By Mike Steffanos
Mets 8 - Astros 7
The Mets handed Tom Glavine a 3-run lead, but he couldn't hold it. Still, he managed to pitch 5 innings in his first game back in 2 weeks, and the Mets rallied late to pull out a game that may have important playoff ramifications.
Glavine was solid for the first three innings tonight, allowing only Adam Everett's leadoff single in the third, and erasing him quickly on a double play. Meanwhile, the Mets jumped out on Wandy Rodriguez in the second for a pair of runs, aided by Adam Everett's throwing error. They tacked on another in the third thanks to Delgado's RBI single.
Unfortunately Glavine, who had been cruising, came back down hard in the fourth. It started well enough when Willy Taveras struck out swinging, but four consecutive Astros hits plated a run and loaded the bases. Then Glavine walked a run in, and after a hard line out to Delgado for the second out, Humberto Quintero singled in 2 runs and Glavine wild-pitched in another.
Now down 5-3, the Mets jumped on Astros reliever Dave Borkowski in the fifth. They loaded the bases on Paul Lo Duca's double and walks to Beltran and Delgado, then Wright came up big bouncing a bases clearing double of the left centerfield wall to put the Mets back up 6-3.
Glavine gave it right back in the bottom of the fifth, allowing Taveras a leadoff triple and Jason Lane's long sac fly to deep center. The game now fell to the bullpen, with Bradford pitching a scoreless sixth and Guillermo Mota -- pitching in his pressure situation as a Met -- giving them a scoreless seventh.
The Astros brought in Russ Springer in the top of the eighth, and David Wright rudely greeted him with a double off the left centerfield wall. Green flied out for the first out, and Willie elected to pinch hit Jose Valentin for Chris Woodward. After Wright stole second, Valentin worked a full count and then drove a hanging slider down the right field line for a run scoring double. Endy Chavez singled home Valentin, and the Mets were up 8-6.
Heilman came in and dominated Ensberg, Burke and Everett in a flawless eighth. Billy Wagner came in for the ninth, and after a string of solid saves elected to make this one interesting. After getting Quintero to ground out to Reyes, pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett beat him with a bouncing double down the line. After striking out Taveras, Wagner got ahead of Craig Biggio and then hangs a slider on an 0-2 pitch. Biggio knocks it into center for a single to cut the lead to 8-7. Now he has to face Berkman with the tying run on base. After falling behind 2-1, Wagner starts making a series of 5 good pitches, all of which Berkman manages to foul off. Wagner hangs in there, makes another good one, and Berkman taps a grounder to Reyes for the force at second. It wasn't easy, but it was save number 33 on the year for Wagner.
Thoughts on the game
I know I'm not supposed to read too much into Glavine's start after missing 2 weeks, but it looked an awful like many of the other unsuccessful starts he's had after that terrific start to the season. He was controlling his fastball and change for 3 innings, then couldn't spot either one over the last 2.
Wright's back. I'll need to find something else to worry about now. Green still looks very tight, but did have an important double in the second. Chavez was terrific again at the plate and in the field. Interesting that Cliff Floyd will be returning tomorrow. Chavez has been red-hot. Might Green lose some time?
Bradford, Mota and Heilman were all terrific, and really, so was Bradford. One terrible slider to Biggio on 0-2 -- on a pitch I'm sure he wanted to spot low and out of the zone -- but he battled Berkman tooth and nail, and didn't give an inch. Bottom line is he saved it. He may not be easy on the stomach lining, but he's getting the job done.
I won't get on the Astros fans for booing Beltran. They have a passion for baseball that was lacking a few years ago. They kind of lost me, however, when they started doing a wave when their team was down by 2 in the eighth. Sorry, real baseball fans just don't do that.