By Mike Steffanos
Mets 7 - Blue Jays 4
Jose Reyes continued his torrid hitting, and Carlos Beltran contributed a 3-run homer that gave the Mets a lead they would not relinquish, enabling the Mets to overcome another ineffectual start from Steve Trachsel and take the rubber game of their series north of the border.
Reyes wasted no time putting the Mets ahead in this one, hammering a 2-0 pitch deep to right field for his 8th home run of the year leading off the game against Josh Towers and his 8+ ERA. Trachsel gave that run back to the Jays in the bottom of the first when Reed Johnson singled to lead off the game and Trachsel's attempted pickoff move missed Delgado by about ten feet. Johnson motored all the way to third and scored on a groundout.
Both pitchers escaped trouble in the second, but Carlos Beltran beat Towers for an opposite-field 3-run homer to left in the third to put the Mets up 4-1. Trachsel kept Toronto off the board in the bottom of the frame, aided by LF Endy Chavez' terrific throw nailing Reed Johnson trying to stretch a single into a double leading off the inning. Incredibly, this was Chavez' eighth outfield assist in a part-time role. Trachsel wasn't so lucky in the fourth, making bad pitches to Lyle Overbay and Bengie Molina and watching them both sail out of the park for solo home runs.
The Mets came back with 2 in the fifth to go back up 6-3. Reyes drove in one run with a single and Ramon Castro scored the second on a wild pitch by Scott Downs, who had replaced Towers. Trachsel gave back one run immediately in the bottom of the fifth. Russ Adams singled to lead off, then after Trachsel retired Johnson on a fly out, he went to full counts on Frank Catalanotto and Vernon Wells, walking both of them. Overbay had a deep sac fly to LF to make it 6-4, but Shea Hillenbrand lined out hard to Nady for the final out of the inning. Trachsel was done after using 96 pitches to navigate 5 innings.
The Mets would get the run back in the sixth on Jose Valentin's solo home run. Then the bullpen took over. Chad Bradford was terrific for 2 innings, facing both lefties and righties. He allowed only Catalanotto's 2-out double in the seventh. Heilman came in to pitch the eighth, and allowed Overbay to single leading off. Shea Hillenbrand struck out swinging and seemed overmatched against Heilman, but Eric Hinske floated a soft fly to RF that Nady couldn't catch to bring the tying run to the plate with 1 out. Heilman got Molina to fly out to CF for the second out, then struck out pinch hitter Gregg Zaun to end that threat.
Billy Wagner came in to pitch the ninth. I suspected this would not be easy, and it wasn't. He got pinch hitter Alex Rios to ground out for the first out, then started fighting his control again. He walked Johnson, then allowed pinch hitter Troy Glaus to work a full count before inducing a fly out for the second out. He went full again to Vernon Wells and walked him, bringing up Lyle Overbay as the tying run. Rick Peterson took a trip out to the mound and reminded Wagner that throwing some strikes would make a happy outcome much more likely. Amazingly, Wagner seemed to listen and struck out Lyle Overbay on a called strike, a swinging strike, 2 foul balls and a swinging strike. Five pitches to Overbay, and not a ball in the bunch. The curse words thankfully died on my lips as the Mets celebrated a nice victory.
Thoughts on the game
Trachsel has a personal 4-game winning streak. I know some are going to use this as evidence that he is pitching well. Don't be deceived:
The Mets scored 31 runs in those 4 games for Trachsel. He made it through the sixth inning twice. Of most concern to me was the 39 baserunners he allowed in 22.1 innings, the 6 home runs and the shockingly low strikeout totals. You don't expect Trachsel to strikeout a lot of guys, but that number is low, especially since the 13 walks is so bad. Matt Cerrone reported a couple of days ago at MetsBlog that there is buzz that Trachsel is experiencing "lingering issues" with his back, I think the numbers bear this out. You can shrug them off since the team is winning these games, but other than the game against the Reds Trachsel pitched bad enough to lose the other three. I think there is going to be a day of reckoning with Trax before too long.
I'm not sure what else there is to say about Jose Reyes, whose 4-5 today pushed his average up over .300. Ride it for as long as it lasts, kid, you've been great. He's still a work in progress, but the progress he makes at times is significant. He'll have his dry stretches, no doubt, but "experts" are going to have a tougher and tougher time just writing him off as a player.
All I'll say about Wagner right now is that I can forgive a closer who gets beat with hits, but not with walks. We understand you're going through a really tough time, Billy, but throw some damn strikes.
Endy Chavez is going through a batting slump right now, but still finds ways to help the team. What a terrific throw that was. If you missed the game, try to catch the replay. The kid is just so fundamentally sound in everything he does except for being a little overaggressive at the dish.
Day off tomorrow, then Fenway and those wicked-hot Sawx.
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