By Mike Steffanos
Mets 5 - Phillies 4
Just like Steve Trachsel yesterday, Alay Soler's control got him into trouble early. Unlike Trachsel, Soler settled down and threw some strikes, kept his team in the game and earned the respect and gratitude of an overworked bullpen. Soler mixed speeds well, and displayed a major-league caliber fastball, slider and changeup. With the acquisition of Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez from Arizona, the Mets have a chance to at least stabilize the bottom of their rotation. More on that deal tomorrow.
Soler's game started ugly for the nervous young right-hander. He walked Rollins, Utley and Abreu to lead off the game, then allowed an RBI single to Burrell. He induced Ryan Howard to hit a perfect double-play grounder to Woodward playing second, but Woodward let it go right through the wickets for a 2-run error. With Burrell on second and Howard on first with no outs, Soler couldn't have been blamed it he let it get away from him. Instead, he sandwiched strikeouts of Victorino and Fasano with Bell's flyout, and escaped without further damage.
Carlos Beltran got one back in the bottom of the first with a solo home run off of Phillies starter John Lieber, meanwhile Soler worked around singles in the second and third to keep the Phillies off the board. In the bottom of the third, Beltran and Delgado both went down on strikes, but Wright worked the count full, then took Lieber deep to make it a 1-run game. Next up, Floyd singled, then Castro walked. Woodward singled home Wright to even things up, but Castro ran into the final out at third.
Soler committed the sin of walking the light-hitting Leiber with 1 out in the top of the fourth, then allowed a single to Utley one out later. He got Abreu to ground out to end that threat. In the bottom of the fourth, a Reyes triple (another bad Abreu play) and a Jose Valentin sac fly put the Mets up a run. Soler pitched a 1-2-3 fifth, then got Jimmy Rollins swinging with Sal Fasano on second in the sixth to end his day on a high note.
Feliciano came into the game in the seventh and got Utley and Abreu on strikes. Willie elected to leave the lefty in to face Burrell with a depleted 'pen and Ryan Howard on deck. It backfired when Burrell homered to tie the game and Soler lost his chance at a win. The inning ended when Kaz Matsui made a terrific diving catch on Ryan Howard's liner. The Mets went right back on top in their half of the seventh when David Wright drove in Carlos Beltran with a 2-out single.
Heilman came into the game in the eighth and survived Victorino's leadoff bloop single. After David Bell sacrificed him to second, Heilman got pinch hitter Abraham Nunez to foul out to Ramon Castro and pinch hitter David Dellucci to ground to Matsui. After the Mets failed to get any insurance, Billy Wagner came in to save the 1-run game against his former mates. Rollins flied out to Beltran for the first out, then Chase Utley worked the count full before hitting a slow chopper to Matsui who managed to get him at first by a hair. Abreu flied out to Cliff Floyd in left to end it.
Thoughts on the game
I think I deserve an outfield gold glove more than Bobby Abreu. I may not be that fast anymore, but I won't pull up on a ball 15 feet from the fence. Perhaps his panties were bunching up on him tonight.
Cliff Floyd was 1-3 today and had some good at bats. He might really be breaking out of it this time.
Matsui isn't hitting much lately, but hasn't allowed his glove to suffer. He just keeps making the plays.
Beltran's average is only .262, but he has 12 HR and 31 RBI in 34 games. His OBP is .391 and his SLG is .603, and he's getting huge hits for this team.
Sorry if this recap was lacking in any way. I've managed to come down with a bad case of the flu.
Jeremi Gonzalez gets what may be his last start tomorrow against Phillies top pitcher Brett Myers. It's a hell of a mismatch, but you never know. Game time is 1 PM.