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Twice As Nice

Mike SteffanosSaturday, June 30, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 6 - Phillies 5
Mets 5 - Phillies 2

Day/Night Doubleheader Played Friday, June 29, 2007

Game 1 -- El Duque's Revenge

The Mets may have taken 2 of 3 from the Cardinals in their rain-shortened series this week, but the way they were hitting was cause for concern heading into this important weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. J.D. Durbin, who apparently bills himself as the "Real Deal", proved to be the tonic for an offense that could only muster 11 hits and 7 runs in 27 innings against a underwhelming Cardinals staff this week. The Mets bashed Durbin for 6 runs on 8 hits in less than 5 innings of work.

Of course, they spent the last 4-1/3 innings facing four Phillies relievers, of whom only Brian Sanches entered the game with an ERA under 4.5, and only managed one hit off of them. After working Durbin for 100 pitches in 4.2 innings Sanchez, Clay Condrey, Mike Zagurski and Jose Mesa only required 50 pitches to navigate the other 4.1. But the damage done in the first 5 innings proved enough for El Duque and the Mets.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tried to get into El Duque's head before he threw his first pitch by complaining about the rosin on the back of the veteran Cuban's hat. It only got him mad, and he allowed only a pair of solo home runs and a single in six innings of work. He didn't allow lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to hurt him at all. It was an impressive performance in a tough ballpark for pitchers.

Orlando Hernandez (Last 5 Starts)
Season (12 Games)74.1252352592592.781.047-5

View Orlando Hernandez' Full Season Stats

Things got a little dicier for the Mets when they stopped hitting and had to depend on their bullpen. After allowing a bloop single to Greg Dobbs, Guillermo Mota hung a slider to Wes Helms that resulted in a 2-run homer and tightened the game to 6-4. Pedro Feliciano walked the first man he faced in the eighth, then retired Utley and Howard. After the Phillies sent Pat Burrell up as a pinch hitter Willie brought in Heilman, who allowed a single that cut it to 6-5 before retiring Dobbs to end it. The 1 run lead was enough for Wagner, who struck out Helms, Rod Barajas and Shane Victorino to record his 16th save.

By the way, if you missed the game you missed yet another terrible call on the bases. Jose Reyes clearly stole second base in the seventh, but umpire Dale Scott inexplicably called him out on a play that wasn't even all that close. MLB can spin it all they want, the quality of umpiring leaves a lot to be desired. It's one thing when they blow the calls on bang-bang plays, but we've seen them miss on some easy ones.

I don't blame Reyes for getting mad, but he came close to getting thrown out of the game. He was even sulking and complaining when he came out on the field for the bottom of the inning. Perhaps Lo Duca will have some company in Anger Management Class.

Game 1 Box Score

Game 2 -- An All Star Pitcher Shines

Cole Hamels is the pitcher who came into the game with all the All Star noise about him, but his opponent keeps pitching like one despite very little notice outside of New York. Hamels, emulating a couple of pitches he threw to Carlos Beltran, was long gone by the time John Maine's night was over. Maine and Hamels now have identical 9-4 records, but Maine is more than a run per game better in ERA with 2.74 to Hamels' 3.87. Hamels is better in strikeouts per nine (9.4 to 7.4) and walks per nine (2.3 to 3.4). Maine has allowed far fewer hits per nine (7.0 to 8.6), and the league is slugging a robust .455 against the Phillies' southpaw but only .348 against Maine. I'm not taking anything away from Hamels, who is on the verge of being a star, but I just don't think Maine gets the credit for being as good as he really is.

As good as Hamels is, he has only been in the league for a year. The fact that he felt entitled to make vague threats about hitting Paul Lo Duca for a bat flip last time he faced us and then threw at Reyes last night is ridiculous. Spend some time in this league before you start feeling entitled to hand out lessons. If I was pitching for the Mets, next time we faced Hamels I would plant a fastball into his ribs. I'm not big on throwing at people but this kid needs a reality check. As it was, it was sweet revenge that the pitch he threw at Reyes missed and went to the backstop, allowing the first run to score.

Rather than feeling entitled to take offense at anything the Phillies did, John Maine was satisfied with dominating their lineup. Once again doing a great job mixing his pitches and locations, Maine allowed only one earned run and 4 hits in 8+ innings. For the fourth time in 6 June starts, he did not walk a batter. The Phillies mustered few scoring chances against him. After slumping briefly in May, John Maine is once again leading this rotation. He just doesn't have any fear on the mound, and is becoming a better pitcher by the day.

John Maine (Last 5 Starts)
Season   (16 Games)102.03231798438102.741.1511-5

View John Maine's Full Season Stats

The Mets worked Hamels very hard, making him throw 110 pitches in only 5 innings of work. Beltran added a couple of solo shots to the run Hamels wild-pitched in. They missed on a couple of other opportunities, including a 1-out, bases-loaded threat in the first. After Hamels left the game, they managed to score a pair off the Phillies bullpen when Damian Easley homered off Geoff Geary in the seventh.

Maine came out to start the ninth, but was gone after Jimmy Rollins led off with a double. With lefty Bourn, and then Utley and Howard coming up, Randolph elected to bring in Wagner despite a 4-run lead and the fact that he saved game one earlier that day. I have to admit I was somewhat torn, but basically agreed with the decision. Wagner had only thrown 14 pitches in saving the afternoon game, and nailing down that one put the Mets in the catbird seat for the weekend.

Wagner got pinch hitter Chris Coste for the first out, but then allowed Utley's RBI single. An 8-pitch walk to Ryan Howard followed, allowing Aaron Rowand and then Burrell to come up as the tying run. Wagner struck out both, and the Mets had a sweet sweep of the day.

While it's obvious the Mets aren't clicking on all cylinders on offense, they did enough to take the first two games of a very important series. Now the task is to take one of the next two and get out of Philly with a big series win.

Game 2 Box Score

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (2)

Who is Jose Wright? :p

The bastard son of David and Jose...

Thanks for the heads up, Gene. I fixed it.

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