By Mike Steffanos
Mets 2 - Cardinals 0
Mets lead NLCS 1-0
Note: Please see my previous post for my experiences in being at the game last night. I'll be going to tonight's game, too, and have to leave shortly. I'll hit the key points here on last night's game.
Tom Glavine was magnificent on a night when anything less than magnificent probably wouldn't have been good enough. Jeff Weaver started the game for St. Louis, and I doubt that he could have pitched much better than he did for 5-2/3 innings. Weaver was able to throw his breaking pitches for strikes and keep the Mets off-balance until Carlos Beltran tattooed his one fatal mistake off the scoreboard.
Beltran's homer, which provided the games only runs, was the obvious turning point, but several key defensive plays also were huge, as was Albert Pujols' huge baserunning blunder when he allowed himself to be doubled off first base on a ball that wasn't all that close to being a hit. Besides the homer, the key moment in my eyes was when Mota came back to strike out Preston Wilson in the eighth with Pujols looming on deck. Still, there was enough tension to go around in many key moments last night.
The Mets good fundamental baseball stood them well in a game where there was so little margin for error. It was funny reading today in some quarters how Larussa blew the game by leaving Weaver in to face Beltran, or how the breaks went the Mets way. The thought of pulling Weaver in a game he was dominating was ludicrous. The Mets had worked his pitch count up to almost 100 despite his effectiveness -- which is a credit to the return of their solid offensive approach in the playoffs -- but Weaver had Beltran in an 0-2 hole, and certainly could have escaped that inning. Beltran put a mighty good at bat on Weaver, and finished it up with a nice exclamation point.
The Mets keep winning, and for some reason have difficulty in receiving any credit for it. They've been playing incredibly solid baseball and doing everything in their power to overcome their admitted weakness in starting pitching. All they can really do is play this series game by game, because there are no givens here. Last night could have gone either way, as can any of the upcoming games. All you can do in the playoffs is take the game as it comes and play as solidly as possible.
It was interesting before this series started that Albert Pujols was taking the approach that the Cardinals weren't just happy to be in the playoffs, and that anything less than winning it all would be failure. I'm sure that line of thinking contributed to Albert's shocking display of poor sportsmanship from after last night's game. I think the better approach is to just take it as it comes and try to execute. This series will not be easy for the Mets, and they must take a solid approach to every game, regardless of where the series stands. Having said that, if they manage to defeat Carpenter tonight, that undeniably would be huge heading into those 3 games in St. Louis. See you tomorrow.