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)||91.1||33||30||63||72||36||10||2.96||1.08||9-6|
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.