By Mike Steffanos
Mets 4 - Padres 3
Pedro Martinez gave the Mets 7+ strong innings as they managed to survive 3 solo home runs -- 2 by Mike Piazza -- to take another close game and stretch their winning streak to four games.
Pedro got off to a strong start tonight, setting down the Padres in order in the first two innings. Meanwhile, the Mets were jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead on a Delgado RBI single in the first and Jose Reyes' RBI single in the second. Pedro survived a mini-jam in the third, stranding a pair of baserunners, and the Mets tacked on when David Wright started a 2-out rally with a double, and Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez both came up with clutch 2-out RBI singles. But once again, the Mets offense went into an early shutdown, and the Padres slowly climbed back into the game.
Mike Piazza beat Pedro with solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings, inching the Padres closer, but fortunately Pedro was getting just about everyone else out. He made it into the eighth inning, where he retired Dave Roberts for the first out, but faltered by issuing back-to-back walks to Giles and Cameron, putting the tying runs on base. Afterwards Pedro admitted to trying to be too perfect in his pitches to both batters. With Piazza coming up again, Willie lifted Pedro in favor of Aaron Heilman.
Heilman started Piazza off with a change-up, and Mike was looking for it. He took Beltran almost to the wall in centerfield, just missing putting San Diego ahead. Both runners tagged on the play, advancing to second and third. The Mets elected to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez, and the move paid off when Heilman retired Todd Walker on a popup on which Jose Valentin made a nice play.
Billy Wagner came into the game with a 2-run lead for a change, and that was just too much prosperity for the little redneck. After retiring Blum on a ground out, Wagner threw a belt-high fastball over the heart of the plate to the light-hitting Josh Barfield, and the kid absolutely crushed it to make it a 1-run game. Wagner went full on pinch hitter Josh Bard before retiring him on a grounder to Reyes, and then did the same to pinch hitter Ben Johnson before striking him out looking on a very good slider for save #26 on the year.
Thoughts on the game
Pedro looked good tonight. He didn't have his perfect control, and only struck out 2 batters, but looked strong in winning his ninth game of the season. He threw a lot of off-speed stuff tonight and got a lot of ground balls -- just not from Piazza.
Milledge made a nice play in the second inning on a run and bunt play, moving all the way to third on Pedro's bunt and then scoring on Reyes' single. Great instincts, great play. On the negative, he looked terrible in stranding 4 men in scoring position -- striking out twice and looking bad doing it. When they walk Endy Chavez intentionally to get to you, you need to pick it up, kid. (Endy did go 3-3 tonight.) I still worry that Milledge is in a little over his head right now.
Wagner is heartburn waiting to happen. A guy that throws as hard as he does should be able to get away with centering a fastball sometimes, but he doesn't anymore. Thank God for the 2-run lead.
I thought the Mets fans overdid the love a little after Piazza's first home run, and more so after the second. Then when he came up with 2 on in the eighth, they booed him, and that was really silly. If I was there, I would have given him a standing ovation before the first at bat and polite applause the rest of the way. I told you how I felt about Mike before the series started, but I'm also realistic. He's being paid by the Padres now to beat the Mets, and he's doing his job. Although you'll never catch me booing him, I'll root for him again when a game is a blowout, after he retires, or when the Padres are playing somebody else. Sorry if that offends anyone, but I'm a Mets fan.
This game is being discussed in the MetsMerized Mets Talk Forum.