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Another Solid Road Win

Mike SteffanosSaturday, August 4, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Mets 6 - Cubs 2
Played Friday, August 3, 2007

It looked like a fun pitching matchup going in and it was. Orlando Hernandez and Carlos Zambrano locked up into a pretty good one -- at least until Zambrano left with cramps in the sixth inning. El Duque lasted another inning and two-thirds after that, but neither starter factored in the decision.

Hernandez was obviously pumped about this matchup, and gave the Mets one of his best performances of the season. Other than the ball that Derrek Lee hit out and the slider he hung to Jason Kendall, El Duque was near perfect with his selection of curves, sliders and well-placed fastballs. He struck out 9 batters, tying his season high, and was one pitch away from a chance at his eighth win on the year. If it's any consolation, hanging that slider to anyone else but the punchless Kendall would have probably resulted in a homerun and a chance at a loss.

For all of the complaints among Mets fans about the age of this team, Hernandez was an Omar Minaya gamble that has paid huge dividends. El Duque has been as good as any Met pitcher this year in his 18 starts. There are so many that have criticized the moves made this winter that didn't work out without giving Minaya credit for what Hernandez, Perez and Maine have done.

Orlando Hernandez (Last 5 Starts)
Season (18 Games)1114037789442143.001.0912-6

View Orlando Hernandez' Full Season Stats

The return of big two-out hits has been a nice part of these last three games, but even more welcome to me has been the intensity level the club has played at since hitting Milwaukee. After floundering for two months, the team seems to be playing with a sense of urgency now.

For what it's worth, if this team continues to bring a patient offensive approach and this level of intensity, I still like their chances very much. It's become somewhat de rigueur to complain about the failure to land a bat or a reliever at the deadline. Provided Beltran makes it back before too long and Shawn Green becomes a bench guy, I like our chances to score, particularly when we are working pitchers and taking walks. The club isn't as dynamic with the homerun ball as last season, but should score enough. As for the bullpen, while it isn't as strong as last season, it doesn't need to be. The starters are night and day better than 2006. We need a couple of guys to get hot down the stretch and for Feliciano to solve his recent control problems.

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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