Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Game 133 - Mets

Phillies 8, Mets 7 (13 inn.)
Record: 73-60
½ GB Philadelphia in the NL East

That was grueling. As you know if you checked last night's comments, it was one of those "I'm here for as long as it takes" evenings in Whitneyville. Alas, after surviving several standing eight counts, the Mets were knocked out of the game and first place by the exciting, annoying ballclub that Nick and Todd Zolecki semi-eulogized a week ago. This morning there are dead soldiers everywhere (of the Dale's Pale Ale variety) and a fair bit of frustration about the way the Mets lost last night. By tonight, however, I'll be ready for more of both.

Through the first four frames, the New York Mets' offense recorded seven runs on 10 hits, perpetuating a pattern I enjoy -- scoring chunks of runs early. Through the final nine (you know, like a whole game's worth), the Mets plated zero () runs on four hits. In a sense, last night the Mets were shut out -- in a tiny ballpark that makes as much sense as the yahoos catcalling from within it -- by mop-up men, middle relievers, and the occasional set-up guy/closer. Well played, Metmen . . . perpetuating a pattern I abhor.

It's hard to appreciate the offensive onslaught of the early-going (which was lots of fun, including a Fernando Tatis three-run shallow pop that found the seats) when you know what happened subsequently. And watching extra innings when you have not one shred of confidence in the Mets' ability to notch base hits, let alone score runs, is agonizing. They had two hits in four extra-innings; David Wright tried to extend one of them into a double and was gunned at second without a sliver of controversy. It all drives a man to drink. Faster.

Then there was the pitching. I told Rob last night that if the Mets can somehow -- and with the bullpen struggles and hit-ness protection program of the late innings, I'm holding no breath -- squeak into the postseason, I don't think I want Pedro Martinez in the starting rotation. And that's saying something. If John Maine heals enough, I'll take my chances with Santana, Pelfrey, Perez, and him. Pedro's a first-balloter and a huge gamer (not the PlayStation kind, TJ, you nerd), but he's volatile on the hill these days; especially in a short series, you can ill afford the wildfire that he's capable of generating. But what the hell am I talking about? Right now the Mets are on the outside looking in.

The one substantially positive thing I could take from last night was . . . slap my ass and call me Nancy, it was Aaron Heilman's stomach-churning success in innings 10, 11, and 12. Three frames fraught with danger. Three rounds heavy on escape points. Much like his mates in the pen, Heilman struggled with the bottom of the Phightins' lineup (Eric "Sausage & Cheese" Bruntlett had a career day in two at-bats); unlike the others, though, he mowed through the Philly meat of the order (the steak, if you will) with more aplomb than he's displayed in months. In a bullpen that's been selling off leads like (spoiler alert) Shelley Levene and Dave Moss, it was refreshing, exciting, and startling to see how effective Heilman was last night. He and Brian Stokes offered fine, fine work.

Enter Scott Schoeneweis. Second pitch, a Victorino triple to right zipping by a Carlos Delgado who wasn't playing the line. (In the past, I'd have made a sideways comment about Delgado playing the line like I play the bagpipes, but he made a game-saving snare down the line earlier in the contest.) IBB, IBB, that's all folks. Schoeneweis came damn close to walking home the game-winning run -- and it was Brett "After My Next Domestic Abuse Incident I'll Need the Services of Jacoby &" Myers, clearly not swinging, in fact. He did get the freebie punch out after all, but Chris Coste ended it with a long fly to center. Oh, and as a snide aside: Chris "The 33-Year Old Rookie" Coste's is a fantastic story . . . Now he can go to hell. By next Arbor Day I want to see him languishing in Reading and writing a sequel, "The 35-Year Old Wash-Up."

And a quick shout-at dedicated to the one I love to bash. Pedro Feliciano, come on down. My distaste for the performance art he's been showcasing for quite some time precedes me. (I don't know much about art, but I know that "Mapplethorpe" Feliciano is not for me.) But he's been atrocious lately -- ERA over 8 since the Break, I believe. "Prescient dread" was an active component in my watching the 2003-2004 New York Mets. Feliciano's a throwback to that era, and there's a noticeable slouch in my posture when he enters a tight spot. Last night I groaned, informed Rob of what would be happening soon (spoiler alert), and as if reading off cue cards, the other, less palatable Pedro followed right along. He allows the first guy to get to first base (at least) in nearly every case. What a tart.

I will say that, displeasure of losing that way aside, last night's Mets-Phillies game was one of the most thrilling August baseball games I can recall. I can't wait to tune in again tonight. (Bracing for the backlash on that statement.) I would love to see this race come down to the last week; I'm only disappointed that the final NYM-PHL game on the docket is scheduled for September 7 and not in the final days of the month.

Oh, unless there's a one-game playoff at season's end . . .
[ and typed in simultaneously]

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