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:
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.