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Mets Offense Takes a Night Off

Mike SteffanosTuesday, May 30, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Diamondbacks 7 - Mets 2

I've been battling the flu for a week, and I'm starting to feel as if I'm losing the battle. I was drifting a little in and out mentally watching the game tonight. The Mets had their hits off Miguel Batista, and some hard outs. For most of the game I had the strong feeling they were a hit away from getting back into things. Sadly, that hit never came, and Batista pitched a complete game against them. To his credit, the one thing he did do was throw strikes, something his opposite number on the Mets failed to do.

Alay Soler struggled with his control early and often. I just keep reminding myself that this was his second major-league start. He has some stuff, although he struggled with his breaking pitches most of the night. He's going to have to learn not to get upset with the umpire so much. He got squeezed here and there, but for the most part got what he deserved. He threw 58 strikes and 47 balls in his ineffective five innings of work, hopefully his mentors on the staff can help him learn from this and give the Mets a better start next time.

As for the debut of Lastings Milledge, his first time up he had a couple of guys on base and lined out hard to shortstop. His first major league hit was a solid double to left. He didn't look intimidated at all, although he did look a little nervous first time up. The kid's a keeper, but I think all of you already knew that.

The other positives from tonight were Cliff Floyd and Jose Valentin staying hot. Floyd had a couple of hits including a double, while Valentine also had a pair of knocks highlighted by a solo homer in the ninth. Floyd is all the way up to .235 after being well under the Mendoza line deep into May, and Valentin has 4 HR and 16 RBIs in only 67 ABs.

Oh, and nice job from Darren Oliver, giving them 4 innings and the rest of the bullpen an important night off.

Pedro will try to lead the Mets to a series victory tomorrow night against 8-0 Brandon Webb.

Box Score

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Comments (4)

Even in a bad outing I see a few things to like in Alay Soler.

Watching Soler struggle with his breaking stuff last night I thought a comment Leo Mazone made years ago: with a young starter you should expect one good outing out of three; later the ratio should become one good outing out of two starts, and so on. It is unrealistic to expect regular sustained quality pitching from a kid pitcher however talented, something that one who saw the ninteen year old Dwight Gooden can forget at times.

Thing is, Mazone was referring to a twenty year old Steve Avery. Who really knows how old Alay Soler is?

But I'm going to hang in there with Soler for a while. For some reason I like it that he cares perhaps too much; if he can gain some control of his emotions, then maybe his tendency to unravel will translate to competitive fire.

I agree with you, dd. And even though Soler is old for a rookie, he's still a rookie. At this time last year he was basically just moldering away in the Dominican at the Mets baseball academy just waiting to get in this country. One positive from Soler's age and experience is that we hope he can accelerate the process.

Great dialogue and comments.

I was befuddled also the shots Jackson and Byrnes hit were not strikes and were waaay low.....golf shots. Plus the 1st inning was like quest-tec meets the twilight zone. As long as he keeps his wits he'll be fine. The fact he went 5IP regardless is still a positive. He needs to throw strikes....PERIOD.

Was he a starter vs the Orioles at age 19 in an exhibition/pre-season game?

Byrnes is a weird hitter. I thought the pitch to Jackson was actually pretty fat, but like I said, I was struggling to stay awake last night.

I had a quote from Soler this morning:
There's always something to learn in baseball, but tonight, I learned that the first strike is very important.

That about says it all.

I don't know the answer to your question about Soler pitching an exhibition against the O's at 19.

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