By Mike Steffanos
Mets 4 - Dodgers 1
Played Friday, July 20, 2007
Following a night where the Mets needed 7 innings from their bullpen to notch a win, Oliver Perez provided 7-1/3 innings of high quality starting pitching, helping the Mets to take their second straight game in LA. It was his second strong outing since returning from the DL. It's gotten to the point now where I've come to expect this sort of effort from Perez, who is rapidly evolving back into the ace pitcher he was in 2004 -- with the same dominant stuff but a better idea of how to pitch.
Utilizing a slow curve and mixing in some changeups to complement the fastball and hard slider, Perez managed to keep the Dodgers off balance for most of the night. He's been struggling with his control just a little since his return, but has been able to reach down and come up with the pitches he needs whenever he finds himself in a jam. Ron Darling remarked during one sequence later in the game when Perez dropped a beautiful slow hook on a Dodger batter that he can't believe he's watching the same pitcher from last year. Although I was very optimistic about Perez coming into the season, I have to admit that I feel the same way at times. I thought Perez would be very good this year, but I thought consistency might take a little longer to develop. He's an amazing story in a season that has offered Mets fans our share of disappointments.
|Oliver Perez (Last 5 Starts)|
|Season (17 Games)||108||44||36||85||99||43||13||3.00||1.19||10-7|
As for the offense, I guess it was predictable that one day after treating Derek Lowe quite badly they would struggle to score against Brett Tomko. He made some good pitches and had some good luck, but was out of there after 6 innings and 85 pitches. I was somewhat surprised by that, but this was only his second start since being exiled to the bullpen in May.
Once he was gone, Grady Little had to try to pull some magic out of a sorely overworked bullpen. The clock struck midnight when he went to the Roberto Hernandez well for the second consecutive night and the Mets scored 3 times in the top of the eighth to take a 4-1 lead.
It was a tough loss when Valentin went down with the broken leg last night, but it provides the opportunity that Ruben Gotay has earned with some hard work and nice hitting. He's going to have to work very hard on his fielding, as he makes some very nice plays but needs to get better on some of the routine stuff.
The Mets are on FOX this afternoon, so I need to go dig out my earplugs. They face Brad Penny, and Jorge Sosa would score some major points with me and other Mets fan if a fastball was to get away from him and force the aforementioned Mr. Penny to hit the dirt.