Thursday, July 21, 2005

Keeping the Faith

Games 90 through 94 - Mets

Braves 2, Mets 1
Braves 3, Mets 0
Mets 8, Braves 1
Mets 3, Padres 1
Mets 7, Padres 3
Record: 48-46

Standings: 4th place in NL East, 5.5 GB Washington; 4 GB Red Sox

My sincere apologies for my lack of input lately, and I offer kudos to my cohort for not chastising me more publicly. I hope the usual Met-readers were properly re-directed to Jerry's great take on the Mets over at the Wheelhouse yesterday; ignore the inane non-Met-related Comments, but take Jerry's fine points regarding this C-level performace. In the meantime, I am back. No, please, you're too kind.

The last few games have offered plenty to enjoy for us the viewing audience. I've been able to take in every pitch of the last two nights' games against the Pad Squad, and I've been treated to heroics and healthy play by the hometown nine. I've said it before and I'll say it again; Extra Innings + TiVo is sheer brilliance. Surf 'n' Turf. A shot and a beer. A ménage à trois without the inevitable apologies for not pulling your weight. You can't put a price tag on being able to rewind key moments, like when Francis X. Healy blurts, "I'd actually rather Reyes were more aggressive up there," but if you could, it'd have to be more than the $4.95 I pay a month.

Tuesday night featured more of the light-hitting offense that's keeping the Mets from accelerating within the division, but outstanding pitching by Kris Benson and the pen, plus two long balls -- one early from Cliff Floyd and one in the bottom of the 11th by Chris Woodward -- saved the game. You can't say enough about the pinch-hitting this team's recorded, and credit Willie Randolph for timely usage of the bench; on Tuesday, he called Gerald Williams back from the on-deck circle when Mike Piazza singled, running G-Dub for Piazza and letting Woodward step in to pinch-hit. Game over. Sure, sometimes you luck out in these scenarios, but Willie's strategies when it comes to tweaking lineups mid-game dwarf his apparent acumen in the bullpen arena.

Last night Tom Glavine outfired Woody Williams in a pitching match-up that had us longing for the mid-90's -- both the era and the fastball speed. "Outfired" is probably the wrong term for these two slowball specialists, but Glavine had enough in the ol' whip to produce a few strikeouts to his one walk, and it proved another solid start for the recently sharp rotation. Meanwhile, the lineup scratched out some runs, drove the ball for power, and took what the Padres' D gave them to bang out seven runs. Carlos Beltran (lookee there) and Mike Piazza went deep (now more than ever, a great pleasure to see it), Jose Reyes burned them at every turn with his speed, and the Mets' parlayed Xavier Nady's losing a flyball in the moon into the inning that would carry them to the win.

Tom Glavine said it the other day, in reference to not wanting to be traded, and I believe it: in terms of talent, this is one of the best teams in baseball. They're mediocre through and through in their results, which is maddening, but brief glimpses like we've seen in the last three games -- against playoff-contending teams -- make me a believer. Granted, these wins have come on the heels of me throwing up my hands (and my lunch) at their previous patheticism. So take it with a grain of salt, but to butcher the musings of another Whit-man, I see great things in the Mets. They're our team. And may they overtake those Sons of Walt known as "America's Team."

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