By Mike Steffanos
Mets 5 - Phillies 3
Playing yet another game in conditions more appropriate for hockey than baseball, the Mets were able to take the rubber game of their series against Philadelphia. This was accomplished thanks to Tom Glavine's ability to turn a bad outing around. Somehow, Glavine managed to survive three first inning walks and a pair of home runs by Jimmy Rollins in the first two frames. After Rollins' second long ball put the Phillies up 3-1, Glavine allowed no further free passes and only Wes Helms' single in the fourth. Helms was later erased on the first of 3 Mets double plays for the game.
By the time Glavine exited the game following the sixth, the Mets had rebounded to take a 4-3 lead on the back of Jose Reyes. Reyes scored the Mets' first run in the first, then drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the fourth with a clutch 2-out base hit.
The Mets bullpen backed up Glavine's work with 3 solid innings. First up was Joe Smith, who allowed a soft leadoff single up the middle to Wes Helms but came back to strikeout Aaron Rowand with a backup slider and induce catcher Carlos Ruiz to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Scott Schoeneweis came in for the eighth and walked the first batter, bringing the tying run to the plate. He bounced back to pop up Rollins and get Victorino to hit into a groundball to Reyes that began a 4-3 double play. Wagner wasn't sharp in his inning of work, but worked around a double by Howard to notch his second save.
What disturbs me a little about the bullpen in the early going has been the walks. Schoeneweis' walk in the eighth inning was his third in 3-1/3 innings of work. Mets relievers have issued free passes 12 times in 27.1 innings. Besides Schoeneweis, the other prime culprits are Pedro Feliciano (3BB in 3IP) and Joe Smith (3BB in 6IP). Surprisingly enough, Ambiorix Burgos has not walked anyone yet, though he did hit a batter and yield that HR to Ryan Howard Monday.
Good bullpens don't put men on base that don't earn their way on. It's way too early to see this as a problem, but I'd like to see them challenge hitters more. Feliciano was very stingy with walks in his breakout 2006 campaign, while Schoeneweis will see time in the eighth inning as he did last night. He has looked a little off since the season started -- maybe the cold weather plays into this for both lefties.
Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the 2 soft-tossing lefties facing each other, but the game seemed somewhat surreal to me at times. More likely it was the fact that Carlos Beltran felt the need to take at bats with his hooded jammies on underneath his uniform. It's been a crazy April so far, weather-wise, and apparently it's not going to get much better this weekend versus the Nats or early next week in the city where they take Jimmy Rollins seriously.
Speaking of Rollins, I hope that after we play them next week and get the initial home series between the two teams under our belts we can start talking a lot less about the Phillies shortstop. I don't find him or his views on the state of the NL east all that interesting. I thought John "Metstradamus" Coppinger had the correct take on what bugs me about the whole Rollins deal in this column for Flushing University:
In a sports writing culture where fans of teams that lose constantly have to hear that teams like the Yankees and the Braves "are the champs until someone knocks them off", Mets fans had every right to expect at least a little of the same love and respect from the mainstream media. Now the Mets have certainly done some of that constant losing in the early decade of the 00's, but one would figure that the work that Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph have done would speak for itself.
But it never has seemed that way has it? Instead, it seemed like the accomplishments of Minaya and Randolph were callously cast aside as everyone was looking for the successor to the Mets' throne before they even officially sat in that throne. It went from "hey, look at those Marlins" back in July of '06 to "watch out for those Phillies" during the winter, and then finally it was "you know the Braves bullpen is going to bring them back to the top" near the very end of spring training. Whenever talked turned to the Mets, the prevailing theme was "well, their starting pitching stinks."
So when Jimmy Rollins came with the "team to beat on paper" quote, it put a face to the disrespect.
As I said earlier, I could care less about Rollins, but Metstradamus hits it on the head here, at least as far as what bugs me personally. It wasn't Rollins so much as the media jumping all over him as some sort of hero with the Mets as merely the supporting cast. All winter, spring and now into the season, every perceived weakness of the Mets is magnified, while the weaknesses of the clubs they are contending with are glossed over.
Maybe it was the fact that Minaya refused to make the moves the media endlessly predicted that he would this winter. Maybe it's just that the media has seen the Mets franchise as a joke for so long. It really never was Rollins that bugged me; it was all those in the media who took his rambling statements of unachieved Phillies superiority at face value.
|TOTAL (3 Games)||17.1||9||6||14||8||6||3||3.12||1.15||2-1|