Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Jam

Game 6 - Mets

Braves 3, Mets 2
Record: 4-2

Conveniently, on Friday, last-minute dinner plans meant I'd miss the game and forget to record it. The result: 11-1 dominance by the Mets over the hated Braves. Saturday and Sunday, however, I'd see the games in their entirety, much to my dismay. Today featured a much better-played contest than yesterday's knee-walking defense and overall eyesore, but it may have been harder to swallow. Saturday's mess could be easily discarded as "one of those games" -- and despite the poor play, a game the Mets were in until the last swing. Today, however, we have our first true "winnable loss," albeit a stat kept only here at Misery Loves Company. And that'll sting a bit more.

In addition to the irritation of losing a lead in the bottom of the eighth, this afternoon's outcome may have highlighted what some amid the Township have feared might be the true Achilles heel of this squad. While the majority of ink disparaging the Mets has fixated on the rotation, the early returns show that aspect of the ballclub to be in fine form. Meanwhile, with Duaner a goner for the foreseeable future, a goodly portion of bridging the gap from starter to Wagner will fall on the shoulders of Aaron Heilman. And that, my friends . . . [gulp] . . .

Aaron Heilman has done plenty of good for the New York Mets during his tenure in royal blue and blaze orange, but he's rarely been "unhittable." He's proven serviceable out of the 'pen with his eye really on the rotation -- a place where he has found success, and where one bad inning can be overcome. As a two-pitch pitcher (he has three, but he'll only use two of them at a time), though, he's probably better suited for relief work. I just can't get too comfortable with him on the hill in crunch time. At least not as comfortable as the Braves got.

Heilman entered with a 2-1 lead, thanks to outstanding work by El Duque. Another solid start from Mets pitching was nearly squandered in the 7th by Scott Schoeneweis. Heilman worked out of that jam with an out in that frame, but was subsequently knocked around in the eighth. The powerhouse trio of Shawn Green (who did homer to keep the wolves at bay for another day), Ramon Castro, and David Newhan went quickly and quietly in the ninth to seal it with a whimper.

I don't know . . . maybe I'm still thinking of last October again, a bad habit that's getting the better of me all too often this April. Maybe it still chafes my charlies to think of Yadier "Two-sixteen" Molina taking Heilman deep to quash our hopes, and maybe I have even more choler built up for his gophering than I do for Beltran's freezing or Dee-Dub's struggling or any other contributing factor. By New York standards, Heilman dodged the usual barrage for such a mistake, and while I am actually glad for that development, perhaps there's some underlying frustration and doubt in me when it comes to the guy. Like I said, I don't know.

All I do know is that while the forecast is still strong to quite strong in MetLand, that twelve-year old Manhattan punk in Yankees garb had better watch whom he heckles if Aaron Heilman coughs up too many more leads or he will definitely be finding himself nostrils-deep in the business end of an NYC trash receptacle. The "just happy to be here" nice guys of 2006 are long gone this year.

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