By Mike Steffanos
Game 24: Mets 6 - Braves 3
The thought that became the title of this recap occurred to me when John Smoltz left this game after 4 innings. The Braves had the favorable starting pitching matchups this weekend, yet not only did they lose both games but needed 9 innings from the bullpen. Sometimes as a die-hard fan you get so hung up on your team's own shortcomings that you forget everyone else has them, too.
Apparently Smoltz admitted to shoulder discomfort after the game and may need to get checked out. Tim Hudson has had 2 of his last 3 starts go only 3 innings. Closer Rafael Soriano is on the DL and still experiencing elbow discomfort. Chipper Jones experienced back spasms while putting on his uniform Saturday and wasn't able to play at all this weekend.
As for the Mets, it was good to see them pull out the last two games. Nothing they did made me feel they are ready to go on a roll, but winning a series against Atlanta was a decent step. It was the Braves without two of their hottest hitters -- Larry and Yunel Escobar -- but it was still the Braves. They don't apologize for beating the Mets without Alou, El Duque and Pedro.
Reyes had an important double against Smoltz today. It was his only hit in the series, but it was still big. Castillo responded to yesterday's day off with 3 hits and a run scored. David Wright struck out twice against Smoltz, but then had a huge RBI hit in the sixth to drive in a run after the Braves had broke through against Nelson Figueroa in the top of the innings to cut a 4-0 lead down to 4-3. Raul Casanova had 3 hits including a 2-run homer. Ryan Church took an 0-for at the plate but made a great catch to bail out Schoeneweis.
Even more hopeful, if tenuously so, was Carlos Delgado's 2 homers, including one off a lefty. We've seen too much of this in the past two seasons to go crazy over one good day for the Mets first baseman, but for one day (at least) he looked like the player he was in 2006.
As with Delgado, I'll temper my optimism about the past couple of days. They were close games that could have gone either way. Still, they were wins against the Braves. For one day at least, the sun seems to shine a little brighter and life feels a touch sweeter.