By Mike Steffanos
Mets 6 - Nationals 2 (12)
Mets 1 - Nationals 0
I wonder if the Washington pitchers took up a collection yesterday to keep the Mets offense in town. You couldn't blame them if they did, because for the most part the Mets hitters were their best friends over this 3-day weekend. Still, I think we can all be glad the Mets managed to take 2 of 3 from the Nats despite scoring 10 runs in 30 innings against them.
For the second consecutive outing, Tom Glavine pitched well enough to garner career win number 294, but came up empty. Six innings of 1-run ball is going to get him a W almost every time out, but the Mets were being mystified by a pitcher who only was able to get his season ERA down to 6.11 with 6 shutout innings Saturday night. In his previous two times out, Jerome Williams gave up 4 runs to the Braves in 5 innings of work, and 9 earned runs to the Marlins in 6 innings. Maybe a case can be made that he was due for a good game, but this was sad.
Yes, first base umpire Tony Randazzo had arguably the single worst day that I have witnessed in almost 40 years of watching this game. The one that annoyed me the most was on Felipe Lopez' double play grounder in the sixth that led to the Nats' first run. Not only did the replay show that Lopez was clearly out, but if you watched Randazzo, he was actually beginning to call Lopez safe before the ball or Lopez got to the bag. He stunk, no doubt, but this game should not have come down to calls at first base.
Still, thanks to the bullpen and the oft-maligned Julio Franco, the Mets managed to steal a game that they probably didn't deserve to win. Heilman continues to struggle, but Schoeneweis bailed him out by striking out Dmitri Young in the eighth. Pedro Feliciano continues to mystify by handing out so many walks, but at least he got out of trouble. Sele gave them a good inning, and Wagner pitched better than indicated by the two hits he gave up. He jammed Belliard on his bloop hit with 2 outs, and then Zimmerman bounced a perfectly placed ball up the middle.
Even when the Mets broke through for those 4 runs in the twelfth, I was annoyed by them. After loading the bases with no outs on that terrific bunt by Reyes, Lo Duca chases the first pitch he sees and forces Easley at home. Then Beltran grounds the first pitch he sees for a 2-run double over the bag. The ball wasn't hit well, but placed in the right spot. I have to admit to being surprised that Robert Fick was playing so far off the line for Beltran, but we'll all take the result.
No style points for this one, but I'd rather have the win.
|Tom Glavine (3-1)|
|TOTAL (6 Games)||35.1||14||11||30||18||12||4||2.80||1.19||4-2|
In Sunday's game, we saw a John Maine that experts keep telling us is only an illusion. I've been watching baseball and rooting for the Mets for a long time, so I've learned to temper my enthusiasm over hot starts in April. While I don't expect Maine to be a Cy Young candidate at the end of the year, the improvements he has made, particularly in his off-speed stuff, looks like the real deal. Maine is the kind of pitcher who will need to earn every ounce of respect he receives from the baseball intelligentsia, but if he continues to pitch well it's going to be hard to continue to pigeonhole the young right-hander as "ordinary". There are pitchers who throw their fastball 5 mph harder than Maine that can't overpower major league hitters as he does with that deceptive slingshot delivery.
Maine pitched extremely well against the Nationals Sunday, and managed to help the club to a series win despite a floundering offense. I was impressed with his changeup and slider, and the way he battled out of trouble. He looks so much more composed on the mound than he did last year. Every once in a great while you seem to have a perfect confluence of young pitcher and pitching coach, and that's what it seems to me we have here. Peterson and Maine just seem to work well together, and what we began to see last year is coming to fruition this year.
The turning point of this game, other than the brief moment it took for Beltran's homer to clear the right field wall, came in the seventh when the Nats put two on with no outs with a leadoff double by Kearns and a 4-pitch walk to Ryan Church. When former Mets farmhand Jesus Flores lay down a decent bunt attempt, Franco was all over it in a play reminiscent of the great Keith Hernandez. Charging hard, Franco fielded the bunt on the third base side and fired a strike to David Wright to force out Kearns. Maine took care of the rest by striking out Chris Snelling and PH Robert Fick.
Franco made another nice play on Church's hard grounder with 2 on and 2 out in the eighth. Wagner allowed Flores' leadoff single in the ninth, but then clamped down to earn his fourth save on the season.
|John Maine (4-0)|
|TOTAL (5 Games)||33.1||5||5||18||30||17||2||1.35||1.05||5-0|