Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Monday, August 28, 2006
  Mets 8, Phillies 3

If John Maine has proven anything, it's that he is very capable of beating the Phillies. He got his third win in August over the NL East's first loser on Monday. He pitched six and one-third innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, striking out two.

The Mets' offense had a good day despite not hitting a home run as seven Mets had a hit and four of them had two. Jose Reyes had a triple and a single and Carlos Delgado had a double and a single. Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez singled twice. Carlos Beltran and Shawn Green added doubles as well. And David Wright had about the oddest single you'll ever see as it was ruled foul at first only for the call to be reversed resulting in the scoring of a run and the ejection of a manager.

Now the Mets (80-49), winners of nine of their last ten games, head out on the road for a six-game trip. The first stop will be the pitchers' paradise that is Colorado where they'll take on the Rockies, whom they swept at home last weekend. Steve Trachsel (13-5, 5.00) will face Byung-Hyun Kim (7-9, 5.18) in the series opener.
  Phillies 4, Mets 3
Mets 11, Phillies 5

The Mets dug deep into their reservoir of starting pitching to begin this series. The results weren't absolutely positive, but it was quite exciting for at least a few innings. And after a rough start, they have a chance to win this series by taking tomorrow's rain-postponed finale.

Brain Bannister made his first major league start since April on Friday and basically picked up where he left off. He gave up too many baserunners--nine in six innings--and struggled a bit with his control. But this time he wasn't quite able to get out of it, as he allowed four runs. He struck out four.

Carlos Beltran had an ordinary game offensively, hitting a double and a home run in four at bats. Paul Lo Duca also had two hits including a double. Both teams had seven hits and four walks in the game, but the Mets were only able to make three runs out of theirs and so they lost.

Oliver Perez made his Mets debut on Saturday night and was electric for four innings. He walked two of the first three batters he faced but then embarked upon perhaps the most riveting stretch of pitching by any Mets starter this season. At the end of the fourth, he'd allowed three walks and no hits and looked perfectly capable of keeping the Phillies hitless for nine innings if his pitch count cooperated. He already had six strikeouts. His control always seemed a bit elusive, but the strikes he was throwing were giving the Phillies a lot of trouble.

Sadly, things unraveled for him in the fifth. He entered the inning with a two-run lead that appeared to be sufficient. He walked two more batters, including a pitcher trying to bunt, but also got two outs with allowing a run. Then, all of a sudden, a single, a hit batsman and an unfortunate 0-2 pitch to Ryan Howard had him in a 5-2 hole. He struck out the next batter but did not return for the sixth inning.

People just looking at a box score might think Perez somehow comparable to Victor Zambrano with the talk of "potential" and "stuff" undone by a lack of control. But watching Perez and looking at his record of past success, it's clear he's something more than that. The unhittable pitcher he was in the second, third and fourth innings on Saturday he was for nearly two hundred innings two years ago. I am very excited to see what will come of him spending the next month in the majors with Rick Peterson. If Perez can rediscover the dimensions of the strike zone, the Mets will have a very dangerous new arm for October.

And even if things with Perez don't go quite that well, the Mets can score eleven runs every now and then, too. This time five Mets had multiple hits. Carlos Delgado homered for the thirty-third time and Beltran for the thirty-eight, putting him just three shy of the club record. Endy Chavez had four hits including a double. Jose Reyes and Shawn Green each had a double and a single. Lo Duca had a pair of singles.

Sunday's game was rained out, so they'll try it again Monday at noon. Jamie Moyer (7-12, 4.39), who had a solid Phillies debut last week, allowing three runs in six innings, will get the start. John Maine (3-3, 3.58) will try to rebound from the pounding he sustained last time out for the Mets.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
  Mets 6, Cardinals 2

The Mets wrapped up a series sweep of the Cardinals and their seventh straight win overall, getting the best starting pitching performance of the series from Dave Williams. Shawn Green made his Mets debut and didn't embarrass himself. And Carlos Delgado just kept on hitting.

Williams pitched six and one-third innings and gave up just two runs to an offense that had feasted on Mets pitching the previous two nights. He allowed seven hits and one walk and struck out four. When he left the game, there were runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, but Roberto Hernandez was able to finish the inning without letting either run score. Hernandez pitched a perfect eighth as well and Guillermo Mota had another good inning in the ninth, striking out two.

Green started his Mets career off by lining into a double play in the second inning, but he drove in a run with a single in the fourth and drew a walk in the fifth. Jose Reyes had his second straight three-hit game, all singles. Paul Lo Duca had two hits, one of which St. Louis right fielder Preston Wilson turned into a triple. And Delgado drew two walks and hit his thirty-second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth.

Tomorrow the Mets (78-48) begin yet another series with the Phillies (64-63), who they now lead by 14.5 games. Starting for the Phillies will be Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.61), who has allowed five runs in eleven innings against the Mets this month. And for the Mets, it's Brian Bannister (2-0, 2.89), who hasn't pitched in the majors since April, replacing Orlando Hernandez, who's just getting a start off as a precaution according to the Mets. Bannister's first stint with the Mets saw him repeatedly work his way out of self-created jams as he walked seventeen batters in twenty-eight innings and struck out just fourteen. Such wildness was never an issue in his minor league career, so hopefully he'll return with a slightly better grasp of the strike zone.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
  Mets 10, Cardinals 8

Like John Maine before him, Steve Trachsel chose the week in which Tom Glavine will not pitch to remind us all why we shouldn't feel so comfortable about him starting a playoff game. Trachsel had an eight-run lead by the end of the fourth inning and he put the game's outcome back into question in a hurry. He pitched into the sixth inning, but didn't record any outs there, instead allowing two home runs and a walk before being removed. In total, he gave up six runs on six hits and three walks with just one strikeout. He allowed a total of three home runs.

Trachsel's collapse and an uncharacteristically bad inning by Chad Bradford, in which he allowed two runs, were not enough to sink the Mets, however, as they scored ten runs in the first four innings. Jose Reyes had three hits in the game, including his fifteenth home run, as well as a walk and two stolen bases. Carlos Delgado had two doubles while David Wright and Chris Woodward had one each. Every Mets starter aside from Trachsel and Carlos Beltran had at least one hit and Beltran drew two walks and scored two runs.

The Mets will go for the sweep tomorrow night in another game in which some runs will probably be scored. Dave Williams (2-3, 6.90) will make his second start for the Mets. Jason Marquis (13-11, 5.70) goes for the Cardinals. And suiting up in the orange and blue and possibly black for the first time will be Shawn Green. The acquisition of the clearly declining Green and half of his preposterous salary is sure to increase the number of tall Jewish men on the Mets' bench come October and beyond. Omar Minaya continues to amaze.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
  Mets 8, Cardinals 7

John Maine started off the evening by making Mets fans very thankful that Tom Glavine is going to be okay. Carlos Beltran ended it by reminding us not to worry so much about the pitching.

Maine gave up seven runs in five innings, all of them driven in on a pair of home runs by Albert Pujols. Maine struck out five and gave up just six hits and two walks. But the two walks were issued to the guys hitting directly in front of Pujols in the fifth inning and the Cardinals' first baseman responded by smacking a grand slam.

New York hitters had similar success against St. Louis starter Jeff Weaver, though. It was Carlos Delgado who had the pair of home runs including a grand slam for the Mets. The two blasts gave him 31 this season and an even 400 in his career. Paul Lo Duca also had an excellent game with three singles and a very good play to tag a runner out at the plate. Still, the Mets trailed by one run when the ninth inning arrived. Lo Duca singled with one out and Beltran followed by driving the first pitch he saw over the right field wall to end the game and remind Mr. Pujols that while the NL East may have been decided already, the race for National League MVP rages on.

The Mets couldn't have made it to the ninth inning with the score so close if not for some excellent work from the bullpen. Guillermo Mota made his debut with the team and had a good inning, allowing one hit and striking out two. Pedro Feliciano then walked two of the three batters he faced, but Chad Bradford was there as usual to save the day, getting one double play to bail out Feliciano and then another in the following inning after he got into a bit of his own trouble. And Aaron Heilman was terrific in the eighth, pitching a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Tomorrow night's game presents a fairly favorable pitching matchup as the Mets look to win this series against a team they may meet again in October. Steve Trachsel (12-5, 4.79) will start for the Mets. His opponent will be Mark Mulder (6-5, 6.09), who hasn't pitched in over two months and who allowed 35 runs in his last five starts prior to landing on the disable list. He's allowed at least six runs in a third of his starts this season, though by far his best start came against the Mets back in May when he shut them out for eight and one-third innings. I would be a bit surprised to see him repeat that performance tomorrow.

It turns out the Tom Glavine's situation is not as serious as feared and he could be back on the mound by next week. I guess the nation can resume preparation for Subway Series 2: This Time The Good Guys Win. Coming soon to a stadium probably nowhere near you.
Monday, August 21, 2006
  Mostly armless

After months of being concerned about the Mets' starting rotation despite their continued winning, I think I've finally got reason for alarm. Neither Pedro Martinez nor Tom Glavine will pitch this week. Pedro will likely be back and effective in plenty of time for the postseason, but Glavine could be out much longer after the discovery of what may or may not be a blood clot in his left shoulder. If the worst case scenario comes to pass and he is out for the rest of the season (or longer), it will be a serious blow to the team's postseason hopes.

Right now I have to assume, if for no other reason than the sake of my own sanity, that Pedro will pitch the first game of the Division Series. The Mets' ace as been somewhat inconsistent this year and is on the disabled list for the second time. That his two injuries were different rather than one recurring problem is only slightly comforting. But health is really the only question with Pedro. Most of his worst starts this year occurred right before or after a stint on the DL. When he's been healthy, he's often dominated, striking out batters more frequently than any National League starter but Jake Peavy. Being healthy in October should be Pedro's only concern for the next six weeks.

If he is able to return this season, Glavine will presumably pitch game two. After rough months in June and July in which he posted ERAs of 4.93 and 6.00, respectively, Glavine had returned to form somewhat in August. Despite a 1-2 record, he pitched well in all three of his starts, never allowing more than three runs or pitching fewer than six innings, earning a 3.60 ERA for the month. His strikeout-to-walk ratio, which had been so good (60:14) in the first two months of the season and so unimpressive (31:26) the next two, bounced back to a solid 12:5. He also cut down on his hits allowed after giving up significantly more than one per inning in June and July. And the two home runs he allowed in August were quite a bit better than the ten he gave up in the month of June alone. In short, he seemed to be rediscovering some of what made him successful at the start of the season. If he is unable to return this season, the Mets will have a very difficult time replacing him.

The back of the rotation has been showing some signs of life, however. John Maine has been excellent, with a 2.68 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance, striking out 41 and walking 14 in 50.1 innings. Providing further dividends from the Kris Benson trade is Orlando Hernandez, who's often been great since the Mets acquired him for Jorge Julio. Every once in a while he'll get absolutely demolished, but he's also capable of a brilliant performance like Sunday's six shutout innings. And then there's Steve Trachsel, whose pitching is beginning to match his pretty 12-5 record. After going 3-1 in July with a 6.15 ERA, 33 hits in 26.1 IP and a 13:17 K:BB ratio (that is not a typo), August has been his best month with a 3.24 ERA in 25 IP. Any of these three looks like a competent third or fourth playoff starter right now. Maine or El Duque on a good day might be able to impersonate a number two, particularly given the caliber of opposition they'll face in the NL, but I'd rather not try it in the World Series.

Some options have begun to emerge in the minor leagues as well. Brian Bannister, who escaped the major leagues with a bad hamstring and a 2.89 ERA despite allowing a ton of baserunners in April, has started to pitch well in AAA. In his last two starts for Norfolk, he's allowed one run in fourteen innings, striking out twelve and allowing just one walk and nine hits. Oliver Perez has been at least as impressive in his last two outings, giving up just one run in thirteen innings with eighteen strikeouts, three walks and six hits. Seven innings of one-hit ball with eleven strikeouts this past Saturday raised hopes that perhaps the 2004 version of Oliver Perez still lurks somewhere within his body.

So, if Glavine can't pitch, the Mets won't exactly be setting the ball up on a tee for the opposing team. They have some guys who, if they have a good day and/or a lot of offensive support, could win a playoff game. Especially if the opposing starter is the likes of Jeff Suppan or Aaron Harang. Still, I'd much rather have Glavine out there to face Randy Johnson in game two of the World Series. Oh, you know it's going to happen. Eat it, rest of the country.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
  Mets 6, Rockies 3
Mets 7, Rockies 4
Mets 2, Rockies 0

On a weekend when the Mets got some potentially devastating news about one of their ace pitchers, the rest of the rotation showed that perhaps all is not lost. Tom Glavine revealed Sunday that he has a blood clot in his left shoulder that will cause him to miss at least one start and possibly a lot more. This may turn out to be no big deal with Glavine returning soon, but if not, it will be a serious blow to the Mets' postseason rotation.

Steve Trachsel continued his recent string of solid performances on Friday, allowing three runs in seven innings. He gave up seven hits, including one home run, and three walks, one of which was intentional, and struck out six. Over his last four starts he has an ERA of 3.24 in twenty-five innings with fourteen strikeouts and seven walks. He's also given up five home runs. It's still hard to be extremely confident in his ability to get hitters out in the postseason, but right now he's looking like a decent choice to be the fourth starter the Mets send out.

The Mets' offense also fared well on Friday as four different players had two hits and everyone but Trachsel and Paul Lo Duca had at least one. Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Chris Woodward and Endy Chavez each had a pair of hits. Beltran and Wright doubled and Chavez hit his third home run of the season. Beltran also drew two walks, as did Carlos Delgado.

On Saturday the Mets celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Champs and for a while it seemed the pre-game ceremony would be the only highlight on the night. Dave Williams pitched surprisingly well in his Mets debut, allowing three runs in five and two-thirds innings on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts. The last two of those runs scored after Williams left the game on a three-run home run by Garrett Atkins allowed by Roberto Hernandez.

Meanwhile, the New York bats were shut down over the first five innings by Colorado starter Jeff Francis. But Francis and the Rockies' defense came undone in the sixth as the Mets took advantage of two errors and four walks along with four hits to put six runs on the board. Two of the walks were intentional, but the other two came with the bases loaded. The only extra base hit in the inning was a double by Lo Duca. Lastings Milledge drove in a run with a single in the sixth and had two other hits in the game including his fourth home run in the seventh.

The best starting pitching performance of the series came from Orlando Hernandez on Sunday. El Duque was out after six innings having thrown 114 pitches, but he was excellent. He gave up just five hits and one walk and struck out eight. The most impressive moment was the fifth inning wherein he allowed a single and a double to start the frame only to strike out the next three batters, leaving the runners stranded.

The Mets didn't need much offense in this game, which was a good thing, because they didn't have much. Solo home runs by Delgado and Beltran accounted for all the scoring. The Mets had just two other hits, both singles by Hernandez and Milledge. The bullpen provided three scoreless innings, including Billy Wagner pitching in his fourth consecutive game. He saved every game of this series and has now allowed a run in just one of his last ten appearances.

Also on Sunday the Mets acquired Guillermo Mota from the Indians for some reason in exchange for a player to be named later and cash considerations. Mota hasn't been much good since being traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins in mid-2004. This season he has a 6.21 ERA in 37.2 innings with twenty-seven strikeouts, nineteen walks and nine home runs allowed.

This was a pretty good weekend for once excellent, recently awful pitchers acquired by the Mets, though. Oliver Perez was outstanding on Saturday for Norfolk, pitching seven shutout innings. He allowed just one hit, two walks and one hit by pitch while striking out eleven. His previous start was also very good as he allowed just one run in six innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. Two excellent minor league starts do not a playoff starter make, but he's suddenly worth keeping an eye on.

The Mets (75-48) have Monday off before beginning a three-game series at home against the team that's supposed to challenge them for National League supremacy, the Cardinals (66-57). Jeff Weaver (5-13, 6.07) will start for St. Louis. And with Glavine unavailable, it will apparently be John Maine (3-3, 2.68) going for the Mets.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
  Mets 7, Phillies 2

On their fourth try, the Mets were finally able to win a game in Philadelphia thanks to a revived offense and some unsurprisingly good pitching. Some hitters who've spent the last week struggling came to life. And John Maine just kept on making the case for a postseason start.

Jose Reyes has not been among those struggling and he had another good game with two singles, a walk and his fiftieth stolen base. But it was the Carloses who carried the Mets. Carlos Beltran had four hits including a double and his thirty-fourth home run. Carlos Delgado hit two home runs to give him twenty-eight on the year and also hit his first triple of the season. Jose Valentin had two hits before leaving with a hamstring strain that is apparently not serious.

Maine continued to show his mortality, giving up runs for the second straight outing. But this time he gave up just two in six innings. He allowed eight hits, walked none and struck out four. He left with two runners on and no outs in the seventh inning, but Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano were able to get him out of trouble without allowing further scoring.

Next up for the Mets (72-48) is a three game series at home against the Rockies (59-62). Despite their sub-.500, the Rockies and their humidified balls are just three games out of the Wild Card lead. Byung-Hyun Kim (7-7, 4.65) will start the first game. Steve Trachsel (11-5, 4.84), whose most recent start was his best and longest in over two months, will take the ball for the Mets.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
  Phillies 3, Mets 0

Twelve games. The lead is still twelve games. There is no reason to be alarmed. Better to play like crap now than in the middle of October. Etc.

Tom Glavine pitched another decent game, but got no support from his offense. He went seven innings and allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, one intentional. He struck out three. A second-inning two-run home run by Chris Coste was the only major misstep, but given the way Jon Lieber dominated the Mets' bats, that was plenty.

Five Mets each had one hit, all of them singles. Lieber did not walk anyone. The Mets have now scored just fourteen runs over their last six games and have fallen behind the Phillies for the league lead in runs scored. The heart of the Mets' lineup has basically taken the week off.

In the last six games, the men who usually hit second through sixth in the batting order--Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright and Jose Valentin--have a batting average of .156 and an on-base percentage of .206. The five of them have combined for one home run. Lo Duca hit it on Friday. Beltran, at five for twenty with a double, a triple and three walks, has been the most productive of the group. But only Jose Reyes has done much to pick up the slack and he can't hit three home runs every night.

Of course every player and team is bound to go through a slump every now and then. Some of these struggles date back further than six days, like Delgado's. But in general, the middle of August is a pretty opportune time for a team like the Mets to have a bad week.

They'll try to slink out of town with a win tomorrow. Starting the afternoon game will be John Maine (2-3, 3.64), who finally gave up a run last time out. Phillies starter Scott Mathieson (1-3, 6.48), on the other hand, has given up at least three runs in every one of his major league starts.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
  Phillies 13, Mets 0
Phillies 11, Mets 4

These things happen. Eight dollars.

So Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez got pretty well smacked around in the first two games of this series. Pedro strained his right calf warming up before the game but pitched anyway and the results were not good. He gave up six runs in one inning, and I can't really even blame it on the stadium. He allowed four hits and one walk and he also hit two batters and balked in a run.

Hernandez's problems are easier to blame on the ballpark, but he probably bears some responsibility, too. He allowed eleven runs in four innings on ten hits and four walks. He did give up two home runs in the first inning to raise my Citizen's Bank ire, but he pretty well sucked after that despite keeping the ball in the yard.

Jose Reyes did hit three home runs on Tuesday, which was pretty cool.

The Mets will give "not getting embarrassed" another shot on Wednesday. Tom Glavine (12-5, 3.92), who has pitched solidly in his last two starts, including one against the Phillies, will go for the Mets. Jon Lieber (4-9, 5.51), who the Mets beat with the aid of the Philly defense two starts ago, will be the opposition.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
  Nationals 2, Mets 1
Mets 6, Nationals 4
Mets 3, Nationals 1

The Mets' offense didn't have such a great weekend as they scored just ten runs in three games. That Michael Tucker wielded one of the most productive bats of the series should tell you all you need to know. But the starting pitchers had a very good weekend to get the team another series victory.

Tom Glavine began the festivities on Friday with his second consecutive good start. He lasted six innings and allowed just two runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven. Unfortunately he was stuck with the loss as the Mets could manage no more than a first inning solo home run by Paul Lo Duca.

John Maine was dominant at the start on Saturday, running his scoreless streak to twenty-six innings. Through three innings he'd struck out four batters and allowed just one walk. He finally gave up a run in the fourth on a Nick Johnson home run and things came undone for him in the sixth. He allowed another home run to Alfonso Soriano and exited after just five and one-third. He wound up charged with four runs on four hits and one walk, though he did strike out six. It was inevitable that he'd give up a run eventually, but even in struggling in this game, he was often impressive. He seems very capable of getting major league hitters out and deserves serious consideration for a spot in the postseason rotation.

Saturday was the best offensive day for the Mets as they put six runs on the board to get Maine off the hook. Carlos Beltran was the star of the show with three hits including a triple and a double. Jose Reyes had a triple and a walk. David Wright hit a double and Tucker somehow drew two walks.

Sunday continued the trend of pitchers reversing recent history as Steve Trachsel pitched a very good game. It was his second straight good outing after a series of unimpressive performances. He lasted six and two-thirds innings and gave up just one run on five hits and one walk, striking out four. The lone run scored on a Soriano home run.

The Mets had just four hits and two walks in this game, but they were timely enough to add up to three runs. Three Washington errors helped as well. Tucker's first home run of the season was the biggest blow of the day. Wright, Beltran and Endy Chavez had the other hits, all singles. Beltran also drew both walks.

The Mets (71-45) have stretched their division lead to fifteen games just in time for a four-game series on the road against the second-place Phillies (56-60). Pedro Martinez (9-4, 3.42), who has pitched very well in his last two starts, will take the ball in game one for the Mets. Also pitching well of late is young Cole Hamels (4-6, 4.97), who will start for Philadelphia. In his last three starts, Hamels has struck out twenty-five batters in twenty and one-third innings, walked just five and allowed just five runs. This pitching matchup would be a lot of fun to watch if it were happening in some other stadium.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
  Mets 7, Padres 3

If the Mets get to play the Padres in the playoffs, their pitching probably won't pose a problem. Orlando Hernandez gave New York their third good start in as many days to aid in sweeping this series. With Mike Piazza watching from the bench, the San Diego offense just couldn't put up much of a fight.

El Duque pitched seven innings. It was the third time in his last four starts that he lasted at least that long. He gave up just four hits and one walk, allowing three runs due in large part to a two-run home run in the first inning. He struck out four.

The Mets' offense was missing several of its key hitters with Endy Chavez the closest thing to a regular outfielder in the lineup. But Chavez was one of three Mets with two hits along with Jose Reyes and David Wright. One of Reyes's hits was a triple and both of Wright's were doubles. Wright also drew two walks and stole two bases. Chavez swiped a pair as well. And starting left fielder Michael Tucker hit a double. Clearly he has nowhere to go but down.

Having dispensed with the leaders of the NL West, the Mets (69-44) will resume beating up on their own division as they head to Washington for a three game series against the Nationals (50-64). Tom Glavine (12-4, 3.96) will start for the Mets having pitched seven solid innings in his most recent start. Former Mets first round draft pick Billy Traber (1-1, 9.00) will start for the last-place Nats. If nothing else, Traber's done a fine job making the Mets not regret that Roberto Alomar trade in the years since.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
  Mets 4, Padres 3

This Mike Piazza business is getting out of hand. One night after returning to New York and thrilling the fans with a meaningless seventh-inning single, the Met legend had the audacity to try to win the game for the Padres. First he hit a solo home run against Pedro Martinez in the fourth inning. Given that the Mets were up by four runs at the time, the home run and subsequent curtain call made for a touching moment. But hitting another home run in the sixth to cut the lead to just two was simply uncalled for. If he has the nerve to actually win a game for the Padres tomorrow, my patience with the best offensive player in the history of the Mets may well run out.

Pedro had quite a bit more luck against Piazza's new teammates, however. He pitched seven and one-third innings and allowed just one hit aside from the two home runs. He struck out just two but got sixteen ground ball outs. He allowed four walks, two of which in the eighth led to his exit. But Aaron Heilman was able to get out of the inning allowing just one intentional walk to preserve the lead.

The current Mets did not hit any home runs, but ten hits including three doubles allowed them to put four runs on the board. Eight of the hits and all four of the runs came in the first three innings. Jose Reyes had two hits including a double, as did Jose Valentin. David Wright had the third double. Endy Chavez hit three singles. Lastings Milledge drew two walks, one of which was intentional.

The Padres were not through hitting home runs when Pedro exited, as Josh Barfield took Billy Wagner deep with one out in the ninth. Wagner finished off the ninth without further incident, though. He struck out pinch hitter Ben Johnson to end the game.

This series will conclude tomorrow afternoon, perhaps meaning a day off for these teams' starting catchers. Orlando Hernandez (7-8, 4.97), who has pitched at least adequately in each of his last three starts, will take the mound for the Mets. Chris Young (9-5, 3.78), who gave up five runs in five innings to the Nationals last time out, goes for San Diego.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
  Mets 3, Padres 2

The big story of the evening was the return of Mike Piazza, but it was the current longest tenured Met who had the greatest effect on the outcome of the game. Steve Trachsel had a very solid outing which might have been even better if not for the fickle wind. The guys who the Mets have come up with to replace Piazza's bat in the lineup had a pretty good night, too.

Trachsel lasted five and two-thirds innings and allowed just two runs. Both of those scored on a second-inning home run by Geoff Blum that barely clearly the right field wall with the aid of a strong wind. In total, Trachsel allowed five hits and two walks and struck out two. It took five relievers to get through the next three and one-third innings, but they did it without allowing a run to make the Mets' slim lead hold up.

Carlos Beltran and David Wright led the way for the offense with three hits each. All three of Beltran's were doubles and he scored one run. Wright scored one run and drove in the other two.

Piazza was of course enthusiastically received by the Shea Stadium fans. He had one hit, a single, in the seventh inning. The Mets did take a bit of advantage of his presence behind the plate, stealing three bases against him. Perhaps to show it was nothing personal, they stole another against Josh Bard, who replaced Piazza in the eighth.

Tomorrow night Pedro Martinez (8-4, 3.48) will make his third start since returning from the disabled list. He's been excellent for the last eleven innings or so, so hopefully he can keep that up against Piazza and company. The Padres will start Clay Hensley (7-8, 4.33), who I swear I thought was scheduled to start tonight.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
  Phillies 5, Mets 3
Mets 4, Phillies 3
Mets 8, Phillies 1

The Mets' starting pitching was pretty solid all weekend, but one pitcher clearly stood above the rest. Orlando Hernandez and Tom Glavine had decent outings on Friday and Saturday, respectively. But John Maine continued to make the case for a spot in the playoff rotation with another excellent start on Sunday night.

Hernandez gave up three runs in six innings of work, which was enough to keep the Mets in the game until the bullpen blew it. He allowed seven hits and three walks and struck out seven. But the Mets also managed just three runs and both Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano allowed a run in relief.

Jose Reyes had three of the Mets' ten hits. Paul Lo Duca had two. Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado each hit a double. And David Wright drew two walks, one of which was intentional. Despite all these base runners, Randy Wolf and four relievers were largely able to escape without allowing much damage.

Glavine was similarly effective on Saturday, but got a bit more offensive support. He gave up three runs in seven innings, allowing five hits and two walks. He struck out two. After getting smacked around in his previous two starts and giving up three runs in the first inning of this game, it was a bit reassuring to see Glavine settle down and pitch the next six scoreless.

The Mets' offense had a bit less success and a lot more luck on Saturday than Friday. They had just six hits and drew nary a walk. Reyes had a double, as did Endy Chavez. But a throwing error by pitcher Jon Lieber with two outs in the sixth inning and some subsequent bad defense allowed the Mets to put three runs on the board, assuming a lead they would not relinquish.

The bats did pretty well on Sunday, but the real story was Maine's continued dominance. He pitched six innings allowing no runs on three hits and three walks, striking out four. His streak of scoreless innings is now at twenty-three innings dating back nearly a month. During the streak he's struck out fifteen, walked eight and allowed eleven hits. His emergence as the best pitcher on the team over the last month is awfully surprising and likely unsustainable, but right now he seems as good a bet to get people out in October as anyone else on the team. If he continues to pitch well for the rest of the season, I hope he'll get as much consideration as the older folks for a chance to start game three of the Division Series.

As for the offense, well, they awoke from their brief slumber with a seven-run fourth inning to knock Phillies starter Scott Mathieson out of the game. Eleven Mets came to bat in the inning. Lo Duca was the only one to record two hits in the frame with a double to lead it off and a single the next time around and he added a third hit in the seventh. The Mets had just five hits in the inning, but two walks and an error by Mathieson added to the offensive explosion. Wright's double drove in the first run of the inning and a grand slam by Reyes drove in the last four. Jose Valentin had a single in the fourth and a home run in the fifth.

Also on Sunday, the Mets signed Wright to a six-year, $55 million contract extension, following up the four-year, $23.5 million deal they gave to Reyes on Thursday. Both deals seem pretty reasonable for all concerned and while I wasn't too worried about either guy slipping away any time soon, it's nice all the same to have them locked up for a while. No matter the roster surrounding them, those two are going to make the Mets fun to watch for years to come.

Having extended their division lead back to thirteen games, the Mets (66-44) will take Monday off before welcoming an old friend back to Shea Stadium. Mike Piazza and the NL West-leading Padres (58-53) will be in town for three games starting on Tuesday. Steve Trachsel (10-5, 5.12) will take on Clay Hensley (7-8, 4.33) in the series opener.
Friday, August 04, 2006
  Marlins 4, Mets 1

Aaron Heilman did not pitch so well this time. Taking the mound for the third straight day, Heilman entered a tie game in the eighth. He gave up three runs on two walks and two hits to lose the game for the Mets.

Not that the Mets' offense had really done much to win it. They had seven hits, including three from Jose Valentin and two from David Wright, and three walks. But they scored just one run and that one was aided significantly by an error in right field. Lastings Milledge had the team's only extra base hit with a double in the fifth. The Mets had some opportunities to score against Dontrelle Willis but three different Mets grounded into double plays.

All this was enough to waste an excellent start from Pedro Martinez. Pedro pitched six innings and gave up just one run on four hits. The one run scored on a Mike Jacobs home run and two of the other hits were doubles, but he never allowed more than one base runner in the same inning. He walked none and struck out nine before exiting, having thrown exactly 100 pitches. While his teammates may have let him down, Pedro's effort did a lot to stabilize what has been a shaky starting rotation. If the guy who pitched tonight shows up twice in a playoff series, I like the Mets' chances.

Tomorrow the Mets (64-43) begin a six-game homestead starting with three games against the Phillies (52-55), who just swept a series in St. Louis. Orlando Hernandez (7-8, 5.00), who pitched very well in his last start, which pitch for the Mets. His competition will be Randy Wolf (0-0, 6.23), whose first start of the season I witnessed in person on Sunday. Wolf was effective at times, but he struggled a lot with his control, walking five batters in four and one-third innings. He may yet regain his old excellent form, but it's probably going to take a little time.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
  Mets 6, Marlins 5

Well, Aaron Heilman pitched excellently. That's for sure. He entered in the eighth inning of a one-run game and struck out two of the three batters he faced. It was quite a performance. The rest of the guys who took the ball for the Mets on this night had a bit more trouble.

Steve Trachsel made it into the sixth inning without too much difficulty, but things fell apart for him pretty quickly there. He got just two more outs and gave up a pair of home runs and a walk in the inning. Overall he allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk with one strikeout.

Roberto Hernandez finished off the sixth without incident but he created his own problems in the seventh. He struck out the first batter, but a wild pitch let him reach first. He then gave up a hit before recording two outs and being removed. Pedro Feliciano then walked the only batter he faced before giving way to Chad Bradford. Bradford gave up a single to the first batter he faced, scoring two runs that were charged to Hernandez. He retired the next hitter, ending the inning with the Mets' lead shaved to one run.

After Heilman's great eighth, Billy Wagner came in to close things out and had another rough night. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced, just as he had the night before. And when the Marlins tried to hand him an out with a sacrifice bunt, he hit Brian Moehler with a pitch. But he averted disaster by striking out the next three batters. The first of these was the result of a failed bunt, but the next two went down swinging including Miguel Cabrera to end the game.

The Mets were able to survive all of this suspect pitching due to an unusual offensive assault. Unusual in that it didn't include a single extra-base hit. But twelve singles and six walks let the Mets put six runs on the board. Paul Lo Duca again led the way with three hits. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Endy Chavez each had two. Carlos Delgado had one hit and three walks.

This series concludes tomorrow with a fine pitching matchup. Pedro Martinez (8-4, 3.59) will try to build on the last five innings of his Friday start in which he rebounded well from a bad first inning. Dontrelle Willis (6-8, 4.27) will start for the Marlins having been roughed up to the tune of eight runs in two and one-third innings in his last start.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
  Marlins 6, Mets 5

Mike Pelfrey had another game of mixed results, but it was Billy Wagner who let this one get away. Pelfrey gave up four runs in six innings, which was good enough to give the Mets the lead into the ninth inning. But Wagner gave up a single, a sacrifice bunt and a home run to the three batters he faced and the lead was blown in short order.

Pelfrey's night was far from perfect, but there were again some promising signs. The first run he gave up would not have scored but for a ball misplayed in right field by Lastings Milledge. But the Marlins' big fourth inning, in which they scored three runs, was all on Pelfrey. He gave up a home run and two doubles in that inning. But he was able to bounce back and pitch a scoreless fifth. He got into trouble in the sixth, allowing two walks and a hit, but was able to escape this jam to finish on a high note. He wound up allowing a total of seven hits and four walks and he struck out four.

The Mets' offense was concentrated almost entirely at the top of their lineup. Jose Reyes had two hits, including his tenth home run, drew a walk and scored three runs. Paul Lo Duca had three more hits, one of which was a double. And Carlos Beltran had a double, a walk and his thirty-third home run. Milledge did have a fine game at the plate, drawing three walks.

Tomorrow night, Steve Trachsel (9-5, 5.14) will try to start a new streak of getting credited with the win despite not pitching all that well. Last time out his streak of seven straight wins was ended when he allowed eight runs in four and two-thirds innings. Ricky Nolasco (9-6, 3.94) will start for the Marlins.
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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