By Mike Steffanos
Mets 6 - Dodgers 5
Mets lead NLDS 1-0
A funny thing happened on the way to the Dodger's expected NLDS series win -- they forgot to win the first game. The Dodgers' bandwagon may be rocking with all of the geniuses jumping aboard, but the Mets sent notice this afternoon that they are alive and well, and might actually have something to say about who wins the National League. Sorry this is so late, but I took a long time savoring this win.
This is my 38th year of following this team, and today's win ranks up there with some of the sweetest. I've never seen a team's regular season achievements discounted so utterly and completely as with the Mets this season. This was based on an offensive slump in September and the loss of a couple of starting pitchers on a team that was never built around starting pitching in the first place. The Mets undoubtedly have some things to overcome, but they've been doing that all season.
The game? Well, let's put it this way. Derek Lowe was supposed to shut us down tonight. He didn't. John Maine was supposed to be easy pickings for the Dodgers. He wasn't. The Dodgers were the hot team that was supposed to be the one to make the plays. They didn't.
John Maine ran into some trouble in the second when Jeff Kent and J. D. Drew led off with soft singles. Russell Martin followed with a shot over Shawn Green's head in right, but Green made a nice play fielding the carom off the fence. Kent inexplicably held up for way too long, with the result that Drew was running right on Kent's heels. It led to the famous bonehead play that I'm sure everyone is aware of by now where both Dodgers were tagged out a home plate. Then Marlon Anderson doubled on a cue shot down the RF line to put the Dodgers up 1-0. The irony was that the Dodgers had 4 hits in a row and came away with one run, and the only well-hit ball led directly to 2 outs.
Meanwhile, Lowe was sailing along, but I just had the feeling they were going to get to him. Sure enough, in the fourth both Delgado and Floyd hit rockets off of him to put the Mets up 2-1. When Maine drifted back into trouble with one out in the fifth, Willie gave him the hook and got out of the inning with the tag team of Feliciano and Bradford. The Mets were able to expand their lead to 4-1 in the sixth when David Wright doubled in a pair.
Then Guillermo Mota was betrayed by a rare bad play by Jose Valentin and his own failures to keep his changeup down in the zone, and the Dodgers were able to come back and tie the game at 4 in the seventh, but the Mets came right back with 2 more on RBIs by Wright and Delgado in their half of the seventh. Heilman persevered the lead with a perfect eighth, but Wagner made it interesting, as he often does in the ninth. Still, he saved the win, and that's all that counts in the post-season.
Thoughts on the game
I heard and read in more than one place that the Dodgers second inning baserunning follies cost them the game, as if it didn't happen it's a foregone conclusion the Dodgers would have won. Get real. Those voicing this opinion undoubtedly picked the Dodgers in the series.
I'm Italian, so I feel entitled to say that, rather than looking at Tommy Lasorda as some sort of baseball treasure, I prefer to think of him as a fat, obnoxious, phony blowhard. Please go away. I console myself that my family came from a different part of Italy.
Delgado and Wright were terrific in their playoff debuts, driving in 5 of the 6 runs. Delgado's ice-breaking homer was huge, as was Cliff Floyd's later in that inning. That game took on a whole different feeling offensively after that -- the Mets had a lot of good at bats.
Look, we could nitpick some of the moves. I thought Willie should have pinch hit for Mota and used Heilman for 2 innings. He had a chance to break the game open there and should have taken it. I thought most of the moves he made were the right ones, however, and this was a great win. I'll be back with more after I get some sleep.