Friday, May 20, 2005

Can We Put a Stop to "It's Go Time"?

Game 41 - Mets

Mets 10, Reds 6
Record: 22-19

Uh oh. On the heels of Rob's musical detour and admittedly lean content, I offer the drive-thru version of a Mets recap (a day late, at that). I prefer to call it "analysis-minimalist" rather than "shallow," "weak," or "lame." I believe in few -isms quite so devoutly as euphemism.

It's too bad that I'm taking that route today, for there was much to laud in Wednesday's win. First of all, the Mets' sweep of the Reds was their first since they took three from Houston in the second week of the season. Second, Tom Glavine had another positive outing, taking his ERA all the way down to the still-gnarly 5.44. And finally, the Metbats were scorching, knocking in 10 runs on 13 hits. It was so nice to see that it was easy to forget it was the bloody-awful Reds taking the abuse. While there's no deflating the good feeling generated by the sweep, it will be quickly forgotten if the Mets expect the next three series to be this forgiving.

Worth mentioning was Chris Woodward shining once again in a fill-in role, this time opening the scoring with a two-run tater off Eric Milton while playing right field on Carlos Beltran's (2/3 of a) day off. Woodward can play every position except pitcher and catcher with unexpected proficiency, and I wouldn't bet against him too heavily in the battery, either. Having a guy like that on the roster makes Willie Randolph's job a whole lot easier.

Reds manager Dave "I'm Not S"Miley brought Danny Graves into the bottom of the eighth to keep the game close, presumably. "Flammable Danny" served up home runs to Mike Cameron and David Wright, and the Mets tacked on four runs to take a lead that seemed insurmountable, at least until "Inflammable Manny" Aybar tossed a three-spot into the Reds' box score in the ninth. I'm just not sure there's any situation I want him in the game. Well, okay, if there's room on the roster for the guy you want to close out all games featuring a 25-run lead, then he can stay.

Jose Reyes, Kaz Matsui, and Mike Piazza had nine hits between them, raising their combined average to about .249. Sure steps in the right direction, but again . . . it was the Reds. Be happy that these fellows showed some offense, be pleased that the team did what it should have, be pleasantly surprised that Tom "Ipecac Jack" Glavine induced outs rather than fits of vomiting from overzealous fans. Rob and the Sox are looking forward to the weekend's games because it's too ugly in the rearview mirror. I, and I pray the Mets, need to focus on the immediate future rather than the recent past because of the treacherous foes lying in wait.

The Mets enter the gauntlet of the early schedule tonight, facing the Yankees this weekend with road trips to Atlanta and Miami directly following. Ten games in ten days that will challenge, test, and reveal the true capabilities of the New York Mets. Alrighty then. Were this the Red Sox, Kevin Millar would be pulling the curtain back right about now to uncloak the latest hokey mantra, so here's the slogan of the next ten contests: "Don't soil yourselves, lads, for some stains don't come out in the wash." (There's actual deep truth in that statement, but I'll leave it underanalyzed.)

The Way It Should Go
Well, this is the wrongest of wrong times to face the loathsome Yanks, fresh off a 10-2 road stint. John Kruk predicted they'd go exactly 10-2 before last week. That says something about Kruk's savvy and the pathetic nature of the not-terribly-Athletics and the subpar-Mariners. Though the Yankees themselves might be lulled into the false sense of security this post urges the Mets to avoid, they are the Yankees, and their swagger is re-emerging. The Yanks are tossing Kevin Brown and the Big Eunuch in the first two games, and it's simply a question of whether "the old one" or "the new one" shows up. The 1990's era of either will be painful; in fact, even the early 2000's version of Randy Johnson bodes ill. Carl Pavano is slated to pitch Sunday afternoon, and he's had good success against the Metmen in the past. By leaving FLA he traded defense for run support, so we'll see how that changes his results. The Mets offer Victor Zambrano, Kris Benson, and Pedro Martinez (after a cortisone shot -- great news). Zambrano and Benson have looked better of late, and Pedro's looked worse. Each of them has the ability to keep the Mets in the game. Clearly, this series is up for grabs, and I like the aggressive attitude of the young Mets over the veteran cool of the tired Yankees. The Mets should take two of three.

The Braves are closing out a 12-game stretch on the road in Boston this weekend. Atlanta is just 3-6 on the trip so far, so the Mets may catch them at the right time, unless the Sox play with their heads up their keisters this weekend. I'm hoping I won't have to irk (further) the handful of Sox readers with a nasty rant in this space if the Idiots do just that. The Braves have closer issues and some rotation injuries, but a whole lot of mojo when they play the Mets, so there's never confidence running over on this series. Given John Thomson's DL placement yesterday and Mike Hampton's questionable forearm (you thought I was going to say "character" instead of forearm, didn't you, Rob?), though, the Mets should take two of three.

The Marlins are only one game better than the Mets, and frankly, I can't figure out how that is. They seem like they should be at least five or six games better. Their startlingly good rotation only has them five games above .500, despite allowing pretty much . . . zero runs all season. All signs point to the offense, and Mike Lowell just took a pop fly off the face. They don't seem to be putting it together yet, but the next six games against the D-Rays and Phillies (a painful association for you Philly fans) should help get them straightened out. The Mets should take two of four.

There you have it. The Mets should win six out of the next 10 games.

The Way It Probably Will Go, Knowing the Mets
The Mets will probably win three or four out of 10. Suckbags. (Sorry; some stains don't come out in the wash, and some scars take a long time to heal.)

Seven or more wins and I'm thrilled, five or six and we can't complain, four and I'll be slowly slipping towards sad resignation, three or fewer and I'm annoyingly ballistic. Your choice, Metropolitans. Gentlemen, start your engines.

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