontaneous combustion by James Baldwin, who was promptly designated for assignment. With Al Leiter hurt, the Mets brought up Matt Ginter to pitch Sunday, and he looked strong. Here's hoping he's the plug for that gaping 5-hole in the rotation. Mike Stanton had yet another unsuccessful outing. He's now tied with Cy Young for 13th all-time in appearances. He and Franco are marching up that ladder together, one implosion at a time.

Tonight the boys are back at Shea for an 8-game homestand. The roller coaster ride continues. It was obvious before that the Mets were capable of losing any game against any opponent, no matter how much the odds looked in their favor. After the past week, it's actually starting to look like they can win any game against any opponent. And that makes them watchable again.

No comments: