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.