Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Thursday, September 28, 2006
  Braves 12, Mets 0
Braves 13, Mets 1
Mets 7, Braves 4

These past three days have been hard on the Mets' championship aspirations. Oliver Perez and Heath Bell getting torched on Tuesday was fairly inconsequential. And the fact that the offense couldn't get anything done against John Smoltz wasn't too alarming. Wednesday was a different story.

Pedro Martinez was completely ineffective, allowing seven runs in two and two-thirds innings on eight hits and two walks. He was clearly not healthy enough to pitch well and the subsequent announcement that he would not be able to pitch in the playoff wasn't too surprising. If he had pitched, there would have been little reason but pure hope to think he might be successful. The Mets got through much of the last six months without Pedro, or at least without Pedro. Now we'll see if they can do it for a few more weeks.

Thursday's game was a bit more encouraging, as NLDS game one starter Orlando Hernandez got through five good innings while the offense came alive. El Duque allowed just one unearned run on three hits and five walks. He struck out nine. It wasn't a perfect night, as he needed 102 pitched to get through five frames. But right now he looks capable of at least giving the Mets six good innings and letting the bullpen handle the rest. That may be enough.

After the Mets scored just one run on fourteen hits and five walks in the first two games of the series, Thursday's awakening was quite a relief. Ten hits and eight walks led to seven runs, as every starter aside from Shawn Green contributed something. Even El Duque pulled off a sacrifice. Everyone else had at least one hit and Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado each had two. Both of Delgado's were doubles and he drove in four runs. Carlos Beltran had just one hit, but it was a rather historic one. He hit his forty-first home run of the season, thus tying Todd Hundley's single-season team record. Beltran has had a great season, perhaps the Most Valuable season of any National League Player, and I hope he breaks the record in the next three games.

Those three games will be on the road against the Nationals (70-88) as the Mets (94-65) try not to get anyone else hurt before the playoffs. John Maine (6-5, 3.64), whose place in the playoff rotation has recently become a lot clearer, will start the first game. Tony Armas Jr. (9-12, 5.07) will pitch for Washington.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
  Shawn Green stinks or: Thoughts on the Mets' postseason outfield

With the return of Ramon Castro from the disabled list, most of the decisions regarding the list of position players on the Mets' postseason roster are easy. Maybe there's some question as to whether Michael Tucker or Ricky Ledee gets to be the sixth outfielder, but if that winds up mattering, the Mets will be in some trouble already. It also seems like there's not much question as to who the Mets' starting outfield will be. Unfortunately, the Mets appear likely to make the wrong decision.

No one with eyes could argue that Shawn Green is a better defensive outfielder than Endy Chavez. Chavez is simply great, perhaps the best outfielder on the team. Having both Chavez and Carlos Beltran in the same outfield gives opposing offenses precious little room to place fly balls and line drives for hits. Green, on the other hand, stinks. He may make the occasional diving catch on a ball that Chavez would've caught with ease, but the fact that his hat flies off every time he runs is the only resemblance he bears to Willie Mays.

Of course, Shawn Green isn't getting paid eight million dollars this year for his glove. This is a guy who hit over forty home runs...four years ago. But Shawn Green circa 2006 is a hitter clearly on the decline. His OPS is under .800 and down about sixty points from last year. He's hit just fourteen home runs. In fact, he's been so bad that his on-base and slugging percentages are virtually identical to those perennial offensive sinkhole Endy Chavez. Chavez is having a career year, hitting .307/.348/.430 entering tonight's game, compared to Green's .277/.343/.429. Neither of these lines is great. Neither is even as good as the average NL right fielder. But given Chavez's speed and defense and Green's opposite of speed and defense, there can't be much question who's been the better player.

The Mets have run roughshod over the National League this season, and the difference between them and the next best team is probably greater than the difference between Green and Chavez. But with their offense slumping since clinching the division and their pitching growing more uncertain by the day, they can't afford to give away any runs on offense or defense. Endy Chavez is one of their three best outfielders. He may be in the top two at this point. There's no good reason he shouldn't be standing in right field when game one of the NLDS begins.
Monday, September 25, 2006
  Nationals 3, 6, 5, 7
Mets 2, 12, 1, 3

They're just saving it for the playoffs. In 1973 and 2000, the Mets won eight of their last ten regular season games and failed to win the World Series. They're not going to make that mistake this year. In 1969 and 1986 they, well, they won nine of ten. But they only won five of their last ten in 1999, and that postseason provided some of the most memorable moments in franchise history.

The Mets' offense continued to struggle in this series, with the exception of Saturday's explosion. Carlos Beltran missed the first three games, but I'm not sure whether to take that as a good excuse or a reason for further concern. Beltran did return on Monday. He drew three walks. At least David Wright finally hit a home run at home, his first since early July.

It wasn't an encouraging series for the pitchers, either. Orlando Hernandez had a solid game on Friday, allowing three runs in seven innings on six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts. But neither John Maine nor Steve Trachsel distinguished himself in the race for fourth starter. Each lasted five innings with Maine allowing four runs and Trachsel three. Maine struck out seven, but he also walked five, while Trachsel struck out one and walked three. Tom Glavine wasn't at his best on Monday, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings, though he did strike out six.

The Mets (93-63) have six games left to stop playing like this and start playing like World Series Champions. They get to start with three against the thoroughly defeated Atlanta Braves (75-81). Oliver Perez (3-12, 6.53) will start the first game against John Smoltz (14-9, 3.72).
Thursday, September 21, 2006
  Marlins 6, Mets 3
Marlins 5, Mets 2

Good things these games don't matter. The final two games of this series between the NL East Champion Mets and the Marlins did not turn out well for the home team.

The two starting pitching performances for the Mets were similar in that both pitchers started out very well before coming undone. Both Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez got through four scoreless innings. Neither one of them made it through the sixth.

Perez gave up one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth, though one of those scored after he left. He allowed five hits and three walk and struck out six through five and one-third innings.

Pedro looked better than in his first start back from the disabled list, but it seems he's still not quite ready for the postseason. After four hitless innings, he gave up four runs on four hits in the fifth. He did strike out seven and walk just one.

As for the offense, five runs on fourteen hits in two games is not the most encouraging performance, though Carlos Beltran didn't play in either game. Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Delgado each had a three-hit game. Jose Reyes had a pair of hits in the first game as did Endy Chavez in the second. David Wright was the only Met with hits in both games.

Despite these losses, the Mets (92-60) are now assured of having the best record in the National League. Getting to 100 wins will be tough, but homefield advantage throughout the sanely-run portion of the playoffs is a nice consolation prize. Hope for the century mark is not lost, though, as they get to play their next four games against the last place Nationals (66-86). In the first game, John Maine (5-5, 3.42) will continue fighting for his playoff life. Former Met Pedro Astacio (4-5, 6.38) seems unlikely to provide stiff competition.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
  Mets 3, Marlins 2

Anderson Hernandez, SS
Endy Chavez, CF
Lastings Milledge, LF
Julio Franco, 3B
Michael Tucker, 1B
Chris Woodward, 2B
Ricky Ledee, RF
Mike DiFelice, C
Tom Glavine, P

The Mets fielded that ridiculous lineup while their regulars recovered from the previous night's celebration. Glavine probably should've been batting sixth or seventh. But somehow they won.

Glavine was the biggest reason why, though he went hitless. He pitched eight strong innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out three. That was almost not good enough to get the win, as the Mets trailed for most of the game. But they rallied for two runs in the eighth to win their ninety-second game of the season.

The Met shortstop somehow had a walk and two hits including his first major league home run, though I think he's still pretty clearly the third-best Hernandez on the roster. Tucker also had two hits including the single that put the Mets on top in the eighth. Woodward had a double, giving him two hits in the month of September. The other one was also a double.

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth, allowing one hit but striking out three to earn his thirty-ninth save.

The quest for 100 wins and homefield advantage through the NL playoffs continues tomorrow night with an intriguing pitching matchup. Dontrelle Willis (11-11, 3.80) goes for Florida and while his overall numbers are nothing special, he's again pitched well against the Mets this year, with a 2.15 ERA in four starts. And for the Mets, it will be the best pitcher with an ERA over six and a half in the league, Oliver Perez (3-11, 6.61). Hopefully Perez can continue his recent progress while the Mets put to rest some of the talk about their hopelessness against lefty starters.
Monday, September 18, 2006
  Mets 4, Marlins 0


After 18 years without a division title, after two years of Victor Zambrano, after three long days in Pittsburgh, the New York Mets are Champions of the National League East.

You might say that the Mets were carried by a couple of unlikely heroes in this game, but the way this season has gone, it's hard to be surprised by any player's success. Maybe Shawn Green. But Steve Trachsel and Jose Valentin both had great games to put the Mets over the top at long last.

Trachsel pitched six and one-third shutout innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out three. He was excellent from the very beginning and Willie Randolph removed him before the game could get away from him. I still don't know that he's a better choice for a postseason start than John Maine, but I have to admit, Trachsel has pitched pretty well in some big games in his career.

While Trachsel has been with the Mets longer than anyone on the current roster, Valentin was nothing more than roster filler heading into this season. He was a backup infielder who got off to an awful start. But when every other Met second baseman faltered, he was given a chance and responded with a terrific season. Entering this game, he was hitting .272/.332/.487, making him the best offensive second baseman the Mets have had since 2000 when Edgardo Alfonzo was, admittedly, a whole lot better at .324/.425/.542. In this game, Valentin carried the offense, driving in three runs on a pair of home runs. The Mets have a lot of big names on offense, but Valentin's contribution at a position that could have been a black hole has been an important piece of the best team in the National League.

So, with the division title in hand, all that remains for the Mets is to get ready for the playoffs, but it's still too early to tell who they'll play in the Division Series. Tomorrow's game won't have a whole lot of effect on the starting rotation, as Tom Glavine (13-6, 3.99) is the surest thing the Mets have. He'll face Scott Olsen (12-8, 3.98). The Mets won 7-4 last week when these two hooked up.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
  Pirates 5, Mets 3
Pirates 3, Mets 2
Pirates 3, Mets 0

Hopefully they've gotten that out of their system. The Mets got swept by the lowly Pirates despite a couple of solid pitching performances. The offense just didn't show up this weekend.

Neither of those solid pitching performances came from Pedro Martinez, who made his return on Friday night. The Mets were obviously being very cautious with him as he pitched just three innings. He gave up four runs on six hits and one walk. He pitched a bit better than that indicates and he did strike out four, but it's clear he's not quite in playoff shape yet.

On Saturday Orlando Hernandez pitched well for seven innings. He gave up just two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out seven. If any Mets starter does seem to be in playoff shape, it's El Duque. Over his last four starts, he has an ERA of 1.78 with twenty-five strikeouts and nine walks. Somehow the Mets won only one of those starts, but he is looking ready for October. The Mets managed to lose Saturday's game when Aaron Heilman gave up a walk and a double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mets never had much of a chance on Sunday even though John Maine wound up with decent numbers. He gave up two runs in the first and the Mets never mounted much of a challenge to that lead. Maine didn't allow another run as he gave up six hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out six.

As for the offense, it was a pretty awful weekend. Sunday was their best day in terms of hits with nine, but they drew just one walk. Altogether they had twenty hits and eight walks in the series. Carlos Beltran went hitless in nine at bats, though he drew a walk in each game. Six different Mets had multi-hit games, highlighted by Endy Chavez's three-hit Sunday.

The Pirates weren't the only Pennsylvania team to go undefeated this weekend, as the Phillies swept the Astros. SO the Mets (90-58) are still one game away from clinching the NL East. They'll try again on Monday as they begin a four-game series at home against the Marlins (74-75). The longest tenured Met, Steve Trachsel (14-7, 5.17) will get the start in the first game. He'll be opposed by Brian Moehler (7-8, 6.12).
Thursday, September 14, 2006
  Maybe we'll come back to Earth, who can tell?

The Mets' magic number to clinch the National League East championship is down to one. They will surely clinch this weekend. Now, their clinching has been a foregone conclusion since about the middle of June. Also, the Mets were in the World Series as recently as 2000. Fans of serious long-suffering franchises have every right to scoff at Mets fans who act like this is a long time coming. There are plenty of reasons to view this as a less than dramatic event. Still, it's going to be a lot fun.

Even though the Mets have been to the playoffs twice in last seven season, they haven't won a division title since 1988. In 1999 and 2000 they had to play second fiddle to the Braves. Now they've emphatically put an end to the Atlanta's historic run of regular season excellence. Granted, that happened a couple of days ago, but it won't really be time to celebrate until the Mets officially claim the title for themselves.

That lengthy drought featured many bad teams and painful moments. The 2004 season may not rank as the worst. But the speed of the team's turnaround has been remarkable. In July of 2004, the Mets had a bad, old major league team and they gutted their farm system for no good reason. Afterwards, the team needed a lot of help just to be competitive and those in charge seemed exactly the wrong men for the job. That the Mets have gone from this seemingly hopeless situation to division champs in just two years is nothing short of amazin'.

I've had plenty of criticism for Omar Minaya's individual moves since he took over as general manager. And he keeps doing things which defy logic (Shawn Green, take a bow). But there's no question he's done a lot of things right. To take the mess of 2004 and build a team that may win 100 games with a mix of veterans and young stars isn't easy, regardless of the team's budget. Jose Reyes and David Wright blossoming into two of the best players in the game has certainly helped. But after some of the guys who've occupied Minaya's office in recent years, the fact that neither one was traded away for the proverbial bag of balls is worth applauding.

Once the Mets clinch, we can get back to worrying about the playoff roster. Will Steve Trachsel really get a start? Could someone please play well enough to take Shawn Green's spot in the lineup? They're not going to wear the black hats in a home playoff game, are they? All good questions. But for one day, we can just be happy. The Mets are about to be the champions of the National League East.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
  Mets 6, Marlins 4
Mets 7, Marlins 4 (11)

Oliver Perez struggled on Tuesday, but it was far from a disaster and there were certainly extenuating circumstances. He pitched five innings and gave up five runs, but those five innings included a rain delay of over an hour in the second. Perez gave up five hits including one home run, but he walked just two and struck out eleven. He threw sixty-six of one hundred and one pitches for strikes, which is definitely an encouraging sign. He can't dominate every time out, but if he can keep throwing strikes, he has a chance to be very successful.

Offensively the Mets had a solid night with a four-run eighth inning putting them over the top. Paul Lo Duca, David Wright and Cliff Floyd each had three hits in the game. Two of Wright's were doubles as was one of Floyd's. Carlos Delgado had two hits including his thirty-eighth home run, a three run shot that tied the game at four. He also drew two walks.

Four Met relievers each pitched one scoreless inning. Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman gave up one hit apiece and Mota walked one as well. Billy Wagner gave up two hits in the ninth, but he also struck out two to earn the save.

On Wednesday the Mets had another starter give up four runs, but again they were able to come back and win. Tom Glavine pitched six innings and only three of the runs he allowed were earned. He gave up six hits and two walks and struck out six.

The offense had a good game, but they trailed for much of the game. They scored one run in the ninth to tie things up and send it to extra innings. In the eleventh they'd take advantage of some wild pitching and bad defense to score three runs. Overall they had twelve hits and four walks. Jose Reyes had three of those hits. Paul Lo Duca and Lastings Milledge had two each. Wright had one hit and two walks.

They again got very good relief work from four different pitchers. Mota, Heilman and Wagner returned with Heilman pitching particularly well with two perfect innings and three strikeouts. Roberto Hernandez also pitched a perfect frame with one strikeout.

Tomorrow the Mets (90-55) will get their first day off of the month before beginning a series in Pittsburgh. The Pirates (60-87) have already been eliminated from the NL Central race and lost three of four in New York earlier this year. They will send out Paul Maholm (7-10, 4.90) to start Friday's game. And for the Mets it will be the returning Pedro Martinez (9-5, 3.84) which, if all goes well, really isn't fair to the Pirates. The Mets could be in a position to clinch the National League East, having already eliminated everyone but the Phillies from contention.
Monday, September 11, 2006
  Marlins 16, Mets 5

Well, Dave Williams is apparently still Dave Williams. After a good start to his Mets career, Williams got thoroughly pummelled by the Marlins. He gave up nine runs and recorded just nine outs. Why Willie Randolph sent him out to pitch the fourth after he'd allowed seven runs in the first three when the Mets have seventeen pitchers on their active roster right now is a mystery. Williams gave up one of his two walks and two of his eleven hits in the fourth before being removed. He allowed two home runs and struck out just one in the game.

Roberto Hernandez was not charged with a run in his inning of work, though he did allowed two inherited runners to score. Heath Bell created his own trouble after that, giving up five runs on seven hits including two home runs in two and one-third innings. He did strike out five. Royce Ring gave up the final two runs on a walk and a home run in one and two-thirds innings.

The Mets' offense wasn't exactly shut down. They just couldn't dig their way out of Williams's hole. They had just six hits, but half of them went for extra bases. Cliff Floyd hit his eleventh home run of the season and his first since July 20th. Carlos Beltran hit his fortieth, leaving him just one short of Todd Hundley's record. Lastings Milledge had a pinch hit double.

Tomorrow the Marlins will send out another of their talented rookie pitchers in Josh Johnson (12-7, 3.20). The Mets will counted with a promising youngster of their own. Oliver Perez (3-11, 6.58) was dominant in his last start, pitching a complete game shutout. But it was not the first time he's looked good as a Met. Consistency is what's required from Perez. A good start tomorrow would be a big step in the right direction.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
  Dodgers 9, Mets 1

The Mets' difficulty with young lefties continued on Sunday, but it didn't really matter much since their pitching was also awful. In the end, the Mets won four out of seven games against the Dodgers this season. All they'll ever need to do is repeat that.

Hopefully if the Mets have to play seven more against LA, Steve Trachsel won't start any of them. The Mets' sixth best starter lasted just two and two-thirds innings in this game. He allowed four runs on five hits and two walks and left with the bases loaded. Royce Ring got him out of that jam, retiring the only batter he faced. Brian Bannister entered after that did exactly what he needed to do to not earn another shot at starting. He lasted three innings and gave up five runs on six hits.

Perhaps demoralized by the presence of Trachsel on the mound, the Mets managed just three hits against Eric Stults. No, not this guy. Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez each had singles. David Wright drew two walks. And Jose Reyes's nineteenth home run of the season accounted for the Mets' only run.

The non-stop September continues tomorrow for the Mets (88-54) as they begin a three-game series in Florida. The Marlins (72-71) have amazingly pulled into a tie for second place in the NL East, a mere sixteen and a half games back. Dave Williams (5-3, 5.68) will start the first game. He's pitched quite well in four starts with New York. Anibal Sanchez (7-2, 2.89) will start for the Marlins. He's also pitched pretty well lately, though he did walk four batters last time out, so I don't think the Mets have much to worry about.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
  Dodgers 5, Mets 0
Mets 3, Dodgers 2

The Mets' offense had a bit of a rough time in the second and third games of this big series, but they still managed to pull out one win. They couldn't get anything done on Friday against the young lefty Hong-Chih Kuo and John Maine struggled. But good pitching and some timely hitting allowed them to pick up the win on Saturday.

Kuo, the second left handed starter to baffle the Mets this week, held them scoreless for six innings, allowing just three hits and three walks while striking out seven. David Wright had two hits in the game, the second being a double against reliever Brett Tomko. The Mets' lineup has become increasingly left handed with the arrival of Shawn Green and the return of Cliff Floyd, perhaps leaving them vulnerable to good or even adequate southpaws. The departed Xavier Nady had the highest OPS among the Mets' starters against lefties this season at .914, but Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Paul Lo Duca have all hit well enough against them. Maybe the offense won't be quite as fearsome with a left hander on the mound, but I think there's plenty of reason to expect they can get the job done, regardless of what happened this week.

Perhaps more disappointing was Maine's performance on Friday. Every start is a chance for Maine to solidify his case for a postseason start as Steve Trachsel has given up at least three runs in each of his last four starts, nevermind that he won three of them. But Maine did not do so well against the possibly playoff-bound Dodgers. He lasted just five innings and gave up four runs on six hits and three walks. Now, two of those runs were deservedly unearned due an error by Wright. But Maine was also bailed out by his defense as he gave up two home runs in the fifth and would have allowed a third if not for a fine catch by Beltran. Maine's been homer-prone all year, but this time the rest of his game wasn't good enough to compensate.

Orlando Hernandez, on the other hand, continued to show why he's got a start in game three of the Division Series locked up. He pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs, one earned, on four hits and one walk. He struck out six in his third consecutive very good start.

El Duque kept the Mets on top in a very tight game until the sixth inning. Carlos Delgado homered in the second for his thirty-seventh of the season, narrowing the gap to just two in the race with Beltran for the team record of forty-one. That single run held up until the sixth when the Dodgers put two on the board despite manager Grady Little's love affair with the sacrifice bunt. But the Mets came right back in the bottom of the sixth.

Jose Valentin doubled with one out and Little decided to walk Beltran and bring in a lefty to pitch to Delgado. But Delgado hit a deep enough fly ball to move the runners to second and third. Little then chose not to walk Wright, rather electing to let Tomko pitch to him again, the result of which was a two-run single. Wright had three hits in the game.

This series comes to an end tomorrow afternoon as the Mets try to win their fifth of seven from the Dodgers this season. Trachsel (14-6, 5.02) will go for the Mets and be opposed by lefty Eric Stults (0-0, 9.00) whose entire major league career consists of one three-inning relief appearance earlier this week that did not go very well. Which of these men will present a greater impediment to the Mets' efforts to win remains to be seen.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
  Mets 7, Dodgers 0

If this series is providing a glimpse into what might happen in October, the Mets have to be quite happy with how it's begun. Tom Glavine pitched his best start in months and the Mets knocked around one of the Dodgers' top starters. Right now it seems the only worry about this series is that the Mets might just knock LA out of first place in the NL West.

Glavine was excellent, pitching six and one-third scoreless innings. He gave up five hits, didn't walk anyone and struck out five. It was his first scoreless outing since back-to-back starts in late April and early May in which he pitched seven shutout frames. Glavine's had a rough second half in terms of both health and performance, but if he can relocate his groove over the next few weeks, the Mets will be a very dangerous team.

Of course, regardless of the pitching, the Mets have a pretty dangerous offense as they showed again tonight. Four different Mets had two hits. Shawn Green continued to heat up with two doubles and a walk, though the search for a hat that fits him is apparently still ongoing. David Wright had a double, a single and a walk. Carlos Beltran had two singles. And Jose Reyes unsurprisingly provided the most exciting moment with his first career inside-the-park home run. He also singled.

The Mets got two and two-thirds innings of excellent relief pitching as well. Guillermo Mota entered with two on and one out in the seventh and though he allowed one walk, he got out of the inning without allowing a run. Mota's been fantastic since joining the Mets with an ERA of 0.93, twelve strikeouts and two walks in nine and two-thirds innings. Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Heilman each contributed a scoreless inning.

Tomorrow John Maine (5-3, 3.44) gets another chance to prove he's better than Steve Trachsel. He's allowed two runs in six and one-third innings in each of his last two starts. The Dodgers will send out Hong-Chih Kuo (0-4, 5.34), who has made twenty-three appearances in relief this season, to make his first major league start. I would be a bit surprised if this matchup turned the series around for LA.
  Mets 4, Braves 1
Mets 8, Braves 0

After finding themselves on the business end of a dominating pitching performance on Monday, the Mets pulled the old switcheroo on the Braves in Wednesday's doubleheader. Or was it the "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"?

Dave Williams got things started with six excellent innings in the first game. He allowed just one run on a Brian McCann home run. Of the five hits he allowed, that was the only one to go for extra bases and he did not walk anyone. He struck out four and was for some reason removed after just 72 pitches from a game the Mets led 3-1. In four starts with the Mets, Williams is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA and a 16:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

One recent acquisition which hadn't worked out quite so well was that of Shawn Green. But he had a huge day, starting off with three hits including a double and a home run in the first game. Carlos Delgado also homered, giving him thirty-six on the season. Jose Reyes had two hits.

As good as Williams was, his performance could not compare to that of Oliver Perez in game two. The young lefty was absolutely brilliant, pitching a complete game shutout and striking out six. He allowed just five hits, four of them singles, and one walk. Control had been a major problem for Perez even when he'd looked good prior to this game, but he didn't walk anyone until there were two outs in the ninth inning. This was easily Perez's best start of the season and it was his first complete game, let alone shutout, since 2004. Maybe I should wait for him to pitch well twice in a row, or at least once against a team that hasn't played three doubleheaders in five days, to get excited, but I choose not to. The Pirates got robbed.

Perez was nearly removed from this game in the sixth inning, as a pinch hitter stood in the on deck circle before the Mets broke the game open. But a two-run triple from Endy Chavez gave the Mets a six-run lead and Perez got to bat for himself, grounding out. Green once again led the way for the Mets' offense with three more hits including his thirteenth home run of the season. Reyes also went deep as his seventeenth long ball led off the bottom of the first inning. Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup, drew two walks and stole a base.

Having pushed the Braves to the brink of elimination and shaved their own magic number by three in one day, the Mets (86-52) now turn their attention to a potential playoff preview. The NL West-leading Dodgers (74-65) will be in town for four games to have their late season morale diminished. Game one will see Tom Glavine (12-6, 4.13) take on Brad Penny (15-7, 3.97) in a matchup that could very well recur come October.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
  Only Dave can bring the rain

Tonight's game had already been postponed by the time its official start time rolled around and so the Mets and Braves will play a pair tomorrow. It'll be a traditional single-admission doubleheader starting at 1:10 PM. Tonight's pitching matchup of Williams vs. Smoltz will go on and they'll be followed by Oliver Perez (2-11, 7.29) taking on Kyle Davies (2-4, 7.20).
Monday, September 04, 2006
  Braves 5, Mets 0

Carlos Beltran is obviously the National League's Most Valuable Player. Without him, the Mets go from the league's dominant force to a team that can only manage one hit in eight innings against Chuck James. Cliff Floyd also missed the game due to some difficulty with his Achilles' tendon and a Mets outfield featuring Endy Chavez as its best hitter did not present James with a lot of resistance.

David Wright had the lone hit, a single in the second. He was thrown out trying to go to second on a ball that hit off the top of the left field wall, providing the offensive excitement for the evening. James allowed three walks and struck out just one, but the only Met to reach second base was Jose Reyes, who stole it in the fourth.

Steve Trachsel was pretty awful for the Mets, lasting just four and one-third innings. He gave up four runs, three of them earned. He allowed four hits and a ridiculous seven walks, striking out just one. His ERA is now 5.02, but he no longer leads the league in wins. Still, with some luck, I can think he can get some Cy Young votes.

This series continues Tuesday night with something of a pitching mismatch. Dave Williams (4-3, 6.10) goes for the Mets against John Smoltz (12-7, 3.60) and the Braves. Williams has been solid in each of his three starts since joining the Mets. Smoltz is 1-1 against the Mets this year, though he pitched fairly well both times.
  Mets 8, Astros 7
Mets 4, Astros 2
Astros 2, Mets 1

Wins and losses present little drama in the Mets' universe these days. There's little doubt that they're going to win most games and it's not like it matters a whole lot if they don't. Other sources of concern need to be found or even created. Tom Glavine didn't pitch all that well in his return! Carlos Beltran looked for a few minutes like he might be seriously hurt! Roy Oswalt almost threw a perfect game! They still won two out of three.

Glavine came back on Friday and got off to an excellent start. For three innings he looked like the Glavine of April, allowing one hit and striking out three. But he allowed five runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth before being removed. In total he gave up seven hits and two walks and struck out five. That Glavine is healthy is of course paramount, but it'd be nice to be able to say more than just that about him by the time the playoffs roll around.

Fortunately the Mets had just enough offensive fire power to overcome Glavine's troubles on Friday. In a game in which fifteen runs were scored, no one hit a ball out of tiny Minute Maid Park. Five Mets had two doubles, though, including a pair by David Wright. Carlos Delgado and Endy Chavez each had two singles as every Mets starter aside from Glavine and the struggling Chris Woodward had a hit.

The pitchers had a bit more success on Saturday as John Maine outpitched Jason Hirsh. Maine gave up just two hits in six and one-third innings, but, as has often been the case with Maine, both were home runs. He walked one and struck out three.

The Mets didn't hit any home runs on Saturday, but they again outscored the Astros. Wright had two hits and a walk. And Cliff Floyd made his return to the team with a double and two RBI. Beltran made a spectacular, possibly game-saving catch in the ninth, colliding with the outfield wall in the process. He lay on the grass for a few minutes in a scary moment, but soon he was walking on his own with a slight limp and it seems to be nothing more than a severe bruise to his knee.

He did not play on Sunday, though, and neither did Wright and so the Mets went six innings without a baserunner. Jose Reyes finally got to Oswalt in the seventh with an infield single. A solo home run by Delgado accounted for the only Mets run.

Orlando Hernandez was also quite effective in preventing hits, as he gave up just one in five and one-third innings. But he did walk six batters and hit one and left the game with the bases loaded. I have no idea why Willie Randolph didn't bring in Chad Bradford to extricate the Mets from this predicament, but Roberto Hernandez was the one chosen. It may not have mattered, as the Astros went for the suicide squeeze to bring in the first run of the game. Roberto got out of the inning without further scoring before giving up one of his own in the seventh.

The Mets (84-51) come back home for the next seven games staring with three against the former division champs. The Braves (65-71), whose streak of division championships could be officially over by the end of the week, will be in town for the final time this season. Steve Trachsel (14-5, 4.98) will likely give up a bunch of runs and win anyway. Chuck James (7-3, 4.02) will be the poor, unfortunate victim of Trachsel's voodoo.
Friday, September 01, 2006
  Mets 10, Rockies 5
Mets 11, Rockies 3
Rockies 8, Mets 4

The Mets started off this series hitting like they were in the Coors Field of old and got good enough pitching on two of three nights to get a series win. Of course a lot of hitters contributed to the consecutive double-digit scoring games, but the revival of David Wright was the big offensive story of the series. In danger of going the entire month of August without a home run, Wright finally broke out on Wednesday.

He had a pretty good game on Tuesday as well with three hits including a triple. He hit his twenty-third home run of the season on Wednesday, his first since July 28th. And he wasted no time following that up, going deep again on Thursday.

The Mets had a total of seven home runs in this series. Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran each hit one on Tuesday. In addition to Wright's blast on Wednesday, Carlos Delgado homered once and Jose Valentin did it twice.

Steve Trachsel struggled somewhat on Tuesday, but as usual did enough to win. He gave up three runs in six innings, allowing eight hits and two walks. He struck out a season-high six in winning his fourteenth game. He is currently tied for the league lead in wins with an ERA of 4.98. I'd love to see him lead the league outright with an ERA over five, just to see how many sportswriters would prove themselves entirely clueless by putting him on their Cy Young ballot.

Dave Williams pitched solidly again on Wednesday, giving up three runs in seven innings. He allowed nine hits but just one walk and struck out five. If everyone in this rotation is every healthy, Williams will likely disappear to the minors never to be seen again, but he's been a good fill-in, putting up a 3.79 ERA in nineteen innings over three starts.

Oliver Perez was not quite so successful on Thursday. I may have to revise my plans for his spot on the playoff roster. He pitched just three innings and gave up seven runs on twelve hits and two walks, striking out two. It took him ninety-five pitches to get nine outs. I'm not giving up on him quite yet, but I must admit that 2007 is a more likely date for his return to dominance than 2006.

Up next the Mets (82-50) will do their bets to crush the playoff hopes of the surging Astros, (66-68) who have won six straight and sit just 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. Roger Clemens is not scheduled to pitch in this series, but it'll be nice to pummel his team all the same. Tom Glavine (12-6, 3.92) makes his return to start game one against Wandy Rodriguez (9-8, 5.46).
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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