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Orlando Hernandez Outduels Maddux

Mike SteffanosSaturday, September 9, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Mets 3 - Dodgers 2

All I have been reading lately is how the Mets have no starting pitching, and for the most part I've watched one solid start after another from this club. Orlando Hernandez' start this afternoon was no exception. He stood toe to toe with Greg Maddux, and he was the last man standing as the Mets won a playoff-caliber game from the Dodgers at Shea.

After allowing a leadoff double to Rafael Furcal in the first, Hernandez retired 15 consecutive Dodgers until Russell Martin led off the sixth with a single. While El Duque was dominating, the Mets were able to break through against Maddux with Carlos Delgado's solo homer in the second.

That 1-0 lead stood up until the top of the sixth, when Martin led off with a soft single. Maddux came up in a bunting situation, and with the Mets playing aggressively for the bunt, Maddux tried to slap the ball past Reyes, who was covering second. Reyes made a nice adjustment to come up with the ball, but rushed the throw to first and put it in the dirt where Delgado couldn't come up with it. He was charged an error. It was a tough call, but probably fair. He had more time to make a better throw.

Furcal sacrificed both men over, then Lofton tied the game on a single to center, with Maddux stopping at third. With Lofton running, Garciaparra hit a grounder right at David Wright. Wright's only play should have been Garciaparra at first, but Maddux wandered down the line and was tagged out in a run down. Dumb play by someone who had been around long enough to know better. Hernandez had a chance to escape with a 1-1 tie, but Drew singled to center to put the Dodgers up 2-1.

The Mets came right back against Maddux in the bottom of the sixth. Reyes flied out leading off, but Jose Valentin -- in the number two spot with Lo Duca sitting out -- lined a hard double into the RF corner. Maddux intentionally walked Carlos Beltran, then was lifted for former Met Tim Hamulack facing Delgado. Carlos lifted a deep fly to the warning track in center field, with both Valentin and Beltran tagging up and advancing. Beltran's heads-up baserunning by going from first to second would pay off in a big way. Brett Tomko replaced Hamulack as Grady Little played righty-lefty, but Wright -- who had doubled off Tomko last night -- singled up the middle on a full count to put the Mets up 3-2.

Hernandez walked Ethier leading off the seventh, but retired Betemit, Martin and Marlon Anderson to complete his terrific outing. Aaron Heilman only needed 7 pitches to induce 3 ground outs in the eight, and Billy Wagner came in to try to nail down his 36th save in the ninth. After retiring Drew for the first out, he allowed Jeff Kent to single on a 3-2 slider. Jason Repko came in to run for Kent. Wagner went full again on Olmedo Saenz, and Little elected to send the baserunner to stay out of a double play. The move backfied as Wagner struck out Saenz and Kelly Stinnett gunned down Repko at second for the game-ending twin killing.

Thoughts on the game
Let's look at Orlando Hernandez chart:

Orlando Hernandez
DateOpp.IPRERHKBBHRERAWHIPTeam
Result
8/4PHI63377304.501.67L
8/10SDP73344113.860.71W
8/15@PHI411111054224.753.50L
8/20COL60058100.001.00W
9/3@HOU5.11114601.313.50L
9/9LAD72146101.290.71W
TOTAL (6 Games)35.1201931341634.841.333-3
TOTAL (5 Games)31.19821291212.301.053-2

As I did last time, I show his numbers with and without the beating he took against the Phillies. My feeling, for what it's worth, is that if El Duque is healthy enough, he would be my third playoff starter. I certainly still feel that way. This was a game with a playoff feel today, and El Duque was on top of his game. He may be 100 years old, but he still has some gas and he's still fun to watch when he is on top of his game.

For the second day in a row Wright was the offensive star of the game, only this time he had enough help to pull it out. Jose Valentin had a big double off Maddux, and has been all that could be asked for and then some at second base. In all my years of watching the Mets, he might be the biggest surprise as far as a player coming out of nowhere to be a big-time contributor.

Note to Gary Cohen and Ron Darling:
You both have made Mets games much more watchable this year. Gary is a terrific announcer, and Ron has come a long way as a color man. When I have the misfortune of hearing the awful announcers that most teams have, I feel fortunate, indeed. Having said that...

Next time you feel the need to spend the whole afternoon in a love-fest with Greg Maddux, please get a room and do it privately. We really do understand what makes Maddux great as a pitcher, we just don't care for him as a person. We've endured his little prima donna act for years. We watched him simper and sulk his way through games. We really can't stand the bastard.

Does some of this have to do with the way he has beaten us over the years? Sure, but John Smoltz has beaten us plenty, and I don't have the same revulsion towards Smoltz. All I really need to know about Maddux was revealed in the manner that he absolutely quit on the Cubs this year. Smoltz wouldn't have done that, neither would a lot of guys that I have respect for that pitch for other teams. Why is no one willing to call this guy on the fact that he took millions from the Cubs this year and barely showed up when things started going bad? To me, that's the opposite of greatness. Greg Maddux may be a wonderful technician on the mound -- when he decides he wants to pitch -- but he is far from a great human being.

By the way, I was waiting for one of you to call Maddux on his baserunning blunder when he got caught off third base in that pivotal fifth inning, but that was one thing he did today that you didn't feel the need to talk incessantly about. You really did give me a headache after a while.

Box Score

Comments (8)

Hey Mike, Great piece. I agree with you on hatred on Maddux. I disagree with you on Smoltz. I hate them the same. They are both douches. Didnt Smoltz just go whining to the media that he didnt get his option picked up durring the season? I cant stand either one of them.

keep up the great work!
Dan in Texas

This whole season is full of guys coming out of nowhere and being a big part of this team. The pitching is just one part, 2nd base and the OF is also amazing. Its so much like 86 when they would say, every day somebody else is the star. No matter the out come, this is a very special year for us. And the best is yet to come.WE could get spoiled and expect to be in the playoffs every year. Boy that sounds good,I think I'll read this again.

actually, wright made a mistake on the bunt by furcal.
you had the dodgers' two slowest players on first (maddux) and second (martin). i was actually thinking this was a great set-up for a double-play (maybe even a triple play if everything fell right; i can't help it, i think of things like that). no outs, and a quick bunt which indeed went to hernandez on the left side of the infield. because wright came in, he wasn't covering his base, so even though hernandez had the ball while martin was only halfway to third, there was no one to throw to. so hernandez turned and got furcal at first.

that's why i was glad wright came through with the single that got those two runs back.
and how great was it that in a playoff-caliber game, it ends on a strike-im-out-thow-im-out?

Play on any Brave team long enough and you turn into a whining crying baby. Thats why they barely eked out one WS win in 14 divsion wins. They all think they deserve to win, and can't take it when thy don't. Thats why watching the Braves get swept on Wed, esp by our B-squad, was so awesome. They're all a bunch of dumb whiny rednecks and now they get to watch us from theie sofas this October......HAHAHAHA!

Dan -- I don't like either one, but I respect Smoltz more than Maddux.
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Rev -- then we'll be as obnoxious as Yankees fans.
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dmg -- I know what you mean about the play, but I can't kill Wright for it. It was kind of a tweener, and Furcal was running, so DP was asking for a little much. Still, if he recognized it and stayed home he could have had the lead runner.

I couldn't believe Grady Little took the chance of running with Wagner pitching. But he made a couple of strange decisions today.
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B Gilkey -- you don't seem to have much sympathy for the fallen dynasty in Atlanta.

I already sound like a broken record, but bring on the playoffs. Enough with these petty challengers, meaningless games, and player auditions; it's about time we looked towards October. That said, Pedro-Glavine-El Duque-Maine suddenly looks like it really is the best staff in the NL. Wake up, ladies and gentlemen: we're the real deal. And if you live in L.A., San Diego, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia or Miami, you'd better be ready to see us in the path to the World Series.

As for Maddux, my friend out here at college (who happens to be a Braves fan) tried to argue for Greg Maddux's place in the top ten pitchers of all time. I nearly choked trying not to laugh at him. I'm not even old enough to have seen Koufax, Marichal, Seaver, Carlton, or old timers like Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Whitey Ford, but they're all ahead of him on that list. You're telling me that a man who only managed to anchor his staff to a ring once out of three World Series appearances and what seems like at least 20,000 staright division titles deserves to be mentioned among the greatest ever? Not exactly. He's had an illustrious career, but I agree with you: save the lovefest for either the Holiday Inn or TBS.

I agree with Matt. We are the real deal.Check this interesting stat. The starting line up for the Mets has 159 homeruns and 109 stolen bases, and thats a few days ago, the Dodgers who are in the fight for a playoff spot has 70 homeruns and 47 stolen bases( Reyes has 56 at this last stat check by himself)We are the real deal. Bring them on.

Matt -- I've actually been enjoying some of these games with the pre-playoff atmosphere. It's been so long. It's funny that the top 2 active winning pitchers are both such turds.
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Rev -- the Dodgers are kind of a strange team, but they do have some pitching.

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