Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Sunday, April 30, 2006
  Mets 5, Braves 2
Mets 1, Braves 0
Braves 8, Mets 5

I suppose Braves fans should start focusing their attention on the Wild Card standings. The Mets have officially proven they can win at Turner Field, thus overcoming the last obstacle between them and the NL East Championship. It's been a fun ride, and I can't wait for the playoffs.

The Mets sent out the good part of their starting rotation for this series and got predictably good results in two out of three games. Pedro Martinez pitched seven strong innings on Friday to win his fifth game of the season. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out five. The game was basically close the whole way and Pedro kept the Mets a step ahead.

David Wright had two home runs in the game, including one in the ninth as the Mets extended their lead a bit. Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca and Kazuo Matsui each had two hits as well. Reyes had a triple and Lo Duca a double. Reyes also drew another walk.

Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect eighth to get things to the closer, which is where things got a little more interesting. Billy Wagner did strike out three batters. But he also allowed two hits and hit a batter. But he got out of and preserved the lead.

The margin was even slimmer on Saturday, but Tom Glavine was up to the challenge. Lo Duca's first home run of the season provided the only run of the game and Glavine made it hold up for seven innings. He allowed four hits and two walks and only struck out one. Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts and Wagner got through the ninth a bit more easily this time, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Unfortunately, the Mets didn't get quite the same quality starting pitching on Sunday. Steve Trachsel had an awful game, walking five batters through three and two-thirds innings. He also gave up eight hits, leading to six runs and the early exit.

The Mets did manage to stage a bit of comeback. Home runs by Carlos Beltran and, I am not making this up, Endy Chavez helped get them within two runs. Cliff Floyd and Ramon Castro each had two hits in the game, which actually means Castro's batting average went down to a mere .423.

Even with a very good series, Lo Duca doesn't look as good as Castro, who also threw out a runner trying to steal in this game. Castro has now thrown out two out of three potential base stealers this season. Lo Duca has thrown out three out of twenty. I know Castro's only played six games so far, but he was better with the bat and arm than Lo Duca last year, too. Hopefully he'll get enough playing time this season to forestall Lo Duca's traditional second half decline. In his career, Lo Duca has an OPS of .814 before the All-Star break and .687 after, though last year his stats were almost identical before and after the break (.713 before, .716 after).

Anyway, once the Mets closed the gap a bit, it was up to the bullpen to keep them in it. Instead, they got a return to form from Jorge Julio. Julio struck out five batters in two innings, but he also gave up a two-run home run to Jeff Francoeur. He's now allowed four home runs in eleven and two-thirds innings.

The Mets did have a chance to get back in the game in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with just one out. But they were only able to get one run out of the situation. That run was driven in by Reyes's third walk of the game. He now has twelve walks on the season through 100 at bats after drawing just twenty-seven through 696 last year. His OBP is up to .330 which is pretty encouraging given that he's batting just .250 with little power. If Reyes can keep this up, he could be a pretty valuable lead off batter when he starts getting some hits again. His speed and power potential combined with decent plate discipline could make for a player as dangerous as he is exciting to watch.

With a good road trip and an excellent month complete, the Mets (16-8) return home to begin a two-game series with the Nationals (8-17)on Monday. Unfortunately, the home fans will have to sit through a Victor Zambrano (1-2, 9.64) start. At least the Mets offense will get another shot at Ramon Ortiz (0-3, 6.75), who they've already beaten twice this year.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
  Padres 7, Mets 4
Giants 6, Mets 2
Mets 4, Giants 1
Mets 9, Giants 7 (11)

It's been so long since I last wrote something here that the Mets have already begun to pull themselves out of the little slump they were in. West coast baseball and a Sunday night Strokes concert are to blame. I regret nothing.

It has been a rough week for Mets pitching thus far. Steve Trachsel had a very good game on Tuesday, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks in six innings, striking out two. But everyone else has had their troubles. Which is to say, Pedro hasn't pitched yet this week.

Victor Zambrano kept up his newfound level of awfulness on Sunday, lasting just four innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks while his electric stuff was good for just one strikeout. Now sporting a 9.64 ERA, I don't think this will be the year that the 30 year-old realizes all that potential he's been hoarding. If only the Mets had someone in their organization who could replace him.

Tom Glavine had his worst outing of the season on Monday and the same could be said of Brian Bannister today. Glavine walked five batters and allow six hits while striking out four, leading to six runs in six and one-third innings, which was too much for the inconsistent New York offense to overcome. Bannister continued to flirt with disaster but things didn't quite fall apart. He only lasted five innings due to a strained hamstring and allowed three runs. Given the seven hits and two walks he gave up, things could've been worse.

The Met offense continued to struggle through the first three games of the week, only picking up one win due to Trachsel's good start. But they had a big game today with contributions from all spots in the lineup. Jose Reyes had two hits, two walks and two stolen bases. Endy Chavez and Ramon Castro each had three hits, including a double. Carlos Delgado hit his ninth home run and a double, drew two intentional walks and was hit by a pitch. And Bannister himself had two doubles.

Aaron Heilman relieved Bannister allowed one run in two innings, tying the game at four. But the Mets took the lead with three in the top of the eighth and Duaner Sanchez pitched a scoreless inning with one hit and one strikeout. All that was left was for Billy Wagner to close it out.

Through three batters face, Wagner had struck out two and allowed one single. And then he got Moises Alou to ground out to third base. Except David Wright threw the ball away, allowing Barry Bonds to come to the plate as the potential tying run. Wright's return to earth continued in this game, as he had just one hit in six at bats, albeit a key RBI double. He had been four for twelve with a double in the previous three games. His defense continues to be disappointing, as his errors very often seem to come on relatively simple plays.

But even after Bonds homered to send the game into extra innings, the Mets were able to keep fighting. The squandered a Reyes walk that led off the tenth when Wright couldn't even get him home from third with one out. But Castro's mighty bat started things with a single in the eleventh and Chris Woodward doubled him home. Reyes then drove Woodward home to give the Mets some insurance before Wright could end the inning. Castro is now hitting .400/.412/.733 through fifteen at bats. Meanwhile, Paul Lo Duca is hitting .281/.352/.344. All I'm doing is posting the stats without comment.

Now the Mets (14-7) get a day off before beginning a big series in Atlanta against the Braves (9-12, haha, that's right, 9-12, and they're in second place!). In game one it will be Pedro Martinez (4-0, 3.04) against John Smoltz (1-1, 4.15). The last time those two hooked up, it was September 15th, the Mets had no chance of catching the Braves and Pedro pitched a complete game shutout. His first start against Atlanta this year wasn't quite that good, but it should be fun seeing if he can keep up his perfect record.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
  Padres 2, Mets 1 (14)
Mets 8, Padres 1

I must say, having a first baseman who hits like a first baseman is preferable to the alternative. Carlos Delgado provided the only New York run on Friday with his seventh home run. And then he went deep again on Saturday, giving him three in the first three games of this series. It is awfully comforting to know that, even on a night when the Mets get shut down, there's one guy in the lineup who won't go so quietly. Delgado had three hits, three walks and one HBP in these two games and is now hitting .348/.434/.742, which is basically John Olerud's best year with the Mets plus 200 points of slugging. I will not be surprised if Delgado has made his mark on the Mets record book by the time this season is over.

On the other hand, there's Jose Reyes, who went 0 for 11 in these games and is now hitting .234/.272/.377, or even worse than he did last year. A few Mets are off to great starts, but Reyes is quickly joining Cliff Floyd and "Starting for the Mets at second base..." as an area of concern. There have been some small encouraging signs this year, but with every swing and miss at a ball in the dirt, that promising 2003 gets further from the rearview mirror.

Also coming in two distinct flavors in these games was the Mets' pitching, though both were effective. Brian Bannister had yet another inexplicably adequate start. He lasted five innings on Friday and gave up six walks and four hits. But that only added up to one run. We still have to expect this to come crashing down on him soon. And even aside from that, his short outings aren't doing the bullpen any favors. And a rotation that also features Victor Zambrano can't really afford another pitcher whose ceiling is six frustratingly effective innings. The Mets used six relievers on Friday before Chad Bradford finally gave up the winning run in his second inning of work, the fourteenth. Bradford struck out four through one and two-thirds, but he gave up two hits at the wrong time. Billy Wagner pitched two very good innings, with three strikeouts, one walk and no hits.

The Mets had the right guy pitching to give the pen a rest on Saturday, though. Eight runs of support didn't hurt, but Pedro Martinez had a terrific game. He lasted seven innings and allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out eleven. One of the hits was a home run by Mike Piazza, which accounted for the only San Diego run. The Mets' rotation certainly has its question marks, but right now it appears they have a couple of aces they can count on in Pedro in Tom Glavine, both of whom have struck out at least one batter per inning pitched.

Of course, it wasn't just Delgado who put those eight runs on the board. Xavier Nady had another fine game with a double and his fifth home run of the year. Ramon Castro had three hits including a home run. And David Wright was on base four times with a single, two walks and one HBP. He also stole two bases, making him a perfect five for five in that category this season.

This series finishes up today with a Zambrano (1-1, 9.00) starting for the Mets. I think the Padres might score more than two runs this time. Clay Hensley (0-1, 6.00) goes for San Diego.
Friday, April 21, 2006
  Mets 7, Padres 2

What a preposterous game this was. First you had Kazuo Matsui hitting an inside the park home run in his first at bat of the season. This was the third consecutive year he's homered in his first at bat. That he found a creative way to do it against a good pitcher in a tough home run park just makes it all the more amazing. Aside from that, Jake Peavy basically shut the Mets down for seven innings, as you might expect, even though both Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltran returned to the starting lineup.

Then Julio Franco found the closest fence in the ballpark and drove a home run over into to give the Mets the lead and himself the record for oldest man to hit a major league home run. That was apparently enough to wake up the Mets' slumbering offense, as they subsequently had some fun with the San Diego bullpen. Altogether they had six hits and a walk in the eighth inning, with Carlos Delgado's sixth home run of the season adding the exclamation point. Floyd revealed himself to be a sloppy typist by adding a 1 after the exclamation point with an RBI single.

Floyd and Beltran each had one hit in their returns, but Beltran had to leave after just two at bats due to hamstring troubles. Delgado and Jose Reyes each had two hits. David Wright and Xavier Nady each hit a double.

It took six Met pitchers to make that offensive outburst hold up, but they got the job done. Steve Trachsel lasted six innings and gave up two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three. Pedro Feliciano and Duaner Sanchez got the Mets out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the top of the seventh as Feliciano got Geoff Blum to foul out and Sanchez got a double play, nicely turned by Wright and Matsui, from Eric Young. Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. And if the night wasn't bizarre enough, Jorge Julio did the same.

Tonight, Brian Bannister (2-0, 2.50) looks to continue his year of living dangerously. Woody Williams (1-0, 4.50) will start for the Padres. And it seems rather unlikely that anyone other than Endy Chavez will be playing center field for the Mets.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
  Braves 2, Mets 1

Facing one of the best pitchers in the game with fully half of your regular starting lineup on the bench is apparently not the way to go about scoring a bunch of runs. Even if one of those on the bench in Anderson Hernandez. What was left of the Mets took on Tim Hudson today and the result was the second consecutive complete game victory by an Atlanta starting pitcher. Of course, it didn't help much that David Wright had an awful game.

The Met third baseman went hitless in three at bats and made the final out of the game, though he did get on base once when hit by a pitch. But the real trouble was his three errors in the field, two of which contributed directly to the Braves' second run in the eighth inning.

Tom Glavine pitched well again. He lasted eight innings and gave up just four hits. He struck out five and didn't walk anyone. He did allow an Andruw Jones home run, which accounted for the first Atlanta run. But the second, unearned run was really not his fault. In fact, both he and Wright had two balls hit to them in the eighth inning and Glavine had two assists to Wright's zero.

But the Mets' offense had just three hits and one walk, though two of the hits came in the ninth inning to put their only run on the board. Jose Reyes hit a double and was driven in by a single by Chris Woodward, who really might be the Mets' best option at second base right now. Hernandez has been placed on the DL and Kazuo Matsui called up to start at second and even that seems like it'll be an improvement.

Tomorrow the Mets (10-4) begin a ten-game road trip and a series of four in San Diego against the Padres (6-8). Jake Peavy (1-2, 5.50) will start for the Padres in game one while the task of shutting down Mike Piazza and the Padres will fall to Steve Trachsel (1-1, 4.09). I predict a low-scoring game.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
  Braves 7, Mets 1

Victor Zambrano is not good at pitching. And that is unfortunate for him, given that pitching is his chosen profession. It is also unfortunate for the Mets, who somehow found themselves running so low on starting pitchers at the start of this season that they are forced to let him pitch. Tonight that meant five innings, seven hits and seven runs. He did strike out four batters while walking just two. But he also allowed three home runs. He now has an ERA of 9.00. So, who thinks this team is better off with Jorge Julio on the roster instead of Kris Benson?

Of course, the Mets' discount lineup didn't help matters, as they were basically shut down by Atlanta starter Kyle Davies. They managed just three hits and one walk. Chris Woodward did get the start at second base and hit a home run, giving him more extra-base hits in this game than Anderson Hernandez has in forty-one at bats. David Wright drew a walk, but he went hitless for the second straight game and I don't really feel like talking about it.

Tomorrow afternoon things get back to normal as the Mets sent a competent starting pitcher to the mound in Tom Glavine (2-0, 1.50). Glavine seemed to figure out how to pitch against his former team somewhat last year, posting an ERA of 3.67 in five starts. He will be opposed by Tim Hudson (0-1, 9.20), who apparently ain't right.
Monday, April 17, 2006
  Mets 4, Braves 3

Apparently this Mets team is so good that it can beat the Braves with a third of its lineup tied behind its back. Endy Chavez joined fellow automatic out Anderson Hernandez in the lineup due to Carlos Beltran's stiff hamstring. And when Cliff Floyd strained his rib cage doubling and scoring in the fourth, he was replaced by Jose Valentin. The Mets had sent Victor Diaz down to the minors earlier in the day to call up some bullpen help. Somehow they wound up with Pedro Feliciano instead. But anyway, with those three battling Pedro Martinez for the title of Lineup's Worst Hitter, the Mets were still able to earn their tenth victory of the season.

Martinez wasn't at his sharpest, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks through six and two-thirds innings, though one of those walks was intentional and he did strike out eight. But he got the big outs when he needed to and got good relief support from Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner. Sanchez pitched one and one-third perfect innings, striking out two. And Wagner had a very good ninth to save the game, striking out two, though he did hit one batter with a slider that got away from him.

All of that was good enough thanks largely to three Met hitters who had big games within that incomplete lineup. Xavier Nady started things off with his fourth home run and had two singles as well. Paul Lo Duca also had three hits including a double. Carlos Delgado launched another home run, his fifth, and also had a single and a walk in the game. Having a first baseman who can hit is an unfamiliar experience for Mets fans and I have to say it is quite enjoyable.

Somehow David Wright went hitless in four at bats and hit into a double play. I don't quite understand how this could have occurred and I think it's best that I not dwell on it, lest it give me nightmares. Instead I will note that Jose Reyes drew his fourth walk of the season, something he did not do until May 8th last year. I am very optimistic that he will improve upon 2005's .300 OBP.

The Mets now have a five game lead in the division after just twelve games, which is apparently a first in baseball history. As if to flaunt their superiority, they will send out Victor Zambrano (1-0, 5.40) to pitch tomorrow. Kyle Davies (0-1, 8.38) will start for the Braves against a lineup that will probably feature Nady as its most accomplished outfielder. Let's see how the Mets manage to win anyway.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
  Mets 4, Brewers 3
Brewers 8, Mets 2
Mets 9, Brewers 3

This weekend was an opportunity for the Mets to see if they were capable of continuing their success against slightly stiffer competition. Having easily dispatched with the dregs of the NL East, the Brewers came to town with a good young team and a winning record. It was the first real test for the red hot Mets.

Tom Glavine was up to the challenge on Friday, retiring the Brewers as easily as he had the Nationals and Marlins. He gave up just one unearned run through six innings on one walk and six hits and he struck out an astonishing eleven. In a rotation that's equal parts potential and uncertainty, Glavine has been a rock in the early going.

The Mets offense had just six hits on the night, but made them count for four runs. Xavier Nady's second home run and a double by Paul Lo Duca were the only ones to go for extra bases. But that was just enough of a cushion for Glavine and the bullpen, even after Aaron Heilman allowed two runs without recording an out. One of those runs scored after Duaner Sanchez replaced Heilman, but Sanchez pitched well for two innings, allowing one run and two walks while striking out two. Billy Wagner closed things out with a perfect ninth and he even struck somebody out.

Things did not go so smoothly for the offense or the bullpen on Saturday. Steve Trachsel's start didn't help matters much, either. He lasted just five innings and gave up four runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out four. He also hit two batters. Darren Oliver allowed a run in two innings of relief, giving up a home run to Carlos Lee. He did strike out two.

And then there was Jorge Julio. He entered the game with an ERA of 16.88, having allowed at least one run in each of his three appearances. That streak was emphatically kept intact in this game as he put a game that was still somewhat close out of reach in a hurry. He allowed just two hits in one inning, but he also hit a batter and the second hit was a Geoff Jenkins home run, so it all added up to three more runs, raising his ERA to 19.64. And that doesn't even account for the three unearned runs he allowed in his first appearance.

After this game, he'd pitched three and two-thirds innings and allowed eleven runs on eleven hits and two walks. He'd struck out six but also allowed three home runs. Right now he in no way resembles a major league pitcher, and given Heath Bell's early success in Norfolk--4.1 IP, 8 K, 0 BB, 1 R--I would really like to see the Mets make a move sooner rather than later. Having Julio in the bullpen is like having only five pitchers out there, because there is no way he can be brought into a game when the outcome is in any sort of question. He is the worst player on the team, and with both Endy Chavez and Jose Valentin on the roster, that's really saying something.

Things got back to normal on Sunday with more, well, adequate pitching and plenty of offense to support it. Brian Bannister had another harrowing but effective start, allowing just one run in five innings. But he allowed six hits and five walks while striking out four and nearly every inning was a struggle. He's gotten good results so far, but he is going to have to improve his control and cut down on baserunners significantly to have any kind of sustained success.

The Mets' offense didn't have as much trouble getting to Ben Sheets, as Nady hit his third home run, a two-run shot, in the second inning. The Mets added one more run against Sheets in both the fifth and sixth innings. But the bullpen nearly failed the Mets again, as Oliver entered in the sixth and gave up two runs on two hits, recording just two outs before Chad Bradford had to bail him out.

Things remained tight for the next two innings as Heilman kept the Brewers off the board to maintain the lead. He walked two batters and allowed one hit, but he also struck out two. Just as the Mets were about to bring in Wagner to try to close out another close game, they exploded for five runs in the bottom of the eighth to put this one out of reach.

Four Mets walked in the eighth, including Jose Reyes and Lo Duca to start the inning. Carlos Delgado followed them with his fourth home run of the season, a line drive blasted down the right field line. Two more walks and a Nady single loaded the bases for Victor Diaz, who came through with a double to plate two. Along with Nady, Lo Duca and David Wright each had two hits in the game including a double for Wright.

So, with a six-run lead, the game was officially over enough for Julio to get another shot. The Brewers were less pleased with his particular brand of in-game batting practice on this day, as he only allowed one hit. That hit was an absolute laser of a double to the wall by Bill Hall, but Julio finally got out of an inning without allowing a run, dropping his ERA to 15.43. I still don't want him on the team tomorrow.

And tomorrow will be the day the Mets (9-2) first come face to face with the actual competition in the division. The Braves (6-7) come to town in second place, trailing the Mets by four games. In recent years even when the Mets were good they couldn't quite solve the Braves. In the playoff years of 1999 and 2000, the Mets were a combined 9-12 against Atlanta, and that doesn't even include the '99 NLCS heartbreaker. If the Mets are going to establish themselves as the class of this division, taking a couple games from the Braves would be a good way to start. Monday's pitching matchup looks like a way to get off on the right foot, as Pedro Martinez (2-0, 3.46) will face Jorge Sosa (0-2, 11.37).
Thursday, April 13, 2006
  Mets 13, Nationals 4

It's only the Nationals. It's only the Nationals. It's not like the Mets are doing this against good teams. Eventually they will play a good team, and things won't come so easily. They may have to venture outside their own division to find this good team, but they will. And victory will not be assured.

Now that I've got that out of the way, how great are the Mets? They absolutely torched Livan Hernandez this afternoon. Victor Zambrano started for the Mets and they still won by nine runs. The heart of their lineup is absolutely aflame at the moment.

The Mets started things off by hitting three home runs out of cavernous RFK Stadium in the top of the first inning. The New Carlos Beltran, Same As The Old Carlos Beltran started it off with two outs with his third of the season. After a Carlos Delgado single, David Wright also homered for the third time this season. And Cliff Floyd followed that with his first. Floyd was the last of the Mets' big four sluggers to come alive, but it seems that he has, as he also hit a double later in the game. Delgado added his own third home run in the third inning.

Other Mets, those at the extreme ends of the lineup, also contributed. Jose Reyes had two hits including a double. Chris Woodward started at second base and had two hits as well. The only Met starter without a hit was Zambrano, which figures as he is both a pitcher and rather incompetent.

Both of those facts were on display in his performance today, as he threw the ball toward the plate from the mound and did so without much success. He lasted five innings and allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, striking out three. This against a lineup so fearsome that Darren Oliver came in and struck out four of the six batters he faced. Following Oliver, Jorge Julio pitched. Therefore, he gave up a run. QED. He struck out two batters, but allowed two hits, one of which was a home run. Duaner Sanchez pitched a perfect ninth.

The Mets are now 7-1, which gives them not only the best record in all of baseball, but also a four-game lead in a division without another team above .500. The Mets have played eight games and have a lead of four games in the standings. Prorate that over a 162-game season for fun.

This juggernaut of a team returns home for a weekend series against the Brewers (6-3). Chris Capuano (1-1, 3.65) will be presented with the challenge of trying to tame this Mets lineup. Tom Glavine (1-0, 2.25) will start for the Mets.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
  Mets 3, Nationals 1

The Mets may have an ace again. The second time around, Pedro Martinez figured out the riddle that is the Washington Nationals' offense and won his second game of the season. He lasted seven innings and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out three. And he didn't hit anyone. Things got tense in the bottom of the sixth as the Mets led by just one run and the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs. But Pedro struck out Jose Vidro and got Jose Guillen to ground into a very nicely turned double play to end the threat.

The Mets' offense gave Pedro just enough support as the heart of the lineup came through. Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright each had two hits. Wright's were a double and a triple, giving him two of each on the year. The only Met not to reach base was Paul Lo Duca. Even Pedro drew a walk.

Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, allowing one hit a piece. Wagner didn't strike anyone out, but if the radar gun in Washington is to be believed he did get his fastball up to 99 MPH. Maybe Pedro isn't the only one who's just about recovered from what ailed him earlier this Spring.

The Mets will have to deal with the ace of the Nationals' staff tomorrow afternoon as Livan Hernandez (1-1, 5.25) gets the start. Victor Zambrano (7-12, 4.17 in 2005) will put an end to all of my breathless anticipation by making his belated season debut. I predict that he won't pitch into the ninth inning, allowing just two runs with a 6:1 K:BB ratio. But I could be wrong.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
  Mets 7, Nationals 1

Well, Billy Wagner again didn't pitch very well. And, uh...hmmm. You know, writing about the Mets absent numerous legitimate reasons to complain is a bit of an adjustment. I'm not sure I've quite got the hang of it. If they were so good that Willie Randolph could make several terrible decisions within a game and still win, I think I'd be okay. But the team's current level of competence is going to require me to work on a new approach.

For now, I'll tell you that the Mets' offense again smacked around the sort of pitching that good teams smack around. Jose Reyes had another good game with two hits including his second triple of the year. Paul Lo Duca had three hits, one of which was a double. David Wright drove in the first run of the game with a double of his own. And Carlos Beltran had his best game of the season with a walk, a single and a monstrous home run, his second.

Brian Bannister got the start and was effective again, this time lasting seven innings and allowing just one run. He only struck out one batter, which makes you wonder how long he can keep this up, but he didn't walk any and allowed just three hits. An Alfonso Soriano home run accounted for the only Washington run.

Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one. Wagner didn't fare so well in the ninth, walking three batters and striking out just one. But he got out of it without allowing a run. One could ask what Wagner was even doing in this game with a six-run lead, but given the time he missed in Spring Training, maybe he did need to get some work in despite having pitched on Sunday.

Speaking of pitchers who need some work, the Mets will send Pedro Martinez (1-0, 6.00) to the mound tomorrow night. Tony Armas (0-1, 3.60) will try to tame the hot Met bats. And maybe Randolph will let Jorge Julio pitch to the heart of the Nationals' lineup in a tight game! That would certainly be unwise. I sure would have some things to say about it were that to happen. Seriously, let's go Mets.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
  Mets 3, Marlins 2

Who is the best young third baseman in the National League? When trying to answer this question, I suggest basing your conclusions entirely on this weekend's series between the Mets and Marlins. If studying both games of the series, in which Miguel Cabrera had a total of zero hits and one walk as compared to David Wright's three hits, which included a triple and a home run, one walk and six RBI, proves too time-consuming, feel free to just look at today's game.

Wright drove in all three of the Mets' runs. In the bottom of the seventh, with the Mets trailing by two, he drove in a pair when the aforementioned triple eluded the glove of Florida right fielder Jeremy Hermida. And in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied and runners on first and third, he wasted no time, smacking the first pitch he saw to right field for a game-ending sacrifice fly. Cabrera drew an intentional walk, reached on an error and scored one of the two Florida runs.

Five games into the season, Cabrera is hitting .250/.286/.500 with two doubles, one home run and four RBI. Those numbers are nothing to be ashamed of and he's still got some time to pull them up before Marlins fans really need to start worrying. Wright, on the other hand, is hitting .474/.478/.895 with one triple, two home runs, a stolen base and nine RBI. It's unfortunate that his average dipped below .500 as a result of today's game, but I still think it's pretty clear who the winner of this competition is through the first week of the season.

Also continuing to perform well today was Tom Glavine. He lasted six innings again and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out six. Duaner Sanchez also pitched well again, holding the Marlins scoreless for two innings with one walk and two strikeouts. Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth with one walk.

Regardless of what happens later today, the Mets will finish the first week of the season alone in first place in the NL East with a record of 4 wins and 1 loss. They will get another chance to beat up on the dregs of the division starting Tuesday when they head down to Washington to take on the Nationals (2-4). Victor Zambrano (7-12, 4.17 in 2005) is scheduled to make his first start of the season for the Mets. He will be opposed by Ramon Ortiz (0-1, 10.80) who the Mets roughed up on Thursday.
Friday, April 07, 2006
  Mets 9, Marlins 3

It is somewhat difficult to get too excited about beating the Florida Marlins this year. It's like jumping up and down over the fact that the Mets were able to beat one of the better AAA teams. It's still fun to see the Mets win in dominant fashion, but drawing conclusions about the team's ability as a result of it is probably unwise.

According to, the Marlins' payroll this year is $14,344,500, or less than half of what the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are spending. The Marlins' second highest paid player is Brian Moehler, who posted a 4.55 ERA last year in his best season since 2000. ESPN's salary listings only show 23 Marlins, but surely the other two guys are making the league minimum of $327,000. Adding those two to the total still leaves the entire Marlins team making less money than each of the five highest paid players on the New York Yankees this year. So you can understand how the Mets could send out both Jorge Julio and Darren Oliver to pitch in this game and still win.

The Mets' offense continued to roll in the face of this insignificant opposition, racking up thirteen hits, six of them for extra bases. It was another big night for Jose Reyes, who had both a double and a home run among his three hits. David Wright had another two hits, one of which was his second home run of the season. Both Carlos Delgado and Xavier Nady had two hits as well. And in the category of "I don't know which should embarrass the Marlins more," both Steve Trachsel and Endy Chavez hit a double.

Trachsel also had a good night on the mound against Miguel Cabrera and eight other professional baseball players. Trachsel lasted six innings and allowed just one run on three hits and one walk while striking out six. At thirty-five years old and having missed most of last year due to injury, Trachsel is something of a question mark this year. If he can maintain something resembling this sort of performance against actual major league lineups, the Mets rotation will begin to look a bit more solid than it did at the start of the season.

Chad Bradford pitched another good inning in relief, getting through the seventh without allowing anything on just nine pitches. Julio, on the other hand, is still not good. Pitching with a lead of eight runs, Julio gave up two runs on three hits and one walk in the eighth while striking out two. The hits weren't struck especially hard and he was able to come back and strike out Cabrera with the bases loaded and just one out to avoid total disaster, but it was still another unimpressive performance from the Benson bait. Oliver pitched a perfect ninth in his season debut.

Things should be a bit more competitive tomorrow as the Marlins send out the guy they have who can pitch to start the game. Dontrelle Willis (0-0, 0.00) will take on Tom Glavine (1-0, 1.50).
Thursday, April 06, 2006
  Mets 10, Nationals 5

Pedro Martinez may not be of this world, but apparently even he can benefit from a bit of Spring Training. Having missed almost all of the time he could've spent preparing for the season down in Florida due to toe troubles, Pedro struggled in his season debut. Like the Mets' previous two starters, he lasted six innings. Unlike them, he gave up five runs along the way. He was quite wild, walking five batters and hitting three more. He did strike out six along the way. It's too early to be very concerned about Pedro's effectiveness this season, but it may take him a little while longer to pitch like the ace the Mets need him to be.

Fortunately, the Mets' offense bailed their pitcher out with their biggest offensive explosion of this young season. Five Mets had at least two hits, including Jose Reyes and David Wright racking up three each. In fact, only one Met starter went without a hit in this game, meaning only one Met remains without one for the year. That Met is, of course, Anderson Hernandez, who's been even more prolific at making outs with his bat than he has with his glove.

But, if you've been paying attention, you realize that means that Carlos Beltran finally broke through. And he did it in a big way, driving a two-run home run in the seventh inning to add some padding to the Mets' one-run lead. He had been in danger of finishing this game with fewer hits on the season than Pedro, who drove in a run with a single in the fourth. But it was a good night to be named Carlos, as Carlos Delgado also went deep, doing so for the second consecutive night. Three other Mets had extra-base hits, with a Reyes triple and doubles by Xavier Nady and Cliff Floyd.

The Met bullpen had its most effective night of the season, tossing three scoreless frames. Duaner Sanchez came back with two more good innings tonight, as he struck out four while allowing one hit, one walk and one hit batter. Chad Bradford finished things off with a scoreless ninth including one hit and two strikeouts.

Another division rival comes to town this weekend as the Mets (2-1) host the Marlins (1-2). Steve Trachsel (1-4, 4.14 in 2005) will start the first game for the Mets, trying to reestablish himself as a dependable starter after an injury-shortened 2005. Jason Vargas (5-5, 4.03) goes for Florida.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
  Nationals 9, Mets 5 (10 innings)

One of the things you expect when a team spends a lot of money, trades a couple of competent starting pitchers and moves another potentially good starter into relief in order to assemble a good bullpen is that the resulting bullpen will not suck. You figure that, asked to record just nine outs in a game, they will occasionally be able to do so without allowing a run. You do not expect them to lead you to completely reevaluate your thoughts on the team's ability to compete for a playoff spot before the second game of the season is even over. Or, at least, I don't.

The Mets' vaunted bullpen features one man with an unimpeachable resume in Billy Wagner and another who's at least recently posted numbers to match the expectations in Aaron Heilman. And then there's Duaner Sanchez and Jorge Julio, two pitchers long on hype and "stuff", short on results. These four men were spoken of in the offseason as comprising the heart of a bullpen that was to be one of the strengths that would help lead this team to the postseason.

Confidence in Wagner and, to a lesser extent, Heilman is understandable. Expecting at least competence from Sanchez, who posted solid numbers in an excellent pitchers' park the last two seasons, is reasonable. But counting on Julio, who hasn't posted an ERA under 4.38 since 2002, to be some sort of important contributor seems highly optimistic.

Sanchez held up his end in his first appearance tonight, pitching a perfect seventh inning. Heilman already faltered in the season's first game, but tonight he returned and pitched well, allowing one hit and striking out one in a scoreless eighth. Wagner got the job done in game one, but game two went less smoothly. He allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in the ninth, blowing the very sort of narrow lead that it is his purpose on this team to protect.

And then there's Julio. Entering a tie game in the top of the tenth inning, he wasted little time in dampening the drama. Three batters in he had already allowed a two-run home run, but he didn't stop there. He was removed after recording just two outs. He had allowed five runs on four hits and one walk, though only two of the runs counted as earned, leaving his season ERA at a mere 27.00. Chad Bradford followed Julio and got an out with the only pitch he threw.

All of this ruined a game that had been started pretty well by both Brian Bannister and the New York offense. Bannister, in his first major league start, lasted six innings and allowed three runs on two hits and four walks, though he did also hit two batters. He didn't allow a hit until there was one out in the sixth, which makes it seem like he pitched better than he really did. But it was not a bad way to start a career at all.

And the Met bats gave him adequate backup, as the new guys in town continued to impress. Xavier Nady finally made an out in this game. In fact, he made four of them. But not before he hit his first home run of the season. Also going deep for the first time in the orange and blue was Carlos Delgado.

As for guys who were around last year, Jose Reyes beat Carlos Beltran in their race to see who could get a hit first, smacking a single in the first. But Beltran did draw three walks, as compared to Reyes's one, which is impressive in its own right, considering we're talking about Jose Reyes and drawing a walk. David Wright was merely adequate, as all he did was hit a single, drive in the first run of the game and steal a base. Hopefully he'll get back on track soon.

This series finishes up tomorrow night with a far more lopsided pitching matchup. The job of trying to last more than six innings will fall to Pedro Martinez (15-8, 2.82 in 2005) and his nettlesome big toe. The Nationals will send out Ramon Ortiz (9-11, 5.36), who is clearly not as good as Pedro Martinez.
Monday, April 03, 2006
  Mets 3, Nationals 2

The Mets played the Nationals in a baseball game this afternoon and they won three to two.


Okay, I missed several innings of this game for reasons of no concern to you. But things seem to have gone pretty well for the Mets. And some of their latest acquisitions had a lot of to do with it.

Paul Lo Duca got off to a good start in his bid to get another major city's worth of sportswriters to record sappy emo ballads about him. He had two hits, including a double, and, just to cement his undying clutchness in the media's mind, a two-out RBI. Xavier Nady had an even better day with four hits, two of which were doubles. Carlos Delgado got off to a quieter start, managing just a walk in four trips to the plate.

Some things seemed very familiar, though. David Wright had a pair of hits, one of which landed on the other side of the outfield wall. And Carlos Beltran partied like it was 2005, going hitless in four at bats, though he did make a nice throw to end the game, foiling Jose Vidro's attempt to stretch a single into a double.

Other familiar themes included Tom Glavine pitching quite effectively and Aaron Heilman disappointing those who'd come to have some of faith in his abilities. Glavine lasted six innings and allowed just one run on six hits and three walks while striking out five. Heilman pitched the next two innings and gave up a run on five hits, striking out one. All ended well, though, as Billy Wagner recorded the final three outs, one via strikeout, allowing just the aforementioned Vidro single-turned-out.

These two teams meet again on Wednesday when the pitching matchup will be a lot less veteranny. John Patterson (9-7, 3.13 in 2005) goes for the Nationals. And for the Mets it will be Brian Bannister making his major league debut. Giving Heilman's rotation spot to Bannister based on 19 Spring Training innings isn't the best idea I've ever heard, but it'll be nice to see a Mets pitching prospect wear a Mets uniform all the same.
Disseminating descriptions and accounts of New York Mets games without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball or the New York Mets since 2003.

Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States
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