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A Win-Win Situation

Mike SteffanosWednesday, April 4, 2007
By Mike Steffanos


Mets 4 - Cardinals 1

I felt pretty good after the Mets won on opening day. I know I was supposed to be filled with regret thinking about what could have been last year, but I wasn't. I guess I didn't get that memo. Instead, I've turned the page and that has allowed me to enjoy watching the Mets open the 2007 season 2-0 behind starting pitchers who are a combined 82 years old. Those 2 wins just feel like 2 nice wins to me, thank you very much.

I love watching El Duque pitch when he is throwing his curveball for strikes. It's like a clinic. Surprisingly he didn't register a single strikeout tonight, but he had the Cardinals off balance for 6 innings, and then managed to survive a seventh inning despite visibly tiring. He threw 62 out of his 104 pitches on the night for strikes, started 2 important double plays and drove in the 2 runs that gave him and the Mets some important breathing room.

Two games does not a season make, but we have seen a blueprint for success for this club. Glavine goes 6, Hernandez 7, and the rebuilt bullpen gets a chance to ease into things. The offense will get better, and the defense is sharp -- which is important to a pitching staff that is solid rather than spectacular.

My big disappointment on the night was Scott Schoeneweis. I could actually forgive the hit he gave up to the left-handed Chris Duncan. What really bothered me was that he walked Eckstein on 4 pitches with 2 outs, and then goes full to Duncan after starting off 0-2 on him. When you have a 3 run lead with Pujols looming, you simply have to throw strikes and make them earn their way on.

Schoeneweis' screw-up forced Heilman to come in and face Dour Albert with 2-outs in the eighth as the tying run. The fastball that Heilman jammed Pujols with on 3-2 was the play of the game. As the harmless fly ball died into Beltran's glove, the Cards' chances expired with it.

While it took Aaron Heilman 6 pitches to retire Pujols, Billy Wagner only needed an economical 8 pitches -- 6 of them strikes -- to retire 3 Redbirds for his first save. Keep that up and I might be able to hold onto at least some of my remaining hair this season.

Box Score

Comments (8)

Random Thoughts:

1) Those old guys at the front of the Mets' rotation sure have a ton of question marks, don't they? "A shambles", I think the term was.

2) I haven't heard - after the game, did Pujols mention how unimpressed he was with Heilman's stuff?

3) Hey Adam Warner - what were the percentages on the Mets winning the game when Wright was waved in to score on El Duque's double in the sixth? Same inning, same score, similar situation as Beltran's throw on Opening Day. I didn't get to see the whole game, but I caught the MLB.com highlight videos. Wright wasn't even at third when the ball dribbled into Duncan's glove in left. And what is that program you've got called? It sounds about as confusing as PECOTA, but fun to play with.

4) Mets win the series against St. Louis, 5 games to 4.

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I haven't heard - after the game, did Pujols mention how unimpressed he was with Heilman's stuff?
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How I love a long memory!

The biggest difference between last night's play at the plate and monday's baserunner kill by Beltran is that Carlos threw a strike from 240 feet or so, whereas Eckstein sailed his relay wide left from about 120 feet. This Mets team can play defense.

Boy, Mike, do I agree bout watching El Duque when he's on his game. It's like attending a lecture from some renowned visiting professor, only fun.

I was a tad worried about the schedule the Mets faced in April, with six away games with St Loo and Atlanta, home to play the Phils. I am still interested, you might say, in watching the outcome, but no longer so worried. The Mets are going to be in most of their games this year.

From Baseball Musings:
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Beaten by the Mets on Sunday, Chris Carpenter's next start gets pushed back due to an elbow inflammation. Much of the predicted success of the Cardinals assumes a healthy Carpenter, so you can understand why St. Louis is very careful with him.

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This rather plays in to the conversation at this site from Monday's game.

I not mad at "Big Albert" for not being impressed by Heilman's stuff, as long as they keep getting him out. Mets look good for the most part of these two games. Defense has been the key, and I like what I see. Now it's time for the young guns to do their thing, Maine just has to be real solid, go maybe 7 innings. I believe the offense will take care of him tonight 10-2 Mets. Then it's off to Atlanta for three with Perez, and Pelfrey heading the show. Go Mets! By the way how is the house coming along Mike?

Hey, how'd you like to be an Astros fan this morning? A little contrast of circumstances is always instructive, yes?

Two games played, two blown saves; one by Lidge, one by our ol' pal Dan Wheeler.

El Duque looked great out there last night, and made the Cardinals' lineup look sleepy. Even the St. Louis crowd was silent for most of the game. El Duque really gave them nothing to cheer about. What I liked the most was that he was economical, and didn't feel like he needed to blow one by hitters to get them out.

I actually liked how Kip Wells pitched yesterday, although I think the Mets need to stop looking at strike three. Some guys- especially Shawn Green- just don't look like they're being aggressive out there. That being said, it was also great to see Reyes and Beltran get stolen bases. Reyes also clearly got to Wells- in the 1st inning Reyes' walk must have been frustrating, and so was the botched pickoff move by Wells. And Reyes also stole second later in the 5th. The role that Reyes played in the 1st and 5th innings lead to the Mets' first 2 runs. It just proves that Reyes changes the way the game is played.

We'll see how Maine pitches today, which should be interesting. Looper's pitching for the Cards, and this will be interesting to see how deep he can go as a starter. It's also important for the Cards that he go deep into the game, because they're without Carpenter for his next start. They'd like to be able to maximize the usage of their bullpen for later on this week, rather than have to empty it out tonight.

Hi MIke- I know it's only 2 games, but boy do our boys look like a well oiled machine out there don't they?
I can't wait to see what we get oput of Maine, Perez and Pelfrey........

NostraDennis - I'm not sure if Albert was impressed, but I know I was.
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dd - I was worried about that schedule, too. I still need to see how Maine and Perez pitch, but like you I'm a little more relaxed.

I saw that about Carpenter. I didn't think he looked very good in the playoffs last year, either. I wonder if this problem has been developing for a while.
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L.J. Phipps - Thanks for asking about the house. We're ahead of schedule on the work, and may be looking at a move-in date of May 15 rather than June 1.
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dd - I can't believe that someone won't figure out how to turn Lidge around. If his value drops low enough, he'd look good in blue and orange.
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Jason - I couldn't believe how empty the stands were by the eighth inning.

I thought Wells pitched good, too. That AB where Green struck out looking before El Duque doubled in 2 runs was a VERY BAD at bat.
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Shari - Wouldn't it be ironic if the Mets starting pitching was actually pretty good?

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