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A Rare Laugher

Mike SteffanosThursday, August 14, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Game 120: Mets 13 - Nationals 0

For one of the very few times in the last couple of seasons, the Mets had a victory that looked and felt easy for most of the game. The Nationals are a struggling team. With a lot of key injuries to a roster that wasn't all that great in the first place, the Nats are also an indisputably bad team right now. When the Mets went up big in the third you could sense the game was over.

I feel for Nats fans after spending decades watching many iterations of this theme in Orange and Blue. Moreover, I honestly believe if Washington had stayed relatively healthy they would have won 70-75 games and been a thorn in the side of contending teams. As they are now, they probably need a very good outing from a starting pitcher to win most nights. Ah, the memories...

As for the Mets, John Maine looked decent. That shoulder problem will be a factor for the rest of the year, and 5 or 6 innings are probably the max to be hoped for. He still has the tendency to lose pitches up and away to lefties, also, which partially explains the four walks -- although I felt home plate ump Mike Reilly's ridiculously small and inconsistent strike zone was responsible for 2 of the 4 free passes.

I suspect that, given the shoulder problems, any talk of Maine in the bullpen is just talk. While pitching less innings would be a good thing, getting up and down and also pitching on consecutive nights would be not so good. Given all the ongoing bullpen woes, if Maine was effective at all out there the temptation would be to overuse him down the stretch, negating any possible benefits -- at least in my opinion.

As for the bullpen, perhaps Brian Stokes can fulfill the role I hoped Jorge Sosa might early on -- a long man with good enough stuff to do some short work when needed. Stokes has shown a very good fastball and slider and a power arm that is lacking from the setup crew right now.

The caveat, of course, is that after the league gets a look at him Stokes doesn't turn back into the pumpkin with the 7+ ERA he was with Tampa Bay. The Mets will also have a decision when Wagner returns with Stokes and Eddie Kunz the two most likely candidates for demotion, unless they decide to go with 13 pitchers for a while.

I'd love to see the Mets put the hammer down and sweep this thing tonight. Too often they have lacked that absolute killer instinct.

View John Maine's Full Season Stats

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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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Comments (2)

Can you beleive it? A sweep, Nats usually play the Mets tough and it was good for the club to come away with a sweep. The bullpen held again (8 straight shutout innings), and Heilman came in with a no pressure situation up 9-3 and set them down. Murphy just may turn out to be the diamond in the rough we have been clammoring for. I think he has the ability to be a consistant .300 + hitter. He was 0-3, and promptly came in and smack a liner into leftcenter. He needs to make the adjustment on those down and in breaking pitches, but other than that he seems to be on his way. Good to see the Mets play a solid all around game. Now it's on to Pitt for a 4 gamer and the Bucs play the Mets tough too. Hoping for a 3 out of 4, but a sweep could vault them up a few games on Philly, who just happen to be playing the Pads. Marlins at the Cubs.........Lets Go Mets!

I don't even hope for 3 of 4 in Pittsburgh as bad as they've been there. I'm just hoping they don't revert to their underachieving ways...

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