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El Duque Leads Mets to Sweep

Mike SteffanosSunday, August 20, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 2 - Rockies 0

Orlando Hernandez shook off any aftereffects from Tuesday's ugly pounding to toss 6 innings of shutout ball at the Colorado Rockies, out-dueling Jason Jennings and helping the Mets to a sweep of the series. There wasn't much offense to speak of in this game, with the two teams combining for 9 hits between them. That didn't mean the game lacked moments of high drama.

The first act played out as Mets fans wondered if El Duque could overcome his recent string of slow starts in games. He did allow singles in the first and second, but nothing else. After that he really found his stride and pitched a perfect third and fourth. Jennings was almost as good, but was beaten in the second by Carlos Delgado's long solo home run to dead centerfield.

Hernandez ran into big trouble trying to protect that 1-0 lead when, in the top of the fifth, Hawpe hit a soft single to center and Yorvit Torrealba bounced a well-placed double down the line. With runners on second and third, no outs, El Duque sucked it up and struck out Clint Barmes, Jennings and Jamey Carroll to preserve the lead, to the wild cheers of the crowd. He followed it up by trying to bunt for a base hit in the bottom of the frame. Torrealba's wild throw to first allowed Hernandez to advance to second. The 41-year-old then stole third, but was stranded there.

Hernandez went back out for the sixth, despite a pitch count that was advancing towards 100. He walked Cory Sullivan leading off, then retired Helton for the first out. With Matt Holliday at the plate, Sullivan was gunned down trying to swipe second by Mike DiFelice's perfect throw for the second out. Holliday blooped a soft double to right, but Hernandez got Garrett Atkins looking at a called third strike for the final out. Hernandez was done after throwing 114 pitches, 72 which went for strikes. It was vintage El Duque.

The Mets added a bit of insurance when Carlos Beltran beat Jennings with a solo shot. The Mets handed the 2-0 lead to Chad Bradford to protect in the seventh. Bradford survived a 1-out walk to Torrealba by inducing Barmes to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Aaron Heilman was asked to pitch the eighth despite pitching 2 innings in last night's game. He was perfect, striking out 2. Wagner continued the perfection with a 1-2-3 ninth for save number 31 on the year. It was his second perfect ninth inning in a row after a string of Looperish saves. He really does seem to be getting stronger as the season goes on and he pitches a lot.

Thoughts on the game
Let's update what Hernandez has done since August 1:

Orlando Hernandez

Obviously, the stats are somewhat skewed by the beating he took for the team in Philly, although equally obviously, he was certainly terrible that night. You can't ignore the fact that he's shown a propensity from time to time to be very, very bad. Looking past that, though, he's been for the most part the Mets best starter for the better part of 2 months. He still has the stuff to strike people out and, with Glavine's difficulties, becomes a very important starter for this team. The question as to whether his arm holds up is anyone's guess. In any case, a terrific bounce-back start for the crafty old veteran.

Not much to talk about offensively. Wright's struggles continue. Besides the home runs from the Carloses, the only other two Mets hits were singles from Milledge and El Duque. They did work some decent at bats against Jennings. Tucker in particular has a good approach at the plate. He'll work a pitcher and see some pitches, working out a pair of walks today. It did take Jennings 95 pitches to navigate 6 innings, and that's a vast improvement over some of the games versus Washington and Philadelphia.

The Mets will have a day off tomorrow and another a week from tomorrow. After that, their only remaining day off for the season is Thursday, September 14. Weird schedule, eh?

This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.

Box Score

Comments (7)

You are too efficient!

1. on Mota...The real story here is Mota takes sanchez place, and we rely less on Bert. Given what bert has done (and what heilman has done moreso) we should be happier. This is not a big move, but mota (ala Willie's way) will assume Berts present role as bleeding stopper. chad/heilman/wags already assume the 7th/8th&9th. Potentially he could move into these arena.

2. El duque was nice today. But again he was yanked after 6, alluding to his rapid amassing of innings. As we herald Sept, I think he is BP bound in a role Oliver excelled at. el duque also was a long reliever with the Yanks and given the mets offense (?), el duque should pitch 2-innings rarely.

3. In the last 2 days Ollie has pitched like Ollie and Bannister like bannister. Earlier this yr, bannister was good for 5-6innings of 1 run ball. I preface with the reality that if glavine is shelved we will see Bannister replacing El Duque, then Ollie in Glavines spot. That hardly makes me shudder. Right now I am elated that ollie is hitting 93-94mph. With a nearly 15gm lead and a 90-95win season in sight we have a distinct luxury to try these guys. I still salivate at the idea Zito(or Schmidt) and Pedro, followed by Ollie, Maine then Bannister could be the starting rotation with Pell and Soler at AAA or in the BP.

4. MIKE DI FELICE???; OK Call me insane....but I want this guy as my back up. he is 4-0 now!! And his ERA is eye popping. Make him Ollie's personal catcher. sorry Ramon I like U but do you fit longterm anyway?

Mike i'm interested in how Perez, Willis and Kaz compare on paper.

As always, love the recap. Truthfully, I have no concerns with this team anymore except the fact that David Wright hasn't hit a homerun in forever. I think he's just hit the wall and seriously needs a rest, and it's a shame that Valentin chose exactly the wrong time to get injured. The fact that we are gonna have three players with 100 RBI (my confidence in Delgado having risen since his mini-hot streak began) is a great thing to see. I was discussing with a friend of mine what the outcome of a Subway World Series would be like, and even though the Yankees are playing very well right now, you can't exactly hand them the championship should that situation come to pass.

If you want me to be completely candid, I think that the Glavine injury is a blessing in disguise. Before you completely hammer me to the wall for saying that, consider what he's been like post-All-Star break, and his current age. Because of the money we're paying him and his veteran status, Willie is "forced" into starting him, but given Bannister's Norfolk resurgence and his performance before he was hurt, I think this opens the door for the younger guys to shine. I am NOT counting on temporary flashes of brilliance from guys like Dave Williams and Oliver Perez, considering it'd be impressive to see them sustain that kind of run for an extended period of time.

Nevertheless, you can't tell me with a straight face that you thought Glavine was the type of starter to be feared in the postseason. Honestly, if Bannister pitches like he did to start the year, you can't tell me you wouldn't rather have him in there. Maine has continued to show that he's the real deal, and if Perez can come along nicely, that's a serious bonus. El Duque has arguably been the best postseason pitcher of the last 6 years other than Mo Rivera, and I highly doubt that Pedro won't find his stride come playoff time. I'd be pretty confident I'd bulldoze the NL with that front four and would stand a fighting chance to steal the WS with that staff. And if you look towards next year, you can bring up Pelfrey at the beginning of the year and watch how guys like Humber and Soler develop. So I honestly have no problems if Glavine's career as a Met is over.

The way Omar keeps adding to the pen, reminds me of the very first days of the Mets when they were going to concider a new pitcher every 3 innings every game,because the starters they had were only good for 3 innings.

P.S. Moto can come into the clubhouse now that Piazza is gone.

I sure don't think that Tom Glavine's situation is in any respect a blessing in disguise. Glavine is a big game pitcher who was rebounding from a bad stretch; you don't just go out and replace that.

But it is true that the Mets have options, and the time to sort them out, joy. I have no idea whatsoever whether Perez is ready to contribute, but I am ready to see Bannister get another shot. Williams....he certainly pitched well the other day, and he looks like a smart pitcher and a competitor; but folks, just as with Oliver Perez, it's best to remember that we have only had these pitchers to examine for a short time, and that they had practically no value to their former teams. We could get lucky, but I won't assume good luck until it kicks me in the head, as it has with El Duque.

What I do really like is that the Mets just prevailed against two very good pitchers, Francis and Jennings. The Colorado lineup doesn't inspire much fear, but the Rocks have some real building blocks on the mound -- and still the Mets managed a sweep. That's a sign of a very good ball club.

Ed -- If Glavine is gone, I think El Duque stays in the rotation unless he gets hurt or starts pitching bad. I think they'd lean on his post-season experience and success. On DeFelice, you're right that he calls a better game than Castro, but he is an automatic out. I'd be surprised if Castro didn't bump him out this week.
Matt -- We try not to hammer anyone to the wall here, having been there a couple of times ourselves. I'm not so sure I totally agree with you, but I see the logic. I like your confidence, it's always fun to see a Mets fan who doesn't look for a ledge whenever something goes wrong.
Rev -- Between Pedro, Mota and Tucker, we certainly now have some of Mike's old nemeses on this team.
dd -- Williams reminds me of El Sid with the delivery (though not the body type) in that he hides the ball well and gets more swings and misses than an 87-89 mph fastball should. Still, I wouldn't necessarily assume he'd be a fourth playoff starter even if Glavine is out. I see him more as a lefty in the 'pen or trade chip this winter.

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