By Mike Steffanos
Mets 7 - Pirates 5
Before we get into tonight's game, let me tell you that the rumor that Eli Marrero will be the starting centerfielder in the All-Star game is absolutely false. On a more serious note, as I'm sure that most are already aware, it will be fireballer Henry Owens taking Pedro's roster spot for now, not Heath Bell. Since the Mets elected to DL Pedro retroactive to his last start, they were not able to recall Bell. Frankly, I'm more excited about getting a look at Owens, as we already know what Bell brings to the table.
As for the game, Steve Trachsel had another one of those funky games where he was able to dodge in and out of trouble all night. He pitched 6-1/3 innings for the Mets tonight, managing only a single 1-2-3 inning in the fourth. In 3 of the other innings he had multiple baserunners, but came up with the pitches he needed for the most part. Typical Trachsel. His final line was 3ER on 7H and 4BB in those 6.1 innings, and he also hit a batter. The only number that really matters is that this was his sixth straight win. He never fails to give me agita when he pitches, but as long as he keeps winning, I'll live with it. Meanwhile, Aaron Heilman continues to struggle, allowing a run on 3 hits and an inherited runner from Trachsel to score, and Billy Wagner survived some oafish defense from an out of position Marrero for his 17th save.
The offense was a little spotty tonight, but at least it carried over into more than one inning. The Mets faced young, hard-throwing lefty Tom Gorzelanny, and did not treat him nice. Cliff Floyd had a clutch 2 RBI double in the second to put the Mets up, and Jose Reyes had a 2-out, 2-run single in the fourth that essentially chased Gorzelanny.
The Pirates cut it to 5-2 in the fifth, but got Jeromy Burnitz to ground out for the final out with 2 men on. The Mets came right back on David Wright's 2-run homer against Jonah Bayliss in the bottom of the frame. Then it just came down to surviving the last 3 innings, as the Pirates scored solo runs in all 3 frames. Wagner, looking much better than he did a couple of weeks ago, did manage to nail down a not-quite-pretty, but very important win as the Mets counter the Fish's Dontrelle Willis with Jose Lima, whose arm is basically sleeping with the fishes.
Thoughts on the game
Lets update Trachsel's chart as we continue to track the bottom of the rotation:
What can you say? The numbers are atrocious, he doesn't pitch deep enough into games, but he's won 6 in a row. In fairness to Trachsel, he shouldn't have come out to pitch the seventh at all, as his pitch count was up over 100 already. He tried to help the team, and gave up another couple of hits and the run that Heilman allowed to score. Of course, his pitch count should have never been so high; he had a lead but kept nibbling and walking batters. You can bitch, but this basically is what Steve Trachsel is right now. He's pitching to a 1.76 WHIP during his winning streak. That's living right, I guess. Wish he would share some of that mojo with Lima for tomorrow.
Looking for a positive as Heilman continues to struggle? Well, he didn't walk anyone today, and one of the hits he gave up was a fly ball that Marrero played into a triple. I wouldn't trust Heilman in a close game right now, though.
Speaking of Marrero, I think that next time Willie wants to give Beltran a blow, it should be against a righty so that Endy Chavez plays centerfield. I'm no Willie basher, but why Chavez didn't come into that game as a defensive replacement was beyond me. I know you want to give Marrero playing time, but you could have slid him over in place of Nady or Floyd. Chavez would have easily had McLouth's fly ball triple in the eighth, and Marrero looked absolutely spooked on the ball that he flat-out dropped for an error in the ninth.
Wagner had a much better slider today to complement his fastball, which he continues to throw for strikes. Jack Wilson did hit a slider that was up for a base hit, but the several others he threw were very good.