By Mike Steffanos
When the Mets disappointing home stand against Atlanta and Florida dropped their record to 6-5 for the month and 31-34 since June 1, I honestly wondered if they could shake the doldrums and put together a run of solid play that would last longer than 5 or 6 games. It wasn't that I felt really negative about their chances, but rather that I hadn't seen anything since late May that I could hang my hopes on. Every time they showed some life for a few games they would follow it up with a stretch of poor play.
The road trip against the Pirates and Nats gave me some worries, since the Mets have spent much of the summer playing down to their opponents' level -- not to mention that they have had trouble with Pittsburgh in recent years and Washington this season. They really showed something against the Pirates despite an ugly loss in the potential sweep game, but were even more impressive in Washington. They've shown the type of spirit and resiliency lately that was conspicuously absent for most of the summer.
Last night, as disappointing as the bullpen was, I watched the Mets battle back against a couple of very good relievers -- and actually felt they had a chance to come back, unlike so many depressing losses in June and July. Even though they are hardly a perfect team this season, I could put up with the sometimes shaky bullpen, the August struggles of Maine and Perez, the long slumps from both Carloses and the streaky offense in general as long as I am watching a team that brings the effort.
I loved seeing the emotion out of the veteran Luis Castillo last night. A couple of weeks ago the prevailing attitude seemed to be that Omar Minaya did nothing to help this team make a run. Yet quietly, players such as Castillo and Marlon Anderson seem to have brought some life back to a club. Not trading away Lastings Milledge last winter, despite pressure from many fans and media to do so, has proven to be the right move. The Mets still have their flaws, but seem equipped to play the type of ball we've been starving for over the past couple of months.
Mets 7 - Padres 6
Played Tuesday, August 21, 2007
John Maine wasn't perfect last night, but I thought he was better than we've seen in a while. It was a tough night to pitch, as only the Padres Cla Meredith put up a statistically impressive outing. Aaron Heilman was the only Mets pitcher to not allow a run, and he probably pitched worse than anyone. Just that kind of night. I suspect it will take both Maine and Oliver Perez a while to work out of their respective funks, although it would be great to see them bust out of it at some point soon.
|John Maine (Last 5 Starts)|
|Season (25 Games)||151||65||61||126||130||59||19||3.64||1.23||16-9|
Beltran was, of course, awesome last night, and you certainly don't need me to tell you that. Impressive in a much quieter way was Luis Castillo. Besides the game winner, he also drew a pair of walks and had some nice at bats during the evening. His groundout that allowed Reyes to move to third with one out in the eighth, eventually scoring the tying run, was classic winning baseball. He battled Heath Bell until Reyes was able to steal second and then moved him to third with one out, allowing Beltran to drive him home.
By the way, how much more optimistic do you feel in an important situation when Marlon Anderson pinch hits compared to when Julio Franco would have gotten the call?
Another way you could tell Beltran is going well -- both the 2-run double in the third and the game-tying single in the eighth were produced with two strikes on Beltran (0-2 in the third, 1-2 in the eighth).