Monday, May 01, 2006


Games 22 through 24 - Mets

Mets 5, Braves 2
Mets 1, Braves 0
Braves 8, Mets 5
Record: 16-8

The Mets cruised through the series against the Braves – sure, they threw it on cruise control in Sunday’s game and dropped one, but it was as enjoyable a weekend in Atlanta as the team has had in years. It was a strangely breezy trio of games; for the most part, the Metmen continued a pattern of strong play that added some kind of rosy tint to the spectacle. When they were tied, it felt like they were winning; when their lead was slim, it felt like it was fatter; when they were losing, it felt like they simply shouldn’t be. Braves games are never this comfortable.

The vast exception to all of this was an episode we’ll call “What Steve Did” on the mound yesterday. Trachsel started the series finale because Victor Zambrano was shrewdly shoved back to tonight’s game against the Nationals, but then he went out and did his best Zambrano impersonation. His line (3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 1 K) was atrocious, and although he ended up with a modest amount of run support, he just didn’t have it this day.

Lending a hand to stoke the embers was, predictably, Jorge Julio, whose meatball to the heretofore grasping-at-straws Jeff Francoeur will indubitably rocket the young Brave into All-Star contention by Memorial Day. It’s fun to bash Julio in an old Benitez kind of way, and it’s more prudent to try to urge him on to turn it around, but we’re a month in, so let’s hope the Hour of Jorge is in its 59th minute. The Norfolk Tides, currently falling over themselves in deep last place of the International League, would welcome the chance to have the fireballer throw a few frames for them. I’d say something about the confidence boost it’d provide Jorge . . . except I already see that backfiring.

Speaking of the Tides and Julio, the other component in the deal that sent Kris Benson to Baltimore is headed to New York. John Maine and Zambrano will form the least-terrifying starters in a two-game series by a division leader. I’m optimistic that Maine can provide some salvation to this deal; at the very least, it’s the Nationals and the two arms they’re countering with shouldn’t dominate the New York nine.

Things are still rolling the New York Mets’ direction as April turns to May. The good habit of doing the little things and knocking off the league’s beatables needs to be kept up as a Shea two-fer against Pittsburgh follows the one against Washington. Stay the friggin’ course, lads – we’d hate to see the steady ascension disturbed by a couple of roller skates on the stairs like the Nats and Bucs.

More tomorrow in the 25-game glance, but just one question for Rob – if I assault Jorge Julio enough, will they trade him back for Kris Benson in an hour or two?

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