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A Final Look Back at the 2005 Season, Part 2

Mike SteffanosThursday, October 13, 2005
By Mike Steffanos


Part 2 of 4

July 10 -- Pedro bails the Mets out again
The Mets were staggering into the All-Star break. They dropped 2 of 3 to the Marlins at Shea, but then managed to take 3 of 4 from the Nationals in D.C. With 3 games in Pittsburgh against the lowly Pirates to close out the first half things seemed promising. It looked even better in the first game when Victor Zambrano dominated the Pirates for 8 innings, leaving with a 5-1 lead... that Heilman and Looper promptly gave away in a crushing loss. The next day Ishii, Bell and Graves were just awful, and the Pirates pasted the Mets 11-4 in a game that was even less close than it sounds.

In their last game before the break the reeling Mets turned to Pedro to salvage a little dignity and momentum. He didn't disappoint. While the Mets beat up Kip Wells for 5 runs in 5 innings Pedro just toyed with the Buccos, tantalizing them with a variety of breaking pitches, changeups and just enough fastballs to keep them honest.

When Pedro left the game after 7 innings and 94 pitches with a 6-1 lead the only suspense was whether the Mets' bullpen would dare to blow another gem. Fortunately, Hernandez and Looper were up to the task, and thanks to Pedro the Mets salvaged a little something heading into the break.

July 17 -- How's that Atlanta School System, Mike?
The Mets came back from the All-Star break with a nice 6-3 win over the Braves at Shea, then proceeded to drop games 2 and 3 if the series by managing a solitary run in the two games, including being blanked over 6 innings by Tim Hudson in his first start off the disabled list and being held scoreless in 5 innings against Atlanta's awful bullpen.

For the Sunday finale of the series Pedro Martinez was facing the eternally hated Mike Hampton, who left New York as a free agent because he didn't have the guts to pitch in the spotlight, then compounded it by not having the guts to admit the real reason he was leaving. Hampton was also returning off the disabled list without any rehab starts. The Mets were facing the prospect of dropping 3 of 4 at home to the Braves, and losing for the second day in a row to a pitcher coming off the DL, and one who most Met fans hate.

Fortunately, that was an indignity we didn't have to face. After Reyes scored a run in the first on a Beltran groundout, the Mets pounded Hampton in the second. Wright led off with a single and then Woodward followed with a double that put runners on second and third. Wright scored on Miguel Cairo's groundout and Woodward moved to third. After Pedro struck out Reyes doubled home Woodward, then Cameron followed with a 2 run homer putting the Mets comfortably ahead 5-0. That was all the cushion Pedro and 3 relievers would need as the Mets cruised to an important win.

July 23 -- Reyes runs Mets past LA
After sweeping the Padres the Mets faced the Dodgers at Shea in a weekend series that finished a ten game home stand. After losing game 1 of the series Pedro and the Mets tried to even up the series the nest day in a game televised on FOX. Unfortunately, Pedro didn't really have it from the start -- giving up a walk and a couple of hits in the first, being aided on a good play by Cameron, getting burned when Betran lost a well-hit fly in the sun that should have been the third out but wound up going as a double and 2 RBIs for Olmedo Saenz. The Mets were down 3-0 before their first AB.

Jose Reyes led them back in the bottom of the first, singling off the first pitch he saw, then stealing 2B and moving to third on Jason Phillips' throwing error. Cameron drove him in with a base hit, then stole second and scored on David Wright's 2 out single, bringing the Mets back to 3-2 after one.

They tied it in the third when Reyes scored his second run on a Ciff Floyd ground out, but Pedro couldn't hold the lead. The Dodgers went up again in the top of the fourth when Jason Phillips singled home Jayson Werth, then padded their lead to 5-3 when Olmedo Saenz homered off Pedro in the sixth.

The Mets shaved a run off in the bottom of the sixth when Wright doubled and scored on Castro's ground out. Willie asked the struggling Martinez to get through one more inning, and Pedro obliged by holding the Dodgers in the seventh. As the Mets came up in the bottom of the seventh, they had a chance to repay Pedro for some great starts that he didn't get a win if they could pull this one out for him.

Marlon Anderson, pinch hitting for Martinez, led off with a walk. After failing miserably in an attempt to bunt the tying run to second, Jose Reyes atoned by driving a 2-2 pitch that was barely a foot off the ground into the right field corner for a triple that tied the game. After Cameron failed to get Reyes home, Beltran came through with a single that put the Mets up 6-5. Pedro could actually get a win if the bullpen could hold the Dodgers for the final 2 innings.

Roberto Hernandez did his part in the eighth, allowing the Dodgers nothing. In the bottom of the inning Reyes capped his great offensive day (3-5, 3R, 2 RBIs, 2SB) by driving in Cairo with an insurance run, and for once Looper took the suspense out of a game, allowing nothing and striking out 2 in the ninth in his most impressive outing of the season.

August 6 -- The Return of Jae Seo
The Cubs rolled into New York right after the disastrous Brewer series where Roberto Hernandez (and Willie) blew 2 games in a row. Fortunately for the Mets, the Cubs were reeling even more. The Mets bombed rookie Rich Hill for 7 runs in just 1-1/3 innings en route to a 9-5 triumph in game one of the series, then turned to Jae Seo to keep it going in game 2 of the series. Seo had just been called up to replace the excruciatingly bad Kaz Ishii in the rotation, answering the prayers of Met fans that didn't enjoy basically giving away every fifth game. This wouldn't be an easy return for Seo, as he would be facing Greg Maddux, who has owned the Mets his entire career.

The game began well for the Mets, as Seo set the cubs down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, and David Wright doubled in Miguel Cairo for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Seo continued strong, setting down the first 8 cubs until Maddux singled and then embarrassed him with a stolen base in the third. Seo got Matt Lawton to ground to Wright to end that threat. In the bottom of the third the Mets padded their lead when Reyes singled, tagged up and went to second on Cairo's fly to center, stole third and scored on Beltran's bloop single.

After 3 the Mets had a 2-0 lead. It would be up to Seo to make it stand up, as the Mets would get no more hits the rest of the way. He was more than equal to the task. Besides his fastball and changeup, Seo brought back a cut fastball, splitter and curve with him from Norfolk. 71 out of those 107 pitches he threw went for strikes as Seo simply dominated the Cubs over 7 1-3 innings. The only scoring threats for the Cubs came in the fifth when Seo got Lawton to ground out with runners on second and third, and in the eighth when Henry Blanco doubled to lead off the inning. Seo got pinch hitter Todd Hollandsworth to line out to Reyes, then left the game for Mr. Koo.

Koo (of course) walked Matt Lawton on a 3-2 pitch, but then got Todd Walker on a fly out to Mike Cameron. Roberto Hernandez replaced Koo to face the dangerous Derek Lee, and earned redemption for the Brewer fiasco by striking him out on 3 pitches, the last a truly nasty splitter. Looper avoided any further drama with a perfect ninth, making Seo's return a triumphant success.


Next...

A final look back at the season, part 3.

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