Game 40 - Mets
Mets 6, Cubs 5
Rob invented -- or just as likely pirated -- the concept that there are a certain number of games, ~35, that are destined to be wins and the same number that are predetermined losses. You take a glance and just know that there were too many factors going for or against the hometown team, and to borrow from the other Bruce, that's just the way it is. Without a doubt, this afternoon's series finale was very clearly a loss in the making, if not a total concession. Observe:
E Chavez CF
R Gotay SS
S Green RF
C Delgado 1B
J Franco 3B
D Newhan 2B
R Castro C
C Gomez LF
J Vargas P
No, seriously, that was the real lineup today. We've talked about Strat-o-matic a lot lately, this looks like one of those makeshift lineups when you keep rolling 1-12 popout plus injury.
Somehow, someway, when I tuned into the game in the bottom of the 5th, it was a 1-1 game. Now, lately my watching ballgames has had a primarily positive effect on the outcome, no matter who was playing; e.g., the other night after Gary Cohen informed us that Cole Hamels had a perfect game going on, I flipped over and the batter Hamels was facing reached on a walk. The next one homered. I'm carrying that vibe these days, people.
So you can understand why I was feeling a little nonplussed when the Cubs racked up a pair of two-run jacks in their next turn at bat. It seemed Jason Vargas finally conjured up memories of N'Awlins and his 0-4, 9.00+ recent past -- and with the sub-filled lineup, that'd be it. I stuck around just in case. Good call.
Although what ensued seems, at first glance, to be a case of the star starters stepping in and saving the day, it was triggered by and kept alive by the corps of major league professionals my counterpart calls "scrubeenies." David "Who" Newhan singled to lead off; Lou Piniella should have seen Ryan Dempster didn't have it right then. Carlos Gomez did the same two batters later, and Carlos Beltran took a pinch-BB to load 'em up.
After Endy walked to cut it to 5-2, two managerial decisions were made. Lou kept Dempster in; I'm not saying he had a wealth of options, and his pen is chock full of lead-blowers, but the guy was visibly toast. Meanwhile, Willie kept his stud-filled dugout at bay and let Ruben Gotay hit away, raising eyebrows in the SNY booth and my den. A single to left later, it's 5-3, Willie is brilliant, and we're morons.
Enter Dee-Dub, shaking off the slump. First pinch-hitting at-bat ever. One pitch, one line drive up the middle. 5-4. Deep, dreamy sigh from the Township.
Enter Carlos Delgado, navel-deep in a slump. I've exhanged some thoughts with my brother-in-law that could be construed as premature panic about Delgado's plate problems. I am not, I repeat NOT, suggesting there are any alternatives to Carlos Delgado in this lineup, but I admit to thinking out loud about the possibility of moving him down in the otherwise malleable order until he works out the kinks. (Later level-headed thought saw no solid clean-up to replace him, and I'll walk away from the notion.) I just kind of know what it is to be inexplicably unable to return to the perfect timing that led to proficiency at the plate, I know what it is to be out in front of every single pitch (ask Rob, it's hideous), and I know that sometimes it takes more than sheer at-bats to make the necessary adjustments.
I guess I'm suggesting that we need a hitting coach version of Rick Peterson. Is that too much to ask? (Maybe.) I heard the counter-argument that Delgado has 400 home runs, so quit freaking -- he'll figure it out. My retort invoked the Beelzebub of Flushing, Robby Alomar, and how he was a sure-fire Hall of Famer before he came to New York . . . and how during the year and a half of utter mediocrity that he displayed at Shea, people kept figuring he'd work it out. Hey, Tom Glavine really is a Hall of Famer, and it took Peterson to alter what had worked for him for so long. So let's not rule out that someone might be able to work with Delgado effectively. It's not a slag against Rick Down, necessarily. Okay, maybe it is.
And all of this witless banter took place as the Mets were constructing this rally. As the debate rolled on, Delgado came up, hit a medium-pace bounder to the right side that got through, and won the game for the Mets with two clutch ribbies. Although the stubborn jackahole in me issued the thought "it was three feet from being an game-ending double-play ball," the overriding sentiment was something in the neighborhood of "yahooey!" And there's no telling what a big lift like that can do for a man's swing.
Ignoring this pointless sidetrack, the Mets pulled out a losable win -- hell, they turned an obvious loss into a huge victory. Rob's theory has lost credibility of late thanks to both the Sox and Mets. Not the first time one of his ideas has turned out to be bunk.