By Mike Steffanos
Mets 6 - Cubs 3
That the Mets won a game that Steve Trachsel pitched is nothing new. Today's victory stretched Trachsel's personal winning streak to seven in a row. What was different from most of the other six was that Trachsel overcame an extremely rough first inning to actually pitch well enough to deserve the win.
The Mets hit the ground running as they drew first blood in the top of the first. Jose Valentin jumped on Greg Maddux with a leadoff double, advanced to third on Lo Duca's ground out, and scored on a ground out by Beltran. Trachsel gave the lead right back in the bottom of the frame, despite retiring the first two batters. Derek Lee doubled and Aramis Ramirez worked a walk, then Trachsel left a pitch up to Jacque Jones who doubled off the ivy for 2 runs.
Both pitchers settled down and retired the side in order in both the second and third innings, but the Mets got to Maddux big-time in the fourth. Lo Duca and Beltran led off with singles, then after Delgado struck out, Wright tied the game with a single that brought home Lo Duca. Cliff Floyd ripped a double down the line that scored Beltran and moved Wright to third. Maddux elected to intentionally walk Xavier Nady, and induced a double play grounder from Chris Woodward. Cubs second baseman Todd Walker was slow getting the ball to shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who was taken out by a nice hard slide by Nady, causing his throw to miss wide of first and allowing both Wright and Floyd to score to put the Mets up 5-2.
Trachsel was efficient and working fast in the fourth and fifth, allowing only Michael Barrett's 2-out single in the fourth. The game went into a 45-minute rain delay, but pitchers were able to stay in the game. Maddux pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, but Trachsel labored a little, allowing a 1-out walk to Derrek Lee and a couple of deep fly outs. Despite having only thrown 79 pitches Trachsel was done after six, and it was the right decision. He just didn't look totally loose after the delay.
Chris Woodward was robbed of a home run in the seventh by bad umpiring on a ball that clearly made it over the wall and bounced back. Eli Marrero pinch hit for Trachsel and lifted a sac fly to bring Woodward belatedly home with the sixth run for the Mets. Aaron Heilman pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and Duaner Sanchez survived a single and a walk to keep the Cubs off the board in the eighth. Wagner came into the ninth in a non-save situation, getting touched up for the final run but preserving victory number 54 on the season for the Mets.
Thoughts on the game
The Cubs worked Trachsel hard in the first inning, scoring a pair and making him throw 25 pitches. It looked like a typical Trachsel performance during his winning streak, but he was terrific over the next 5 innings, allowing only 2 hits and a walk the rest of the way. The Cubs seemed dead and listless though, and I couldn't help feel they weren't taking good at bats against Trachsel after the first. This is not to take any credit away from Steve, who did pitch well. Let's update the chart we've been keeping on Trachsel since the beginning of June:
Trachsel was actually fairly effective in his 2 previous starts, despite allowing a ton of baserunners. He was much more parsimonious in that regard against the Cubs, and it would be nice if he could build on that. In any case, a streak like this cannot be denied, and the Mets should ride it for whatever it's worth.
David Wright made a terrific play at third base against Derek Lee to continue his magical week. Cliff Floyd contributed a nice leaping grab against Juan Pierre. Chris Woodward showed his value by playing a really nice shortstop as Reyes gets closer to returning. Beltran had some tightening in his knee (doesn't seem serious) and was replaced by Chavez after the rain delay. With Chavez and Woodward in the game the Mets had backups playing 2 key positions in SS and CF and didn't miss a beat defensively. Not many teams have that luxury.
It was nice to see Heilman pitch a 1-2-3 inning, with Sanchez and Wagner coming off less effective but getting back into the swing of things after the long break. Wagner's slider still looks weak to me. He has been much better with his fastball, although the run against him came on a fastball that he left fat and over the heart. The pitch that Michael Barrett doubled on earlier in the inning was actually a good pitch low and on the outside corner.
The Mets will be facing the Cubs' best pitcher this year tomorrow afternoon at 4 ET as Tom Glavine squares off against Carlos Zambrano. The game will be televised on channel 11.
This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.Box Score