By Mike Steffanos
I've been on record since back when the team was winning regularly as questioning their sporadic sloppy and/or indifferent play. It bothered me during the months of June and July when the Mets were playing sub-.5oo ball and seemed more interested in finding excuses or pointing out that they were still in first rather than picking up their game.
The last game of the Marlins series and first two games against the woeful Pirates were all wins, but man, were they ugly. They were mighty hard to watch at times, but at this point of the season I can't get hung up any more on the play. A win is a win, a loss a loss, and everything else is irrelevant.
As bad as they could look at times, the Mets seem to be bringing a consistent level of effort. That wasn't always the case the last two months. Sometimes it's not well-directed effort, as once again they spent most of the middle 7 innings of last night's game pressing rather than patient. Still, they found the way to win -- even if it cost me precious follicles from my receding hairline. Even if sometimes I wished I was watching something crisper and easier on the eyes. For the final month and a half of the season, the goal is simply to finish games with more runs than the opposition. They've managed that for the last 3 games. I can't complain.
Offensively this club relies way too much on the homerun, but when you have the 2 Carloses both stumbling along with .250 batting averages it's hard to string hits together into rallies. On the other hand, Alou and Wright have been great, and I count my blessings that Wright has returned to being David Wright and Alou is even playing. It's the second half of August now, the finish line looms ahead, and they are what they are. Just win, baby.
Mets 5 - Pirates 4
Played Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Orlando Hernandez may only have 7 wins, but the Mets are 14-6 in games he has started. I think it's safe to look at him as the ace of this staff now. The club has a 7-game winning streak in games started by hil, but he was only rewarded with 3 of those wins. A younger pitcher might understandably let that get to him, but El Duque keeps rolling along -- even in games like this where he didn't have his best stuff. Without him, I wonder if the Mets would still be in first right now.
Mets 10 - Pirates 8
Played Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Yes, John Maine struggled mightily to make it through 5 innings after being staked to a 5-0 lead before he threw a pitch. I understand those who see the struggle as the story, but I disagree. We all knew this would be the toughest part of the season for Maine and, to a lesser extent, Oliver Perez. What impressed me last night was that Maine was able to battle through for a win.
It was a tough night all around. Home plate ump Paul Nauert had a very tight strike zone. The Pirates had a game plan about taking a lot of pitches, and then once they had 2 strikes they fouled off a lot of them. We saw this from Maine at times last year where he lacked the pitch at times to put hitters away (although he had 8 Ks in 5 IP). But he hung in there, didn't hang his head, and now has 13 wins. Maybe the doubters are right, maybe the struggle is still the story, but I wasn't completely unhappy with Maine last night.
The game itself relates to my attitude towards the team. It was a win. Sure, I haven't seen anything that ugly since some unfortunate mornings back in the days when I was drinking, but as I squint my eyes and look at that game in the standings it looks like a beauty queen to me. By the way, if Shawn Green was an animal the ASPCA might have stepped in last night. It's painful to watch his struggles at the plate. Fortunately, we probably won't be seeing much of that for the rest of this season.
Steve is back
I'm late with this, but for those of you who aren't already aware, Steve Keane's Eddie Kranepool Society is back. Good news for one of the best and longest running Mets blogs on the 'net. Welcome back, Steve.
Gary Sparber, who has shared excellent game pictures with us in the past, has a photo tribute to the late Phil Rizzuto posted. Check it out.