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Pedro Wins 200th, Mets Open 5 Game Lead on Atlanta

Mike SteffanosMonday, April 17, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 4 - Braves 3

Pedro Martinez wasn't at his most dominating tonight, but he was good enough to pitch the Mets past the Braves -- with a little help from Duaner Sanchez and Billie Wagner. Martinez pitched 6-2/3 solid innings, giving up 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out 8. Many of the hits he gave up were not that well struck -- except for a home run to Andruw Jones that briefly showed up on La Guardia's radar. Pedro exited the game with 2 outs in the sixth after Pete Orr's line drive single back through the box narrowly missed striking him on the cabeza. Sanchez came in and allowed Orr to steal second, but struck out the annoying Marcus Giles to end the inning.

Pedro had a great curveball going all night, and used it to good effect, although Jones' long home run came on a hanger. Pedro did what he does best -- keeping the Braves off-balance by changing speeds and limiting the damage when the Braves hit him. Meanwhile, the good Xavier Nady showed up for this game, hitting an impressive home run into the wind; and possibly even more impressive, drove in the fourth run with a nice opposite-field single. Carlos Delgado slugged the 2-run homer that put the Mets up to stay.

Cliff Floyd injured a rib cage muscle running home on Nady's single. With Beltran already day-to-day, and Diaz in Norfolk, a decision will have to be made quickly tomorrow. We hear Beltran might be able to play. Stay tuned.

Duaner Sanchez was lights out tonight. Is it just me, or are you starting to forget Jae Seo? Seriously, this kid has become a really valuable part of this team in a hurry, and is also a fan favorite. Billy Wagner looked good in the ninth despite hitting pinch-hitter Matt Diaz with an errant slider with 1 out in the ninth. Wagner had a great slider going, and a decent fastball to go with it, picking up his fourth save of the season.

Quick Impressions
I wrote earlier today about my concerns about the Mets bench. Endy Chavez had a bad 0-3, and Jose Valentin was 0-2 replacing Cliff, bringing him to 0-9 for the year. Chavez gets a pass because he's a good backup centerfielder and can pinch run. Valentin has to show something soon, or the Mets really have to consider looking elsewhere.

Keith and Gary can talk about Anderson Hernandez' defense all they want. I'm huge on infield defense, and like the kid, but I'm really starting to doubt that he can hit at this level right now. Hope I'm wrong.

Putting Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling together in the booth with Gary was a surprisingly good listen. No one stepped on anyone else, and Darling was very good tonight. He and Keith played well off each other. When all 3 are working, they should do more of this rather than just sticking Darling in the studio.

The Mets are now 10-2, and their 5-game lead over Atlanta and Philadelphia marks the first time in MLB history that a team has had a 5-game lead after only 12 games.

F**k the Braves.

Victor Zambrano goes for the Mets tomorrow night at 7:10, opposed by Kyle Davies.

Box Score

Comments (9)

All we need is a swap with Norfolk

Redman is better than Endy
Keppinger beats Hernandez
Bell beats Jorge "F'in" Julio
and Matsui beats Valentin

Problems fixed

The Mets released Tike Redman. He's in the Tigers' organization now.

Vinny's right. I think he's even up with the Tigers right now. I don't mind Chavez, because he's a good centerfielder and will hit a little. Redman was an awful OF and not that great of a hitter to make up for it. You can tell they're going to be stubborn about Julio for at leats a while. Fans won't love it, but Matsui probably would be better than Valentin.

Answered my question.

1. But what would it say about Kepp if he won the 2nd base job anyway. Right now Chavez and Ahern CANNOT replace Beltran and Kepp. Kepp has a lifetime minor league avg of 300+ (330?), and his ML audition was 160 AB with 3HR, .284. Numbers Ahern looks 2yrs away from. All you glove fans note, he was always touted to have a ML glove. I still think he is being touted for a trade.
2. I think we have a good formula if Kepp plays and Ahern is a PR, and SS/2B and spot starter till he matures. note Ahern was at AA/AAA last yr and this jump might be too much. Also we desperately need a good defensive SS/2B who can secure the infield for the last 2-3 innings. Ahern fits that role.
3. Valentin cant stay.
4. If not Diaz, Milledge should be here. We need Marlon, or Offerman to fill that PH role again, not Valentin.
5. Again I am the dissenting vote but Jorge stays. With Wagner, Oliver, sanchez and Heilman doing well enough, he has less pressure. Jorge just needs to focus.

Just a little add on:

last yr we got all over Reyes for his OBP and lack of walks, but at the end he led the NL in SB, and played more games and ABs than any other Met, yet injuries were a concern. Last yr this time if you told any Fan Reyes would play 130 games and hit over 250, with 50SB they would have taken it. And that does not include his hot streak, after the all star break. Similarly Wright was beat up, overmatched and not looking good especially before the break, in the St Lou, Angels and Pitt series, especially at that point that it was obvious no lead was safe in the 8th with Loop.

for THAT reason I'm drawing attention to the need to give Reyes a day off once a week and start ahern at SS. ditto Wright who needs Woody once every 10days.

I listened to ESPN yesterday, and they were lauding Omar for the Xavier-Cammy (and other moves) trade. How BIG is that when X and Delgado ARE the offense yesterday.

I havent seen any comments about Bensons outing Sunday.........

I think they should give Keppinger a look, too, but I don't think it's going to happen. They just seem dead-set against him for some reason. Hernandez, unless he turns it around soon, would be better served playing every day in Norfolk.

Your preaching to the choir on Valentin. I agree with you that Reyes needs more days off this year. Even if they send AH down, SS is Woodie's natural position. Woodie is the only guy on the bench that has shown he can contribute, anyway, give him ABs and starts at SS and 3B.

Interesting link,
It appears Willie WANTS Diaz back. He likes Floyd too, but Diaz in LF has to be tried. Given Floyd's health and Free agency Diaz should be in that pseudo platoon (ABs in RF/LF). Thing about Floyd is his strong season last yr, lefty bat, experience give him HUGE trade value right now.

On Milledge: I'll be the (or one of the ) first to consider trading Carlos Beltran and giving Milledge centerfield Then putting a +++ starter in the rotation. Say Coco Crisp and Josh Beckett/Adam Loewen/Beddard for Beltran (or something of that structure). First milledge needs his audition. Note Shelton, Granderson, Nook Logan have needed a yr+ or so to mature.

With Young starters in Diaz, and Milledge and holes in the rotation I expect Floyd to go soon. If we dont trade Floyd now, Then the possiblity of trading Carlos Beltran in the off season will be out there especially if we dont reach the playoffs/ NL champs.

Also understated is what ESPN said about Willie; they said HE is the reason for the upbeat clubhouse, which has morphed considerably.

What's the link, Ed?

Nady and Diaz spent spring training competing for playing time in right.

"Hopefully, we'll get him back soon," Randolph said of Diaz.

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