Friday, June 30, 2006

It's In the Way That You Use It

Game 78 – Mets

Red Sox 4, Mets 2
Record: 47-31

Give the Boston Red Sox a ton of credit. They did everything they needed to do to win – and lots more. They were patient in the box, steady on the hill, aggressive on the paths, and flawless in the field. That the series was essentially bookended by Carlos Beltran’s misread of a deep fly to center to get the Sox rolling and Coco Crisp’s ESPY last night to snuff out the Mets’ last viable flicker is rather telling. Boston played textbook baseball while New York played comic book baseball. Even last night, when the Metmen seemed altogether more poised than during their prior outings, they merely played pretty well while the Sox played to near perfection. You have to tip your cap, even as you gnash your teeth and shell out money for four (4) cases of suds.

The Red Sox mashed the ball when they wanted to, manufactured a run here and there when they needed to, hustled, dove, scooped, slid, leapt, froze, gunned, escaped, rallied, and held down the fort at precisely the right moments. For all of Rob’s gloomy resignations a month or so ago, the Sox are clicking as well as anyone right now, and if they can keep up this profile of stellar defense, sound pitching, and steady hitting, this team will be held up as the team to beat. That’s about all I have to say about the Red Sox. They were good.

That said, there’s little point in lamenting this stubbed toe for any longer if you’re the Mets. Being the last team in baseball to suffer a three-game sweep is naturally a good thing. Their division lead is still an overstuffed cushion. Glavine looked like his April/May razor-sharp last night for 5+. Reyes and Wright took the series off, but their cooldown was inevitable and there’s reason to believe they’ll provide plenty more fireworks for the team before long. I’m probably the guy most disappointed and frustrated by the Boston trip, for obvious reasons. (Did I mention that I owe four cases of beer?) And even I am shrugging it off. There’s not a moment to mope, since three games in the Bronx commence tonight, and stumble becomes swoon after two series. You could look it up.

Walk it off, lads. Peaking in June isn’t part of the master plan, anyway. The blueprint for the next three months calls for a slow and steady fade of the NL East foes into the rear view mirror, with a few minor tweaks and tinkerings in store so that this team finds its apex in late September. Doesn’t mean that’s going to happen, but at least we have a plan.

We all knew that this 10-day stretch was going to be a litmus test for the Mets. Over the last few years, when the results of such tests came back extremely acidic, there was a definite feeling of helplessness. Today we’ll chalk these three losses up to running into a buzz saw and apply it towards beating the Yankees this weekend. Just keep a faint taste of bitterness somewhere in the memory bank – so that when the Mets meet the Red Sox in late October, there will be that little extra iota of inspiration.

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