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Mets Stage Impressive Comeback to Sink Phillies

Mike SteffanosSunday, August 27, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 11 - Phillies 5

Mets fans who watched tonight's game were treated to the good, bad, and just plain ugly of Oliver Perez, all in 5 innings of work. He showed off that tremendously deceptive delivery and that amazing slider. He also showed a fastball that consistently reached the low to mid 90s. He struck out 7 and allowed only 2 hits in 5 innings of work, but he walked 5 and one of those hits was a grand slam by Ryan Howard on an 0-2 hanging slider. It was an interesting night's work, to say the least.

Perez had some problems in the first, walking a pair with one out. But he came back to retire Howard and strike out Pat Burrell to escape any damage. As the Mets faced Jon Lieber in the bottom of the first, I wondered if he would continue to baffle them with his mediocre stuff. The question was answered rather quickly when Carlos Beltran took him deep for a 2-run homer, the 200th of Beltran's career. Then, while Perez was magnificent in the second, third and fourth, the Mets did little against Lieber.

It fell apart for Perez in the fifth. He issued a leadoff walk, and then one out later committed the sin of walking Lieber, who trying to give himself up on a sacrifice, on 5 pitches. He got Rollins to hit into a force for the second out, but Victorino singled to drive in a run -- the first hit of the game off Perez. Chase Utley got hit by a slider he made absolutely no attempt to avoid -- one of my pet peeves in today's game -- bringing up Howard with the bases loaded. Perez got two strikes on Howard, and a chance to escape with a 1-run lead, but he hung a slider and paid for it on Howard's slam.

The Mets had 2 men on against Lieber in the fifth, but a double play let him off the hook. They did finally get to Lieber in the sixth when Delgado's 2-run homer cut the lead to 5-4. They had the chance to do a lot more damage when singles by Green and Valentin and a bunt hit by Endy Chavez loaded the bases with only one out, but Julio Franco hit into a double play to end that threat.

The Phillies replaced the faltering Lieber in the seventh with Rick White, who was greeted by Reyes and Lo Duca with base hits, and then hit Beltran on the foot to load the bases. Lefty Aaron Fultz replaced White, and brought a big can of gas in with him. Delgado hit his first pitch for a sac fly that scored Reyes and allowed both Lo Duca and Beltran to move up. The Phillies walked the slumping Wright to get to the lefty Green. After swinging at 2 bad sliders in the dirt he composed himself, passed up on a third slider out of the zone, and took a hanger deep the opposite way for a 2-run double to put the Mets up 7-5. Another intentional walk to Valentin backfired when Endy Chavez beat Fultz with a double that put the Mets on top 9-5. Chris Woodward would add a 2-run single to cap the Mets 7-run seventh inning. Guillermo Mota pitched a very dominating eighth and ninth to preserve the satisfying victory.

Thoughts on the game
Oliver Perez: If you watched this game and weren't impressed with that slider, and the fastball consistently in the 90s, then you are indeed hard to impress. Still, as great as that slider is, at times he seems to fall in love with it a little too much. That delivery is so deceptive, but the question is how much of that deception he might have to give up for a more consistent delivery. Wildness works against him not only in walks, but also in high pitch counts (95 pitches in 5 innings tonight) and bad location at times. You can at once understand how he was so dominant 2 years ago, and looks so lost at times since. Make no mistake; this kid is a project, but a very worthwhile one, indeed. I'm looking forward to seeing him again.

Delgado looks as good at the plate now as he looked bad a couple of weeks ago. He should have had another homer in the eighth, but the infamous Shea winds robbed him. Wright still looks quite lost. Green had a big night with a pair of hits, including the double that put the Mets in front. Endy was 4-4 and terrific as always in the field. Valentin had a hit and a walk, and contributed a terrific defensive play, laying out to rob Rollins of a hit in the seventh.

Guillermo Mota looks like the dominant setup man he was 2 years ago in LA. It's almost startling how good he has been, considering he has had arm problems and his share of ups and downs over the last 2 years. In 4 innings with the Mets he has allowed 1 hit, struck out 6 and walked none. His fastball is in the mid-90s, his change is terrific and he is throwing quality strikes. If he can keep this up, we have ourselves one sick bullpen again.

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

Box Score

Comments (5)

I have to look in the mirror slap some water in my face and practice what I preach,have faith. I think because we are doing so good and it isn't the norm for us, I don't want it to crash and burn. I forget the lead we have from time to time and watch the game as if it was game 7 in the w/s. I must remember to take my daily meds, which is to check in with you all and calm down. I am bad, I turned off the game right after the grand slam,yelling at Willie he kept the kid in to long and went to bed mad.Forgive me, my support group, and help me get strong for the playoffs. After all this is only a game, right? We shouldn't be on tums and screaming at a stupid tv, right? Oh GOD how am I going to handle a 5 game playoff. Faith Brother you must have Faith. I am starting to write that 500 times with my coffee. I'm going to the rocking chair with my blanket now, I'll see you all later.

I too am greatly in favor of my favorite team picking up reclaimation projects now and then, and Oliver Perez is about as good a reclaimation project as they make. But of course the trade never would have happened in that form had Duaner not gotten into that cab; I'm guessing that if Omar had his eye on picking up Perez, he could have accomplished it without giving up Nady.

But he DID get Perez included, giving the transaction a potential upside all out of proportion to the initial impact of the deal. Once in a while that pays off really well for a team -- sometimes the kid thrown into a midseason deal for middle infielders becomes Ryan Sandburg -- and I am glad to play along with Omar.

Tell you, I'm guessing if Perez was throwing this well for the Pirates we wouldn't have been available to us. He did bring his control issues with him, but he brought the stuff too. It ought to be interesting watching this drama unfold.

Rev -- at least it's a little easier to keep the faith when the players are good. Sometimes when I get down about this year's team I look back 2 years to the 2004 Mets and instantly feel a little better.
DD -- Have to admit that I was surprised at how much he still had on the fastball. Word was he was down in the mid-80s with the Pirates this year.


Very nice summation. In the aftermath, I will add Ollie was not as bad as the naysayers projected, not as good as the optimists wanted. But the optimists have a slim advantage in that velocity was evident. Now, Shea has had a bad strikezone all yr. I'd like to see 3 starts from Olie with some salt from the jacket thrown in to see how long before he makes acquiring Willis an absurdity.

Pelfrey and Paulk also deserve an honorable mention.

John Maine had a similar outing against the Pirates when he first came back up. He had a lot of adrenaline and burned out in the fifth. I'd like to see Perez get another start.

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