Thursday, October 05, 2006

ONE DOWN, TEN TO GO

Yes. Always good to get that game one victory in a short series. Exciting game, featuring weird baserunning, dubious managerial decisions, Wags putting us through two rolls of Tums in one inning, plus the bonus of Shawn Green & Kenny Lofton enagaging in the "Battle of Overmatched Lefties Who Were Once Really Good." First a few comments on some key plays, and then a brief series of thoughts on each key Met. Let's get to it.

I'm sure almost everyone's written or said something about That Play, so there's not much left to say. I couldn't really believe it as it happened, and I'm not sure I do now. I mean, this isn't only the majors, but also the Playoffs! How can three people screw something up so badly? But you know what? They're facing my team, so Mssrs. Kent, Drew & Donnally, please feel free to screw up at will for all remaining games. I won't hold it against you.

And you notice who hit the ball in the '85 highlight play (Meachem & Berra tagged out by Pudge Fisk on the same play)? None other than Rickey "Rickey Calls Rickey, Rickey" Henderson.

I also note that two of the three players involved in that play (Green & Valentin) did absolutely nothing else all game, so it's great to see such a big contribution in that one spot. Green looked utterly hapless at the plate. So did Valentin, who in fact did do something else . . .

He made the Met's boneheaded play of the game, trying to nail Marlon Anderson at 2nd on a tough grounder into the hole, when the correct play with a three run lead in the 7th was to get the safe out at first. Grrrrr. But, no harm-no-foul in the big picture, so on to the individual comments:

Willie: Managed a pretty nice game, especially from a strategic standpoint. By that I mean I liked the Fast Hook, something he rarely broke out this year. And with the short series, atrocious starting pitching depth, & excellent bullpen depth, it's the right way to play it. So with Maine having thrown about 80 pitches, Willie pulled him with two men on and one out in the 5th. And El Otro Pedro Feliciano came on to whiff Kenny Lofton, who probably would've struck out against Jose Feliciano the way he looked yesterday.

(Shawn Green, taking practice swings in right field, also struck out on the same at bat.)

Then Willie quickly went to Chad-Brad, who retired Kent (no retirement jokes, please. We still have a couple games to win here), and the threat passed.

Of course, he later opted to let a relief pitcher bat with the bases loaded & 2 out in the 6th (read that again and honestly ask yourself if that's not as strange as seeing two guys tagged out at home on the same play in a postseason game). I would've gone for the jugular at that moment, pinch hitting with every Met fan's secret favorite player, Endy Chavez, who then could've stayed in to spell Floyd in left. But alas.

Nonetheless, the Mets won, all is forgiven, and as I noted in yesterday's Preview, when the opposing skipper is Grady Little, you get some wiggle room. For the remainder of the series, I'll announce the Little Grady after each game (leaving in Pedro to face Matsui, of course, will forever be known as the Big Grady). Today's Little Grady: bringing in Brad "I'm So Huge You Better Call Me Nickel" Penny in 7th. About whom I also said yesterday: "just the type of fat bum with a straight fastball the Mets feast on, we can't even be sure the boys'll face him." Well, Grady thought he'd give it a shot. Thank you, sir. May we have another?

Johnny Maine: Nice. After a sweet first inning, he seemed to get rattled by Drew's swinging bunt hit in the second. He never really got untracked that inning, and other than striking out Lowe to end the threat, his best move was pointing & yelling to LoD as Drew steamed home. But he came back with two strong frames in the 3rd & 4th. Good work. And with only 80 pitches thrown, he may start Game 4 with Willie apparently busting out the three man rotation.

Feliciano: Got his man.

Chad-Brad: Got his too.

Mota: Had a dominant inning in the 6th. Maybe too dominant, in fact, as it probably influenced Willie's decision to let him hack in the next half inning. He also looked rattled by Valentin's brain fart in the 7th. It wasn't his fault, per se, but he has to hold it together in those spots.

Heilman: Rock solid. Looked completely unphased by the pressure too. Right on schedule with his second half. We'll need more of this before October's through.

Wags: Combined with the stretch drive, he's now yielded 9 hits in his last 4 innings, & 14 in his last 9. Hmmm. But the Mets won, we're staying positive. But he's gonna need to figure this out.

LoD: Actually caught the ball at the dish on That Play. He's had his problems on that one all season. Nice to see.

Delgado: Makes you wonder what Mattingly or Banks would've done if they'd ever made it to the post-season! The dude was on fire, except for the bases loaded at bat in 8th (the Mets stranded 8 men in the 6th, 7th & 8th. Just sayin). Also a nice tag play in the 7th (8th?) on Marlon "I Will Haunt My Former Teammates" Anderson. Even though it looked like a can of corn off the bat, that homer to center was a bomb. Plus, he went the other way nicely on his singles.

Valentin: He seemed frustrated at his inability to get Anderson on the bunt to open the 7th, which explains the idiotic decision he made on the next play. That's precisely the kind of crap he never once attempted all season. And he needs to expunge it from his arsenal immediately. We need the smart, heads-up play he brought, not that macho shit. Also an odd decicion to lead off the 8th with an attempted bunt single. Which he popped up. I think he'll be ok, but he nearly wore the goat horns yesterday.

Reyes: Looked tense early on, flailing & uppercutting wildly in his first two at-bats. He even seemed tight in the field, though he made all the plays. He was sullen & intense on the bench, in fact. But then he lit up after Delgado's homer, presumably because he got to bust out his wacky Homer Dance on national TV. Then it was all smiles, and everyone's mood lightened noticeably. Plus, he drew a nice walk, followed by a timely steal in the two run 6th.

Wright: He also had the same kind of tense first at bat, stranding two runners on a high sinker from Lowe. He was really pumped up early on. In fact, he nearly smashed Maine's shoulder with some congratulatory slaps after the 1st. That said, by his second time up, it was vintage Wright, with great at-bats, clutch hits, good hustle. Plus, as this after-game quotation shows, he's brought his "A" Cliche Game to the post-season: "We needed this game, as far as momentum goes. We have a team full of igniters. When a couple of these guys get going, it rubs off."

Momentum. Alliteration. "Igniters." We're in good hands, folks.

Green: I thought he took off for Yom Kippur only. Since when is the Wednesday following the Day of Atonement an off day as well?

And speaking of Yom Kippur & playoff baseball, allow this (Jewish) blogger to note that Sandy Koufax looks about 30 years younger than the 70 he actually is . . . and also looks just like Shawn Green.

(Hat Tip to Mel Gibson for that one.)

Beltran: Two good walks. A little ahead on the at-bat against Nickel. Pulled some very crushable fastballs into the seats. Seemed to be moving well though, and nearly threw someone out at third, throwing across his body as he fell back towards the right field wall. Even though no out on the play, that one caused a collective "Wow" in the place I watched the game. He'll be fine.

Floyd: What a bomb. How pumped was Cliff after that? Though he looked simultaneously over-anxious and tentative as he struck out looking in 7th. If that's possible.

But you know what? When two guys are out at the plate on the same play in a one-run post-season loss, anything's possible. So that's my take on it, and I'm sticking with it.

Let's Go Mets.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Mike - nice post.
Good mix of comedy and analysis.
I too was happy to see The Prince brought his "A" game cliches back. The Prince is back baby!

12:23 PM  

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