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Mets Use Big Inning to Defeat the Phillies

Mike SteffanosMonday, August 28, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 8 - Phillies 3

The Mets hung a 6-run third inning on Jamie Moyer, and John Maine bounced back to beat the Phillies for the third time in Augus. The Mets ended their season series against Philadelphia on a positive note with two straight wins.

John Maine got off to somewhat of a shaky start this afternoon, yielding a Jimmy Rollins double and a 1-out walk to Chase Utley in the first. He came back to retire Howard and Burrell and settled down to hold the Phillies off the board over the first 3 innings. The Mets squandered a leadoff double by Delgado in the second, but got Moyer right back into trouble in the bottom of the third.

Chaves led off with a single. John Maine came up in a sacrifice situation and bunted a short one a few feet in front of the plate. Chris Coste, displaying the defensive skills that kept him in the minors his whole career, elected to try to cut down the speedy Chavez -- who had gotten a terrific jump on the play -- at second base. It was a poor decision, and would have required a perfect throw. Coste's throw was far from perfect, however, and the Mets had first and second, no outs. Reyes sacrificed perfectly, and Coste was unable to get the speedy Reyes at first, loading the bases. Lo Duca slapped a single right by Ryan Howard, who was partially screened by Reyes but also looked like he was taking a nap.

After Beltran forced Maine at home for the first out, Delgado sneaked a grounder past Utley to score Reyes and Lo Duca to put the Mets up 3-0. Then David Wright hit a ball down the third base line that appeared to hit the third base bag and bounce into foul territory. Ump Randy Marsh called it foul initially, but the umps conferred and reversed it, giving Wright a single and an RBI and getting Charlie Manuel angry enough to get tossed again. Shawn Green doubled home 2 more and Chris Woodward drove in the sixth run with a sac fly.

Staked to that 6-run lead, Maine made his only big mistake of the game, grooving a fastball to Pat Burrell with a runner on. Burrell's homer made it 6-2, but he gave one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth when he dived awkwardly for Reyes' base hit, allowing the ball to roll to the wall and Reyes to make it to third in what was generously scored a triple. 3 pitches later Lo Duca singled him home.

Maine had an easy fifth and sixth but stumbled in the seventh. After striking out Dellucci, he allowed a double to Coste and a walk to Nunez. With his pitch count up to 108, Willie brought in Bert Hernandez to replace him. Hernandez retired Joe Thurston and Rollins to deny the Phillies a comeback. David Wright drove home an insurance run with a sac fly in the bottom of the seventh, but Guillermo Mota yielded the run back when Howard took him deep in the eighth. Wagner, who hadn't pitched since saving Wednesday's game against the Redbirds, came in for some work in the ninth. He struck out the side.

Thoughts on the game
Maine had much more effective off-speed pitches this time out than in his last game against St. Louis. After looking a little ragged in the first he settled down beautifully. Besides that one mistake to Burrell he was almost flawless until tiring in the seventh. Here's Maine's updated chart:

John Maine

His numbers are a little thrown off from that last game, but we're still seeing an impressive WHIP and the nice K/BB ratio. I wish he would cut down on the gopher balls a little, but part of that is a by-product of being aggressive, and I surely wouldn't want to see him lose that.

The bullpen was great this afternoon. After Hernandez bailed out Maine, Mota came in for the eighth and pitched well again. The homer to Howard came on the ninth pitch of the at bat, and with a 6-run lead, Mota was right to challenge him rather than walk him. He struck out 2 more batters that inning to give him 8 Ks in 5 innings for the Mets. Wagner, who hardly threw his slider in his inning of work, has regained that nasty fastball.

Green hit 2 balls very hard today, the double and a long fly to dead center. The ball seems to be jumping off his bat pretty good, and he's not just slapping singles up there. With another impressive offensive game Lo Duca is now hitting .317. Although I agree with the general consensus that doesn't see him as an ideal number 2 hitter, we're all looking worse and worse on that one. Chavez is up to .310 with his 2 hits, and Reyes is knocking at the door of .300 again with a .298 average.

I'm glad the Mets came back to win these last 2 games. With no more regular season games to play after this, I thought it was important to keep the Phillies from feeling too comfortable playing us next year, or possibly in the playoffs.

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

Box Score

Comments (3)

The last two games are huge for us if we are going to face the Phillies in the playoffs. As you know I was concerned, and thats putting it in a mild way, that they were becoming bold and could take us with no problems. Boy the Mets keep turning guys into gems,Valentin,Chavez,Mota,and there is a list that they are still duting off that can be gems allso.I always liked Green, I knew he would fit in just right. A few years ago when there was talk of getting him,he looked real good when I would make out the lineup.Our pitching isn't to bad with our three playoff starters "resting", we should be in good shape. And if Floyd and even Castro, I hear, comes back for the playoffs its like we made some big trades and added strenght to the lineup.

Ho hum; the Mets take five out of six from the Cardinals and the Phils. Gosh, when are we going to get our pitching situation straightened out? Har.

Know what I particularly like about these young pitchers? There's a lot of smarts assembled here in Bannister and Maine, and Williams too from all appearances. It doesn't guarantee any one pitcher success, but taken as a group you have to feel that the team will be getting good work out of them.

And I wonder: outside those Braves teams from the recent past, when was there a pitching staff with a higher collective baseball IQ? Pedro, Glavine, El Duque....better include Trachsel, if he wasn't canny he sure wouldn't still be hanging around. Bradford and Sanchez both have an idea. And watching Wagner reminds me of how timid or dumb the Mets last two closers were, afriad to trust their stuff, in Benitez' case afraid to throw anything other than a fastball in a key situation.

For a team that hasn't seen postseason play in a while we've got some smart pitchers. Bet you it pays dividends too.

Rev -- I don't think the Phillies could have taken the Mets in the playoffs with "no problem", but I agree they would have had a degree of comfort in playing us. Then again, the Mets dominated the Dodgers in 1988 until the playoffs.

I like Green, but I still worry this lineup is now too skewed towards lefties.
dd -- I agree with most, although I wouldn't group Looper with Benitez. I think he gets an unfair rap for a guy who pitched hurt last year. It wasn't that he didn't trust his stuff so much as he didn't have anything to trust.

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