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Mets Spank Randy Johnson Again, Halting Slide

Mike SteffanosSunday, July 2, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 8 - Yankees 3

Facing a familiar foe, the Mets bats awoke with a vengeance, once again castrating the Big Eunuch en route to a convincing win. The win snapped the Mets 4 game losing streak, their longest of the season.

They jumped quickly on Johnson, who has had a history of first inning malaise since signing with the Yankees. When Jose Reyes led off with a single and Paul Lo Duca followed with a double, the Mets had already surpassed their hit total from Friday night. David Wright's 1-out double plated both runners.

Trachsel being Trachsel, he got immediate trouble in the bottom of the first, though it wasn't entirely his fault. After Damon led off with a single, Jeter hit a soft ground ball that Trachsel fielded and clearly beat Jeter to first with the throw. When first base ump Tim Mcclelland inexplicabley called Jeter safe, it was but the first of several bad calls in the Yankees favor by this crew. Trachsel was able to strike out the Giambino for the first out, and Damon, running on the play, was gunned down at third. After walking A-Rod, Trachsel got Posada on a deep fly to escape damage.

He wasn't so lucky in the third, when Damon and Jeter led off with singles, and Giambi again walked to load the bases. A-Rod's single drove in a run and re-loaded the bases, but Trachsel induced Posada to hit into a 4-6-3 double-play. The tying run scored, but Trachsel got Phillips for the final out. This was a microcosm of the afternoon for Trachsel -- in trouble constantly, slowing the game down to an excruciating crawl, but limiting the damage.

The Mets immediately struck back against Johnson in the top of the fourth. With Wright and Franco on base and no outs, Johnson clearly struck Nady in the rear leg with a wayward slider. Nady started running to first, but home plate umpire Gerry Davis didn't see it and refused to ask for help from another umpire. When Nady struck out on the next pitch, that looked huge. But Woodward, after falling behind, worked out a terrific 8 pitch walk, and Ramon Castro hit Johnson's first pitch for a 2 RBI single. Eli Marrero struck out for the second out, but Jose Reyes drove in Woodward with a single to left. It looked like Melky Cabrera would have a play at the plate, but he airmailed a horrible throw way over Posada's head. Lo Duca drove in 2 more with a single to put the Mets up by 5.

They'd never look back after that, but Trachsel made it interesting. His only 1-2-3 inning was the sixth. He wasn't great, but he escaped trouble until leaving in the seventh after slightly straining a groin trying to field Miguel Cairo's infield hit. Aaron Heilman got touched up for a solo homer by A-Rod, but otherwise pitched two solid innings, and Wagner had a 1-2-3 ninth, though he gave us a mild scare turning his ankle slightly while covering first for the final out.

Thoughts on the game
As with yesterday, let's update what I started a few days ago, looking at Hernandez, Soler and Trachsel, and their performance over the last month. Updating Trachsel for today's game:

Steve Trachsel

Look at the baserunners this guy is giving up, even when he pitches relatively well. He's just scary. All credit to Trachsel for giving the team a much-needed win, but he did nothing today to give me confidence that his personal winning streak is more than a fluke. He allowed 11 baserunners in 6+ innings today. Sadly, despite holding the Yankees to 2 runs in 6 innings, I don't feel any better about him now than I did going in. He just can't continue to get away with walking so many while allowing over a hit an inning and striking out almost no one.

Great play by David Wright in the fifth on A-Rod's swinging bunt. Nice to see a Met making a web gem rather than being victimized by one.

A quick note about Aaron Heilman. He did pitch decent today, but the opposite field home run to Rodriguez was another example of Ron Darling's point that Heilman was having trouble spotting that side of the plate -- outside to righties, inside to lefties. The pitch to A-Rod was on the outside corner, but up around belt high. Aaron's making progress, but he still has work to do.

Rubber game tomorrow night on ESPN. We're looking for Soler to bounce back from his bad start against Cincinnati and absolute debacle at Fenway.

Box Score

Comments (4)

Good to see the Mets break free, especially against Johnson whom I do not love. After the game I went out and twisted my ankle in a show of solidarity.

I've been trying to remember an instance of a team jettisoning a pitcher who was collecting "W's" while pitching 'orribly. It's not much of a list, mostly composed of items like the San Diego Padres letting Johnny Podres go after he went 5-6 for them in their first season (and I think he was just ready to retire).

But there is the example of Damian Moss, whom the Braves traded away after he had gone 12-6 for them. Or maybe the better example is the team that got Moss, the Giants, tossing him into a three month rental deal for Sid Ponson, with Baltimore giving up on him soon afterwards. Anyhow, Moss was one player whose won/lost record was quickly seen as an illusion.

It's harder to pull the plug on Trachsel, a good guy who has given his honest best for the Mets for years. But at some point you've gotta say "that Bobby Jones has got to go." I guess I'll be there as soon as I know who could take his place.

I'm with you. I refuse to call for Trachsel to be replaced at this point. The jury is still out on all 3, and Trachsel really gutted a performance out against the Yankees, and gets credit for that. Still, there were times early in the game, like when Posada was up with the bases loaded, where he was 1 hit away from putting the Mets in a big hole. You just want to see him stop issuing so many walks. The bubble will burst for him if he doesn't.

"IF" we did get a good #2 or #3 pitcher, Trachsel could still be with us as a #5 pitcher. I think the price is right to keep him in that spot. But we have a lot of promise on the farm for that to. It will be interesting to see what happens at the trading deadline.

I've said all season Trachsel is a number 5 at this stage of his career. I'm just not sure who we're going to get. The market is so overvalued, and it makes no sense to trade Milledge for someone like Jason Schmidt. I really wonder who they're going to get, and for what.

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