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Valentin Comes Through In a Pinch

Mike SteffanosSaturday, September 2, 2006
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.

Box Score

Comments (6)

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.

Sadly enough SOMETIMES at Shea people do that. Whether they're up or down by 2 runs some people actually TRY to start the freakin' wave at Shea Stadium.
I cringe and cry everytime it happens. I do not participate.

Sometimes I wonder what the players think when there is random booing during the middle of the game when fans boo the other sections for not completing the wave.

Funny, that wave irritated the hell out of me too. And, forgive me, but upon seeing it I thought, "How Midwestern is this?" I have a friend from New York who attended college in Arizona. His comment on the life was, they don't understand life because they don't get to suffer enough. If life is a frozen pina colada, how can the outcome of a ball game be more important than doing the wave? Or words and music to that effect.

I definitely think that Green has to lose some playing time to Chavez and Floyd. As soon as Cliffie establishes his rythmn at the plate he would benefit from an occasional day off; and anyway Endy richly deserves the playing time. So a rotation in which Green is in there two thirds of the time sounds about right.

One thing I really like about this Mets management (read: Omar) over those that went before is that they understand the notion of the previous investment trap; that it doesn't really matter how much you might have spend for something, if it doesn't perform it won't gain value by continued use (and additionl investment). Translation: I do not believe Green will get more playing time than he deserves simply because he's sporting one of those outsized contracts. But he might have under Steve Phillips.

'Nother thought: it hardly matters since the Mets won, but what a poor job by the umpire crew last night. A missed hit batsman, a wrongly called steal attempt, and an horribly erratic strike zone. It wasn't pretty.

Some go to a ballgame just to get out.You would ask, how was the ballgame and they would say, it was great. Who won? What was the score? They would say, I don't know but we had a great time, we did the wave and we saw so and so and had a good talk. It was a good day.We had some hot dogs and a few beers, yelled and booed, it was a great ballgame. You ask them are you a Met fan and they say, I am a baseball fan..Yeah right..

Benny -- I guess I forget at times that a lot of people at any game aren't real fans. Still, there seemed to be a lot of people doing it.
dd -- I think what happens with Green depends on how well Cliff hits when he gets back, and whether the Achilles holds up to everyday stress. With Endy hitting so well, even against lefties, his defense is so much better than Green's that he should play more. Then again, it's fair to give Shawn a little time to get acclimated.

I was going to mention the umpire crew in my wrap, but it has happened so often this season I get tired of talking about them.

Rev -- You're right, of course. I guess it just amazes me that people would make the commitment of time, money and effort to go to a major league game if they don't really care about the outcome.

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