PIRATES OF THE MONONGAHELA: THE SLAUGHTER IN FLUSHING
Nice series of wins against a bad team following the rough AL East swing. The young All Star duo on the left side of the infield seem to be back in its groove. And it's Lima Time! again. So, like the series (serieses?) they kept taking earlier in the year, two outta three. On to a brief set of Random Thoughts:
El Rapido: Jose Reyes is hitting 300/356/482, with 74 runs, 19 2B, 12 3B, 39 SB, 31 BB and 41 (!) RBI at about the mid-point of the season.
The Prince of New York: After a mini slump, it's sure nice to see him driving a homer over the right field wall. Anyone who's watched this year knows that's a good sign. That said, I wasn't happy last night to hear Howie announce that Young Mr. Wright is slated to appear in the Home Run Derby (and not only because it was Howie Rose telling us). It's not so much that I'm worried about "Derek Who?" falling into bad habits, trying to pull too much, jerking the ball, swinging for the fences.
Though all such unpleasantries are possible.
No, I just think he needs a little rest, and with not only the All Star Game, but also the festivities the day before, he's not gonna get much. You may remember that The Prince limped into the All Star Break last season, falling to 281/369/470, after a so-so June and a full slump in early July. Then after the break he simply went nuts, including a 378/470/633 in August.
Now I'm not saying he won't do the same this season. (In fact, whatever slump he's experiencing as the break approaches is not as serious as last year.) But I'm just saying.
Eli Marrero: In centerfield last night. Hilarious.
In centerfield protecting a 3 run lead in the top of the ninth. Inexcusable.
And it haunted them! Marrero's inability to reach a ball 3.2 inches over his head in the 8th led to a triple and a run. And then on a deep but playable fly ball in the 9th, he did some weird pirouette, combined with a trip & near fall, all of which culminated in a Milledge-in-Fenwayesque drop right off the glove. Just freakin hideous.
The Peerless Leader: Willie continues to impress in the "Manager Of Men" department. He knows what he's doing, he gets that nice combination of respect & support from his players, and he never embarrasses his guys publicly.
That said, I want a game manager, and Willie remains shaky in that regard. Playing Marrero in center? Very questionable, but let's not forget Met fan favorite Davey Johnson and the collection of freaks he played at shortstop (HoJo, Kevin Mitchell!). But to leave him out there in the 9th? Shouldn't happen. Period.
And isn't he on the team (rather than Everlastings Milledge) because he can play catcher? "Hell, we don't need a catcher today, so let's put him in center."
Anyway, I liked the way Willie ran with Trachsel into the 7th inning, on 110+ pitches. He'll get his time off with the All Star Break anyway (when you're Steve Trachsel, you can book your 3 day holiday during the All Star Break before the season even begins). And with Lime Time!, plus a double-header featuring Maine and the major league debut of Mike Pelfrey on Saturday, you gotta like the rested bullpen. In theory.
Cause with a 5 run lead at the time I might have liked him to leave Heilman resting & try out this Henry Owens guy Howie kept yammering about. 51 K/8 BB in 25 IP in AA? Give him a shot. As it ended up, they used Heilman for two and Wagner for one. Way to save up that bullpen, Willie!
Lima Time!, Part Two: I really have nothing to say here.
Pedro on the DL: I think it's a blessing in disguise. And not only because we get to see Mike Pelfrey in Queens! With a 12 1/2 game lead (say that a few times and tell me you ain't smiling), I'd have liked them to skip a few of Pedro's starts even without the mysterious hip injury. Last year he followed an April-July stretch composed of 150 IP, 2.82/0.85 with 11 HR . . . with an August & September of 2.96/1.16 and 8 HR in only 67 IP. The ERA makes it seem that he didn't slow down, but the WHIP and HRs tell a dramatically different tale.
And in 2004, he was better before the All Star Break in general, but his September of 4.95/1.40 is especially unpromising in retrospect. Assuming his hip heals, the break of three or four starts in gonna pay nice dividends come October.
Yeah, I know that "October" reference was overly bold, almost jinx-taunting, right? Too bad, I'm going with it.
The Eternal Captain Being The Eternal Captain: You knew I'd get here. Keith did only half the game on the TV broadcast, after sharing radio duties for the first 4 1/2 innings. And Darling continues to shine, even with Rose helping him out about as much as Rick Peterson helped Zambrano. Nice pick-up on Howie's Sergeant Hulka reference (the "Big Toe").
But Keith had a good game. Right away he walked on, talked about his kaleidoscopic collection of pens, and actually made a Disraeli Gears allusion. Howie of course had to try to one-up him, naming random Cream songs that he thought appeared on that album. Keith calmly dissed him, saying simply, "No. That was on the album with 'Toad,'" refering to Ginger Baker's interminable drum solo song on Fresh Cream.
Keith owns Howie.
Then, as the game went on and the conversation turned to Lima Time!, Keith went off on a lengthy riff regarding the use of his number 17 . . . by stiffs like Lima Time! & Koo last year. If it wasn't so funny to hear him do this from time-to-time it'd be pathetic. Thankfully though, it is funny, and despite the perceived injury to his massive ego, I assume he's joking too.
At any rate, Keith, one word for you: Move On. And yes, I know that's two words, but let's not get too technical here.
And finally, as the game limped deep into the late innings, I noticed something very serious. I wrote down the following: "2 out, top 8th ---> no tumbling, no level swings!" Yes, dear readers, you are following correctly. With a mere seven outs to go, the Keith Obsession Watch (like the Jorge Julio Counter before it) was set to expire without my choosing!
The top of the 8th bled into the bottom. Just straight pitches with a bevy of uppercuts, pulled shoulders, tosses down Broadway, but nary a level swing or a tumbling pitch to be found. And then . . .
. . . with one out in the top of the 9th, Jack Wilson did it: he smacked a pinch hit single, with what Keith described not once, buy twice, as a "level swing." That's right, it was sooooooo level, he had to say it twice. And most importantly, the Obsession Watch continues.
Adios, back with the FAMASBRA after the break.