By Mike Steffanos
Mets 6 - Astros 2
Played Thursday, July 5, 2007
While less deserving pitchers are honored with an place on the National League roster next Tuesday, John Maine quietly makes a case for being one of the top hurlers in the league. By dominating the Astros last night, Maine won his fourth straight start to help keep the Mets afloat during their stretch of maddeningly inconsistent play. In those 4 games he has pitched 30 innings and allowed a meager 6 earned runs (1.80 ERA) on 19 hits with a strikeout to walk ratio of 25/4. If one measure of a starter is coming up big when the team really needs him, Maine is walking tall right now.
When Maine struggled somewhat in May after being the NL pitcher of the month in April there were many who were willing to write him off as just the beneficiary of a hot start. But he put terrific numbers up again in June, and anyone who watches a couple of his starts can see the improvement in all of his pitches. Moreover, those lapses of concentration that were a trademark of John Maine last year have been conspicuously absent in 2007.
Maine's reaction to his one real jam of the game was telling. With a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Craig Biggio and Hunter Pence singled to lead off. With Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee coming up the Astros had a golden opportunity to make a game of it. Maine reached back and found a little extra for his fastball while mixing in some effective off-speed stuff and blew both of them away on strikes, then retired Mark Loretta to end the threat. It was the type of effort we've come to expect from John Maine in 2007.
|John Maine (Last 5 Starts)|
|Season (17 Games)||109.2||34||33||85||93||40||10||2.71||1.14||12-5|
The offense was more than adequate to back up Maine's effort. Nice to see Shawn Green's bat come alive again the last few days after scuffling since his return from the DL. Don't know what he was thinking of on that ball he let drop in front of him in the eighth, though. I gave him some props a while back on improved defense, but that was vintage 2006 Green last night.
I'm almost tempted to say how good Delgado looks lately, but every time I do he goes back into the tank. Also, even when Lo Duca returns I think Ramon Castro needs to get more playing time.