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Another Gem from El Duque

Mike SteffanosWednesday, July 18, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 7 - Padres 0
Played Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It used to be that I was amazed at how dominant El Duque could be when he is on top of his game. In a season he has allowed 2 earned runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts, the novelty has certainly worn off, but not the joy of watching a true master of the art of pitching ply his craft.

Last night against the Padres, it seemed important for the club to play a solid game after a let-down performance the night before. When Hernandez made it through the first couple of innings allowing only Adrian Gonzalez' first inning double, it was apparent that he had the stuff tonight. As a matter of fact, he had so much movement on his fastball to compliment the sharp-breaking sliders that the biggest concern all night was his control. I don't think I've seen him miss the glove with his fastball as often as he did last night all season, but the pitches had so much late movement he just needed to get them near the plate.

This pitcher, whose signing has brought Omar Minaya a lot of criticism, now has a 6-4 record and sub-3 ERA in 15 starts for the Mets this season, all for a salary of $4.5 million. There are a lot of clubs regretting handing out a lot more money than this for a lot less performance. Barry Zito's 7-9 record and 4.67 ERA are costing the Giants about 4 times as much, and Jeff Suppan's 8-8, 4.90 performance costs the Brewers more than twice what the Mets are paying Hernandez in 2007. Neither of those two is a dangerous stolen base threat like El Duque, either.

Orlando Hernandez (Last 5 Starts)
Season (15 Games)91.13330637236102.961.089-6

View Orlando Hernandez' Full Season Stats

A little early batting practice paid off for the Mets nicely. They scored seven runs on only 8 hits, and had big early RBIs from both Lo Duca and Jose Valentin. They worked Peavey fairly well, getting him out of the game with over 100 pitches in the sixth, scoring 3 runs off the Padres ace. Then they actually tacked on 4 more against the bullpen, including 3 off Royce Ring in the ninth as the former Met walked 3 batters in that inning.

The defense was great, and both Carloses went 2-4. The amazing thing was the Mets had a sharp offensive effort in a game where Reyes and Wright were a combined 0-8, but having Beltran and Delgado produce in the same game has been a rare treat this season.

Lastings Milledge had the real rough night. Despite picking up an RBI on a very short sac fly, Lastings still has that tendency to chase breaking balls off the plate. He was solid in left field, however.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to which New York Mets team will show up tonight against Maddux? I'd love it to be the one that played last night's game.

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 (4)

If the Mets duplicate what they did last night ( being patient at the plate) working Peavey, it should pay off. Maddux is a craftsman, but not the 10 inches off the plate guy he was 5 or so years ago. Mets need to be selective, work the count in their favor. Simple, but not easy to translate at the plate. Milledge chased some bad off speed pitches in the first two games from both Wells and Peavy. I know he is aggressive, but he needs to show more patience at the plate, Wright, must look to go up the middle to rightfield, period. Reyes was a little anxious trying to make something happen, a litttle over aggressive to me. It was good to see the Carloses have productive nights on the same night. It's all about consistency, repitition, and duplicating your approach at the plate.

L. J. - I wish they could bottle last night and bring it forward. Consistency has not been a strong point for this club, except when they were consistently bad.

Carlos and Carlos seem to take turns hitting, don't they?

Mike, it's about that time to start thinking about who that last piece of the puzzle will be for the Mets this year. I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Opinions are like noses - everyone has one. But I'd like to know whether there's a name out there you think, or hope, or expect, to become the newest Met before the trade deadline.

I honestly don't know, Nostra. I think it's becoming almost impossible to pick up any sort of name at the deadline unless you are willing to overpay through the nose. I still think the most likely pickup is a bullpen guy along the lines of Mota from last season -- someone who comes fairly cheap they believe they can "fix."

A lot depends on Alou and Pedro returning. If they do, that would be the equivalent of major deadline pickups.

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