By Mike Steffanos
Marlins 3 - Mets 2 (Game 1)
Mets 17 - Marlins 3 (Game 2)
After going down meekly to the Marlins in game one of yesterday's doubleheader, an exchange of bean balls with the Marlins towards the end of that game finally woke up the Mets offense, as they cruised to a win in game two.
The first game was a great disappointment to me as a Mets fan. The frustrating thing about Lima's loss Friday night was that Darren Oliver kept them in that game, and they had many opportunities to come back and win that game. Since returning from the terrific road trip in mid-June, this team has (perhaps understandably) lacked a sense of urgency in their play. I hope that allowing the Marlins to come into their house and take 2 very winnable games from them stung a little, and some of that came out in game 2.
Game 1 was just awful. They scored 2 runs, both on bases loaded walks, and looked dead all day. John Maine looked like the only one who had something to prove out there, and 3 bad pitches and a deadbeat offense that offered no support proved his undoing.
Kudos to Duaner Sanchez, who had the perfect answer for the Marlins plunking Delgado and Floyd. Jeers to Joe Girardi for whining after the game about Cabrera getting plunked. What's that you say, Joe? Your pitchers didn't hit Floyd and Delgado "on purpose"? Boo, hoo. You know how the game is played, and Sanchez didn't throw at Cabrera's head. If you're going to pitch aggressively, accept the consequences. Maybe you got too used to watching Joe Torre take it from the Red Sox and never respond, and thought that's how it would be. Think again.
Anyway, I'm not sure whether the bean balls woke up the Mets, maybe it was Jose Valentin's Viagra kicking in -- or perhaps the Mets decided they weren't going to allow the Marlins to embarrass them any further. They jumped on the Fish early and often in the second game, and very quickly the only real suspense became whether Pelfrey could survive 5 innings and grab that first win.
With respect to Cliff Floyd, who had a big game with a double, home run, 2 walks, 4 runs scored and 5 RBIs, this win was all about Jose Valentin. With the Mets reeling from dropping two stinkers, Valentin came up for the first time with the Mets up 1-0, the bases loaded, one out, and the stench of failures to get the key hit still hanging in the air. Valentin cam through, crushing a grand slam to give the Mets and Mike Pelfrey a chance to take a deep breath.
After Pelfrey struggled through the second and allowed the Marlins a pair of runs to get back into it, Valentin came up again with the bases loaded, a run in and 2 outs. Again he crushed a shot to right, and only the fact that he didn't get under it kept it in the park. It went for a 3 RBI triple, breaking the game open and putting Valentin within 1 of Dave Kingman's record of 8 RBIs in a game. Valentin would come up short, going 0-3 the rest of the way, but make no mistake about it, his 2 big hits early in the game were the reason the Mets have a chance to split this series today with Glavine on the mound.
Thoughts on the games
I didn't see all of game 1, but I was impressed with John Maine. Besides the lack of run support, you have to be unlucky when you give up 6 hits and 3 of them are solo home runs. Some days they miss your mistakes, some they don't. He didn't walk anyone in 6 innings of work, throwing 59 strikes and 37 balls to the 22 batters he faced. He's earned another shot, and you could see what they liked about him even though he is somewhat raw.
If you didn't watch the second game, you wouldn't be much impressed with Mike Pelfrey's stat line. Certainly he wasn't great, but he battled, tried to be aggressive, and came up with key pitches when he needed them. It was a weird game -- it's hard to evaluate someone when he was pitching with a 9-2 lead in the third, but I liked what I saw. If you saw any of the post-game interview with Pelfrey on SNY you came away impressed with his overall composure.
I would hope that the Mets will go out today and their pride will carry them through to a series split and a chance to go into the break on an up note. We need to see more consistency from them when they return. I know they've had to deal with pitching issues, but what is worrisome is the inconsistency of their efforts on offense and in the field.
Update: As Ed pointed out in the comments below, I should have given a mention to Henry Owens, pitching on a second consecutive day and giving them two scoreless innings. I like what I've seen from him so far.