Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In 3's

Game 124 – Mets

Mets 8, Cardinals 7
Record: 76-48

They say that good and bad luck occur in threes; before Carlos Delgado could saunter to the plate with a chance to win the game with his third home run of the night, the other Carlos did it for him. Symmetry be damned; my leap off the couch was abbreviated only by a sure calculation that my face was destined for unpleasant contact with the ceiling fan. Aside from that, there was the usual muted but otherwise unrestrained bedlam here; the relative silence (to include a booming clap of hands and a holler that was demoted to a whispered shout by the time of its emanation) was necessary to preserve the slumbers of the wee Met fans of the house, but the flood of fist-pumps and some kind of white boy boogie mixed with an excited few laps around the den more than informed any nosy neighbors of the game’s outcome.

Triumph in triplicate did take place for the Township today, however. As documented earlier, short of learning that the clot in his shoulder was a subcutaneous hope diamond whose removal would add 12 mph and a little movement to his every pitch, Tom Glavine received about the best diagnosis possible. Just when many of us had begun scraping together an image of what a rotation minus Glavine might resemble, it became a needless notion.

Then, somewhere in the middle innings with the score Pujols 7, Mets 1, the booth boys announced that the deal for Shawn Green had become finalized. Time will tell if this middle prong of today’s three-tined fork of fortune can penetrate the porterhouse (honestly, I have no idea, but you know what I mean . . . maybe), but somewhere amid my grumbling in the dark about a certain unnamed St. Louis first baseman’s circumstantial connection to illicit performance-enhancing substances, this trade’s news generated a smile and a nod. It’s nice to see Omar, far from complacent, making the low-risk, high-potential moves. It gives us a sense that he has a master plan out there at Shea; if I recall, we weren’t even sure that Jim Duquette had a master key. (As always, we disparage Duquette only with the appended acknowledgement that he was on the recipient end of a “Muppet Special” by the Wilpons, mind you.) But Green seems to fit into the Mets Needs category nicely, checking off the corner outfielder, left-handed bat, and Judaism (in case Denis Leary and Lenny Clarke drop by the booth) boxes nicely.

The third tier of the trifecta was, of course, the game’s conclusion. John Maine actually pitched a fairly decent ballgame tonight, minus his lack of respect for Albert Pujols. He showed little concern with keeping Pujols’ plate predecessors off the paths, and even less for avoiding chucking something even mildly meaty in his direction. He didn’t walk the MVP candidate with men on second and third, and he paid for it. Then he did walk the two batters before him to load the bases, and he paid for it. Two swings, seven runs. Even as it was happening to the Mets, I was feeling more tip-the-cap than gnash-the-teeth. The dude is good.

Carlos Delgado, who seems to have swum upstream the length of the river to fight through a bad slump, is looking a whole lot more like that beast of the first six or eight weeks than the free-flailing, shoulder-pulling, befuddled fellow of more recent months. It’s as welcome a sight at this time of year as I can think of, along with Duaner Sanchez warming in the pen after applying a balm and healing magically. His solo shot opened the scoring; his grand salami made the game worth sticking around for.

Carlos Beltran has been far more consistent all year long, but in the bottom of the ninth he entered the box with an 0-for-4 night. Speaking of his consistency, how is he still hitting just .288? He’s been steady all season, and he’s not over .300? Meanwhile, David Wright has been dying a slow death at several intervals and he’s been perched above .300 all along? (Okay, I just checked, and the latest collar Dee-Dub took tonight edged him down to .299.) Regardless, with Beltran up, nobody out and Paul LoDuca on first after a single, I felt curiously comfortable – even down a run with three outs left to play with and Jason Isringhausen on the hill. This lineup will do that to you.

One pitch later, the game was over and I was in mid-air, moreso than a guy of my poundage can usually muster.

There were more things to praise, with new Met (and old enemy) Guillermo Mota looking sharp in his debut for New York, Chad Bradford drawing Pujols into a 6-4-3 inning-ender with a couple aboard in the eighth, and Aaron Heilman shutting the Cards down in the ninth to enable the heroics and earn the win. There’s more minutia to discuss, such as Bill Clinton in attendance (where he goes, drama follows), Delgado hitting his 400th career homer, and the Mets reaching a double-digit lead in the National League.

But I’m content to focus on the trio of excitingly positive events in MetLand today. Tomorrow’s another day and the Mets could just as quickly find themselves in triage rather than triumph. Tonight, however, these three developments have made me one happy man.

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