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.
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.