By Mike Steffanos
Mets 3 - Yankees 2
A lot has been made in the press of Oliver Perez' up and down season. Yes, going into last night's game against their cross-town rivals Perez had gone W-L-W-L-W-L-W in his first seven starts, but he wasn't that bad against the Nationals on April 27, and his loss to the Giants on May 7 was more reflective of one bad inning that featured atrociously shoddy defense. In reality, he's done pretty well since that bad start against the Phillies his second time out.
Not only did he win last night, but he also beat the Yankees without his absolute best stuff. Perez didn't have the pin-point control he's shown in his really dominant starts up to now, but he used his slider to great effect -- both the hard, sharp down-breaking one and the softer version that kept the Yanks off balance. After looking a little geeked for the first inning, Perez settled in nicely and channeled his emotions into retiring batters.
Frankly, I've reached the point with Perez where I expect him to pitch like he did last night, particularly in a game with a lot of juice. Moreover, he's now giving the team length into games as well as quality. Despite pitching a combined 7-1/3 innings in those bad starts against Philly and the Giants, Perez is averaging over 6 innings per start thanks to averaging over 7 innings in his other 6 starts.
There's still work to be done with Oliver Perez, but it's all about tweaking and improving rather than dramatic overhauling. The Mets showed a lot of faith in Perez over the winter and were ripped for it by a lot of the media. A quarter of the way through the season, looks like the Mets are enjoying the last laugh on this one.
Since last season I've maintained that if I had a kid who was learning to play ball, I'd show him a lot of video of Endy Chavez' fielding and baserunning. Last night Endy came up with a pair of highlight reel plays with the outfield assist and the home run that essentially won the game for New York. As much as I enjoyed those 2 plays, I love watching him do the routine stuff. Watch how he positions himself to throw while making a play on a fly ball. Check out the absolute textbook way that he rounds a base when he's motoring -- he's flying, but there is no wasted energy as he perfectly cuts the inside of the bag. When Endy makes a mistake, especially in the field or on the bases, it's actually a shock -- mostly because it almost never happens.
Not much to b**ch about concerning Billy Wagner this season, is there? The scratch (and questionable) hit by Matsui last night was only the third baserunner (2 hits and a walk) Wagner has allowed in 7 scoreless outings so far in May. He wanted to lessen the "drama" this year, and I'd say that fits the bill.
Finally, although Carlos Gomez didn't cover himself in glory last night, with the error and some tentative OF play, I thought it was great that they were able to give him a taste of playing in a big game with an electric crowd. He looks like the real thing so far, and like last night's starting and winning pitcher, he seems to thrive on the big stage. Those are the players -- the anti-McReynolds and -Rogers -- that seem to do well in New York.
|Oliver Perez (5-3)|
|TOTAL (8 Games)||49.2||24||16||38||48||16||6||2.90||1.09||5-3|