By Mike Steffanos
Mets 7 - Marlins 6
The general malaise that has afflicted the Mets for the past 3 weeks reared it's ugly head one last time before the All-Star break, but the Mets were able to ride a clutch David Wright blast for a comeback win that sends them into the break on a positive note.
Tom Glavine started for the Mets and pitched pretty well. After the game Glavine characterized his own effort as possessing really good stuff but lacking his sharp control of his pitches. That would seem to gibe with what I witnessed. Although he only walked a pair in 6-1/3 innings he didn't always seem to get the location he was trying for with his pitches. Still, his defense played well behind him in the early going and allowed him to match zeros with Marlins starter Scott Olsen.
In the first inning, Paul Lo Duca managed to throw out Hanley Ramirez trying to steal second, a rare occurrence for Lo Duca. In the second Xavier Nady threw out Josh Willingham at the plate to end the inning. Glavine also managed to come up with some big pitches when he needed them.
The Mets broke through first in the fifth inning against Olsen, who had stifled their offense to that point. Cliff Floyd led off with an opposite field single, and Xavier Nady followed with his 12th home run of the year. The Mets tacked on another run when third baseman Miguel Cabrera nonchalanted Lo Duca's grounder down the line into an RBI double, scoring Jose Valentin who was on second with a legit two-bagger.
Glavine let the Marlins right back into it in the sixth, allowing the Fish three straight hits to load the bases with none out. He came back to retire Cabrera and Willingham, and had a chance to get out of it, but Mike Jacobs hit a hard grounder to Valentin's backhand that he couldn't corral, scoring Joe Borchard. Valentin failed to react quickly enough when Hanley Ramirez aggressively rounded third and came all the home from second on the play. Glavine retired Cody Ross for the final out, but the Marlins had cut the lead to 3-2.
Glavine, whose pitch count was still relatively low, came back out for the seventh. He had a bad break as Reggie Abercrombie nubbed an infield single leading off, then Miguel Olivo crushed a ball into the gap in right center that Nady made a really good diving catch on. But Joe Borchard followed with a shot to the wall that Nady couldn't corral, and he got a little close to the wall and bobbled the carom for an error that allowed Abercrombie to score and Borchard to make it to third.
Glavine was out, replaced by Bradford, who was immediately greeted by Hanley Ramirez' RBI single to put the Fish up by one. Ramirez stole second and went to third on Lo Duca's throwing error. The Marlins went up 5-3 later in the inning when Endy Chavez, replacing Floyd in LF on a double switch, allowed Ramirez to tag up and score on Uggla's short fly ball. Chavez seemed to take for granted that Ramirez wouldn't try to score on a shallow fly, and delayed the throw just long enough for Ramirez to steal the run.
The Mets went down meekly to Randy Messenger in the seventh, but Logan Kensing did not enjoy the same success in the home eighth. Jose Valentin worked the count full and then earned a leadoff walk. Paul Lo Duca followed with a fly ball to centerfield that Reggie Abercrombie lost in the sun. Valentin went to third, but Lo Duca had not run hard and had to stop at first. Jose Reyes replaced Lo Duca as a pinch runner. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI single, cutting the lead to one as Reyes moved to second. Carlos Delgado hit a rocket right at right fielder Borchard for the first out. Reyes got caught halfway and was unable to tag, although the ball was deep enough. David Wright rendered the baserunning blunders moot by crushing a home run on a Kensing slider that put the Mets up 7-5.
Billy Wagner came in for the ninth to ensure that Wright's heroics stood up. He made it interesting by giving up a long 1-out home run to centerfield to Miguel Olivo that cut the lead to one, but Wagner came back to strike out Borchard and Ramirez for his 18th save.
Thoughts on the game
Glavine continued to bounce back from his recent struggles with a decent game today. He was unlucky on Jacob's hit. If he got out of that inning with the 3-run lead intact he might have been able to get the win. In any case, it was closer to the type of performance the Mets hope to get from Glavine in the second half.
Xavier Nady committed that error in the seventh, but did contribute two really nice plays and the big home run to break through against Olsen. Nady goes into the break with 12 HR and 34 RBI despite accumulating only 223 at bats due to the appendix and a couple of smaller injuries. He's playing through a fractured wrist and giving the team a solid 7 hitter and Floyd some decent protection. What a pickup he's been.
I know Wagner gave up that bomb to Olivo, but it didn't seem to be a terrible pitch. It was an outside fastball that was up around the letters with good velocity. I think Olivo just ran into it, which happens. Wagner still isn't that lights-out closer of old, but he's been a lot better lately. I liked the way he shook off the home run and struck out the next two guys.
The break would appear to be coming at an ideal time for the Mets, who have not been playing crisp baseball for the last 3 weeks.
Plans for this week
I intend to blog right through the All-Star break.