By Mike Steffanos
Mets 9 - Orioles 4
Tom Glavine kept the Mets in the game while the bats were quiet, then managed to give them just enough to come up with his tenth win of the season. The Mets avoided their first 3-game losing streak of the year as some late offense and timely defense propelled them past the Orioles.
Glavine, while not at his absolute best, clearly had better control over his pitches than he did in his previous two outings. This was fortunate, because for the first 4-2/3 innings O's starter Adam Loewen looked to be the latest young starting pitcher to dominate the Mets. After allowing only 1 run out of a no-out, first and third jam in the second, Glavine held Baltimore at bay while the Mets hitters managed to work some deep counts on Loewen, pushing his pitch count up around 75 as he took the mound in the bottom of the fifth.
It cost Loewen only 8 pitches to retire Lastings Milledge and Tom Glavine for the first 2 outs in the inning, but then Reyes singled hard through the hole into left. Loewen expended a lot of energy keeping Reyes close, allowing Eli Marrero to work a seven-pitch AB that culminated when an inside pitch grazed his arm. Loewen seemed to lose focus and hit Beltran with a 2-1 fastball to load the bases. Leo Mazzone came out to the mound to settle Loewen, who was suddenly closing in on 100 pitches. Whatever Leo told him didn't work -- he tried to get ahead of Wright with a fat fastball, and Wright deposited it in the back of the left field bullpen to put the Mets up 4-1. This was play of the game 1A, but there would be more twists to this one.
Glavine retired Brian Roberts to start the sixth, but Jeff Conine and Melvin Mora both singled. Glavine came back to strike out Miguel Tejada, but Javy Lopez worked a full count and singled home Conine. Then Glavine allowed Corey Patterson to single home a run on an 0-2 pitch to blow 2/3 of his lead, but came back to strike out Ed Rogers on a 3-2 pitch to escape the sixth.
The Mets picked up an important insurance run on Ramon Castro's homer to right-center, and Willie elected to send an obviously tiring Glavine came out for the top of the seventh. It backfired when he gave up a double to lefty Nick Markakis on yet another 3-2 pitch, and Glavine's day was done. Pedro Feliciano replaced him and faced lefty PH Howie Clark, and gave up a single to put runners on first and third. Brian Roberts hit a high chopper that Reyes did well to throw him out at first, but Markakis scored to again cut the deficit to one slim run.
With right-handers coming up, Willie brought in Chad Bradford, who has allowed only one inherited runner to score all year. Bradford struck out Jeff Conine swinging, but Melvin Mora worked another full count and hit a ball hard that seemed destined for the gap in right-center to bring home the tying run. Eli Marrero seemed to initially misjudge the ball and had to adjust back. At the last second he stretched out to full extension and came up with the catch. Turning point 1B, because you could sense the game would have gone a different direction had the O's tied it there.
The Mets would go on to turn this game into close to a laugher with a bizarre 4-run seventh inning, punctuated by 3 Orioles errors and a weird misplay of Wright's single by LF Ed Rogers, where the ball bounced up his arm and into his uniform shirt. Willie took no chances even with a 5-run lead, sending out Duaner Sanchez for a 1-2-3 eighth and then giving Aaron Heilman a chance to work a clean ninth.
Thoughts on the game
Even when it looked bad for a while in the early going, the Mets didn't help out Adam Loewen. They made him throw a lot of pitches, and that made the difference for them getting to him in the fifth.
Eli Marrero made two really nice catches in the first inning, also, although Willie Randolph pointed out that first one was necessitated by him being so far out of position on Brian Roberts. He was on base on a HBP for Wright's slam, and in the pivotal seventh that broke the game open he laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt.
Darling had another good point on Aaron Heilman in the ninth, pointing out that, with his low 3/4 delivery, sometimes Heilman's hand doesn't get on top of the pitch and his ball flattens out. This is the flaw that has plagued Randy Johnson, who also has a low three-quarters delivery, throughout his career. Speaking of Darling, he would be a little too deferential to Gary Cohen early in the year, but really seems to have relaxed now. The Mets are blessed with 2 great color guys in the booth now with Ron and Keith.
After coming up with a 3-hit game yesterday, Lastings Milledge looked a little over-matched today. He was 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts. It's all part of the growing process, but I can see it going either way as far as him going down to Norfolk when Floyd comes back.
I don't do this often, but if you missed my post from earlier today, I'd appreciate it if you take a minute to check it out. It's about someone who was very important to me.