By Mike Steffanos
Mets 9 - Diamondbacks 4
When Shawn Green hit a harmless grounder to first base with one out in the ninth, it seemed that Tom Glavine was on his way to a somewhat hard luck loss. But Tony Clark did something for the Mets that he didn't do very often when he was actually a member of this team -- he helped us win a game -- by whiffing on Green's ball and jump-starting an improbable ninth inning rally. Paul Lo Duca worked out a really tough walk to further rattle D-Backs closer Jose Valverde, and Damion Easley delivered the knockout punch with a clutch 3-run homer. David Wright frosted the cake with another 3-run bomb that turned what had looked like a sure loss into a laugher.
Valverde is a strange closer. He doesn't look very good doing the job, doesn't have a great makeup, and has his share of bad outings. When he gets on a good roll he can be as good as anyone, and when he struggles he looks like one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Coming into the game, he had saved 10 of 11 including a stretch of 9 straight saves where he had allowed only a single earned run. It was surprising to watch how he lost his composure as the inning developed.
Valverde made Endy Chavez look bad striking out to open the ninth. Green battled through a 6-pitch at bat where he never really had a great-looking swing, but Clark missed the medium grounder to put the tying run on base. Valverde really didn't seem all that bothered by the error, and went up 0-2 on Lo Duca. After missing badly with 2 fastballs up and in, he threw a fastball just off the outside corner for ball 3. It was close, but I had DVR'ed the game, and replayed the pitch several times, and I thought the ump had it right. But that was where Valverde seemed to lose it, walking Lo Duca and then falling behind Easley 2-0 before coming in with a fastball that Easley sent over 400 feet in the opposite direction.
I thought Glavine pitched pretty well, despite the 2 homers and the 4 earned runs. He didn't walk anyone, and the big mistake was the one that Chris Snyder hit the 2-run homer on. The pitch that Orlando Hudson took deep was a little up, but on the outside corner. Once again, though, Glavine will have to wait for win number 294. Then again, he wasn't tagged with career loss number 193.
|Tom Glavine (3-1)|
|TOTAL (7 Games)||41.1||18||15||35||22||12||6||3.27||1.14||5-2|
It's amazing that Carlos Beltran is off to such a torrid start with Delgado and Wright slumping so badly behind him. David got elevated to the two slot again, and came up empty until the ninth inning dinger. That one was vintage Wright, though, really driven the other way. David was waving meekly at pitches up and on the outside corner a week ago. A good sign.
Not so good for Delgado, still living on the wrong side of the Mendoza line. He just looks bad right now, and hasn't come close to putting a string of good at bats together.
It was really heartening to see Pedro Feliciano make it through a 1-2-3 inning. If he recaptures the form he showed last year and in spring training, this is one guy who could pick up the bullpen significantly. On the other hand, I was disappointed that Schoeneweis walked Eric Byrnes in the ninth. With one out and a 5-run lead, you just don't do that, particularly when you are ahead 1-2 on the batter. It would have bothered me less if Byrnes homered in that situation. Late inning walks have a way of igniting rallies.