By Mike Steffanos
Mets 4 - Brewers 3
Tonight served as a reminder that nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. It was calm enough for a while, as Tom Glavine dominated the Brew Crew through 6 innings, allowing only an unearned run caused by a sloppy Victor Diaz error in left field. Glavine scattered 6 singles in his 6 innings of action, walking only 1 and striking out an astonishing 11 batters, one below his lifetime best. He was hitting all of his spots and benefiting from the somewhat generous strike zone of home plate ump Terry Craft.
Meanwhile, Xavier Nady, who has been slumping, busted out in a big way with a long second inning home run. It was a great at-bat for Nady, who avoided chasing bad pitches and worked the count into his favor, and then punished Chris Capuano with his monster shot. It broke a string of 5 consecutive batters retired for Capuano.
The Mets padded their lead when Jose Reyes singled with 2 outs in the third and was doubled home by Paul Lo Duca. Capuano then pitched around Beltran to pitch to Delgado, but Delgado made him pay by singling home Lo Duca. Delgado also drove in the Mets 4th run in with a groundout in the fifth. After that, the Mets offense effectively took the rest of the game off while the Brewers whittled away at the lead.
Aaron Heilman took over for Glavine in the seventh, and had one of those complete stinkers he comes up with every once in a while, allowing consecutive hits to the weak-hitting Damian Miller and the legendary Gabe Gross. Heilman was struggling with his control, and compounded things by wild-pitching Miller home and Gross down to second and walking Brady Clark. Randolph removed Heilman in favor of Duaner Sanchez, who got an infield out that advanced the runners, then gave up a sac fly to Geoff Jenkins to make it 4-3, then retired Mel Hall to escape further damage.
[Update: As pointed out to me in the comments, Sanchez retired Bill Hall, not the retired Mel Hall.]
Sanchez pulled another Houdini act in the eighth, surviving an infield hit, stolen base and a walk. He struck out Corey Koskie and got Brady Clark to ground out. Wagner pitched a solid ninth for the save, though he did give up a long, long foul ball to Carlos Lee before striking him out to end the game.
It remains to be seen whether Victor Diaz can thrive in a part-time role. Despite his streaky nature, Xavier Nady is much more well-rounded player and has earned my respect and the right field job. I like the way he plays the game, though I wonder if he'll hit right-handers enough to keep the job. That really was a great at-bat when he hit the home run, though.
Anderson Hernandez had another bad offensive night. He's going to have to start to hit more consistently, or he will wind up back in Norfolk.
Lo Duca just keeps growing on me. He's a ballplayer.
If you're a glass half empty type, you'll take Heilman's bad performance as the significant occurrence tonight. For me, I like the luxury of being able to bring in a Duaner Sanchez on a night Heilman didn't have it. This is one deep 'pen.
The Mets face the Brewers again tomorrow afternoon at 1. Steve Trachsel faces Tomo Ohka.
Where have you gone, Keith Hernandez?
First the bizarre rumors that Keith is in hot water for saying that Paul Lo Duca made a play that Mike Piazza wouldn't have last year. I wasn't buying that, and was convinced Keith would be back in the booth tonight. So where was he? SNY and the Mets just couldn't be that stupid, could they? Please let there be a boring explanation for his absence, we've had enough off-the-field drama with this team.