Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Friday, October 20, 2006
  Cardinals some runs, Mets fewer runs

I don't want to talk about it.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
  Mets 4, Cardinals 2
(NLCS tied 3-3)

All the Mets needed from John Maine was for him to pitch the game of his life to save their season. So of course he went out and did that. Now things get a bit more interesting.

Maine did not start off well, allowing two hits and hitting a batter in the first inning as he struggled with his control. But he was able to escape a bases loaded jam. Jose Reyes then homered to lead off the bottom of the inning, giving Maine a bit of breathing room. After that, Maine settled down a bit. He pitched five and one-third scoreless innings to give the Mets a shot against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who pitched a bit better than he did in game two. Maine allowed just two hits and four walks, one of which was intentional. He struck out five. This was a huge performance from Maine, dragging the Mets from a desperate state to one with some room for optimism.

The Mets added just one more run against Carpenter. They strung three singles together in the fourth, with Shawn Green driving in the run. Green had two hits in the game and was also hit by a pitch. And he actually caught two fly balls that the Cardinals were kind enough to hit directly at him.

Fortunately the Mets got a chance to bat against old friend Braden Looper in the seventh. They added two runs on three singles, the last of which by Paul Lo Duca. They would need them.

Three relievers pitched well after Maine was removed in the sixth. Chad Bradford came in with one on and one out and immediately got a double play. He gave up a hit and got an out in the seventh before Guillermo Mota came in and got a twin killing of his own. Aaron Heilman emerged from seclusion to pitch a very good eighth, allowing just a meaningless single to Albert Pujols. Then the Mets turned it over to Billy Wagner.

Wagner had not been pitching well in the playoffs thus far, allowing one run in the LDS and losing game two of the LCS when he gave up three runs. Things did not go any better in this game. He gave up a single and a double before recording an out. He retired the next two batters only to have his nemesis So Taguchi smack a two-run double. He did retire the next batter, but there was nothing about this performance that inspired confidence. Right now it seems the Mets have found themselves a new Armando Benitez.

But none of that matters right now. The Mets, wearing the classic blue hats for the first time this postseason, were victorious and they will host game seven Thursday night. Jeff Suppan (1-1, 2.19 in 12.1 playoff innings) will start for St. Louis. The Mets' starting pitcher will probably be Oliver Perez (1-0, 7.94 in 5.2 playoff innings) who may be relieved by Darren Oliver (0-0, 3.68 in 7.1 playoff innings) after a few innings. Suppan shut the Mets down in game three, but I can't imagine that happening again. He is still Jeff Suppan. The Mets will probably need to score some runs to win this game, but I see no reason why they can't. Like I said yesterday, ya gotta believe!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
  Cardinals 4, Mets 2
(Cardinals lead NLCS 3-2)

Shawn Green is terrible. If he were standing on home plate, he probably couldn't catch some of the pitches that have been called strikes in this series. Maine vs. Carpenter tomorrow. Ya gotta believe!

I'm going to sleep.
Monday, October 16, 2006
  Mets 12, Cardinals 5
(NLCS tied 2-2)

The dominant storyline entering this game was the uncertainty surrounding the Mets' starting pitcher, Oliver Perez. The Mets' hitters didn't waste much time beating that story into submission. Perez kept the Mets in the game just long enough for the bats to wake up and once that happened, even Steve Trachsel probably couldn't have screwed it up.

It only took the Mets until the third inning to show signs of life and after that, they didn't look back. Down 1-0 in the third, Carlos Beltran launched a solo home run and David Wright followed with one of his own. Perez gave the lead back in the bottom half, but the Mets reclaimed it in the fifth. After Paul Lo Duca reached on an error and Beltran singled, Carlos Delgado launched his third home run in two days to give the Mets a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Perez did give up another run in the bottom of the fifth, so the Mets had to come back with a more emphatic statement in the sixth. Jose Reyes led off with a single and the next six men to come to the plate also reached base. The Mets scored six runs without a home run, with Delgado's two-run ground rule double and a three-rule double by Jose Valentin being the biggest blows. Only Endy Chavez and Perez himself failed to contribute to the inning.

Perez gave up a couple more home runs in the bottom of the sixth, but by then it was too late. His final line was five and two-thirds innings with five runs on nine hits, including three home runs. He struck out three and walked just one. In the end it doesn't look pretty, but he held it together long enough for the offense to break out and that was all the Mets needed. Beltran hit another home run in the seventh, just to be safe.

Every Mets starter reached base at least once and everyone but Chavez and Perez either scored or drove in a run. But, as usual, it was the Carloses who led the way. Beltran reached base five times, drawing two walks in addition to the single and the home runs. Delgado walked once, doubled and homered, driving in five runs. There is just too much firepower in the Mets' lineup for them to be shut down for very long. I would be very surprised to see another game like Saturday's this postseason.

With the series even, we'll see a rematch of game one on Monday. Tom Glavine (2-0, 0.00 in 13 playoff innings) goes for the Mets having pitched excellently, despite what Albert Pujols may think, on Thursday. Jeff Weaver (1-1, 1.69 in 10.2 playoff innings) pitched pretty well himself. Both will be pitching on short rest, so anything can happen, but I feel pretty comfortable with this matchup. And in other news, Orlando Hernandez says he'd be ready if the Mets have some more games to play starting Saturday. I think they could find a spot for him.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
  Cardinals 5, Mets 0
(Cardinals lead NLCS 2-1)

This was a total team effort. Bad starting pitching, bad defense and a completely impotent offense left the Mets in serious trouble. Darren Oliver pitched a heck of a game, though.

Steve Trachsel was awful from the start, putting the first three batters he faced on base. He picked off leadoff batter David Eckstein to limit the damage somewhat, but Trachsel was never in control. Still, he had a chance to escape the first inning unscathed. He got Jim Edmonds to pop out for the second out and then Scott Spiezio hit a fly ball to right field. Unfortunately for the Mets, Shawn Green is still their right fielder. He turned this potential third out into a two-run triple with his circuitous route to it and his subsequent hopeless dive. The Mets don't have much choice but to play Green given their only healthy reserve outfielders are Michael Tucker and, theoretically, Chris Woodward. But their failure to call up Lastings Milledge before September 1st, thus making him ineligible for the playoffs unless Cliff Floyd is placed on the DL, looks rather inexplicable right now.

Of course, it wasn't Green who walked the next two batters after Spiezio's triple before getting out of the inning. I don't think he's the one that gave up a home run to pitcher Jeff Suppan to lead off the second, either. Trachsel gave up two more walks and a single before being replaced, with no one out, by Darren Oliver. Oliver let two of Trachsel's runners score, but after that he was excellent, pitching six shutout innings on three hits and one walk.

That was too little, too late, however, because Suppan completely dominated the Mets for eight innings, allowing just three hits and one walk. Jose Reyes's two-out triple in the third inning was the closest they came to threatening. They never put two runners on base in the same inning.

So now the Mets trail 2-1 and have to depend on Oliver Perez (3-13, 6.55) to keep them in the series. Perez is capable of giving the Mets a brilliant outing, but he's also capable of getting knocked out in the first inning. Fortunately, Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes (5-8, 5.06) is a rather similar pitcher. In his final regular season start, he pitched just two-thirds of an inning and gave up four runs on five hits including two home runs. He hasn't pitched since. Anything could happen tonight, even a 1-0 pitchers' duel. After watching this Mets team all year, all I can say is I don't think they'll go quietly.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
  1000 words

  Cardinals 9, Mets 6
(NLCS tied 1-1)

The Mets bullpen was pretty bad in the NLDS, but the offense and starting pitching were good enough to overcome it. In the first and third games of the series, the relievers pitched more than half the game and did not acquit themselves well. Game two of the NLCS saw them tasked with the majority of the innings again, and again it did not go well.

In the first round, the Mets non-Glavine starters did not go deep into games, but they weren't awful. While Willie Randolph's removal of John Maine in the fifth inning made sense at the time, he had only allowed one run. Maine was not so adequate this time, allowing four runs in four innings, giving Randolph little choice. He gave up just two hits, but walked five. One of the runs was unearned as a result of an error by Carlos Delgado, but Maine was clearly not sharp.

The offense seemed up to the challenge for most of the game as Cardinals' starter Chris Carpenter fared no better than Maine. He allowed five runs in five innings, four of them scoring on a pair of Delgado home runs. Jose Reyes also had a big game, with three hits, including a double, one walk, one RBI and two runs scored. Paul Lo Duca had an RBI double. Carlos Beltran walked twice and scored once.

As in NLDS game one, things started off well enough for the Mets' bullpen. The tag team of Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano got through two-thirds of a perfect inning there. This time they pitched two full scoreless frames, with Bradford recording five of the outs and allowing just one hit. But Guillermo Mota was once again there to screw everything up.

Mota got the first two batters he faced in the seventh, but then he allowed a single and a walk. Scott Spiezio then hit a ball that cleared the right field fence, only to bounce off of Shawn Green's glove and back into play for a game-tying triple. It would have been great if Green could have oriented his glove in such a direction that the ball would land in it rather than bounce off it, but I have to give him credit for at least preventing the home run. Aaron Heilman then relieved Mota and ended the inning. Mota has now allowed eight hits and two walks in five and two-thirds postseason innings, striking out six with a 7.94 ERA. The Mets may not have much choice but to use him given that the alternatives are Darren Oliver and Roberto Hernandez, but perhaps he could enter the game before Bradford and Feliciano rather than after.

Mota's meltdown only tied the game, however, and after Heilman pitched a scoreless eighth, the game was left in Billy Wagner's hands. So he gave up a leadoff home run to So Taguchi, a man with sixteen career home runs in 960 at bats. Wagner wasn't done, as he gave up two more runs on three hits, including two doubles, before being removed from the game with two outs and a runner on second. Hernandez retired the next batter. Wagner's numbers for the playoffs are no better than Mota's, as he's allowed seven hits and one walk in four and two-thirds innings with four strikeouts and a 7.71 ERA. The Mets aren't going to stop using Wagner in tight games, so he simply has to pitch a lot better than he has.

The scene now shifts to St. Louis for tonight's game three. Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97 regular season, 0-0, 5.40 playoffs) is going to have to pitch better than he did last time out if he's going to turn things around for the Mets. Getting out of the fourth inning would be a good start. For the Cardinals, it'll be Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.12 regular season, 0-1, 6.23), who didn't fare much better than Trachsel in the first round. I think some runs may be scored in this game, strike zone permitting.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
  Mets 2, Cardinals 0
(Mets lead NLCS 1-0)

Both starting pitchers cruised through the early part of this game, aided in part by an inconsistent, sometimes large, strike zone. In fact, for five and two-thirds innings, Jeff Weaver seemed in total control. He'd allowed just one hit and one walk, striking out one.

But with two down in the sixth, he gave up a single to Paul Lo Duca. Carlos Beltran came to the plate having lined out and grounded out in his first two at bats. Then Weaver's 2-2 pitch wound up in a very enticing area of the strike zone only to be quickly relocated to a spot on the right field scoreboard. Carlos Delgado followed with a double but after an intentional walk to David Wright, reliever Tyler Johnson was able to retire Endy Chavez to end the inning. Still, Beltran's two-run home run provided a comfortable lead.

Comfortable because Tom Glavine gave the Mets another excellent performance. After six shutout innings in the NLDS, Glavine blanked the Cardinals for seven. He allowed four hits and two walks and struck out two. He was in a couple of jams, including putting two on with one out in the third. But he got a line drive double play to get out of that. Glavine is etching his name in Mets playoff lore with these performances. If there's a game five, we'll see if he can keep it up on three days rest.

The Mets' offense didn't add anymore runs, though they did threaten against the St. Louis bullpen. They put runners on second and third with one out in the eighth as a result of Lo Duca's second single and Delgado's second double. But Wright and Chavez were unable to capitalize. They had just six hits in the game, but thanks to Glavine, Beltran's bomb was all they needed.

Guillermo Mota relieved Glavine in the eighth and did make things interesting for a few moments. With two outs, he walked David Eckstein on four pitches and threw three balls to Preston Wilson. Believe it or not, those are the guys batting directly in front of Albert Pujols. But Mota was able to avert disaster and got Wilson to pop out foul on a 3-2 pitch. Billy Wagner got Pujols to line out to start the ninth and finished things off, allowing just a walk to Scott Rolen.

This game wasn't all good news, however. Willie Randolph's plan to start Cliff Floyd in left field did not work out well. He apparently tweaked his Achilles rounding first on a foul ball in the second and had to be removed from the game. Chavez is a fine replacement and Shawn Green had a good offensive game with a single, a walk and a stolen base. But if Floyd can't return in this series, that does leave the Mets' bench short a man. And given that the bench already featured Michael Tucker and Anderson Hernandez, it wasn't the deepest to begin with.

Game two will be played tomorrow night and it features another seemingly mismatched pitching matchup. Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09 regular season, 2-0, 2.02 NLDS) gets to pitch early as a result of Wednesday's rainout. He'll be opposed by John Maine (6-5, 3.60 regular season, 0-0, 2.08 NLDS). The Mets' offense didn't quite inspire confidence with their failure to pummel Jeff Weaver, but the Cardinals' bats aren't too fearsome either. Another low-scoring thriller may be in the offing.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
  Mets 9, Dodgers 5
(Mets win series 3-0, advance to NLCS)

Steve Trachsel didn't exactly step up in his first postseason start and the bullpen that's been a strength all season was a bit shaky as well. But another balanced offensive assault was able to overcome any pitching troubles and finish off the sweep for the Mets.

Trachsel gave up just two runs, but he was removed with one out in the fourth having allowed six hits and one walk while striking out two. Willie Randolph's strategy to compensate for his lack of starting pitching seems to be to use as many pitchers as he possibly can on the nights when Tom Glavine isn't pitching. Given the quality of the Mets' relievers and the extra days off they have to rest in the playoffs, it's not a bad idea. But it hasn't gone all that well so far.

In game one, five different relievers combined for four and two-thirds innings and gave up four runs. In game two the bullpen allowed one run in three innings. Game three was another rough one for the 'pen, as they gave up three runs in five and two-thirds. All of those runs were charged to Darren Oliver, who got Trachsel out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the fourth before creating his own trouble in the fifth.

Oliver gave up a single, a Jeff Kent home run and another single with two outs in the fifth, blowing the Mets' two-run lead. Chad Bradford came in to save the day, but got a bit unlucky on a bloop single by Russell Martin and a walk to Wilson Betemit who refused to chase some very close pitches. Pedro Feliciano then entered with the bases loaded and his pitches to James Loney were not so close. He walked Loney to force in the Dodgers' fifth run before getting out of the inning.

The Mets' had built their lead by scoring three in the first inning on a walk and five consecutive two-out singles. They added another the third on single by Cliff Floyd and a double by Shawn Green, both coming with two outs. Floyd reaggravated his left Achilles on the way home and had to leave the game, but Green stepped up with a big night, driving in two runs with two doubles and a single.

After Trachsel and the bullpen gave back the four-run lead, the hitters wasted no time in reclaiming it, putting three runs on the board in the top of the sixth on four hits and a walk. This put the Mets up 7-5 and the bullpen did not allow another run. Guillermo Mota, who allowed three runs in the first game, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one strikeout. Aaron Heilman and Billy Wagner pitched one scoreless inning each to finish things off. The offense added two more runs in the eighth, sparked by a Chris Woodward leadoff double.

Seeing the Mets as the only New York team left in the playoffs is certainly sweet. And now they have a chance to arrange their NLCS starting rotation however they like while St. Louis and San Diego will need to burn their aces just to get there. But these wouldn't be the New York Mets if there weren't new and exciting reasons for concern.

Cliff Floyd had a big series, going four for nine with a walk, a home run, three runs and two RBI. Now it's unknown whether he can play in game one of the NLCS. He seems optimistic and three days off will surely help. And both Endy Chavez and Shawn Green wound up having good series with three hits apiece. But the loss of Floyd's bat would be a significant blow to the Mets' starting lineup and bench.

And then there's the bullpen. New York relievers pitched thirteen and one-third innings, or just one out fewer than the starters, and posted an ERA of 7.43 on sixteen hits, three walks and two home runs with twelve strikeouts. Most of that is the fault of Oliver and Mota, neither of whom is likely to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game, but if Randolph if going to go to his bullpen as early as he did in these three games, those guys are going to have to pitch well.

We've got three days to dwell on issues like these while the Cardinals and Padres continue to fight for the last spot in the LCS. The Mets won the season series against both teams. Game one starter Tom Glavine pitched once against the Cardinals, getting the win while allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings. He did not face the Padres. Either way I like the Mets' chances. I'm just not sure whether it'd be fun or scary to see Mike Piazza come back to Shea for the NLCS. Probably a bit of both.
Friday, October 06, 2006
  Mets 4, Dodgers 1
(Mets lead series 2-0)

I read more than once that the Mets don't have enough starting pitching to make it through these playoffs. I guess it just goes to show...Tom Glavine can't read. It's sad, really.

The Mets' de facto ace took the ball in game two and pitched six excellent innings, doing more than enough to compensate for a less than stellar offensive evening. He shut the Dodgers out, allowing just four runs and two walks while striking out two. A double by Julio Lugo in the fifth was the only extra-base hit he gave up. The fifth was one of two innings in which Glavine allowed two baserunners, and Lugo was the only Dodger to reach third base against him. He got through the first three innings without allowing a hit, giving the Mets a chance to take an early lead, and seemed in control from start to finish.

The Mets' offense did score first and eventually built a four-run lead, but they did not repeat the powerful assault of game one. A double by Paul Lo Duca was the only extra-base hit among the Mets' seven and it did not contribute to a run. The Mets' first three runs actually scored on outs.

In the third, starting right fielder Endy Chavez outdid Shawn Green the first chance he got, pulling off an excellent drag bunt for a single. He moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a weak grounder by Glavine. He then scored on a ground out by Jose Reyes.

Chavez also played a role in the Mets' next minor rally in the fifth. After Jose Valentin walked to lead off the inning, Chavez singled. Both moved up on Glavine's sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Reyes loaded the bases. The Mets were again unable to come through with a big hit, but a fly ball by Lo Duca brought Valentin home.

The Mets loaded the bases one more time in the sixth and while they still didn't quite bust things open, one hit and some lousy Dodger defense helped put two runs on the board. After David Wright and Cliff Floyd singled, Valentin tried to bunt and was safe on pitcher Brett Tomko's throwing error. Third baseman Wilson Betemit would have had an easier time getting an out, but he ran to cover third base, leaving Tomko to try a difficult throw. Chavez then grounded into a force out at home and Julio Franco pinch hit into what should have been a double play. But Rafael Furcal chose not to charge Franco's slow grounder and the elder statesman was able to beat the throw to first, bringing Floyd home. A single by Reyes completed the Mets' scoring for the day.

After that it was up to the Mets' bullpen which, as you might guess, worked out okay. Pedro Feliciano allowed one walk but pitched a scoreless eight. Aaron Heilman gave up a solo home run to Betemit in the eight, but that was all. Billy Wagner had a much easier time in the ninth than in game one, finishing off the Dodgers on three ground balls, even though Reyes pulled Delgado a bit off the bag with his throws on the first and third of them.

Glavine was the closest to a sure thing in the Mets' rotation at the start of this series and he lived up to expectations in this game. John Maine pitched well enough in game one and the Mets may have the offense and bullpen to overcome less than stellar starts. But having Glavine on top of his game will be a huge boost for as long as he can keep it up.

And then there's Endy Chavez. Willie Randolph surprised me by replacing Shawn Green so soon and Chavez went out and led the team in hits. His defense is undeniable and hopefully this offensive outburst has earned him another start or two. The least Randolph can do is ride the hot hand now that the Mets have some margin for error.

They also have a day off before they try to finish off the sweep. Game three will be played at 7:30 on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Greg Maddux (15-14, 4.20) will try to stave off elimination for the home team. There seems to be some uncertainty about who'll start for the Mets, but right now Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97) is officially the man. It would be the first playoff start for a pitcher who's done pretty well in some big regular season games, including the division clincher this year. He didn't pitch as well as his record would indicate this year and he got rocked for four runs in two and two-thirds innings in his one start against the Dodgers. But right now it's easy to be optimistic. One more win and the Mets are playing for the pennant.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
  Mets 6, Dodgers 5
(Mets lead series 1-0)

Playoff baseball is the best.

Relaxing moments in this game were rare and fleeting. The Mets got pretty good hitting and pitching, but defensive lapses, some surprising and some not, helped turned this into a very tense game. Still, the Mets got a win despite replacing their starting pitcher at the last minute, leading one to wonder if anything can stop their march to the pennant.

Given the state of their starting pitching, the Mets will probably have to score a bunch of runs to go anywhere this postseason and Carlos Delgado made sure they got off to a good start. In his first playoff game, the Mets' first baseman drove in the team's first run with a monstrous home run over the center field wall in the fourth inning. He finished the day with four hits, two runs and two RBI. Cliff Floyd also homered in the fourth, giving the Mets their first slim lead.

Meanwhile, John Maine stepped up on short notice and Willie Randolph got him out before the game had a chance to get away from him. He allowed one run on six hits and two walks in four and one-third innings while striking out five. He was helped out by a bizarre play in the second that saw two Dodgers get tagged out at home plate within seconds of each other, but overall he was solid. And the Mets' deep bullpen did a great job backing him up, as Pedro Feliciano and Chad Bradford each got one out in the fifth with two runners on base.

The Mets built their lead to 4-1 in the sixth on one of David Wright's two doubles, but the comfort of that margin was short-lived. With one on and none out in the seventh, Jose Valentin fielded a ground ball and tried to make a very difficult throw to second rather than taking the easy out at first. He got neither out and this snowballed into a three-run inning on Guillermo Mota's watch. Valentin has been very good defensively all year but this lapse could have been very costly.

Also having a rough defensive game, somewhat less surprisingly, was Shawn Green. I don't know if Endy Chavez would have caught the ball that went over Green's head in the second, leading indirectly to the Dodgers' first run. But I think he probably would have gotten his glove on one or both of the doubles hit to right against Billy Wagner in the ninth. Those doubles added up to LA's fifth run while Chavez was standing in left, having replaced Floyd in the eighth. On the other hand, Green did go hitless in four at bats with four runners left on base, so at least he didn't ground into any double plays.

A lot of players contributed to this win. Offensively, in addition to Delgado, Floyd and Wright, Carlos Beltran drew three walks and scored one run and Jose Reyes walked, stole second and scored in the seventh. And the Mets used six pitchers in a way that didn't really tax the bullpen. Mota pitched two innings--one excellent, one not--but Feliciano and Bradford threw a total of eight pitches, Aaron Heilman pitched a perfect eighth and Wagner needed just twenty pitches despite giving up a run on two hits and striking out two.

Tom Glavine (15-7, 3.82) will be the guy hoping to give those relievers some extra rest tomorrow. He's 12-10 with a 3.58 ERA in thirty-two career playoff starts. The Dodgers will counter with Hong-Chih Kuo (1-5, 4.22), who has not started thirty-two playoff games but did pitch well against the Mets one time in September. We'll see if the Mets have figured him out yet as they go for a commanding 2-0 series lead Thursday in prime time.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
  Tom Glavine's calf to enter witness protection program

The Mets may have lost another starter to a calf injury, as Orlando Hernandez "felt discomfort" in his right calf while jogging on Tuesday. He's now questionable for his game one start and likely to be replaced by John Maine, though the extent of the injury is not yet known. If El Duque is unavailable to pitch at all in the series and the Mets therefore have to use Oliver Perez or Darren Oliver as their fourth starter, this could be a serious blow. On the other hand, if Hernandez's injury isn't serious and he just has to be bumped back to game three, it might actually represent an upgrade in the Mets' top three, trading Steve Trachsel for Maine. Either way, the Mets have the offense to slug their way through this series, even if Shawn Green has already been announced as starting. But the hitters' job may have just gotten a bit tougher.

On a lighter note, much of the media coverage of this story refers to Hernandez as a "40-year-old right-hander" even though his profiles on the ESPN and MLB websites claim he was born in 1969. I just don't know what to believe anymore.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
  Mets 4, Nationals 3
Mets 13, Nationals 0
Mets 6, Nationals 2

Hey, that went pretty well.

The Mets swept the final series of the regular season, scored a bunch of runs and didn't sustain any serious injuries. They did learn that Pedro Martinez will be out beyond the playoffs, until at least June, as he needs surgery on his rotator cuff. But after a pretty rough week, these three games were a fine way to say so long to the 162-game grind and welcome the sprint to eleven wins with open arms.

John Maine had a decent outing on Friday, allowing three runs, two earned, in six innings. He gave up just three hits and three walks and struck out three. I haven't seen any official word as to if or when Maine might start in the NLDS, but if he does get a chance, I feel confident that he can give the Mets a chance to win. Steve Trachsel left the team and headed to California due to unspecified family issues on Saturday. He could be back with the team by Tuesday, but the Mets will also be out in California by the time they'll need him. We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday went even better, as Tom Glavine and the offense both had great nights. Glavine pitched six shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three. He finished the season solidly, with a 3.38 ERA and a 28:9 K:BB ratio in six September starts. For the season he was 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA and he's up to 290 wins for his career. There's seems to be a good chance he'll be back with the Mets next year to go for 300, and right now I can't say I'll mind a bit.

As for the offense, they put up thirteen runs on twelve hits and seven walks. Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Ramon Castro and David Wright all homered. Carlos Beltran did not hit his record-breaking forty-second home run, but he did draw three walks, hit a single and steal a base. Franco had three hits and Green and Chavez each had two. Green went five for nine in the series, so we're probably stuck with him in the playoffs.

On Sunday Oliver Perez replaced Trachsel, who was scheduled to start, and was good. He was removed after only four innings but he allowed just one run on five hits and one walk while striking out four. Five relievers each pitched one inning and only Aaron Heilman in the ninth gave up a run.

Green and Jose Valentin each had three hits in the game. Cliff Floyd, batting in the leadoff spot, had a walk and a double. Wright had two hits.

The Mets finished with a record of 97 wins and 65 losses, fifth best in team history. They'll begin the Division Series on Wednesday at 4 PM against the Wild Card Dodgers (88-74). These teams played seven times in the regular season and the Mets won four.

Orlando Hernandez (11-11, 4.66) will start game one for the Mets. He was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this year, but he's pitching better now than he has all season, posting a 2.01 ERA in five September starts. Derek Lowe (16-8, 3.63) will start for the Dodgers. He pitched just once against the Mets, allowing two runs in six innings, and he was also good in September with a 3.08 ERA in six starts.

These two have actually started against each other in a playoff game once before. In game four of the 2004 American League Championship Series, Lowe's Red Sox beat El Duque's Yankees 6-4, though neither pitcher figured in the decision. Each allowed three runs, Lowe in five and one-third innings, Hernandez in five. Lowe also pitched in relief in two games Hernandez started in the 1999 ALCS. The Yankees won both games and Hernandez pitched considerably better than Lowe, allowing four runs in fifteen innings compared to Lowe's three runs in five and one-third. It will certainly be fun to see them face off again for another two teams with a bit of postseason history. It's time we got some payback for 1988. Let's go Mets!
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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